Game 18: Moments that Mattered

I’ve heard it said that the outcome of any given game comes down to about 4 plays. I’ll do my best to pinpoint those plays from Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees.

These were the moments that mattered…

1) Hello, Hiroki! — It took exactly 3 pitches for the Rangers to take a lead that would last for the rest of the night. Ian Kinsler took Hiroki Kuroda deep into the visitor’s bullpen and that was all the offense that Texas needed.
2) The Grandyman Can’t — The top of the 3rd inning started with an Eric Chavez single, a Russell Martin walk, and a Derek Jeter bunt that was fielded by no one. Nursing a 1-0 lead, Yu Darvish faced the heart of the Yankee line-up with no outs and the bases loaded. It took seven pitches, but Darvish managed to strike out Curtis Granderson looking, which set up…
3) A-Rod Rolls Out — …a double play two pitches later. Alex Rodriguez hit a chopper to Adrian Beltre, who stepped on 3rd and threw to 1st. Darvish was out of the inning, which would prove to be the last real adversity that he would face.
4) Yu Done — Darvish would go 8.1 strong innings and his night ended when Nick Swisher slapped a single to left. Ron Washington wasted no time bringing in Joe Nathan, who threw all of 1 pitch to Raul Ibanez. The resulting double play ended the game.

Also of note…

  • There almost aren’t enough superlatives to describe Darvish’s performance. He threw 8.1 innings, gave up no runs on 7 hits, struck out 10, walked 2, and 21 of his 33 first-pitches were strikes. Not once did I see him get anxious or overthrow. Wash probably hoped that he could finish the game, but 25 out of 27 outs isn’t bad.
  • Kuroda turned out a fantastic performance of his own, but Darvish was just better.  Kuroda’s line was 6.2 innings, 2 runs on 5 hits, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 1 HR. I’ll take that 9 times out of 9.
  • I’ve wondered all along why national media are obsessed with making the connection between Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Perhaps it’s the hype that surrounded both, but Kuroda was quietly a very good pitcher for the Dodgers for 4 seasons and he’s just as Japanese as Dice-K. Beyond that, why do they have to compare him to other Japanese pitchers at all? Seems a bit narrow minded to me.
  • As mentioned above, Kinsler led off the game with a homerun. The other Ranger run came after Elvis Andrus walked in the 3rd and then stole 2nd base. Josh Hamilton drove him in with his only hit of the night. That, my friends, is Washball.
  • I haven’t been especially impressed with the strike zone in this series. Both teams have benefited from the inconsistency (the pitch that struck out Granderson in the 3rd was not a strike), but I’d rather see everyone getting the same calls, even if they aren’t perfect calls.
  • Nathan got the save by inducing a double play on 1 pitch. This leads me to wonder how many pitchers get saves or wins with a single pitch. Beyond that, how many get them by picking off a runner and thus throwing no official pitches? Even if it’s rare, I bet it happens.

The Rangers and Yankees will play the rubber match of this series tomorrow night at 7:05 Arlington time. Because of Saturday’s doubleheader, Scott Feldman will make a spot start, which you can see on FSSW.

Press on, Rangers fans.

(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @BleacherSeatsTX. As always, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)

Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Elvis Andrus, Hiroki Kuroda, Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Josh Hamilton, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Yu Darvish

Want more from Nolan Writin'?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.