Well, that was odd. The Rangers looked ready to pick up right where they left off, after Kinsler and Andrus both got on base with Hamilton at the plate in the first inning. A groundout, a sac fly, and a harmless fly ball alter, the inning was over but the Rangers had scored two runs. What promised to be another crushing Ranger victory was turned on its head, and ended with a Josh Hamilton walk-off home run in the 13th inning. Here are some notes from the game.
Colby Lewis was unable to capitalize on his early lead, looking very hittable all night and finally giving up a home run to Colby Rasmus that tied the game at two in the 5th, and then the next inning allowed an additional two runs, and left a mess for Ogando to clean up. He didn’t walk a single batter and struck out 6, but for one reason or another he wasn’t able to lock down the Toronto hitters, who never looked far from making a real mess of things. You could also make an argument that Colby Lewis was a victim of bad luck, given that the home run hit the foul pole, the RBI single barely squirted by Andrus who was going the wrong way, and the suicide squeeze was perfectly executed. Nevertheless, 10 hits in 5 innings is too many.
The Rangers had a pretty unusual inning in the 6th, hitting three consecutive home runs, from Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba, and Mitch Moreland. What was especially interesting was that each ball was hit to almost the exact same place, deep left center field. They were all doing good work, and capitalizing on a clear, repeatable mistake by the Toronto starter. That kind of solid, planned hitting that gets results is exactly the kind of hitting I want to keep seeing out of this crew in the future, because it put the onus on the pitcher, not the hitter, to avoid making a mistake.
On a related note, that same pitcher was bizarrely thrown out of the game for throwing inside at Ian Kinsler after having given up those three home runs. I guess the umpire suspected the pitcher was reacting to his earlier errors, but it didn’t seem like it to me. At no other point in the game was Henderson Alvarez in any way noted for being vocal about the umpiring or the other team. To be thrown out for just one pitch that got away, without even hitting Kinsler, is absurd.
The big story was, of course, the Josh Hamilton walk-off home run. It was a well-hit ball right to center field, after Hamilton has just swung and missed. To be honest, though, the Josh Hamilton as home-run hero narrative has been done before.
The real story of the game, in my opinion, was the difference in bullpen quality. The Rangers bullpen looked pretty OK all night, with Ogando cleaning up a mess and managing to limit the damage of a leadoff double to just one run. Mike Adams, Joe Nathan, and Koji Uehara were flawless. Robbie Ross managed to escape a jam in the 12th, and allowed two runs in the 13th, neither earned because of errors on Torrealba and Nelson Cruz.
The Jays bullpen, on the other hand, just flat ran out of steam. Ryota Igarishi was just bad, frankly, for whatever reason, and Jason Frasor completely blew it. Yeah, I get that its Josh Hamilton and he’s having such a great season or whatever, but still, given that information, he should have been ready for a challenge. Instead he left one hanging up there that Hamilton absolutely demolished, despite earlier that day explaining that he got light-headed and dizzy every time he exerted himself.