Game 59: 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 Friday night’s 5-0 win against the San Francisco Giants.

These were the moments that mattered…

1) Wasting No TimeIan Kinsler did all of the necessary scoring on the second pitch of the game. Barry Zito threw something right down the middle and Kinsler promptly deposited it in the left field seats. It was Kinsler’s 7th HR of the season.
2) How Not to Help Your Own Cause — In the bottom of the 3rd, with a runner on 1st and the Giants down by one, Zito attempted a sac bunt that turned into a fielder’s choice. With Zito now on 1st, the next hitter ground one up the middle. Elvis Andrus cut it off and tried to flip the ball with his glove, but it sort of just rolled to Kinsler. Too busy watching the play, Zito over-ran the bag by three or four steps and was tagged out trying to dive back in. He would have been the only Giants runner to reach 2nd base all night.
3) Chill, Pill — The Giants may have caught a break in the 4th when a groundball to short was thrown wide of 1st, pulling Michael Young off of the bag. Fortunately, San Fran didn’t capitalize, as Brett Pill jumped on the very next pitch and bounced it to 3rd. Inning over. Mistake not capitalized on.
4) That Little Bit Extra — In the top of the 9th, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out. Matt Harrison was due to be on deck, but David Murphy had stepped out of the dugout. If Craig Gentry hadn’t padded the lead with a single, it may have been the end of Harrison’s night. Thankfully, Gentry deposited one in right field, which opened the door for a complete game shutout.

Also of note…

  • Harrison did pull off the complete game shutout, as he allowed no runs on 5 hits, no walks, and 111 pitches. It was a very Derek Lowe-like performance, as Harrison recorded 18 groundball outs to only 4 strikeouts and 4 flyball outs. The guy was on and, fortunately, Texas didn’t waste the performance as they did with Colby Lewis‘ on Wednesday.
  • The game itself was relatively stress free. Perhaps it was Kinsler’s lead-off homerun or Gentry’s 5-for-5 night at the plate or Josh Hamilton finally going deep again or Harrison inducing groundball after groundball on broken bat after broken bat. Whatever it was, this one felt secure all night. The players were loose. They were swinging easy and getting to everything in the field. The Giants looked flummoxed at the plate. Though it’s only one win, it felt like a badly needed win. It was the sort of win you can build on while you work back into a groove.
  • It was also the first time that the Rangers have won at AT&T Park and the first win over the Giants since 1998, when I was 12 years old. So far in 2012 the Rangers have played well at Target Field, Comerica Park, and now AT&T, three places where they have struggled in the past.

Texas continues this 3-game set in San Francisco as they take on the Giants at 3:05 Arlington time. Scott Feldman and his Amish beard will try not to fail, which you can watch 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: Barry Zito, Brett Pill, Craig Gentry, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Matt Harrison, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers

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