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 Saturday afternoon’s 5-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Stuck in Neutral — Ryan Vogelsong held the Rangers down for most of the afternoon and it was a 2-pitch sequence in the 3rd that really stifled their chances. Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a walk and Josh Hamilton worked the count full. Andrus broke for 2nd on the 3-2 pitch and Jamilton watched strike 3 go by. Must have been a tricky pitch, right? It was actually a 91 MPH fastball right down the middle of the plate.
Jamilton struck out and Andrus was thrown out at 2nd (even though replay suggested that the tag was late). With the bases clear and 2 out, Beltre hit a deep line drive on the next pitch, which Angel Pagan managed to track down. That would be the Rangers’ last serious threat of the afternoon.
2) A Series of Unfortunate Events — With 1 out in the bottom of the 3rd, Vogelsong stepped to the plate sporting a .000 BA (0-for-20). It’s only natural that he would single into CF for his first hit in 2012. Then, for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, Scott Feldman was called for a balk, which moved the Giants’ pitcher to 2nd. Later, with Vogelsong on 3rd and the double play in play, Ian Kinsler threw a ball well over Michael Young‘s head. The Giants had the first run of the game.
3) More Little League Ball — Feldman was further hurt by his defense when Jamilton lost an easy flyball in the sun, resulting in a hitter standing on 2nd with no out. The bearded righty managed to get the next two hitters, but gave up a single to Ryan Theriot, which made it 2-0 Giants.
4) Close, Yet So Far — Feldman worked into the 6th for the first time this season, but led off the inning with a walk. Ron Washington went straight to Robbie Ross, rather than letting Feldman work his way out of it. Ross got one out, but then gave up a triple that was about a foot from being a HR. That would put the game out of reach for good.
Also of note…
- Feldman pitched very well, especially considering the beat down that Oakland handed him in his last outing. His final line was 2 ER in 5.1 innings with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk. Just like Colby Lewis on Wednesday, he deserved better than the loss.
- Usually the intricacies of a balk escape me and it was no different in this game. It may have been that, as Feldman was moving the ball to his glove, his pitching hand slid across the top of the leather and paused for just a moment. Maybe you could argue that those were two separate moves, which I guess is technically illegal. To me, though, this is about the same as calling a balk because a pitcher sneezed without taking his foot off of the rubber.
- The Ranger offense can’t be entirely blamed for not showing up. They sent maybe a dozen balls screaming right at opposing fielders, which means the Giants were either lucky or had a great scouting report. Jamilton’s inability to protect the plate was the only real mistake by a Ranger hitter, but even that’s not an outrageously blunder.
- Ross, Koji Uehara, and Tanner Scheppers all worked in relief and every one of them gave up some hard hit balls. Unlike the Rangers, though, the Giants didn’t hit them at anybody. Ross allowed the inherited runner to score and Uehara allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. Scheppers gave up a double down the line, but nothing else.
- Uehara also had a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, though I’m not convinced that it was entirely his fault. Every time I watch Michael Young play 1st, I think about Moneyball and Wash saying “[Playing 1st] is incredibly hard.”
- The Ranger offense put up something of a fight in the late innings. Mitch Moreland had a pinch-hit homerun into McCovey Cove in the 8th. Mike Napoli went deep in the 9th. Unfortunately they were both solo shots and it was all they could muster.
- Texas faces Tim Lincecum tomorrow, which is a lot more promising than it would have been in previous seasons. Lincecum currently sports a 5.83 ERA and his hits, homeruns, and walks per 9 innings are all higher than his career average. This is a very salvageable series.
You can catch the rubber match same Ranger time (3:05, Arlington), same Ranger channel (FSSW). Alexi Ogando is expected to throw about 60 pitches in his spot start.
Press on, Rangers fans.