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 Sunday afternoon’s 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) It Sneaks Through — In last night’s loss, every ball that the Rangers hit hard seemed to be right at a fielder. So it was early in this game, but Elvis Andrus hit a 1-out triple in the 3rd and Adrian Beltre hit a smash down the 3rd baseline. It was only a step from Pablo Sandoval, but he was unable to corral it. It turned into a 2-out double and the first run of the afternoon.
2) Costly Single — Alexi Ogando pitched 3 perfect innings to start the game and in the 4th he laid down a sac bunt that no one bothered to field. That loaded the bases with one out, but Ogando apparently strained his groin on the play. Texas would score twice in the inning, but they would see their already thin pitching depth thin out even further.
3) Caught Unawares — The Giants wouldn’t have a hit or a man in scoring position until the 6th, when Aubrey Huff hit a double into left. Gregor Blanco followed up with a comebacker to the mound, which Robbie Ross threw to Beltre to catch Huff in a rundown. Once Huff was tagged, Beltre threw back to first, where Blanco had rounded the bag. He was unable to get back before being tagged out for a 1-5-3 DP.
4) Flashing Leather — In the bottom of the 8th, Angel Pagan made it to 3rd on a hit, a wild pitch, and a bloop single. With the Giants threatening the shutout, Brandon Crawford hit a groundball to Ian Kinsler. Kinsler used only his glove to flip the ball behind him to start a very slick 4-6-3 DP.
Also of note…
- Ogando and Ross combined for 4.2 innings of perfect baseball, the first Giant runner coming on an error by Kinsler. Ross would allow 1 hit, Mike Adams would allow 2, and Joe Nathan would pitch a perfect 9th. The Bulldog (Ross) took the win, which is his 6th of the year.
- Blanco led off the bottom of the 1st with a 10-pitch at-bat. It looked like Ogando might be in for a short afternoon, considering that he was only supposed to throw about 60 pitches. As it turned out, he only needed 29 to get through the next 2.2 innings. Had he not been sidelined with injury, he may have gotten through the 5th or even the 6th.
- A random observation from this game:
Alexi Ogando actually looks like a hitter, but I can’t see Neftali Feliz being anything other than a pitcher. Feliz looks like a pitcher to me, and not much else.
- If Ogando is down for any length of time, it raises an interesting question about the starting rotation. I’ve been pushing to #freeRobbieRoss, but the organization still seems reluctant to do so. Either way, we’re going to need quality innings from Scott Feldman and other spot starters going forward. The injuries in the rotation are putting strain on the bullpen and Roy Oswalt can’t fix this all by himself.
- For the second time in three days, the Rangers offense got timely hitting and did enough to win. Tim Lincecum pitched 5.2 innings of mediocre ball, allowing all 5 runs on 4 walks and 5 strikeouts. It’s the sort of start we’ve seen from Lincecum all season.
- Twice in the first 4 innings the Rangers left the bases loaded. Had Kinsler, Beltre, and Josh Hamilton not come up with big hits, that may have been the big story.
- Mitch Moreland went 1-for-4, striking out three times, but he also made a great defensive play to bail out Andrus in the 3rd. Elvis’ throw sailed high, but Moreland managed to pull it down to end the inning. It’s the sort of play that usually goes overlooked when nothing is really at stake.
- The Rangers have struggled against San Fran in the past, but they managed to take the series by shutting out the Giants twice. No team had shut them out even once this year and it’s the first time Texas has won a game — let alone a series — at AT&T Park.
After an off day tomorrow, the Rangers will be back in Texas to face the Diamondbacks. The start is 7:05 Arlington time and can be seen on FSSW. Colby Lewis is expected to go, as Yu Darvish is being skipped and won’t start again until Friday.
Press on, Rangers fans.