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 Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Montero’s Misstep — Arizona’s first base runner of the night came in the 3rd when Miguel Montero led off with a 5-pitch walk. It was the first opportunity for either team to get something going, but it was quickly erased when the next pitch was lined right to Elvis Andrus. Montero broke for 2nd (for reasons yet unknown) and was easily to double off.
2) Holding Them Down — The first real threat for either team came in the top of the 6th. With two out, Matt Harrison gave up a 4-pitch walk to Aaron Hill and a 1-pitch single to Justin Upton. With the way Wade Miley was pitching, 1 run could have been enough to sink the Rangers. Thankfully, Harrison was able to reach into his Magic Bag of Infinite Ground Balls and induce a ground out to 3rd.
3) What a Relief — Harrison pitched into the 8th with the score still tied 0-0. With one out, Willie Bloomquist hit a double down the 1st baseline. Ron Washington wasted no time going to Mike Adams, who got Hill to pop-up & Upton to strikeout.
4) Laying Off is Paying Off — All night Miley frustrated Ranger hitters by throwing hard breaking balls that dove out of the zone. Hitters were either fooled into taking strikes or chasing balls, but Mike Napoli finally managed to work a walk to lead off the 8th. After a sac-bunt and a miserable pinch-hit strikeout, Napoli would come around to score on a Craig Gentry single to left. That would be the winning run.
Random Observation, Apropos of Nothing — Adams takes eons to do anything. Just coming set is a complicated affair for him, which is especially frustrating with one out and the (potential) winning run on 2nd base. I guess you can’t argue with results, but c’mon!
Also of note…
- Matt Harrison continues to throw the ball well. In his last two starts he’s pitched 16.1 innings of shutout ball. Tonight he allowed 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 3.
- Adams picked up the win after mopping up in the 8th and Joe Nathan nailed down the save with 2 strikeouts and a pop fly.
- Miley actually pitched better than Harrison, all things considered. He gave up only 3 hits, struck out 8, and only walked 1. Unfortunately, that walk would be the winning run. Not much else he could have done, really.
- Nelson Cruz was out of the line-up for the second day in a row, apparently still dealing with some kind of virus that’s been making the rounds. Unlike last night, however, he was available off the bench and would make an appearance in the 8th. It actually wasn’t a very smart move on Wash’s part, for several reasons.
For one, if Cruz is still battling an illness, he probably won’t be at 100%. Beyond that, he’s cold after sitting on the bench for 2 hours. Then you consider that the Rangers had all of 2 hits up to that point and one of them came from Brandon Snyder, the guy that Cruz PH for.
Maybe Wash legitimately thought that Cruz was going to do something, or maybe he got all googly-eyed at having that kind of weapon available. Either way it didn’t work, as Cruz struck out on 3 pitches in one of the more pitiful at-bats that I’ve seen in a while. It probably would have gotten a lot more attention had Napoli been stranded in scoring position, but luckily we don’t live in that world.
- There was actually a 29-minute rain delay in this game, though you wouldn’t know it. Because of two very efficient pitching performances, the game only took 2 hours and 12 minutes.
- As I was writing this recap, I had to leave my computer for a few minutes to watch Matt Cain finish the first perfect game in Giants history. This has nothing at all to do with Texas, except that former Ranger Joaquin Arias* recorded the final out of the game on a perfect throw from 3rd to 1st. Arias is the sort of guy that you expect to botch that play, but he pulled it off.
I’m happy for him and for Matt Cain and for the Rangers, who managed to avoid Cain over the weekend. Good job, guys! Good effort!
That’s all from me. Texas goes for the sweep tomorrow night at 7:05 Arlington time. Tune in to FSSW (or MLBN, if you’re out of the blackout zone) to see Scott Feldman really try his hardest.
Press on, Rangers fans.