First of all, I can recall very few memorable regular season baseball games I have seen at the time they are happening on television. Sure there are moments you remember – the no hitters, records and the like. But to actually enjoy a baseball game as it is happening and to remember it is rare. I can remember one off the top of my head: the 2007 NL Wild Card one-game playoff between San Diego and Colorado. See, even that one wasn’t really a regular season game. Last night’s game was one of those games.
I will admit, I had followed and not watched the first few innings. By the time I got to a TV (or in this case, MLB.tv) it was the eighth inning. We all know what happened next. The high of Ian Kinsler’s homerun, the low of Joe Nathan’s tenth inning and then Elvis. It was a memorable game that turned what looked to be a two-game lead into a four-game lead. If they can pull it all together tonight, that makes it a five-game lead. A split in this series after the first two and a half games would be nothing short of brilliant and the Rangers are looking at their new crowned jewel to do it.
Ryan Dempster is a very good pitcher. He has been an ace before, and he has been an ace on good teams. But he is not an ace. And he wasn’t traded for pieces an ace would be traded for. He has put up a 3.40-4.00 FIP over the last five years including this one. He has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last four. He is very consistent. And reliable. Given the season the Texas Rangers have been having with their starting pitching, that’s a great asset.
So temper your expectations with Dempster. He is not a 2.25 ERA pitcher, especially considering he is coming to the American League for the first time in his career. He is a very good pitcher who will eat innings and win games. That’s what he was acquired for. Don’t expect greatness. Texas will deal very nicely with his very-goodness.
In an unrelated move, the Rangers also acquired Geovany Soto, who like Dempster came from the Cubs and like Dempster will make his debut tonight. It gives Mike Napoli more time to get to know Dempster and it allows Dempster to get to know the American League with a catcher he has known before. I like the decision by Ron Washington as much as I dislike the decision to have Michael Young play second base tonight. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.