Right now because of my schedule I’ve been stuck playing catch-up. This article is recapping Tuesday’s win. Later on this morning I’ll have a recap of Wednesday afternoon’s affair.
Game 2 in Oakland: Yep, worthy of a graph.
The first 3 runs of the game belonged to Texas (in the 4th inning), which came on a Nelson Cruz sac fly followed by the obligatory Mitch Moreland two-run homer. In the last 14 days Moreland is hitting .347/.407/.796 with 2 2B’s, 1 3B and 6 HR’s. And yes, I’m shocked, to say the least.
After the brief Ranger surge, Derek Holland all but fell apart against the Oakland lineup. It was the 2nd start in a row where Derek was humanized on the mound, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and a walk in 5.2 innings on the bump. In his last start — in Milwaukee — he ultimately only surrendered one run, but it was fool’s gold to mask the 10 hits he gave up.
One of the runs charged to Holland was doubled in off Robbie Ross — the pitcher replacing the Texas starter — which, believe it or not, was the first inherited runner to score on Ross in ’13.
After Robbie completed 0.2 IP, Jason Frasor came in and did the same. Through 7 innings, the Rangers trailed 4-3.
In the 8th, the magic started. Facing Ryan Cook, Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single; then Lance Berkman struck out. 1 out. Then Adrian Beltre singled, advancing Elvis Andrus — who had been running on the play — to 3rd base. With men on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, the Rangers were in business.
Of course, with how Texas has hit with runners in scoring position this year, most of us were still expecting a double play ground out, or a couple strikeouts … really any combination that would hand Oakland two outs before the tying run scored. But no;
Nelson Cruz is the one who tied it, and he tied it in the most boring, do-what-the-game-asks-you-to-do way imaginable: A sac-fly.
The game would remain squared at 4-apiece until the 10th inning, thanks to 2.0 shutout Tanner Scheppers innings. And what more is there I can really say about the guy in 2013? He’s turned into one bad boy with the ball in his hand. In 20.0 IP this year he’s allowed 1 run in total on 12 hits, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 12:4. Given Joe Nathan‘s somewhat noticeable drop-off in velocity, Scheppers is currently the Rangers’ best high-leverage arm in the bullpen, and a big reason why the Rangers have yet to lose a game in 2013 which they’ve led by more than run one.
In the 10th, facing Chris Resop, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland (for the 2nd time of the night) deposited solo blasts into the night, giving the Rangers a two-run lead that they would need every bit of before the night ended.
In the bottom-half of the 10th, Ron Washington summoned closer Joe Nathan to finish the job and guarantee that, at the very least, the Rangers would be leaving Oakland with a 5.0-game lead on the American League West.
After the first hitter of the inning — the newest Ranger killer, Josh Donaldson — flied out, the true climax of an already eventful game began to come into focus:
- Derek Norris walked
- John Jason walked
- Seth Smith doubled to center; Derek Norris scored; John Jason advanced to 3rd
- Brandon Moss intentionally walked
So there’s the situation — It’s a 6-5 game in the bottom of the 10th. The bases are loaded. There’s one out. And Joe Nathan is struggling.
At the time, I was listening to the game on the radio, because for some reason in tense baseball situations I prefer the lack of control. I can focus on the mystery of what I perceive to be happening — from Eric Nadel’s words, or in this case, Matt Hick’s — just as much as the reality of a bases-loaded jam in the decisive inning of the game.
And I like that.
My purple headphones were wrapped around my head; my laptop un-ironically on my lap. Joe Nathan was facing A’s 1st baseman, Daric Barton, in what felt to me like the longest, most excruciating at-bat of the season.
The count was 3-1 before a called strike 2. Full count. I took a hit from my cigarette. Crowd noise crept in and out of my audible periphery, which was augmented by the excitable nature of Matt Hicks. Then, after about a million foul balls, Nathan got the strikeout he desperately needed. Two outs.
To give themselves the platoon leverage, they pinch hit the lefty Eric Sogard for Adam Rosales, and he struck a grounder about as hard as you can hit it, but Ian Kinsler made a fantastic play to his left to end the game.