The Ranger offense dumped 8 runs across on Justin Verlander (4-4), and Yu Darvish (7-1) slung 8 innings and 130 pitches to give Texas (27-14) a win in the 1st of a 4-game weekend series against Detroit (22-17).
– The bottom of the first began with consecutive singles from Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus; Lance Berkman followed with an RBI fielder’s choice groundout to 2nd, and Adrian Beltre grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end to frame. The Rangers led 1-0 until the top of the 3rd.
– Facing his first batter of the 3rd inning, Darvish uncorked a flat, hanging breaking pitch to Don Kelly, which he popped into the right field seats to even the game at 1-apiece. Following Kelly, the Tigers plated 2 more runs (each by way of a sac-fly) on 3 hits, giving Motown a 3-1 lead that would stand for all of about 5 minutes once the bottom-half of the stanza got underway.
– Staked to a 2-run lead, Justin Verlander’s bottom of the 3rd had an inauspicious beginning. David Murphy started the onslaught with a seeing-eye BABIP single up the middle; then Leonys Martin copycatted with a single to the same spot in the field — hits pitchers can’t control.
After Leonys stole 2nd, Texas had runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and the top of its lineup about to begin its 2nd revolution around Justin Verlander.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
Ian Kinsler was hit on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases; Elvis Andrus walked on 5 pitches to cut the deficit to 1 run; Lance Berkman struck out; Adrian Beltre walked on 4 pitches to tie the game, 3-3; Nelson Cruz struck out;
Then crack went the bat of Mitch Moreland, barreling up on a breaking pitch to drive in two on a double into the right field corner. The Rangers led 5-3.
Geovany Soto followed with his first (and perhaps, only) crucial hit of 2013 — a 3-run homer he launched on a 97-mph Verlander fastball — which was the last pitch of the game for the former American League MVP.
– The only other run Yu surrendered to the Tigers was on a solo home run to Omar Infante to lead off the 4th. As Eric Nadel pointed out on the radio, after not allowing a home run in his first 32.2 IP in 2013, Yu Darvish has given up 2 in each of his last 3 starts. Something to read into? Not really. As the weather begins to warm up teams are going to score more runs, and inevitably many of the fly balls that were outs in April and May will end up in the 4th row during the summer time. Baseball.
Still, despite tying his season-low in strikeouts with 6, and equalling his season-high allowing 7 hits, the final line on Yu Darvish reads pretty nicely;
In total, he went 8.0 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and just one walk — which was intentional. The 130 pitches he threw is a new career-high.
– The win is the Rangers 7th in their last 8 games.
– Don’t look now, but Baseball Prospectus currently has the Rangers’ odds of making the postseason at over 90% which, yeah, you can sneeze at if you’d like to — given how last season ended — but if there’s a valid reasoning someone could give me that suggests anything other than the Rangers taking home the American League West, I’d like to hear it. As it stands right now Texas has a +7.0-game advantage on the division’s 2nd-place team, which is essentially the hole the Angels were in at this time last year.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen my favorite team allow two separate 2-out, 2-strike, game-tying hits in what would have been the decisive game of the World Series in 2011; I saw them lose a 5.0-game lead with 9 left to play in ’12;
I understand why projections are kind of pointless.
Acknowledging that, the individuals who generate this data, these formulas, they’re smarter than I am. The point to statistics is not to use them as an end-all-be-all tool of measurement, it’s to add to your perspective.