Yu Darvish struggled with his command, control, and velocity on Tuesday night against the Yankees, and Tanner Scheppers served up a walk-off homer to Ichiro, ending the Rangers’ 5-game winning streak.
Darvish threw 25 pitches in the 1st inning, a precursor for things to come; he completed only 5.1 innings — throwing 110 pitches — and surrendered 3 runs (all on solo jacks), 7 hits and 2 walks. He struck out six.
On offense, the production came predominantly from the 9th-place hitter — Leonys Martín — who hit two solo homers off the Yankee starter, Hiroki Kuroda — one on a line drive that cleared the abbreviated right field by about ten feet, the other a long popup that gently fell into the right field crowd like it was landing on a pillow;
The rest of the lineup generated one (unearned) run and 3 hits in 30 at-bats.
Aside Martín, the other standout of the night was none other than reliever Neal Cotts, who threw 23 pitches to 5 batters (all outs), striking out 4. This is also to acknowledge that if I’m giving a gold star to a relief pitcher, the safe assumption is the game wasn’t entirely awe-inspiring. At all.
The game was tied at 3-apiece heading into the bottom of the 9th when Ron Washington decided to use Tanner Scheppers (for a 2nd inning) instead of Robbie Ross, even though the Rangers were navigating through a stretch of 5 consecutive left-handed Yankee bats. The egregious part isn’t that Scheppers started the inning instead of Ross, because right-hander Chris Stewart led off the inning; what’s inexcusable is that Washington didn’t even have Robbie Ross getting warm.
As it turns out, Ross was slinging pitches in the bullpen while Tanner Scheppers uncharacteristically tossed up a fat middle-middle two-seam fastball to Ichiro — the 2nd of 5 lefties — which the future Hall-of-Famer turned into a game-winning knock.
Forward thinking … it matters. It’s basically a manger’s job for 3 hours a night, 162 (or more) games a year. To think about these things.
If you’ve read more than just this article, you know what I think of Wash. I don’t need to dwell any more on it. Though I believe my criticisms of him are more than fair, they serve as more of a nerd’s annoying obsession than any kind of ongoing declaration to fire the man. Those items are mutually exclusive, and I don’t want that line to get lost in translation. Not now and not any time until I actually say it’s time for him to go — which I don’t anticipate to be any time soon.
With Oakland’s (45-34) stomping out of the Reds on Tuesday, the AL West lead is ostensibly even (again). If you enjoy being technical as much as I do, then yeah, it’s fair to say the Rangers (44-33) lead by percentage points. Because they do, and I don’t care if I’m paying attention to the division race in June.
After a troubling 1-6 skid at home against Cleveland and Toronto, Texas passed its litmus test by winning 6 of 7 against two of baseball’s best. The team is fine. New York isn’t always the easiest place to play, so it would be nice to split the next two games before heading back home for 9 at The Ballpark.