Game 3: Moments that Mattered
By Mike Luna
The Texas Rangers wrapped up the first series of 2012 with a win on Sunday night. The final score was 5-0, with four of the five runs coming on homeruns. Texas took 2 of 3 from the White Sox this weekend.
The game was about all that you could ask for, especially after Joe Nathan dropped it in the 9th inning the night before.
Matt Harrison threw 6 scoreless innings, followed by Mark Lowe, Robbie Ross, and Koji Uehara.
Ross looked good in his Major League debut. He walked the first hitter he faced, though he may have been squeezed by the umpire. Adam Dunn followed by popping up, Paul Konerko struck out, and Alex Rios grounded into a fielder’s choice.
I was most impressed by Ross’ composure. After walking Gordon Beckham, he came right after Dunn and Konerko. Both of those guys are dangerous and it was nice to see the young lefty challenge them.
Uehara took the ball in the 9th. A.J. Pierzynski started the inning by flying out to right, though most of the Ranger faithful (myself included) assumed that it was a homerun off the bat. Koji did manage to keep this one in the yard.
He then gave up a hit to a pinch-hitter, but got a strikeout and a weak groundball to end the game. It was a good outing by Uehara and certainly something to build on.
The thing that struck me the most was that a lot of his pitches were up in the zone, which can be very dangerous in the Ballpark. Only his final pitch of the night, the one that was bashed into the dirt, seemed to have any sink on it.
If Koji is going to see continued success, he’ll have to use his forkball to get more guys out.
Something else I noticed was that, in the 7th inning, Josh Hamilton came to the plate. Chuck Morgan, the PA announcer at the Ballpark, did his usual introduction to the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, number 32, Josh…”
Only this time something weird happened. Morgan either had something in his throat or he tripped over Jamilton’s last name. Whatever it was, the word ended up sounding more like Hamifloon instead of Hamilton. For no reason, that really made me laugh.
To wrap this up, I want to share something that I’m going to try to do in my game recaps this season…
I’ve heard it said that the outcome of any given game comes down to about four plays. What I want to do is pinpoint those plays in each game that I cover. We’ll see how this little experiment goes.
- Murphy Goes Deep — The Rangers went in order in the first two innings, but David Murphy started the 3rd off with a solo homerun to right. Two more HRs were hit later in the game, but it turned out that Murphy’s was all of the offense that the pitching staff needed.
- Harrison Flashes His Leather — In the 4th inning, the White Sox threatened to tie the score. Beckham led off with a double (though it should have been a single and an error on Murphy) and Dunn moved him to 3rd. Konerko followed by hitting a hard groundball straight up the middle, which Harrison managed to corral before it went through his legs. Beckham had already broken for Home and was an easy out after a short rundown.
- Still 90 Feet Away — In the 5th inning, Harrison got two groundouts before giving up a triple to Eduardo Escobar. Harrison then induced a groundball from Alejandro De Aza, which kept the Sox off the board. The Rangers had already scored two more runs in the 4th, but it’s best no to let the other team get a quick run and think that they’re back in the game.
- One More Jam – An inning later, Harrison had to work out of one last tough spot. Pierzynski stepped to the plate after a two-out single and a walk. Harrison refused to give in and Pierzynski swung through strike three. It was a great way for Harrison to finish his night.
As you can see, most of the best plays in the game came when Matt Harrison had runners in scoring position. That was the story of the night, as the White Sox threatened occasionally, but never could get anything going. Harrison kept them off-balance and off the board.
All in all, the game was almost boring in how easily the Rangers won it. Of course, I’ll take a boring win most nights. They all count the same in the standings.
Speaking of standings, the Rangers have their first lead over the Angels in 2012. Anaheim lost to Kansas City this afternoon, meaning that Texas is one game ahead of Pujols and the Angels.
As one final note, D-Day is tomorrow. Yu Darvish will be making his Major League debut against Ichiro and the Mariners. It’s a 7:05 start and, last I heard, there were 8,500 tickets still available. I’ve got my ticket, so come on out and help me cheer on Yu. It should be an exciting night of baseball.
Press on, Rangers fans.
(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @BleacherSeatsTX. As always, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)