Games 31 and 32 – Moments that Mattered


Kind of a mixed bag today, with a victory and a loss. The defeat wasn’t an atrocious disaster, and the victory wasn’t a stirring triumph, either. I’ll just get right into the notes:

Game 1:

Colby Lewis – Well, that was sort of a disaster. Colby’s home-run tendencies exploded in a bad way today; allowing 5 home runs virtually guarantees a loss. The fact that three off them happened on the first three batters of the game for the Orioles probably didn’t help team morale, either. On the other hand, Colby managed 12 strikeouts, stuck it out for 7 innings, and walked just a single batter. In fact, if even half of those home runs had fallen in and been caught, we would be talking about a completely different ballgame.

Batting – Not a bad job, overall. Yorvit Torrealba especially seemed to be on point, although most everyone else got a hit in. David Murphy’s was especially meaningful, blasting a home run in the ninth inning which brought the Rangers to within one. Ultimately, the Ranger’s hits were scattered enough that it was hard to really put together meaningful scoring. Moreover, the Rangers weren’t able to work count sufficiently, allowing the Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen to pitch seven and two-thirds innings.

Game 2:

1. Errors – That was really frustrating. Derek Holland gave up three runs, none earned, because of a veritable comedy of errors. Kinsler had one dart right through his legs, Andrus bobbled a potential double-play, and Hamilton threw a ball to home plate, I guess, although really it landed somewhere near the Ranger dugout. Ultimately it ended up not affecting the game much, because the Rangers offense came through, but it forced Derek Holland to pitch to three extra batters, the equivalent of an extra inning, which ended up chasing him from the game in the sixth inning when he probably could have made inroads into the seventh. Apart from the errors Derek had a really strong start, getting plenty of groundballs, limiting the walks, and striking out five batters.

2. Bullpen – The 7-8-9 combo of Ogando, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan pitched beautifully today, especially Ogando, who reduces his ERA on the season to .54, a truly fantastic number. Ogando has been a hero for the Rangers in his tenure so far; he was a shutdown reliever in 2010, transitioned to the rotation in 2011 and performed quite well there, and then returned to being a shut down reliever this year without a hitch.

3. Elvis Andrus – Another terrific game from the young shortstop. He currently ranks tied for third among MLB shortstops in WAR, and would be tied for first but for the weirdly bionic Derek Jeter and Rafael Furcal, who seem to have decided to turn back the clock a half-decade or so.

4. The rest of the batters – Also a great job, especially from Hamilton, who hit a first-inning two run home run which set the tone for the rest of the game. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young both looked fairly lost at the plate, though, which is alright for Michael Young, he’s earned the vacation he seems to be taking with some great work earlier this year; Cruz, however, needs to heat up soon. His strikeout rate hasn’t gone up much. Instead, it seems like the problem is weak contact; he isn’t hitting with quite the authority he did last year. Hopefully this is the kind of problem that can be fixed with some extra work in the batting cage, so he can start making harder contact.

I’m glad the Rangers took the series, and I was impressed with all facets of the team against the Orioles. I’m looking forward to a strong-three game series against the Angels.

On a personal note, I attended the double-header game at Camden Yards in Baltimore today, and had a great time. I was surprised by how many Rangers fans were in attendance. When I went to games last year and the year before, Rangers fans were more of an endangered species.