Game 49: Depth Is The Biggest Weapon
By Jared Book
Early in the season, it was Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. Then Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. Then Mike Napoli came and went in between the two. Now, it seems like Napoli and Nelson Cruz are the two players who are carrying the Rangers’ offense and nowhere is it more obvious why this Ranger team is dangerous then looking at their lineup. If two players are struggling or injured, two more break out of their slump. It has been like that all season. If everybody is firing on all cylinders? It becomes a 7-run inning.
There are times where the Rangers do actually struggle offensively. They remain one of the worst offenses with runners in scoring position. They leave so many men on base mostly because they get so many men on base but no team has players that can come into the lineup and perform like the Rangers do. It is almost to the point where the offense is so reliable and so solid that it has almost become underrated. Mitch Moreland was struggling early in the year. Now? He has an OBP above .350. And he often bats ninth. Probably the only Ranger I don’t feel like something can happen with at the plate is Alberto Gonzalez. And doesn’t mean he’s a bad player, just compared to everyone else, he’s the guy I don’t want at the plate. If only every team only had their utility infielder as the guy they don’t want up to the plate. Or, as the Seattle Mariners called him, their starting third baseman and left fielder Chone Figgins.
So, yes, Josh Hamilton was pounding the ball. But suddenly, he wasn’t anymore. And when that happened, no one really noticed. Because they were scoring 10+ runs a game and Nelson Cruz had eight RBI. Then, last night in the sixth inning the Rangers had two men on base in a tie game with their No. 7 hitter coming to the plate. Mike Napoli then hit a shot over the right field fence. There was joy in Arlington. Texas took the lead and never looked back.
- Against a lineup designed specifically to deal with Matt Harrison, Harrison was dealing. He went 8 innings allowing two runs, scattering seven hits and getting five strikeouts. Oh, and he had 12 groundball outs. That’s a good night for someone who had been dealing with as much of a platoon split as he had.
- Whoever has never seen Craig Gentry patrol center field and saw last night’s diving “attempt”, they will probably never believe the defensive stats that show Gentry to be so good. Those who watch the team know last night was the exception, but often that’s what plays on the highlight reel…
- On that play, what a relay from Cruz and Kinsler and an amazing job of Napoli of blocking the plate. If you watch the replay, Ryan had the throw beat, but never touched home plate because of Napoli’s left leg. He gets some heat for his defensive play but last night’s relay was a thing of beauty from Gentry’s dive on.
- Scott Feldman going against the Mariners tonight who will be sending out Jason Vargas. Feldman had a good start going last time out, but a couple of late runs ruined his chance at the win. This is first time starting on regular rest and we’ll see how that works out for him. Another struggling start, and the Rangers may call on someone else to start until Neftali Feliz comes back.