Game 71: Moments that Mattered
By Mike Luna
I’ve heard it said that the outcome of any given game comes down to about 4 plays. I’ll do my best to pinpoint those plays from Friday night’s 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Setting the Tone — Roy Oswalt made his first big league start since signing with the Rangers last month. He would’ve had a 1-2-3 inning in the 1st, but a line drive that Josh Hamilton lost in the Sun resulted in a double. Jason Giambi had a chance to provide the Rockies an early lead, but struck out with a full count. Giambi swung right through a beautiful 81-MPH change-up, which was only a preview of what was to come in this game.
2) Patience Pays Off — Jamilton made up for his defensive gaffe when he walked with two out in the bottom of the 1st. His approach at the plate was exactly what Texas needed, as Adrian Beltre lined one over the right field wall for an early 2-0 lead.
3) Avoiding the Big Bats — Oswalt got into trouble once or twice in this game, but was (almost) always able to dance out of it. One of the bigger moments was in the 5th, when the Rockies had two on and two out. With Carlos Gonzalez on deck and Giambi to follow, Oswalt was able to get Marco Scutaro to ground out, which ended the chance of a big inning.
4) Capping Off a Fine Performance — Oswalt allowed a single to start the 7th, but followed it up with a 4-6-3 double play. Those would be the last outs that Oswalt would record, but it was a good debut for the veteran right-hander.
Random Observation, Apropos of Nothing — Much like Nolan Ryan, Oswalt coming to the Rangers makes a lot of sense. He’s a hard-throwing country boy. He’s a great competitor with a bulldog mentality. He also used to pitch for the Astros, just like Ryan.
It won’t take long for fans to embrace Roy Oswalt, especially if he pitches the way that he pitched tonight.
Also of note…
- Oswalt had about as good a debut as you could ask for. He went 6.2 innings, gave up 1 run on 9 hits, struck out 6, and walked 1. He needed only 110 pitches, 81 of which were strikes. The only time that he couldn’t work his way out of trouble was in the 7th, when he gave up a triple and a double with two out.
- Robbie Ross pitched an inning, stranding a runner in the 7th. He actually didn’t look very sharp, getting behind all 4 hitters that he faced. Mike Adams relieved Ross, giving up a single in .1 innings of work. Joe Nathan did the Joe Nathan, striking out 2 in a perfect 9th inning.
- Tonight’s game was well played, with tight defense and timely hitting. The win streak is up to 7 and it’s almost as if May never happened at all.
- The Rockies certainly missed some opportunities, leaving 10 runners stranded and going 1-for-8 with RISP. I’m not sure if this says more about Rockie hitting or the Ranger pitching, but I love the results.
- The Rangers did all of their scoring in two short bursts. Beltre had his homerun in the 1st, then reached on an infield single in the 4th. Nelson Cruz doubled him in and got caught trying to advance to 3rd. Mike Napoli followed with a long-ball to right.
- Texas actually had a few more scoring opportunities that sort of evaporated on bizarre happenstance. Yorvit Torrealba was thrown out of the plate in the 2nd. Cruz was out on his double, which I mentioned. Beltre reached on an error in the 6th, but was called out when a Cruz line drive supposedly hit him. The replay didn’t indicate that he had made any contact with the ball, but he probably would have been out going 1st-to-3rd anyway.
- Ian Kinsler turned 30 today. He celebrated by going 0-for-3. He did reach on an HBP, but was erased after getting picked off. Elvis Andrus and Michael Young celebrated Kinsler’s birthday by going 0-for-4 and 0-for-3 respectively.
- Craig Gentry rolled his ankle as he tried to beat out a bunt in the 5th. He stayed in the game, but was limping noticeably. You’ve got to hope he’s okay, considering the weapon that he’s been for this team.
- Dave Barnett missed his third straight game after Monday night’s bizarre on-air performance. He’s expected to miss the entire weekend series, though there’s no official word on the state of his health.
- The club officially placed Mitch Moreland on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks. You’ll probably see a platoon of Young, Napoli, and Brandon Snyder in the meantime.
Quick turnaround for tomorrow’s game, as Colby Lewis takes the hill for a 2:05 start (Arlington time). You can see it locally on FSSW.
Press on, Rangers fans.
(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @twbbg. Per usual, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)