Game 86: A Little More Magic
By Mike Luna
The Rangers just reached the unofficial half-way point of the season in the most dramatic fashion. For the second night in a row, Texas won in extra innings.
Tonight’s game was a 4 hour, 32 minute epic (which included an extra 46 minutes of weather delay) that took 13 innings and 8 Ranger pitchers to complete.
(To pull back the curtain a bit, I sometimes start to write my recaps in my head at about the 7th inning. The narrative is usually easy to predict at that point and it simplifies the whole process if I kind of already know what I want to say. Not so with tonight’s game, which was probably rewritten about a half-dozen times before it was through.)
Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched very well. The home plate umpire squeezed him a bit, which led to an inflated pitch count and a semi-short outing. Through 5.2 innings, Oswalt gave up 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks. He also struck out 3.
He left the game with a 1-0 deficit, which is where it remained going into the top of the 9th.
For reasons that escape me, Ron Washington sent Joe Nathan out after last night’s 2-inning, 36-pitch outing. Nathan wasn’t terrible, but he gave up back-to-back hits and then botched a throw to 1st on a sac bunt.
The Twins scored 2 unearned runs in the 9th and it looked all but over.
The bottom of the inning opened with the Minnesota shortstop mishandling a tricky hop and then throwing the ball into the stands. Ian Kinsler moved to 2nd on the play, then to 3rd on a wild pitch. He would score to break up the shutout, but Texas was still down by 2 when Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate with two out.
Beltre singled after taking a pitch, then Nelson Cruz doubled and Michael Young singled and all of the sudden the game was tied.
Texas would get the winning run on in the 10th, 11th, and 12th before finally breaking through in the 13th.
Kinsler came through with a bases loaded line drive in the gap. The game was finally over and the peasants rejoiced.
Also of note…
- It looked like it might be another one of those nights where Texas made some pitcher you’ve never heard of look like a future Hall-of-Famer. Tonight it was Cole De Vries, who threw only 84 pitches in 7 complete innings of 3-hit, 1-walk, 5-strikeout ball.
- Oswalt left the game after throwing 102 pitches and the bullpen would wind up throwing 100 pitches of their own. Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Mike Adams, Joe Nathan, Michael Kirkman, Yoshinori Tateyama, and Scott Feldman combined for 7.1 innings of work.
Kirkman probably could have gone a little bit deeper than .2 innings, but he pulled something as he ran to cover 1st base in the 10th. He is expected to be healthy enough to pitch after the break.
Feldman ended up being the winning pitcher.
- Here’s a weird stat: the Texas and Minnesota pitching staffs threw exactly 202 pitches each. Oswalt threw the most (102) and Ross threw the least (7).
- The 46 minute delay wasn’t your typical rain delay, but actually came after a devastating bolt of lightning that sounded like it was about to end the world and sent several players scattering towards the dugout. (Nobody actually got hit or anything, but it did cause momentary panic on the field. You can find an amusing collection of .gifs here.)
It happened in the top of the 4th with a runner on and one out. Oswalt came back from the delay and needed only one pitch to induce an inning ending double play.
- Texas goes into the break 18 games over .500 and 4 up on the Angels. Despite losing 5-of-7 so far in July, the Rangers are still in a good place going into the All-Star Break.
Regular play will resume on Friday night in Seattle, when Derek Holland is expected to take the hill.
Press on, Rangers fans.
(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @twbbg. Per usual, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)