Game 104: Brand New Faces in All the Right Places
By Mike Luna
The Rangers topped the Angels tonight in a good ol’ fashioned Texas shootout.
The final score was 15-9 and both teams were trading blows until the 7th, when Roy Oswalt was able to stop the bleeding. That gave the Ranger bats a chance to pull away.
That’s pretty much the gist of this game, though it was an exhausting 4-hour affair that felt a lot closer than the final score suggests. Instead of doing my typical point-by-point or Moments that Mattered recap, I wanted to break down tonight’s game from the perspective of each of the three newest Texas Rangers.
I’ll start with the starter…
1) Ryan Dempster — Dempster came over in a deal with Cubs about 10 minutes before the trade deadline. He was having far and away the best season of his career, coming into tonight’s game with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts. Sadly, that trend would not be maintained.
In 4.2 innings pitched, Dempster gave up 8 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 6 and allowed 2 homeruns. Both of the HRs were of the solo variety, so he’s doing a fine job of replacing Colby Lewis in that respect.
I’m sure it wasn’t the debut that he had hoped for. A lot of his sinking stuff wasn’t sinking, though at times he showed flashes of it. I expect (or maybe just hope) to see a better effort from him next time out.
For whatever it might be worth, former Ranger C.J. Wilson had an almost identical line to Dempster (5.1 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 solo HRs). So, basically, the starting pitchers cancelled each other out.
It’s almost as if they never pitched at all!
2) Mike Olt — Olt has been a highly touted prospect all season and tonight he made his MLB debut. If I had to guess, the decision to put him in the line-up was fueled primarily by C.J. Wilson’s well-documented left-handedness. Had Jered Weaver been on the mound, you probably would’ve seen Mitch Moreland batting eighth.
But tonight it was Olt.
As far as I could tell, his work at 1st was perfectly adequate, despite being a 3rd baseman by nature.
He looked confident at the plate and in his first at-bat he lined a pitch through the left side for a hit. He would eventually come around to score and ended up going 1-for-3 with a run and a strikeout. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter once Wilson was out of the game.
A solid debut for the rookie, all things considered.
3) Geovany Soto — There was a man on 1st when Olt got that hit, and that man was new Ranger backstop Geovany Soto. Soto is supposed to be better defensively than Yorvit Torrealba (who has been DFA’d and will likely be released). He is also probably a much better hitter than his 2012 batting average (.199) would suggest.
In his first at-bat of the night, he singled to left and eventually came around to score. Later in the game he would add a 2 RBI double. All told, he went 2-for-5, which means his Ranger BA is over twice what it was with the Cubs (hooray!).
Behind the plate he seemed perfectly competent. Though he’s had plenty of experience catching Dempster, he’d never worked with any other Ranger pitchers. Robbie Ross, Oswalt, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan all pitched to him tonight without any seeming miscommunication.
(DISCLAIMER: It’s hard for me to honestly gauge Olt and Soto’s defensive performances, but they both looked good to me. No wacky mishaps or anything that cost any runs.)
So, it wasn’t the best night for Dempster, but it was for Soto and Olt.
It was also a good night for the players, for Wash and the coaches, and for the fans. After getting kicked around in the first game of the series, and having Weaver stand on their neck in the second, Texas bounced back last night and tonight to split the series.
Despite scoring 40 runs in 4 games, the Angels are no closer to overtaking the Rangers than they were on Monday. That’s something we can all feel good about.
Press on, Rangers fans.
(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @twbbg. Per usual, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)