Rangers Drop Finale, Win Series


Ian Fullington and I discuss stuff

Due to random circumstances I haven’t been able to get behind my keyboard, and subsequently I haven’t written a damn thing in, like, 4 days. As of now I’m back to my normal schedule, so the frequency of posts I generate should be getting back to normalcy. Whether you check this site in your daily rolodex or are just a random passerby–My bad.

Just so we’re all up to the same speed, the Rangers currently own a 6-3 (.667) record, winning each of their prior three series’ 2-1 (Astros, Angels, Rays). Only Oakland (7-2) has a better record in the AL West, though who was thought to be Texas’s chief competition — the Angels — are off to a 2-6 start, and their best pitcher just went down with an injury. Yikes.

Because of my time away, I’ll only be able to give an abridgment of how each game played out in the Tampa Bay series. So here you go:

Monday (W, 3-2)

  • Alexi Ogando (2-0) went 5.1 IP, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, walking 3. He threw 89 pitches. It wasn’t his best outing, but it was nonetheless good enough for the win.
  • The two offensive stars of the game, A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland, combined to go 5-7 with a solo homer apiece. The rest were singles. Andrus added a couple RBI himself.
  • The bullpen was shoddy, particularly Michael Kirkman, who allowed 2 runs in 0.1 IP, throwing half his pitches (16) for strikes (8).
  • In the 9th inning, Joe Nathan allowed one run, dropping the lead to the slimmest of margins (5-4), when Ben Zobrist stepped to the plate. For context, there were two outs, a runner on first base, a 3-2 count to Zobrist, and Evan Longoria was on deck. Basically: Oh shit. The next pitch Nathan delivered was a breaking ball that blatantly appeared to be ball 4, especially with how Nathan and Zobrist each reacted. Zobrist immediately began his march to first base, and Joe Nathan put his glove up as if he was about to receive the ball back from his catcher.
  • Then the ump called strike 3, and the game was over. You can read a full breakdown of that called third strike over at Fangraphs, as Jeff Sullivan crafts an excellent piece, aptly named “Anatomy Of A Really Bad Call”.
  • Basically, yeah, I can understand where Zobrist, and his manager — the best manager in baseball, Joe Maddon — were coming from with their frustrations. I know I would have been royally pissed off if that had happened to my team.
  • But the fact is that I wasn’t on that end of the spectrum, and that from my perspective — being a Ranger fan — I’ll take that strike call and bag that game in the Win Column any day of the week. Thank you very much, ump. Sincerely, Anyone Who Wants The Rangers To Win.
  • I guess objectivity doesn’t always win with me.

Tuesday (W, 6-1) —

  • Nick Tepesch
  • Nick Tepesch Nick Tepesch Nick Tepesch Nick Tepesch Nick Tepesch Nick Tepesch
  • 7.1 IP / 4 hits / 1 run / 5 K’s / 3 BB’s / 104 pitches
  • Stat of the game: Of the 22 outs Tepesch recorded, 5 were via the punch out, and 15 of the remaining 17 were of the ground ball variety. There is dominant like the way Yu Darvish sometimes dominates with strikeouts, and there’s dominant like Tepesch was, where his outfielders were almost entirely unnecessary.
  • The top three hitters in the lineup (Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Lance Berkman) combined to go 6-12 (.500) with 4 of the team’s 6 total runs driven in.
  • Leonys Martin, in really his only impressive game of the season to this point, went 2-3 with a walk, scoring half (3) of the team’s runs.

Wednesday (L, 2-0) —

  • The weather conditions were shitty, plain and simple.
  • The Rays scored two runs — one on a sac fly, the other on a fielder’s choice to Adrian Beltre. That was it.
  • Derek Holland (0-1) threw a 2nd consecutive strong start, compiling 2 runs, 5 hits, and 4 strikeouts in 8 innings of work. Though Holland has only allowed 4 runs in 15 IP to this point, his team simply hasn’t scored him enough runs.
  • In an overall frustrating day of baseball, the Rangers got 5 hits to go along with reaching base on balls 8 times — giving them a total of 13 base runners in 9 innings — and failed to score even once. Sometimes teams have days like that, and other times they only reach base 6 or 7 times, and still manage to scrape 3 or 4 runs out of it.
  • Baseball is crazy, man.

* * *

This is really only for the WAR nerds; you know, us guys that live in our parent’s basements eating Hot Cheetos looking up numbers all day. I just found some of these stats to pretty worth mentioning since we’ve now almost completed a full 10 games.

So far in 32 plate appearances, Lance Berkman is hitting .480/.594/.760, good for a robust 248 wRC+ and a team-leading +0.6 fWAR.

Ian Kinsler is 2nd on the team at +0.4 fWAR, hitting at .286/.390/.543 (143 wRC+).

Nelson Cruz has been one of the team’s better offensive players with a triple slash of .353/.405/.500 (138 wRC+), but I’m afraid at this stage of his career that his bat is the only place he’ll derive any real value. His defense remains sketchy (at best) and his legs don’t have the same burst as they once did.

Through the first two revolutions of the rotation, it should come as no surprise that Yu Darvish’s (0.7 fWAR) opening start has made him the team’s most valuable pitcher so far. His near-perfect game was so good that, by itself, it’s more valuable than two starts from anyone in baseball not named Clayton Kershaw (0.8 fWAR).

Alexi Ogando (+0.5 fWAR) has had a couple solid starts, especially in the run-prevention department. His 0.77 ERA is better than any of the starters, and his 3.14 xFIP/3.09 SIERA is 2nd on the team next to Darvish’s 2.07 xFIP/1.94 SIERA.

The Rangers’ best reliever has been Tanner Scheppers (+0.2 fWAR), who’s both yet to allow a run or a walk in 4.2 IP. I hate to speak too soon because I’m not one for knee-jerk reactions, but if Scheppers continues at the rate he’s going at right now, he is the team’s 2nd best reliever, with a tantalizing opportunity at becoming the Ranger’s closer in 2014 and beyond.