The Rangers were determined not to get shut out in today's game. They brought the bats out early. And then put them away ... but at least they got them out.
All of Texas' runs came in the 1st inning today, courtesy of David Murphy two-run home run and an Adrian Beltre solo shot. The early runs were good to see, and I'm sure no one appreciated them more than Ross Wolf, who made his Rangers debut.
Who? Yeah, I didn't know who he was either, but sometimes no expectations are a good thing. Wolf was a pleasant surprise. Through three, Wolf hadn't allowed a single base runner. Coco Crisp ended that in the 4th, and the A's got their first hit and first run of the day in that inning. Fortunately, thanks to Wolf and the bullpen, it was Oakland's only run of the day.
The pitching today was really fantastic. Wolf, Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross and Joe Nathan combined...
Where, oh where has the Rangers offense gone? I feel like they used it all in the Detroit series. Or something. All I know is I want it back.
Yu Darvish pitched six frames, and the only Oakland run was a home run by Yeonis Cespedes. Honestly, Darvish wasn't his sharpest tonight, but he was still good enough for a win. If only he'd had a little offense to help him out.
Unfortunately, that was nowhere to be found. The Rangers only managed three hits all night, and they all came from the bottom of the order -- Craig Gentry, A.J. Pierzynski and Jurickson Profar. There weren't even any walks. So those were literally the only three Rangers base runners all night. And they couldn't get past second base. Sigh.
Now the boys are in jeopardy of being swept, unless they find their bats tomorrow.
KISS: Neal Cotts had a nice shutdown inning in his Rangers debut.
I only saw and heard bits of tonight's game due to storms in my area. This didn't end up being the worst thing ever.
Josh Lindblom made a spot start (I hope) tonight, and while it wasn't enjoyable, I didn't expect much more. Lindblom lasted 4.2 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks. Wish he could have stayed in longer, but as far as I know, he's not really a starter, so 88 pitches is probably about it from him.
Meanwhile, the Rangers' offense was virtually absent. Against Bartolo Colon. I'm not sure why we weren't hitting him. Perhaps it's a bit of a hangover from the Detroit series. Hard to tell. But two runs on six hits is not acceptable ... or the way to win a game. Oh, and both runs were driven in by Jurickson Profar in his 2013 major league debut (he played a few games last season). So, I guess it...
OK, so I lied to you on Thursday night. I told you I'd be back on Saturday, and I decided to go out instead. But I did read about the game and love that Elvis Andrus had a five-hit night. Then again, I generally love Elvis Andrus. So, there's that.
For tonight's game, I somehow persuaded a friend to go watch it with me at a local establishment. We knew weather was coming in, and as luck would have it, we spent most of the evening watching weather coverage at the establishment instead. Acceptable since we were under a tornado warning for about an hour. I did get to see a few innings though, including the 5th and 6th inning rallies, in which the Rangers scored four runs each.
We headed home after that, and since I don't have cable, I got to listen to the rest of the game. Sounds like that was for the best as, according to...
Darvish vs. Verlander.
All day, I looked forward to tonight's game. With two of the best aces in the game going head to head, I just knew it was going to be a beautiful night of pitching. I guess I forgot about the potent offenses. Or something.
The Rangers got to Verlander first, scoring once in the 1st inning, after their own pitcher had thrown 11 pitches. But then Detroit took their bats to Darvish in the 3rd and jumped ahead 3-1. It was a pretty rough inning for Darvish, and I was sure he'd be done in the next few frames.
I was wrong. Darvish wasn't done, and neither were the Rangers.
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Rangers bats went crazy -- scoring seven times on four hits. Okay, so there was also a hit by pitch and two runs walked in that inning. It was not Verlander's night, and Geovany Soto was the last batter he faced. Soto...
Admittedly, I've been worried about Nelson Cruz this season. Some of that worry was for his bat, but most of it was for his glove. Today, he presented strong evidence that I need not worry about him just yet.
In the afternoon finale of the Oakland series, Cruz made a spectacular catch and hit a three-run home run. Cruz' heroics helped Alexi Ogando secure his fourth win of the season and to ensure the Rangers took the series. And thank goodness today's game was far less dramatic and stressful than last night's game.
The offense played a big role in that. Lance Berkman drove in two runs on a single in the 3rd. He had the bases loaded, so I naturally hoped for more, but I'll take two. The Rangers really broke out the bats in the 5th, scoring four times. Three of those came in on Cruz' aforementioned home run.
Ogando did plenty of work for himself, holding the Athletics...
Tonight's game felt a little like a late season game. Even though it's only May, I was hanging on every pitch at the very end. And my heart was pounding. Man, baseball can be such a rush. And such a downer at times too.
Mitch Moreland can't be feeling too down lately. He's been on fire this month. Tonight, he hit two home runs, and the second one -- a solo shot in the 10th -- proved to be very valuable as it gave the Rangers what we believed to be an insurance run at the time. It ended up being the winning run.
Mitch wasn't the only offense though. Adrian Beltre also hit a home run in the 10th and finished the night with three hits. Elvis Andrus had two hits. The boys didn't hit into any double plays tonight, but there were a few times they wasted runners in scoring position. So irritating.
For the record, Derek Holland did...
There's no better word to describe how the Rangers looked tonight in Oakland. It's like they didn't want to be there. And who can blame them? With banjo music in the 6th inning, who would want to be there?
Justin Grimm would probably like to forget the entire month of May. His ERA has inflated from 1.59 to 4.28 in his three May starts. The Athletics roughed him up pretty good tonight, scoring five times on seven hits during Grimm's five innings on the mound. It wasn't pretty.
Neither was the Rangers' offense. Or whatever you want to call it tonight. The only run they scored came on a Mitch Moreland home run in the 2nd inning. After that, it was zeros all the way across the board. Several of the batters seemed frustrated by the strike zone, but fans were just plain frustrated as they watched ... or maybe skipped the rest of the game to get to bed...
Tonight's win might have been the ugliest of the season so far. It was far far closer than it should have been.
I'll be up front and confess that I slept through the first four innings. I never take naps, but apparently my body needed one this afternoon. When I woke up a little after seven, the game was already in the 5th inning. And tied at one run each, courtesy of home runs by Adrian Beltre and Matt Dominguez.
Darvish had a heck of a time with Dominguez, who hit two home runs off him tonight. While he didn't look as sharp as usual, Darvish didn't have a complete meltdown at any point. He struck out nine and allowed four runs on four hits and three walks. A pair of errors by Ian Kinsler in the 7th could have been costly, but fortunately ended up being a non-factor ... except that it meant extra pitches for Darvish, who went...