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G139: Rangers ride Nelson Cruz to victory, 8-1

In yesterday’s update, I asked if Eric Young had played for us so far this season. He had not, but he was in the starting lineup today in left against Barry Zito. EY had a great day, going 2 for 5 with a double and a triple (which missed being a home run by a couple of feet). EY’s double was a two run job in the first, and the triple (on which he later scored) came in the sixth. EY saw Barry Zito pretty well today in Oakland.
In fact, the Rangers as a whole have been pretty decent against Barry Zito in their last 10 starts, going 5-5. After starting off 12-0 against Zito in his career, .500 seems pretty pedestrian. However it only seems to be in Oakland. In Arlington, he still beats us down, but in his own park, we seem lately to own planet Zito. Today was another in that pattern. Zito walked three in the first inning, finally serving up the aforementioned two run double to Eric Young. We then got another run in the top of the third on the extremely rare inside the park home run to Nelson Cruz. We can thank Jay Payton for that. In fact, Payton played a big part in Gerald Laird’s double, and Eric Young’s triple, I don’t think we would have gotten any of those if Payton had played his position correctly this afternoon.
We added another in the fourth, again by Nelson Cruz, who singled in Gerald Laird. Cruz struck again in the top of the sixth inning by jacking a Zito pitch over the right field wall for a three run home run. This drove Zito from the game finally, after having given up seven runs in his 5.1 innings pitched. Zito walked 6 in all, three in the first inning alone – he was not the unhittable pitching machine we have known from years gone by. But at least he won’t be in our division after 2006, that’s pretty much a given it seems.
While all this was going on, Robinson Tejeda was pitching a gem of his own. Robinson went 6.2 innings, gave up 10 hits, but no earned runs at all. The one run the A’s got was an unearned run on a Laird fielding miscue. Joaquin Benoit & Wes Littleton turned in a combined 2.1IP, giving up just one hit between them; a nice followup. As with yesterday’s game, it’s a shame these great September performances won’t count for much.
We did however get to see Eric Young have a great game, Nelson Cruz have a career game in RBI’s (five), and a great pitching performance by a young pitcher who I hope sticks around and does well for awhile, Tejeda.
If Tejeda keeps pitching like that, it just might make some fans forget about us sending Dellucci away to get him.