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G7: Rangers beat Rays behind a six spot in the sixth, 8-4

I think most people expected the Rangers to beat the Devil Rays at least two out of three, and after the first game, I’d say they’re well on their way to that. They beat the Rays pretty handily. The offense showed up tonight, we had pretty decent pitching, and it looked like a fun time in the Rangers dugout.
This game started off relatively quiet. Oh sure, the Rays bunched a couple of hits together in the second for a couple runs, and the Rangers manufactured a couple of runs in the fourth thanks to a steal of second, but for the most part, it was a pretty well pitched game through five and a half innings.
Brandon McCarthy went six innings, giving up just two runs on 5 hits and two walks. A few too many, IMO, but the bottom line was not bad. Kameron Loe followed him, and has NOT looked like the same guy we saw in spring training. The scary part about that is that it will likely keep Jamey Wright in the starting rotation longer, which is something this Rangers fan is not looking forward to. Scott Feldman and our other scrapheap pitcher, Bruce Chen did toss scoreless innings to keep us in the win column.
The sixth though was a good inning for us, as we put up a six spot, and it seemed that no matter what the Rays were throwing we were hitting it. No home runs mind you, but a lot of hits, and that works, too. In fact, at one point, our output in the sixth was: single (w/steal), single, single, single, walk, single, double, walk. The coolest part of the inning was that Rangers backup catcher Chris Stewart started his first game, and also got his first major league hit, which also came in a (at that time) close game, and came with an RBI as well. This was the funny moment, because the umps pulled the ball out of the game, handed it to the Rangers coaches, who passed it from person to person where it landed up in the hands of Matt Kata, who faked throwing it into the stands. Ron Washington was watching that and threw up his hands as if to go “NO – DON’T DO THAT!”. Kata pulled his hands down and busted out laughing. I caught it as it happened, before Josh & Tom talked about it on the TV replay. I don’t think we would have seen anything like that under the Showalter regime. It’s nice to see that kind of atmosphere in the dugout.
It is kind of weird to look in the box score and see our first three guys all with batting averages under the Mendoza line. This would be Lofton with .115, Catalanotto with .111, and Young with .194. Even Tex is only batting .261. The only two guys who seem to be fine out of the gate offensively are Hank Blalock & Nelson Cruz. That’s good, as there’s an article on the Rangers site this morning saying that Cruz will be playing a lot more. He’s a great defender, and seems to be moving towards getting it together offensively, too.
Also, the guy the Rays have playing third made some great defensive plays, especially that really hard hit ball he grabbed when he was playing in against the bunt. That was one of the better lineout plays to third I’d ever seen, and I watched guys like Brooks Robinson & Mike Schmidt in my youth. Akinori Iwamura plays a great third. Not sure what he’s going to be like offensively here, but if he is good, that will be a great pickup for Tampa Bay.