G94: Tommy Hunter shuts out the Tigers, we win 8-0

Tommy Hunter came out of the game after seven innings and having allowed no runs on just three hits. His pitch count was pretty darn good too, topping out at just 92 pitches over seven innings, a pretty good count. His seventh was a bit rocky (ground out, double, walk, fielder’s choice out, line out), but not terrible, I was a little surprised he didn’t come back out for the eighth.
However, he was followed by Darren Oliver, who has been fantastic this season. Darren only allowed one walk, and nothing else. Darren’s had a renaissance here in 2010, I remember when he left last time, it was a “can’t wait to get him out the door” kind of feeling, but he put it together after that second stint with us, finally settling into a good relief job, and this year he’s carrying an ERA of 1.29 after this game. It’s quite spectacular, actually. He’s got a team option for $3.25M for 2011, I’d say it’s a safe bet it’s picked up (he makes $3M this year).
The Rangers took an early lead in this game when Ian Kinsler tripled to the left center field wall, scoring Elvis Andrus. Kinsler himself was brought home on a sac fly by Josh Hamilton. In the top of the second, David Murphy jacked a seriously long home run, which went out over the dead center field wall, which is impressive, as that wall is 420 feet.
They said his home run was 430 feet, and I have to say, my immediate reaction to the home run shows that I watch Tom Grieve a lot on TV coverage, because I said “That was a long home run, boy!”. The “boy” is a Grieve announcing staple, and it came out of my mouth without thinking about it. :)
The score stayed that way until the sixth when Cruz singled in another run.
The Rangers scored four more runs in the top of the ninth in dramatic fashion. The first was a suicide squeeze by Elvis Andrus, scoring Chris Davis. Don’t see a ton of squeezes, and even less so when you’re up 4-0. Ian Kinsler finally did get a ball out of the park after that when he hit the left field foul pole, scoring himself and Michael Young. Josh Hamilton followed with a solo home run to right, so the rout was on. It was 8-0 at this point.
The Rangers brought in Doug Mathis, who was brought up from AAA today to take the slot of Dustin Nippert, who went on the DL as a precautionary reaction to his being hit the in the head by a batted ball the night before. Mathis allowed just one hit, but nothing else, and got the win.
This gave Tommy Hunter a record of 7-0 this season, and set a new all time Rangers franchise record by a starting pitcher having the most wins in his first seven decisions of the season. Nobody had ever done that before, and one wonders how long this can go, because Hunter has looked pretty darned good this year. One would think he’d get a lock on a rotation slot next year if this keeps up. Granted, we said the same thing about Feldman at the end of last year, but when you’re in the middle of the good part of that equation, you’re not thinking that way. :)
But the biggest story I suppose is the fact that we’ve now won two of the three games in Detroit (one left to play Wednesday), and we’ve won both series in Boston & Detroit. I think a lot of Ranger fans expected us to come home from that trip something like 2-5 or 3-4 at best. If we win tomorrow, it’ll be 6-7, which is something I don’t think any of us expected. Thing is if we do win tomorrow, it so easily could have been 7-7. GAH!
But we’re still five games up over the Angels in the West (with more in the loss column). ESPN tonight said the Rangers should win the division, and get well into the playoffs. While I don’t think I’m ready to feel that way, this run has certainly felt good. Nice to see the team getting some love nationally.
Now if only we can get the bloody creditors off our backs and kick Hicks to the curb, giving the reins to Greenburg/Ryan, I think most Rangers’ fans heads would explode.