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G109: Rangers take opener in Oakland, 5-1, get Lee a win

Cliff Lee goes eight.
We got him some runs.
One of those is common this season, the other is not. As a Rangers fan, you should be able to tell which is which.
But what we did get to see from Cliff Lee is how a baseball player clears his nose between innings. That’s one of those moments when you go, “Uh, do we need to be focusing on this in the dugout?” I mean he put his finger over one nostril, blew, repeated with the other side, and then wiped his nose with a towel.
However, you can excuse that when you realize that Cliff Lee has pitched 86 out of the last possible 88 innings he could pitch (if he went complete games all 10 of his last games). That’s amazing. Amazing is how the Rangers have perceived Cliff Lee to be. He had a bit of a hard time in the first inning, going a staggeringly awful (for him) 20 pitches. He gave up a run, and after a hit in the seventh, pretty much became the Cliff Lee we knew about all the time he’s been here. Mowed guys down, seven pitch innings. Making A’s batters look foolish. In all he went eight innings, allowed seven hits, the one run. Walked nobody (again), and struck out eight. He would have gone nine, but when he came out, he had thrown 112 pitches. A little high for him, so that’s OK.
Frankie came in and threw a 13 pitch one hit shutout inning to get the win in Oakland. Yeah, other than the first inning, the Rangers pitching just dominated. Mark McLemore said in the post game show that it’s like watching a Cliff Lee perform surgery on the A’s lineup out there tonight. Interesting metaphor.
Offensively, the Rangers tied the game in the top of the third when Elvis Andrus doubled in Taylor Teagarden. The Rangers tied the game in the next inning when Josh Hamilton really tattoed a ball out over the center field wall. It was a slow curve he hit out, so you almost had time to watch it coming. Was one of those pitches that seemed to take a full minute to get to the plate, and you had time to examine it on the way in. Before Josh even swung the bat, I thought it looked like a home run ball, and it turned out it was.
But it wasn’t the coolest home run. That came in the fifth. Taylor Teagarden has just four hits this year. Two of them are home runs against the A’s. Teagarden went 2-4 this game. That he doubled his total hit output for the WHOLE season in a single game is not a great thing. I mean, you go 2-4 and RAISE your average to .105. Bad. Still, it was a good game for him, and he got to catch Cliff Lee, so it was a great night for Taylor.
The Rangers also scored their final run in the eighth on a balk, which canceled what would have been a double steal of second and home again.
The Rangers are now 9.5 games up against both Anaheim & Oakland. Rich Harden goes on Saturday. Hopefully we get the Harden we got the last time we were in Oakland earlier this year. Not the Harden we got the rest of the season, save for his most recent start.
The whole thing feels good. Man. It is a good time to be a Rangers fan. This might be the best season since the first season after I started this site (which was Dec 1998 – you figure it out). :)