ALDS G3: Rangers lose game I attend, 6-3 to Devil Rays

Yeah, I know they’re not called the Devil Rays any more. But it bugged me we didn’t beat them, so I’m calling them the Devil Rays. :) Oh, and you can view the photo gallery of mine from this game here.
This was the third Rangers playoff game I had attended. I was at the Oct 2, 1998 game and the Oct 9, 1999 games as well. Unfortunately, my playoff streak is now 0-3. We lost this game. I had picked the Rangers to win the series in 5 before any games were played, but I think a lot of people (myself included) smelled a sweep coming back home. The stage was set on Saturday for that. But before I get into the game, I wanted to say something else.
A big thanks to Mike Gonterwitz (sp?) for inviting me to his pre-game tailgate. I spent about three and a half hours out there. I was a bit worried at first, because I really didn’t know anyone else other than him. However, I brought some dogs, buns, and some Shiner Bock, and I fit in pretty well. There was a minor panic when the propane ran out, and it was discovered that the spare was left at the house (!), but a friend showed up about 15-20 minutes later with a charcoal ‘que in his truck, so the party was back on again. That dude cooked up some badass fajita steaks, and other sausages and whatnot. I had a great time – a few hours spent outside the game eating meat and drinking beer? Hell yeah, you’re gonna have a good time. :) So thanks Mike – I seriously had a great time. Thanks for the invite, hope to do it again sometime.

Once I got in, it was bloody packed. I mean so packed that the area behind the lower home run porch was packed like LBJ during rush hour. You literally stopped out there. Was by far and a way the worst people traffic jam I’d EVER seen in the 16 years the park’s been open. No contest. Was really awful. Eventually made it to my seat, had a decent vantage point, and settled in to watch the game.
The Rangers had their usual pre-game goodies. Charlie Pride sang the National Anthem, but for me, the best moment was Johnny Oates’ grandson throwing out the first pitch. Long time readers here know my affinity for Johnny Oates (links here and here if you don’t). But I got a kick out of seeing the kid out there (was just 8 as I recall). He was escorted by Rusty Greer & Mark McLemore. Liked that. Nice nod to the Rangers’ past glory there.
Once the game got started, it was OK through the first few. There were no runs scored until the bottom of the third, but Colby Lewis looked a little wobbly. It’s one of those things that won’t exactly turn up in the box score. His overall line isn’t that bad, really. Five innings pitched, two hits, no walks. However, he walked five guys – which is more than he’s walked in any game in 2010. That part wasn’t good. But he didn’t break. Still, this is the playoffs, and had it been a mid season game, he would have stayed out there, I’m sure. But you need to win THIS GAME NOW in October, so I understood him coming out. What I did NOT understand was Darren O’Day being taken out later on in the game after just one out. Lewis was immediately followed by Derek Holland (0.2IP), Alexi Ogando (0.1IP, BS), and then Darren Oliver (who was technically tagged with the loss). Compared to the three bullpen guys who came before him, O’Day was sparkling, yet he was taken out immediately. To me, that was the mistake of the game there. They brought in Feliz to get four outs. I would have left O’Day in to finish the inning he was in, as Feliz was meh. While Feliz didn’t get credited with the blown save or the loss, he probably deserved it. Our pen was not good. It just seemed out of whack, given the way it usually performs.
We had a little life at the end when Nelson Cruz jacked a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to make it 6-3, but by that point the damage was done.
The offense we did have was limited to just three solo runs (3rd, 7th, 9th). The 9th I already mentioned. The other two were on a small ball manufactured run in the third, and the other was another solo home run, that one by “Capt. Uppercut” himself, Ian Kinsler. But really, there was no sustained attack. Six hits overall. No Ranger had more than one hit. To be honest, I expected that with Matt Garza. I was more worried about our performance against Garza than I was against David Price, tell you the truth.
Finally, it doesn’t help when there’s guys on either side of you who are totally non chatty to people they don’t know. *AND* to make matters worse, sigh and groan at every single ball thrown. If it wasn’t a strike, the dude on my right was complaining. That got old after a couple of innings. Come on dude, even Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, & Cy Young threw 100% strikes. Give it a rest, doofus.
Leaving the park, I was bummed at the loss for sure, but as much as Ranger pride might have wanted the sweep, I doubt many people truly expected it to happen. No problem, though.. There’s Sunday’s game.
P.S. The place looked good in all red!