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G4: Rangers take home opener, 3-2 over Angels

I think I’m going to go with a stream of “comments”, vs an article for this game. I’m sitting at my desk doing a ton of things at once (all baseball related), and I have the chance to have live comments here..

Pregame:

Glad for this game to get started, I’m tired of hearing EVERY sports commentator asked “What do you think the reaction to Josh Hamilton will be?” Seriously, does this honestly need to be asked? The “Be silent” people don’t have a chance. We all know what the reaction will be.

I had to stay home for this one, I had a ticket option, but certain realities kept me from attenting. That’s unfortunate, but I’m still “virtually” at the game. Being connected with the radio, mlb.tv, and twitter feeds & Facebook timelines from people who ARE there.. It’ll be cool.

Even though I’m sitting at my computer, and could stream the game over the Internet, I broke out a manual radio, pulled the antenna up, and listened that way. Seems more “pure”. :)

Had a nice lunch from leftovers made by my wife last night – her great buffalo chicken dip. Also, had a beer or two. If I was at the park, I would have had that, so I’ll go with the home beer. Even drinking two at home is about 1/3 the price of ONE at the ballpark. :)

The pre-game announcements were not on the radio. Bit bummed out about that. Will have to watch them on replay on Channel 21 later tonight.

From Twitter – gotta love this one from Anthony Andro.. haahahaha

10 minutes till first pitch. Video going, radio going, twitter up, notepad been used a lot already. iPad here with iScore ready to roll, and the Stella Artois is going. Short of being there, this isn’t too bad. It is also a HECK of a lot cheaper than being there. :)

The pregame pitch by the father of one of the kids killed in that school shooting in Sandy Hook was replayed later, and good lord – were there enough cameras behind home plate? That was NUTS. I’ve never seen that many cameras behind home like that for a ceremoinial first pitch.

Top of the First:

  • Tried watching TV feed with radio. Wonder if the sync will allow for that. It doesn’t always.
  • TV feed is about 4-5 seconds behind the radio feed. Darn. Can’t do that, it makes for a disjointed experience.
  • Very fast top of the first. Good work by Holland.
  • Lineout on the first pitch by Pujols. Got to like that.

Bottom of the first:

  • Before the bottom of the first, there was a horrid commercial for Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo with CJ & Josh Hamilton just aired. Ugh.
  • Lance Berkman looks weird in a Ranger uniform. He’s an Astro.  Still, I’ll take what he gives us offensively.
  • Other than a walk to Elvis, not much going on offensively.

Top of the Second:

  • Liked the people pretending to read newspapers in the stands. That was funny. Then Hamilton struck out. Slider down and away. The people with the newspapers had “Baseball town” in red paint on the paper. That was pretty funny, I wasn’t expecting that. Given he was up first, we didn’t hear much of the booing on the TV coverage, unfortunately due to it starting before TV came back from commercial.
  • MLB has posted video of Josh being booed in his first intro.  You can see that here.

  • Stolen base by Howie Kendrick, and it was pretty much stolen off of Holland. AJ didn’t realy have a chance, and even though Kinsler dropped teh ball, that steal was all on Holland. Perfect throw and a non drop wouldn’t have mattered there.
  • Kendrick got the first hit of the game, too – a single.

Bottom of the Second:

  • Jim Knox is still here.
  • As beer 2 takes the field, Nelson Cruz gets the first double of the home season.
  • Murphy gets Cruz to third with a soft grounder to right.
  • Hamilton muffs a ball in right field allowing an AJ double to become a triple. It looked like a double and an error, but it was officially ruled a triple. That needs to be replayed again this game. :)
  • Kinsler makes it back up to the plate in the second inning, after Gentry walked. He immediately lined out to second base, leaving AJ on third, and Gentry on first.
  • Still, we got first blood with a hit by AJ Pierzynski.

Top of the Third:

  • Home run for Iannetta on the first pitch of the third, that ends that Rangers lead. It also ended a streak of 20 innings where Rangers pitchers didn’t allow any runs at all.
  • In reaching to score that home run, I spilled my beer. Fortunately did not get on iPad, but it did spill on the table. No time to clean it up properly, used T-Shirt to clean off desk, moving on.
  • Other than the home run, was a good inning for Holland. Through three, he’s got 39 pitches. 30 strikes, and 9 balls.

Bottom of the third:

  • First two batters went down quickly, and Beltre got a single on a short soft ball down the third base line. Wasn’t quite a bunt hit, but it sort of looked similar to it.
  • Cruz hit a soft fly to right that Hamilton couldn’t get to – which of course garnered a response from the crowd. It was a long run, but the video will make it look like he didn’t try hard enough, probably. :)

Top of the fourth:

  • Derek had an unintentional intentional walk to Pujols. He’s had good command today, and threw four nowhere near the plate. So it wasn’t officially an intentional walk, but it comes off as such.
  • Josh followed, and struck out again. Again on a slider down and away. I see not much has changed there Josh wise. Lots of boos, but not excessively as far as I can tell.
  • Nothing going on for the Angels, the only thing was the walk to Pujols.

Bottom of the fourth:

  • AJ got a second single, so far he’s batting the best of any Ranger.
  • Moreland seems to be trying too hard. Swinging hard at almost everything he swings at. I know guys swing hard, but there’s swinging hard, and there’s “Carlos Pena / Chris Davis” swinging hard.
  • We did get a couple guys on, and Elvis hit the ball hard again, but was a sinking liner to left. We remain tied after four.

Top of the fifth:

  • Couple of singles to start off the inning. The second one was a small squibber right up the middle.
  • Rangers caught a break when Alberto Callaspo was picked off second in a 1-4-5 pickoff move. It was his 17th career pickoff.
  • That was fortunate, because Mike Trout dobled off the left field wall, which scored Iannetta. Had the pickoff not happened, it would have been more than that. That prompted a visit from Mike Maddux, as we all seemed to realize that Holland’s changeups are staying up too much.
  • That’s all the Angels got, but they did get the lead back. Right before the double, I was thinking of writing “Holland is battling well, but hasn’t broken”. Note to self: Don’t think that.

Bottom of the Fifth:

  • Berkman thought he walked, and had to come back to the plate. Hamilton couldn’t get to another one – he almost crashed into his second baseman, and an obvious out became a double. :) That’s two bad plays in right for Josh, and two strikeouts so far.
  • The first batter after that was Beltre. He flew out to right, but at the start of the play Josh Hamilton fell down. He recovered for the out, but him falling down on his own was fairly comical.
  • Nelson Cruz struck out on three pitches, none of them were really close to being strikes on their own. Nelly helped out there a lot.
  • Murphy struck out looking right after that, and it’s three straight innings we left men on base – in scoring position. We’ve stranded eight batters through five. Not liking that. When we’re down 2-1 five innings into the game, that kind of stat is usually what makes you lose the game.

Top of the Sixth:

  • Pujols struck out – although he didn’t think so.
  • Hamilton came up, and the same group of fans from earlier who were sitting behind newspapers were standing backwards towards the field. He flew out to right for an out, although I was hoping he’d strike out again.
  • Pujols – Hamilton – Trumbo. 1-2-3 nine pitch inning for Holland. That’s always good to see, but especially good when it came in the sixth after Holland had to battle the last couple of innings before this.

Bottom of the Sixth:

  • AJ led off with a single, he’s now 3-3 in this game. Looking quite good. He got to second on a sac bunt by Craig Gentry. Was an “OK” bunt, had it been down the third base line, he could have legged it out. Still, the sac bunt did it’s job. After Moreland grounded out 4-3, moving AJ to third, the Angels changed pitchers.
  • Capt Uppercut came on after Kevin Jepsen took the hill, and not surprisingly turned his 1-9 career numbers against Kevin to 1-10.

Top of the Seventh:

  • We got our first double play of the game in the top of seventh, the second overall for the season. It was a 5-4-3 around the horn on a Holland changeup. He’s been featuring a good changeup this game. The double play did definitely erase some minor concern I had when Hendrick led off with a single.
  • Another quick inning – technically 1-2-3, even with the single to lead off. Holland’s looking good through seven. 94 pitches, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. Not perfect obviously, but still a pretty darned good performance through seven.

Bottom of the Seventh:

  • Another pitching change for the Angels. Garrett Richards has hair that reminds me of Bronson Arroyo. :)
  • Beltre tied the game with a solo home run after whiffing on the first two pitches – where it really looked like he was trying to get a home run. Be nice if we could take the lead this inning for Holland.
  • Cruz followed it up with an incredibly hard hit single to left field.
  • Murphy ended it with a strikeout on a ball that just dropped out, but we did tie the game, so that’s good.

Top of the Eighth:

  • Holland is out after seven. Tanner Scheppers takes over in the 8th, in a role that he’s being counted on to fill that’s of more importance than before. Which isn’t completely fair, every pitcher is expected to get outs, but his role in the pen is likely to be bigger than before for sure. Holland did well against a team he was expected to be knocked around a bit I would think.
  • Scheppers came in and struck out his first batter (Bourjos).
  • Second batter was a short ground out back to the pitcher.
  • Third batter was an easy fly out to right.
  • Scheppers definitely looks improved this year – his pitching has more movement than I remember it having before. He also seems to have increased his speed too. His inning here was a 10 pitch 1-2-3 outing. Really nice performance in the home opener.

Bottom of the Eighth:

  • Going into this, I really hope we score something, mostly because I don’t want to see the Anaheim closer at all. I’d rather take it to them. Let’s see..
  • Gentry hit a ball to right that landed in front of Josh, and kicked away a little, but not enough to do anything. But again, another ball he didn’t dive, or didn’t seem to hustle after to me. Maybe I’m just looking for something to write about him, but there’s been a lot of attention his way, and he hasn’t caught a ton.
  • Jeff Baker came off the bench as a pinch hitter for Mitch Moreland. Baker has done well during the spring, and this was his first action for 2013, so it’s a good strategic call, IMO. Baker ended up striking out looking – was a good pitch on the onside. The graphics on TV showed it to be a bit inside, but the ump had called that a strike most of the day so far.
  • During Baker’s at bat, Gentry stole his first base of the season. That man can run. Throw wasn’t even close. He’s 33 for 40 in steals now for his entire career in the majors – that’s about 83%.
  • Kinsler came through with a single to right field – at Josh Hamilton. And for the second day in a row a throw that Josh made from right field was not in time, allowing the run to score. That makes five straight home openers that Ian Kinsler has an RBI.

Top of the Ninth:

  • Pujols flew out with a long fly ball to left field. His swing was the kind he uses when he jacks one – so there was a moment of concern there.
  • Hamilton was second. Was out after a single pitch – a flyout to center. But. FIRST. PITCH. OUT. We’ve seen that story before.
  • After those first two outs, Nathan appeared to lose the strike zone. He walked Trumbo. First pitch to Kendrick was down and away. Howeever, Hendrick flew out to center, and the save went 1-2-3-4 on 11 pitches (which included a 4 pitch walk).

Other/Summary

  • The Rangers started this game in sole possession of first place. That sounds familiar.
  • That was career save 299 for Joe Nathan.
  • Pierzynski was 3-4 (with a walk). Cruz was 3-4.
  • Moreland and Andrus were hitless, and were the only two.
  • Even with Berkman going 1-4, his average is still .500 so far this season.
  • Both AJ & Gentry are batting .429 after this game.
  • Rangers pitching only had six strikeouts this game, a dearth given how many we had against the Astros. :)
  • Gentry’s speed was huge in the bottom of the eighth. Steal of second, and running home from second wouldn’t have happened with a slower runner for sure.
  • Overall, a very enjoyable game. Mostly because of being “connected”. TV, radio, Twitter, text message. I enjoyed that combination a lot. :)
  • Josh was 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, and two soft fly balls. He either directly muffed or didn’t get to multiple balls in the field. Fan reaction was what I was expecting, except for the fans reading newspapers in the stands. That was funny. :)

But baseball is back! Now I need to get out to a game before too long.