G155: Rangers clinch AL West title with 10-3 sweep win!

The Rangers are the 99 AL West Champions!

Oh man – what a high! I was at this game and we won. We won big, we won at home, WE WON!
I’m running late at work, I won’t have time to write my commentary right now, but I will tomorrow. I’m actually going again tonight to the Mariners game (the final game of my 1999 Mini Plan package), so I’ll do this tomorrow.
I took a bunch of pictures with the digital camera of the game and the celebration, I’ll be posting them tomorrow, too. In the meantime, here’s one of me standing outside my car after the game was over. What you can’t see in this picture is that my car has a Texas Rangers license plate, and a window sticker on it, too. :)
UPDATE: As I sit down to write this on Tuesday afternoon, the game is a blur. I don’t remember much about the specifics of the game except for the Rafael Palmeiro grand slam that hit the foul pole. After that, the buzz (at least I felt this) was that the game was over when they hit that slam. Todd Zeile did have a home run earlier that felt good, but the Palmeiro slam was positively awesome. That’s the third Grand Slam I’d seen with my own eyes this year (the other two were another by Palmeiro and one by Roberto Kelly). This was just awesome.
It was really cool that my wife and I were at the game to see the win in person. What made this even sweeter was that we didn’t have to pay for the game. When Jim Lites took over as president of the Rangers, a package was sent out to all season ticket holders with a bunch of discount coupons and the like. One thing in there was a voucher for two free tickets to a game in September (you got to pick from three). We picked this game (back in August). What a lucky break that was. And to make matters even cooler, it was fan appreciation weekend, and we also got vouchers for two free tickets to a game in April or May of 2000! What a deal!
Thinking back to the game itself, Esteban Loaiza pitched really well, going 7 innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run. Matter of fact, he retired mostly everyone except for one inning. It was a nice bounce back from a few mediocre outings. Jeff Zimmerman though, wasn’t as dominating. He allowed another home run, and has shown in the second half of the season that he’s a “real person”. :) His ERA has gone up to 2.39, which is still awesome, but isn’t the same way he was pitching in the first half of the season. The rest of the game is a blur to me, I just remembered a few points, but the big deal here was the division title.
What was particularly cool about the post game celebration was that Chuck Morgan played Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” on the PA while “Bring on the Yankees” was flashed on the scoreboard. They also played the locker room celebration that was shown on Fox Sports Southwest on the Jumbotron, which was very cool. They invited folks to stay in the stands to watch (normally, you get chased out quickly, which I never like). I was surprised more people didn’t hang around to watch it. It was very awesome.
I don’t know what else to say. It was totally awesome that we won this at home with a win, instead of backing into it like we did the previous two years. Perhaps this is an omen for further success in the playoffs. :)
UPDATE #2: The pictures I took at this game are now online. Check ’em out here.
My wife’s commentary:
WOW! This game can be summed up with just that one word. After being a Ranger fan (and season ticket holder) for the past three seasons, clinching the AL West at home with a big win was so sweet.
The Rangers did something in their pre-game activities that I hadn’t seen before. They played the video clip from the movie, “Rudy“, where the Head Coach of Notre Dame gives the pre-game speech: “No one, I mean NO ONE comes into our house and pushes us around…” The scoreboard below the Jumbotron kept flashing “OUR HOUSE”. I thought it was a great way to show the fans how big this game was to the Rangers. They also replayed the same video clip in the top of the 9th inning.
This was a long game, but the biggest offensive plays were Juan’s triple, Todd’s homerun, and Palmeiro’s grand slam. Where we were sitting (upper deck section 329), I thought the ball was foul until Joe yelled, “It hit the foul pole, it’s a grand slam!!!”. The house went crazy, and what made it even better was that Palmeiro came back out and tipped his hat to the fans. That was the first time that I saw that in person.
The Ranger’s fans were so into this game, and they were so LOUD!!! Mostly everyone stayed until the last out of the ninth, and the Ranger’s won the West. There were fireworks, and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” was played. It was so great to see all the Rangers run out onto the field for such a big celebration. Then, it was announced that the clubhouse party would be shown on the Jumbotron for all the fans to enjoy. I do wish that the Rangers would have had some sort of ceremony on the field to include the fans more, but at least we could watch all the champagne flowing on the Jumbotron with thousands of other Ranger fans.
After the game, my voice was almost gone, and we were a bit sunburned, but it was so worth it. Let’s go Rangers, and get to the World Series!!

G154: Rangers beat A’s again, 10-4

The power stroke got going in a big hurry today. We went down 3-0 early, after a Ben Grieve single to right got by Juan Gonzalez. Mark McLemore started off the bottom of the 1st with a solo home run into the Ranger bullpen. That’s all we got in the first, but in the second….
We put up a huge 8 spot which crushed the A’s from that point on (although they did get a solo home run in the 8th). Tom Goodwin came through in the bottom of the second with a two run single to right to tie up the game again. We took the lead when Appier delivered a wild pitch. After another single a and a wild pitch (and another run), Rafael Palmeiro was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Todd Zeile made ’em pay for it with a Grand Slam over the left field scoreboard to cap off the 8 spot. Oakland pitcher Ron Mahay came on, and shut down the Rangers after this. Our 8 spot was it for us, except for a Rusty Greer home run (his 20th) in the seventh inning. Mahay probably should have started. :)
John Burkett went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs (two earned) on five hits. Pretty good pitching, actually. This second game drove our magic number down to one, and the excitement level at my house through the roof, as my wife and I had tickets to the Sunday game, which meant they could have clinched while we were there.

G153: Rangers win game against A’s, 12-4

Aaron Sele notched his 18th win of the year (one less than last season) today with a bombing of the Oakland A’s. There was much doubt coming into this game whether or not the Rangers had “lost it”. We had a really bad funk against a bunch of teams we should have crushed. We lost most of those games, and some (myself too I admit) were wondering if the Rangers were just going to back into the playoffs with no spirit. That was certainly answered with a vengeance tonight!
Sele pitched very well, allowing only 1 run (unearned) over 7 innings and allowing only 5 hits. He looked again to be our best pitcher this year, and that worries me a bit, as he only signed a 1 year deal after last season, and is our highest paid pitcher. I really hope we make a big effort to resign him for 2000 (and possibly 01 and 02, too), otherwise we’ll have even more pitching problems in the off season.
It was a fairly quiet game through the first four and a half innings. The A’s had scored an unearned run in the top of the second, but that was it until we broke through in the bottom of the fifth. We busted out with four runs that inning, capped by a Juan Gonzalez two run home run. That was nice, but not as nice as what happened in the 6th. After putting the A’s down, we went back out on offense in a big way by hitting two more two run home runs (one by Royce Clayton, and a second one by Juan Gonzalez). That put us up 10-1, and pretty much that was the game. We scored one more run in each of the 7th and 8th innings, and Oakland scored 3 in the final two frames, but the game was over after the sixth. One of these other runs was a third home run by Juan Gonzalez, the first time he’s had a 3 home run game since 1993 – 6 years ago! It was awesome to watch – Juan even came out of the dugout to wave to the fans.
A great start to this series, winning 12-4. Perhaps Rafael Palmeiro’s little speech got the team going. Doesn’t matter what got them going, they got it going! :)

G152: Rangers swept by Orioles with 6-4 loss

A sweep, but the wrong way. Coming into the game, the Rangers had a magic number of 6. They made a big stink out of this at the ballpark itself (I was at this game; more on that in a bit). The number six appeared all over the place. It seemed to get the fans going, especially when Chuck Morgan announced the fact over the PA system. Gave the fans a buzz to start the game, I felt. The Rangers busted out big in the first inning, which was something they haven’t done in some time. We were up 4-1 after the first inning, and I have to say most Ranger fans were feeling pretty happy about that.
However, that’s all there was to cheer about Ranger wise. With the exception of a really great defensive catch by Tom Goodwin, the rest of the night was Orioles. That was due to their starter Scott Erickson. After being shelled in the first inning, Erickson gave up only a single to Pudge in the second, and that was the only hit he gave up for about 13 straight batters (although there was a walk mixed in there). Erickson was very strong after the first, and only came out in the 9th after he let a couple get on, bringing in Mike Timlin, who was equally as good. Honestly, looking at this Orioles team, I find it hard to believe they are so far back in the standings, they appear to have a pretty good team from my own eyes, I’ve seen them 4 times in person this year (twice in Baltimore).
Anyway, the high point for the Rangers offensively was a home run by Raffy in the first inning. I felt bad, as a small kid behind me got really scared at all the noise and the fireworks. I felt bad – his father had to leave with him after that. I hope they just moved elsewhere. Speaking of home runs, Mr. Rick Helling gave up three last night, including two on consecutive pitches. Rick leads the AL in allowed home runs this year, passing Jeff Fassero (who I still have a hard time believing is a Ranger). If Rick gives up three more this year, he breaks a 20 year old Ranger record for most allowed home runs held by Fergie Jenkins. Just for kicks, Mike Venafro allowed a home run to Albert Belle, too.
However, Danny Patterson really surprised me. He pitched outstandingly, and I thought he was the sharpest I can remember him this season. I’ve kind of soured on Patterson this season, but damn – this was good stuff. If his stuff is this good all the time, I wonder if he could be a starter.
The way the Rangers have been playing this past week reminds me of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. That year is legend in Philadelphia sports history. After leading the league much of the season and owning a six and one-half game lead with 12 games to play, a seemingly certain pennant was snatched away as the Phillies lost 10 straight in late September. The collapse devastated an entire city. I wasn’t born yet (that happened the next year), but I know it very well, as anyone know knows Phillies history can tell you. I don’t take the division as a lock, because I’m sure if we lose the division to the A’s, we’re out – stranger things have happened.
As I said before, Lynn & I were at this game tonight, and it was wonderful. We sat in Section 325, Row 10, and I have to say, I very much loved this view of the Ballpark. Our current season tickets are in Sec 39, and while we’ve had those for three years, the fact that they’re $60 a game (for two tickets), coupled with the obstructed view of the scoreboard, and seeing the backsides of the players make me want to move up here. Hell, these tickets are $28 a game (for two), and you can see everything in the park, with the exception of a clock (which isn’t a big deal). I had a wonderful time at the game last night, as it was very cool (game time temp was 72), my wife got to wear her Ranger sweatshirt for the first time this year to a game, and it wasn’t that crowded. There was a pack of Orioles fans about 3 rows from the top of the section, which was cool. That same thing happened when we were in Baltimore, there was a big pack of Ranger fans making a lot of noise. :)
One cool thing.. If you’ve seen the ads for the Ranger Pennant Drive flag for your car from Albertsons, you may not know about this. If you drive up to the Ballpark with one of these on your car, they give you a voucher for a promotional item you can get from the Fan Relations Booth behind section 126. Well, I had gotten one of these flags, and put it on my car. Got the voucher, and walked to the booth, and they gave me a bat! That was really cool! It was the Rafael Palmeiro giveaway bat from earlier in the season for kids. I didn’t care. It was way cool. These vouchers are being given out for the remaining games at the Ballpark this season, so if you were thinking about going to one of the remaining 7 games at home, show up with one of these flags, they’ll give you something free for it. I still have two more games to go to (Sunday & Monday), so hopefully I’ll get to see the Rangers clinch the division one of these days, and get a couple more cool giveaway promotions. Man, the Rangers rock, and these little added things really make it nice (for me, anyway).
Oh yeah, Route 30 was closed last night, so I took the 35 to 183 to 360 to Ballpark route. My god, did that SUCK! I don’t know if that’s normal traffic flow there, but if it is, jeez… I don’t know how anyone can drive that regularly. It was backed up for the entire time from Texas Stadium all the way out to the Ballpark in Arlington. That was horrible!

G151: Rangers lose to Orioles, 4-2

Second straight game we only got two runs. Not enough offense. Would rather be on more of a roll heading into postseason. Our only two runs came on solo home runs by Lee Stevens & Royce Clayton. We had a few chances later in the game, where we left two men on base for two straight innings. Not enough follow through.
Esteban Loaiza pitched really well, except for the fourth inning. He gave up five singles, and extended his own misery by going after a ball that was heading foul, and making it fair by trying and missing it. Other than this inning, the Orioles didn’t get any runs (all four of theirs came in the fourth). Overall on both sides it was an extremely well pitched game, but the Loaiza hiccup in the fourth cost us the game.
Cal Ripken got one hit, and now needs 9 to get to 3,000. If he gets a couple tomorrow night, there’s a decent chance he can get to 3,000 during the doubleheader they have to play against the A’s on Thursday night in Baltimore. Would be nice for him to get it at home.
Rusty was back in the lineup for the first time in awhile last night. However, he had to leave after the fourth inning with “discomfort in his eye”. Tom Grieve said at the time it was announced as purely a “precautionary measure”. However, he’s slated to see two eye specialists on Wednesday. It’s not a very good sign. If this goes on into next week, I wonder if Roberto Kelly will end up being our starting left fielder for the playoffs.

G149: Rangers win 6-1 while I was at a movie

I didn’t get to see or hear very much of this game at all. My wife and I were out to dinner and a movie. We saw “For Love of the Game”. Was a great movie. Yeah, it’s a Kevin Costner movie, and it had the usual “mushy sap” in it that women seem to eat up, but I very much enjoyed the movie.
There was some awesome direction in the movie, especially the bits where Costner’s character (a pitcher) was drowning out the crowd. Extraordinarily well done, I thought. If you like baseball, go see this. Especially if your wife/girlfriend/whatever is into romantic movies, she’ll love it, too. I was hoping the Texas Rangers would get mentioned, even in passing, but they didn’t (old Arlington Stadium was actually in his first baseball movie, Bull Durham).
Aaron Sele pitched well (from what I see in the box scores). Mr. Flaherty hit another home run (what is it with us and one player from the other team just unloading with home runs?). A really nice story was the appearance of Jim Morris, the oldest rookie (at 35) since 1970. Came in, threw the last out for Tampa Bay, and blew away Royce Clayton on four straight 95 or 96 mph pitches. Hope he sticks around next year, was great to see.
Ex Ranger Julio Franco was called up from Tampa’s AAA team, and was on the bench and in uniform for Tampa, but did not appear.

G148: Rangers lose to Devil Rays, 7-5

I was at this game, due to tickets I picked up in exchange for the rainout a week or so ago. First thing..
I HATE FRIGGIN’ CRICKETS!
They were all over the place. It was actually kind of gross, tell you the truth. They were hopping around, making nuisances of themselves, and it got to the point where I was spending more time looking for crickets than at the game, which I didn’t care for. I hate this time of year because of this. Weather is starting to cool down, but out come the crickets. :(
There was some cool pre-game stuff. This was Latin American night at the Ballpark, and the Rangers had dancers out in the concourse, which were nice to watch (they were mostly kids or teenagers). There was a very cool pre-game ceremony where Luis Mayoral (Rangers Spanish radio announcer) gave awards to all the Latin American players on both the Rangers and the Devil Rays. Furthermore, for the first inning, Mayoral was following Chuck Morgan’s player announcements with a Spanish version. It was very cool to hear Mayoral announce the Latin names in Spanish. Had a much more “Spanish sounding” feel to it. It was very cool.
I don’t know if anyone from the Rangers will see this, but I wanted to say I very much enjoyed this kind of thing. These little added extras make it very cool to attend games in person.
As for the game itself, it can be summed up pretty easily with two things: Home run ball, & missed opportunities. We left fourteen men on base thought the game. There wasn’t an inning where we didn’t have at least one hit, and most innings had people in scoring position. The bottom of the eighth was the worst, because we left the bases loaded. Lee Stevens struck out swinging three straight innings in a row, which is never good. The wind did keep several balls inside the park that probably normally would have gone out.
However, the Devil Rays hit a few, including one by Canseco (there’s a shock). However, their catcher (John Flaherty) hit two home runs, and only missed a third by a few feet due to a spectacular catch by Tom Goodwin. All but one of Tampa Bay’s runs came as the result of one of their home runs. It was not a good night for us, but we didn’t get blown out.
It’s really our own fault – 14 men left on base!

G147: Rangers sweep Twins with 8-3 win on record setting day

Although the Twins made it a little interesting in the 9th inning, the Rangers finally managed to get out in front of a bad team and keep the lead through the entire game.
For the second game in a row, Twin manager Tom Kelly gambled on one of his pitchers getting Rafael Palmeiro out, and he lost. Last night, it was a two run double to give us this win. Today it was a three run home run to give us a 6-1 lead. Roberto Kelly also chimed in with two home runs of his own – the first off of Minnesota starter Brad Radke, who used to be a teammate of Roberto’s when Roberto played in Minnesota; Kelly had never faced him before.
Raffy’s 43rd home run of the year gives him a personal best for home runs in a season. Matter of fact, quite a few things happened in today’s ballgame:

  • Raffy setting a new record for himself with 43 home runs in a season.
  • The first time the Rangers have ever beat an opponent for the entire season (going 12-0 against the Twins in 99 – next closest was 11-1 against the 1975 Tigers)
  • The first time any team has beat another in a season series 12-0 since 1996
  • The Rangers beat the Twins in home runs this season against each other 21-5.
  • Eight out of the 12 games against the Twins were decided by one or two runs.
  • The 10th time this year the Twins failed to have 10,000 people in attendance at a game.

Since I listened to this at work, I couldn’t pay close attention to the game, unfortunately. It was nice to get a win, and head back to the 29 games over 500 mark. Our magic number is now 10, and could be 9 depending on what happens during tonight’s play.

G146: Rangers win thriller; 5-4 over Twins

It was a thrilling win, if nothing else. Yet again, we’re letting a team that we should be crushing get into the game. We were losing 1-0 after two, but we led until the bottom of the 7th, when the Twins went ahead 4-3. We were down to our last out in the 9th inning when Tom Kelly tried to play percentages, and walked Pudge to get to Raffy. That was a mistake, because Raffy made ’em pay for it with yet another game winning hit. This one a double to right center, scoring Royce Clayton, who was already on base, and Pudge all the way from first. It was a sweet win, but I don’t think we should have put ourselves in a position where we had to win the game like that.
I admit to not knowing a bunch of the small details of this game, because for the first time all season, I got to see my hometown Philadelphia Phillies on TV! I grew up in Philly, and have always been a Phillies fan, but down here, I don’t get to see ’em. They got shellacked, 12-2, but I had fun watching them, and I’d flip over to see what the Rangers were doing. I only saw the last 3 innings of the Ranger game solid.
This win makes us 11-0 against the Twins in 1999. If we win on Wednesday afternoon, it will be the first season sweep in forever (that I can remember) of an opponent. I’m hoping we can get one big win, because after this, the “really bad” team stretch is over, and we’ve only played .500 against them. Not good at all.
Magic number is down to 11. My wife and I have four games left to go to at the Ballpark in the regular season. Of the upcoming homestand, we see one game from each series, and I’m hoping that the Rangers can clinch it when we’re there. Would be nice. Hey, it would be nice if we could clinch it with a win, instead of backing in like we have in 1996 and 1998. :)