G162: Rangers drop season finale, 4-2

Well, we ended up in last place again. There was a bit of a small thrill there with the possibility of not ending up there chasing the A’s, but again, our little team from Texas ended up in the cellar. This was due to having been swept by Seattle, including Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 loss to close out the 2007 campaign.
A.J. Murray started the game, and (technically) had a quality start. Six innings pitched, five hits, three earned runs (four total), two walks. Which aren’t outstanding numbers, but not horrendous.
Aw heck. It’s Game 162 of a not really great season. We lost. We’re in last place. I don’t feel like going into a lot of detail about the final game of a season that is now over.
I also considered doing an end of season writeup on each player, but I’m going to shelve that. Mostly due to my burnout post from a few weeks ago. I decided I was going to finish the season, then table the site for awhile and see how I feel. While I’m probably going to continue into 2008, I am going to take a break for awhile, so this will be the last post I make for awhile unless something major happens.
Or I get excited about my Phillies being in the playoffs and advancing. :)

G161: Rangers shut down, lose 5-1

This one was totally down to Miguel Batista. A pitcher I was hoping we would have tried to acquire a few years back when he was with Toronto. Batista looked really good this year for a well traveled pitcher (Pirates 92, Marlins 96, Cubs 97, Expos 98-00, Royals 00, Diamondbacks 01-03, Blue Jays 04-05, Diamondbacks 06, Mariners 07). His career numbers don’t indicate the level of pitching he showed on Saturday, but I always got the feeling when he was a Blue Jay that if he could “just figure it out”, he’d be incredible, and he looked it today.
Batista went eight innings, giving up just three hits and one run while walking two and k’ing five. Was quite the starting pitching performance. Unlike Kevin Millwood, who is our “ace”. Our guy went 7, giving up 11 hits, 3 walks, 5 runs (4 earned).. The only really positive thing is that he went 7. Oooh. That’s important in Game #161 of the season. :)
Offensively, we were closed down quite good. Three hits. Two singles (Sosa, Botts) and a double (Cruz). Brad Wilkerson had a sac fly for the only run we got. But… meh. A flaccid performance for sure on behalf of the team from Texas.

G160: Rangers lose late to Mariners, 6-4

Well, whenever the game numbers start with 16, you know it’s a sad time. It means this is the last series of the year, and Ranger baseball, like so many seasons before it will be over, because there’s no October play for us. Sigh. There is also the issue of the 9PM start time. I had to be up early on Saturday, so I didn’t see the whole game – in fact I fell asleep on it, and I didn’t find out who won until I woke up after the game had ended.
As for the game itself, the Rangers threw out Edinson Volquez, who went 5.1 innings, giving up six hits and three walks (not that great), but allowing just three earned runs. By no means a great outing, but not exactly bad/awful, either. Just “OK”. We ran out five relievers (Littleton, Rheinecker, Francisco, Benoit, & Wood). The first three were good, not allowing any runs. Benoit & Wood however, were not. They allowed three runs in the last 1.2 innings pitched by the Rangers, and the Mariners the win. Since I didn’t see them pitch, I can’t attest to the mechanics and all of how they pitched, but you can’t argue with the BS & L stats in the box score for them. It wasn’t good.
Jeff Weaver on the other hand was much better, if not great himself. Eight innings pitched, nine hits, four earned runs, but no walks. Weaver allowed three doubles (Kinsler, Vazquez, Salty) and a home run (Metcalf), and five singles. JJ Putz also allowed a fourth double to David Murphy. I did see the Metcalf home run, and it didn’t look like a massive titanic power swing like you see some of the big sluggers take, but the ball just slid out. It was quite a pretty home run.
Michael Young got hit #201, and his average stands at a healthy .315.
Fortunately, Oakland was blanked by Anaheim 2-0, so we remain tied for third place with just two games to go.
I did like the quotes in the paper on Saturday morning from Ranger players saying they wanted to bring back the red uniforms for 2009. For some reason, MLB rules state that if you want to make a change to your uniform, the deadline for the FOLLOWING season is in March, so for us to change in 2009, we’d have to have it in by March 2008. Never quite understood that rule, but there you go. I’ve always liked red, as have a lot of people. Buck Showalter did, as he got the coaches to wear red in spring training. I actually thought that was a good idea, because it would help spot a coach in the sea of humanity that can be spring training workouts and the like. I hope this files.

G159: 2007 at home comes to an end with big 16-2 win!

Most Rangers fans will remember the memorable end to the 2004 season, where the players came out and took a lap around the stadium shaking hands, that kind of thing. You remember, this?

Well, the 2007 edition of “Your Texas Rangers” didn’t quite do that, but they provided a memorable end to the 2007 season here in Arlington. Of course that would be a World Series win, but I think most Rangers fans head would explode. We’d probably also get about 50 in game flashes from Jamey Newberg if we got to that point, but I digress. The Rangers of this year’s vintage turned in a memorable finish in what is likely the final home game for several players (Wilkerson, Sosa, Laird perhaps?). The Rangers bombed out the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, clubbing them into submission 16-2. What made that cool was that they were the 2007 AL West Division winners. A sweep at home to finish the season is sweet. It’s even sweeter with the knowledge that it’s against the team in first in your division. But what pushes the sweetness into the level of say Bianca Beauchamp covered in honey is that it ties us with the A’s for third place. We’re not alone in the basement anymore! :)
Where do you go with this one? When there is this much offense, it’s hard to condense it down into a paragraph, so I’ll go with the “list of highlights” route in talking about it:

  • First off, Michael Young got three hits, getting his 200 for the season, and in front of the home crowd. I missed it by a day. :) What showed some more class was that Ron Washington pulled him from the game when the Rangers took the field, allowing him an extra ovation. I always like to see things like that.
  • Jason Botts was 3-4
  • Wilkerson, Metcalf, & Laird all had two hits
  • One double (Laird)
  • One triple (Byrd)
  • FIVE home runs. Sammy Sosa (2 run shot), Nelson Cruz (2 run shot), Laird (solo), Metcalf (2 run shot), & Hank Blalock (a three run jimmy jack).
  • Blalock’s home run was a pinch hit (for Sosa) home run.
  • Seventeen hits in all
  • Six walks from the Angels staff

It’s the kind of stuff you love to see. While 3-2 or 2-1, or even 1-0 games are awesome to watch, these 16-2 games are quite a lot of fun, assuming you’re not “the two”.
Our pitching was quite good. We threw five pitchers out there today (Mendoza, Rheinecker, Francisco, Feldman, White), and they all combined to go nine innings, seven hits, two runs, four walks, and five strikeouts. A pretty good line. Luis Mendoza looked quite good again for a kid. Quite good. We’ve been down the path of guys looking great in September (meaningless) action, and then not being able to dial it up again the following year. So I will reserve complete excitement, but I’ve really enjoyed watching Mendoza pitch, and hope he can worm his way into the 2008 rotation.

I can’t leave without saying something about Michael Young. I did post the congrats graphic during the game when he actually got the 200th hit. Given the horrendous start to the season he had, I think most Rangers fans doubted he’d get there, and he did. Some might question the backloaded contract he was given earlier this year – the usual stuff about “at the end of the contract….”. Well, that kind of contract is also to pay a very VERY fan friendly player to be the “face of the franchise”. Michael Young is the kind of player who you look at and feel good about being a Texas Rangers fan. That’s what they’re paying him for, outside of his baseball skills.
While there are three more games to play in Seattle, this had the vibe of the end of the season, didn’t it?

G158: Rangers win well pitched game by 3-1 score

My last game of the season was going to be Friday night, but I fell sick on Friday afternoon, so I ate that ticket, and bought a cheapie one for tonight’s game (and moved to a better seat). Speaking of that, Victor Rojas said there was just over 30,000 at the park. No way. That might have been the number sold, but no way were there 30,000 in the park. I was there. Gotta love those numbers. :)
Anyway, I drove to the park expecting Jamey Wright to start. When I got there, I saw that AJ Murray was starting. OK, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, since he’s not one of my favorite pitchers, but I don’t actively dislike him, either. So OK, he’s starting. But he’s not a starter as such, so he won’t have a ton of stamina. Four innings, 70-75 pitches is probably what I figure he’d get. Well, we got better than that from Arlington John. His line was five innings pitched, five hits, one earned run, one walk, and four strikeouts on 73 pitches. His only blemish was a solo home run to Erick Aybar, which was his first career home run.
The home run by Aybar was actually the only extra base hit by either team. Combined the Rangers and Angels had 16 hits, all but one were singles.
Dustin Moseley started for the Angels, and he, like AJ Murray was making his first career start. Moseley was bit better in some regards than Murray, as Moseley didn’t give up any runs on four hits, although he pitched one less inning than Murray did. Then came old Rangers friend Darren Oliver. Oliver, who has been pitching well after the All Star break did not really pitch well tonight. He was’t awful, but the Rangers had just enough in the right places to combine it with a gift from Darren to get all three Rangers runs. The first Ranger run came on a balk by Oliver, scoring Kinsler. The other two runs came on subsequent singles by Blalock & Murphy. That was it for the Ranger scoring.
Michael Young was hitless, which was a bummer, I was hoping he’d go 3-4 while I was there to get 200 hits. Still, he needs 3 hits in four games, I’d say it’s a safe bet. Ian Kinsler however, did go 3-4 with three singles to left field. That was nice.
Bonehead move of the game goes to Reggie Willits who was on first when Orlando Cabrera flied out to David Murphy in right. For some reason, Willits had full jets on and was all the way at third when Murphy caught the ball, and he probably could have walked to first to double off Willits for an unassisted double play by the right fielder. He of course tossed it to Catalanotto for the Nelson Muntz double play at first.
It was a nice game. Well pitched, just enough offense to win, and the weather was pretty good, too. Plus I picked up a few of those free passes they were handing out so it will cover the games I go to in April & May (save for opening day).
On another note, JerryLandâ„¢ is starting to look more and more like a stadium. I’ve been watching it go up since they started real construction, and I can just imagine how much more finished it will look the next time I’m out in Arlington in early April. I will say this though. In the program tonight was a 6 page spread showing all the development that will happen inbetween and around the Ballpark and JerryLandâ„¢. I am NOT happy about it, as they’re eliminating almost all the really close parking. I need to digest it a bit more, but they’re calling this project “Glorypark”, and you can see some maps at the website for the overall project here. It will seriously change parking at the Ballpark. If you remember what it was like in 2003 going to games at Arlington Stadium when the Ballpark was being built, I imagine it will be those kind of nightmares all over again. I’m going to contact one of my friends at the Rangers and ask for permission to use some of the charts and diagrams and all that. At that point I’ll have a larger article on Glorypark with more to say.

G157: Rangers hang on, beat Angels, 8-7

“The other guy” in the Alfonso Soriano trade started for the Rangers tonight (Armando Galarraga), and was quite good, at last before the fifth. He took a no hitter into the fifth inning. His overall line isn’t great, but he did have a major “wheels off” fifth. When he exited after 4.2, his line was 4.2IP, 4H, 5ER, 4BB, 4K, 1HR, 87P. But before that he looked great. I don’t think he’s a realistic option to make the rotation next year, but he’s shown enough decent stuff (in my opinion, but I’m no expert) to warrant a look in Surprise next March.
On the other side, we got to Ervin Santana, who gave up six earned runs in his 5 innings of work. Five of them were on two longballs. One to Michael Young (a three run shot), and another to Marlon Byrd (a two run home run). Santana’s line was actually worse than Galarraga’s; 5IP, 8H, 6ER, 2BB, 4K, 2HR, 102P. Chris Bootcheck and Jason Bulger followed, giving up one run each in their one inning of work each. That was all the Rangers scoring.
Offensively, the highlights were the aforementioned home runs. Besides that, we also had an almost cycle by Gerald Laird who was missing the home run. Salty also had a triple; two triples for the Rangers in one game is pretty rare, but they were both hit to that 407′ part of the park in right center, so it wasn’t a huge surprise in that regard.
Mike Wood tried to give the game back to Anaheim (sorry, not calling them Los Angeles. They’re not) with two runs in the eighth, but we managed to hang on and get the win. Wes Littleton got a fairly conventional save in this one, unlike the one he got a month ago in Baltimore in the 30-3 game.
Michael Young watch: 2-4, total of 197. Needs 3 hits in five remaining games.
Speaking of Galarraga, anyone know what the Big Cat Galarraga is up to? I know he retired, but is he still in ball anywhere? Anyone know?

G156: Rangers & Millwood great in finale; win 3-0

Kevin Millwood finally pitched the way his “#1″ tag says he’s supposed to pitch. Seven innings, seven hits, ZERO runs, ZERO walks, five strikeouts. A great outing for Kevin. What’s sad about 2007 is that he’s our team leader in wins. WITH FRIGGIN’ TEN! TEN! Kevin is making $7.5 million this year, so that’s $750,000 per win this year, assuming he doesn’t get anymore (he’s got what, one more start – maybe two)? Anyway, it was a great outing today – it’s just a shame we didn’t get 15 of them this year. Benoit & Wilson also worked they way they were supposed to, as opposed to the guys wearing #36 & #53 the last two weeks or so.
The Orioles pitcher (Jon Leicester) wasn’t all that bad either, really. Eight innings, seven hits, three earned runs – a quality start. This was just one of those games where one pitcher was better than the other. Surprisingly, it was the Rangers pitcher on the better side of the ledger.
Michael Young went 1-4, now needs five hits in the final six games. Barring injury, this should not be a problem.
The last week of the season. Bummer.

G155: Rangers lose slugfest, 11-9

I was pretty darned sick on Saturday, and as such, fell asleep two separate times on this game. Due to that, I’m claiming illness and not writing about this game. :) A couple of quickie remarks, though:
Nice to see 20HR from Kinsler. The 20/20 thing is cool.
1/5 for Mike Young. Six more to go.
The Orioles starter’s name was one of the more bizarre ones I’ve seen in awhile – Radhames Liz.
The first O’s reliever wasn’t much better; he’s an ice cream flavor – Rocky Cherry.
The pitching mostly sucked in this game.

G154: Rangers hang on, beat O’s 3-2

I actually had a ticket to this game, and had left early to go to the game. However, 5 minutes after driving away from work to head there, I felt sick, so I turned around and came back. I’m currently trying to fight off an oncoming fever, and I knew if I drove out to Arlington, sat out there, I’d feel utterly miserable by the time the end of the game came around. I was right, half way through watching the game, I felt sick. Ugh.
I did miss a good one. I really did want to go to the game for two reasons. First was the calendar giveaway. Second was the fact that Luis Mendoza was starting; I wanted to see him in person. He got his first major league win, even if he could have pitched longer than he did. He only threw five innings, for a total of 71 pitches, giving up just one run on four hits and a walk. It has been theorized that he was on a pitch count given it’s the end of the season, and he’s pitched more than he’s pitched before. Possible, but it’s always an eyebrow raiser when you take out a guy for no injury for no other apparent reason. Mike Wood followed up with two scoreless frames.
However, CJ Wilson & Joaquin Benoit followed him, and while their lines don’t show it, they weren’t really that great. CJ gave up just one hit, no runs, and no walks. However, only 8 of his 16 pitches were strikes, and it felt he was constantly in trouble. Benoit was worse. A walk, a hit, and another walk loaded up the bases. Benoit threw 22 pitches in all, and 13 of them were balls. Blech. He lucked out by allowing just a sac fly, and then a strike ’em out throw ’em out to end the game. If you saw Baseball Tonight on Friday night, there was a look that Roy Halladay had watching his game fly away to the Yankees. I don’t imagine Mendoza was quite that crazed looking, but one wonders how much Mendoza was thinking “Aw no, not that again”.
Still, we got the win 3-2. Can’t argue with the bottom line, I suppose. Nelson Cruz, getting a rare (lately) start, jacked a big home run into the left field seats for his highlight of the game, going 3-3 in all. Michael Young got one hit, so he needs 7 more for 200.
Nice to get the win, although I was disappointed I didn’t get to go.

G153: Bullpen melts down, we lose in 10, 6-3

You know, after I issued the statement saying I was going to stop, I actually feel like writing again once I made the decision to take a break when the season is over. Except today. I feel like I’m coming down with a fever, and the brain is like pudding today. So I’ll just have something really short about Thursday’s game.
The bullpen blew it. Simple as that. I hate 10 inning games, we almost always lose.
Two hits for Michael Young. He’s at 192 now. Nine games to go.