G152: Rangers swept by Twins last night, 4-2

So much for that thought from the last game. I said we needed to run the table to finish at .500. Forget it. Best we can do now is 80-82 if we run the table; again rather unlikely to happen. Rangers lost.
In what was probably his final start of the season, and if Evan Grant has anything to do about it, his final game as a Ranger completely, Vicente Pidente appealed his suspension, and having only thrown to (or at) two batters the other day, was “fresh” enough to make this start. (An explanation for my usage of Pidente is here. So out he goes. Five innings, 97 pitches, three hits, three earned runs, but five freakin walks. So yeah, he deserved the loss. You know, assuming this is his last start of the year, it means it cost us $1.5 Million for each of the six wins Pidente got in 2007. Course on the other hand, that’s the same number as Roger Clemens has this year, and he’s making several truckloads of dough. :)
Andreas Galarraga (whoops, Armando – anyone else have that flashback every time Armando pitches) was the only other pitcher the Rangers used. He went three innings. Four hits, one run, 2 walks, 2 k. Not bad. I’m sure he’ll be in the mix for the pen in the spring, although I think it’s probably going to end up in AAA.
Offensively, we had seven hits in all. None by Mike Young who still needs ten for 200. David Murphy, who is more and more looking like a real option for a front line starter in ’08 led with two hits; a double and a single. Marlon Byrd had a double, and all the rest were scattered amongst other players. Cat had a home run, but that was the only RBI of the night. The box score seems to show a rather flat team. In fact… Our old buddy Brad Wilkkkkkkkkerson has earned the golden sombrero for this game by striking out four times! Thanks for making me bust out Photoshop to edit the sombrero image for you buddy. ;)
Now I didn’t watch the game, I was at my bowling league night. The game was on, but is almost impossible to pay attention to, so I didn’t see any of Pidente’s outing. I did see the remark by Adam over at Lone Star Ball this afternoon that said this:

Was listening to the game tonight on the radio.
Vicente Padilla walked Garrett Jones (a rookie hitting well below .200) after starting out 2-0 with a couple of what Eric Nadel referred to as “blooper balls.”
Nadel wondered, after the walk, why Padilla would throw two of those in a row, at the start of the count, to someone like Jones.
Victor Rojas said, “Because Padilla is the biggest mental midget in the major leagues. He just doesn’t get it.” Rojas, a couple of batters later, said it was “pathetic” having to watch Padilla, and that if he were Ron Washington, he’d pull him and tell him to start serving his suspension if he didn’t want to be out there.
I’ve never heard a home team’s announcer be so harsh about one of the team’s own players.

I wish I had heard that. It’s the kind of honesty we haven’t heard since Tom Grieve was busted saying rude things about Hideki Irabu a couple of years ago when he thought his mike was closed, and it was not. It’s really REALLY nice to see that kind of honesty from a broadcaster. In reading around today, I see a few remarks from fans that seem to think it means that Victor is going to be fired over it. If Victor is fired over that, I’ll seriously protest, that’s the kind of thing we should be ENCOURAGING from our broadcasters, not shirking away from. The story went that Vince Cotroneo was let go before Vic because Vince didn’t want to be a “team cheerleader”. In emails I’ve had with Victor, I’ve gotten the opinion that Victor doesn’t like being a cheerleader either, and one would think they would have asked that coming in. I really hope nothing happens to Victor over this. It shouldn’t. It better not.

G151: Rangers lose 4-2; bad night in the field.

Another game by Kevin Millwood that was wasted by one of his teammates. This night it was an unusual source, it was Michael Young, who had three errors in the field. That’s highly unusual for him, he’s usually a rock. But three. Ewww… That had a lot to do with the two unearned runs that got charged to Kevin’s ledger. Take those away, and Kevin had a pretty decent night. 6.2 innings, only two earned runs (four in all). Bit too many hits (ten). Walks weren’t too bad (two), but no strikeouts. Pitch count was 110. Bill White finished the seventh, and Littleton pitched the 8th. In all the pitching wasn’t bad at all for Texas tonight.
The problem was the three errors by Michael Young. But even worse than that were the 13 men left on base. I don’t have an exact count by inning, since I didn’t score the game, but there were several innings late where we left men on base. We had bases loaded and one out in the sixth, and hit into a double play. We just couldn’t get the job finished offensively.
The best moment was probably that play where Nick Punto was thrown out at third. It was awesome. David Murphy picked up the ball that had stuck to the wall, tossed it to Ian Kinsler, who threw one of the most perfect relay throws I’ve ever seen. It was so perfectly thrown, that Travis Metcalf didn’t have to do anything, Nick Punto just slid into his glove, and he was out. It was quite spectacular. Ian Kinsler also made a great diving play in the game, but I think the Murphy to Kinsler to Metcalf outfield assist was a far cooler play.
Michael Young did get three hits, which gives him 190 for the season. He needs 10 hits in the final 11 games to get to 200. The way he’s hitting, it doesn’t seem like it will be a problem, but one never knows for sure.
Also, this was our 81st loss of the season. If we still want to finish at .500 we have to run the table, and go 11-0 to close out the season. That is unlikely to happen. :)

G150: Rangers blow it late, lose to Twins 5-4

Our “closer by committee” committee blew a pretty decent start by Edinson Volquez, who looks like he may have gotten his act together. We have seen guys pitch well in September and then stink up the joint the following season, so I’m not getting too excited about that.
Still, it was a good outing. Volquez went six innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk. Struck out six. A pretty decent outing there. Hate to waste those. Bill White came in and pitched a decent shutout frame. That’s when our closer committee blew it. CJ Wilson gave up a run in the eighth, and Joaquin Benoit gave up two, including the walk off winner. Granted, one of Benoit’s was an unearned run, but that didn’t much matter. It was a run; we lost. Speaking of losing, we’re three games behind Oakland for third place. Reachable for sure, but that “gut feeling” again tells me it won’t happen. Sigh.
Offensively, we were lead by Guillermo Quiroz & Travis Metcalf. Both had two hits and an RBI. Metcalf had a double and a home run, scoring twice. The rest of our offense was pretty scattered. Between the remainder of the players, there were three hits and one RBI (Young).
As a side note, is it just me, or does Bill White have that “Jim Morris feeling“? I know that is not the case, but it just “feels” that way to me, even though my brain says it’s not.
I thought about just posting “Sigh” and nothing else for this game, but given my mindset on Saturday, I wanted to end the season with some real commentary, and not the cop-out of a one word commentary. ;)

G149: Rangers and A’s Brawl; we win 11-9

Well, I wasn’t in much of a mood to watch baseball for two reasons:
1) That “I want to stop” post I made on Saturday
2) Football was on.
Still, I tuned in to the beginning of the game as I was flipping channels. The Rangers didn’t do much in the top of the first inning, but they did in the bottom. Or at least Padilla did. Yeah, we won, but this was probably the moment most people will remember.

It’s of course not as famous as this fight picture…

Or even a good a fight as this one from last year…

But for some reason, fights on a baseball field always fire up the crowd. Most people seem to think “headhunters” or guys who have a reptuation for throwing at people are a bad thing. I disagree. I like that. These fans who were against this were obviously never fans of old school baseball. Back in the day, most people pitched that way. And the hitters either just took it or fought. There was no whining about rules, and this and that. It was part of the game. A part that’s been lost. You think Roger Clemens doesn’t do this? Of course he does. I like this. It’s not like Chan Ho Park, who hit people by accident. This is message baseball, something that we need more of.
As for the game itself, it was a big back and forth game. I did see the six run top of the second, which was cool to watch. I did not see the five run bottom of the third, which would have not been cool to watch, had I seen it. We traded singles in the fourth and fifth, and we went into the top of the 8th down one run.
Michael Young took care of that with a grand slam in the top of the eighth. I didn’t see that, either. Shame, but I was on football then. He came close to a cycle as well, missing the hardest one; the triple.
As is the case with a game that had 20 combined runs and 21 combined hits, there wasn’t much in the way of great pitching – the box score confirms that.

G148: Rangers lose fifth in a row 7-3; even TV doesn’t care.

The Rangers lost this game to Oakland. It’s now their fifth loss in a row, and are now 4 games behind Oakland for escaping the basement in the AL West. Looks kinda bleak, doesn’t it?
The sad part is that TV didn’t even care. This game wasn’t broadcast in the Metroplex. I don’t understand that. There’s 162 games in the season. If we were one of these teams with crappy TV coverage like the Montreal Expos used to have where only a handful of games were on a season, I’d understand it. But not the Rangers. We either have 162 or close to it every year. I believe this was the only scheduled non TV game of the season. So what’s the deal with this one? Why was this date so special that it didn’t get on TV. We broadcast 161 other games (plus the 2 or 3 from Spring), so why not this last one? Doesn’t make any sense to me to schedule 161 of the 162 games. Someone please explain that to me.
Oh yeah, the game itself. After my post of earlier today, I’m not in the mood to write about game particulars.

G147: Rangers lose a fiasco of a game, 11-9

I’ll make this short, because this game made me mad.
Their big inning (7) was better than our big inning (6), and that made the difference. Sigh.

We went into this series one game behind Oakland for third place. Lost the first two. Now down by three. If we lose one of the remaining two games, I say it’s done, we’re in the basement. Oh sure, mathematically we aren’t out, but that “gut feeling” says it’s over if we lose any more to Oakland this weekend, as Saturday and Sunday are the only games left against them directly all season.

G146: Comeback not enough against Oakland; we lose 6-5

As the season draws to a close, it’s getting hard to get motivated to write about games like this. I still like the team, and still care, but another season like this means that game numbers above say 135 are ones I’m less inclined to write about. Sometimes I’m tempted to go “Ah they lost. If you’re reading this, then you probably know why already anyway”. Still, I didn’t want to quit on the season, so I’ll have a few words to say:
Kevin Millwood started the game, and coming into this series, I felt good about our chances of passing Oakland and staying out of the basement. Early on though it didn’t seem like that was a possibility. We went down 2-0 in the first inning, and then 4-1 after three, and then 6-1 after five. Blech. Seen this story before. Rangers starter struggles, gives up a bunch of runs, team can’t come back. I’d expect that from youngsters, but not Kevin Millwood – a veteran. He just looked flat. 92 pitches in 4.2 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, 6 earned runs. Very Mark Clark like. On the positive side, our bullpen didn’t give up any more in their 3.1 innings of work.
We did try and come back late though. After a mostly sleepy offense which generated just one run through six innings, we got some offense going in the seventh. Single, double, single resulted in the first run. Then Ian Kinsler was hit by a pitch, and Michael Young doubled home the other two runs. Was kind of a bang-bang sequence, not a long buildup of 10 pitch at bats and just singles. Kind of happened in a hurry, if you take out a pitching change in the middle.
But it wasn’t enough. It got us close, but the scoring was over at that point. Another loss. Sigh.

G145: Rangers flat again in loss to Tigers, 5-1

I didn’t see this game at all, as it was on during my bowling league night. There was a TV on about two lanes away from us, so I would peek at it, but it was so disjointed I can’t say I watched it at all. :) But from looking at the box score, this one can be summed up as..
Justin Verlander was better than Edinson Volquez. Of course that’s not a completely fair assessment, but I’d like one of our young pitchers to come up and get 17 wins in his first two full seasons as well – that always seems to happen to other teams, not us. Verlander pretty much shut us down for the game.
Michael Young got two hits. Needs 21 to get to 200. 16 games left. Better get a couple more multi hit games in a hurry. A 5-5 game would help too. :)
I’m going to let this one go without further comment, as there isn’t much else to say. We now head to Oakland for a four game series which very well could determine third place in our division – them or us. We’re one game behind them going in.

G144: Rangers drop second game of DH quietly, 4-1

Anyone think McCarthy was rushed back for this? At this point in the season, there’s little to be gained from coming back off the DL just to make a start in a lost season. If he was not feeling great, than maybe starting this game wasn’t a great idea. He didn’t even get out of the first inning, giving up 3 hits, three runs and a walk. Not good by any stretch.
Jamey Wright followed and pitched a “quality start” in relief, going six innings, giving up one earned run on four hits and 2 walks. Struck out three. That’s a pretty decent start. I’m starting to wonder if he’ll be brought back next year to compete for the rotation, or if he’ll try and parlay his relatively decent (if not great) season here into a bigger paycheck and a guarantee elsewhere. Wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened (Gary Matthews, anyone?) Wes Littleton cleaned up, going the final 1.1 innings, and didn’t give up any runs.
After very few singles in game one, that’s all we got in game two. Seven singles. Four by the first two batters, so it was a spread out offense (aka silent). The only run we got was on a sacrifice fly by Marlon Byrd. Was a pretty flat offense.
That’s usually attributable to the opposing pitcher. The Tigers threw a guy who I think holds the record for most “J’s” in his name. ;) That would be Jarr Jurrjens. He threw five innings, giving up just three hits and one run. In fact, he left the game with only 72 pitches, I wonder why he was cut short. His line indicates he didn’t really need to come out. The rest of the Detroit pen combined for four innings of shutout ball.
Hard to come back against that.

G143: Rangers homer their way to 13-6 win over Tigers

Game one of the doubleheader in Detroit went pretty well.
Vicente Padilla took the hill for us, and was pretty decent, given his rather sub par 2007 season as a whole. Pidente’s line was six innings, three hits, no runs, three walks and six strikeouts. 99 pitches in all. Pretty good line. Mike Wood followed, and gave up the brunt of the Detroit offense in a rather poor looking line. 1.2 innings, 6 hits 5 earned runs, and one strikeout. Not good. AJ Murray was the only other pitcher we used, and he went 1.1 innings, and gave up the the final Detroit run.
Offensively, this game was all about the longball. We hit seven of them. That I believe breaks a club record for most home runs in a road game. I think that’s what I heard Eric & Vic say during the broadcast. David Murphy had one, Marlon Byrd had two, Jarrod Saltamacchia had one, Ramon Vazquez one, Hank Blalock had one, and finally Freddy Guzman had one. That was Guzman’s first major league home run, too. What’s amusing is that Guzman had taken over for Byrd in center, so that was three jacks from the CF position.
In all, of the 14 hits we had total, 11 of them were extra base hits. Just three singles in all this. Which is a nice segway into…
David Murphy almost got a cycle. He did have a shot, he needed just the single, and was up, but struck out. At least he got the chance, unlike Cat the other day. Speaking of Murphy, he’s starting to look like a realistic candidate to be a regular player next year. He’s certainly taken advantage of his late season opportunity. He definitely seems like a more realistic option than Nelson Cruz, or perhaps even Marlon Byrd. Problem with that is that Cruz has a friggin cannon of an arm, and Byrd seems to have become a fan favorite. Heck, he’s doing a lot better than Jason Botts. Anyway, Murphy looks like a good bet to be around for awhile.