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G94: Rangers take 5th in a row with 2-0 win over Greinke & KC

This was a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Zack Greinke for the Royals against Scott Feldman for the Rangers.
Greinke has been getting a lot of hype for a CY Young award, and you could see why. He was masterful. Seven innings, three hits, one earned run, three walks, and TEN strikeouts. Actually, three walks doesn’t fit with “masterful”, but it felt that way anyway. Greinke made one mistake. Hung a ball to Marlon Byrd which he hit over the wall for a solo home run. Speaking of Byrd’s home run, did you catch the fan in the stands in the red Rangers shirt doing the Byrd dance? That made me laugh. :)
The Rangers were pretty much shut down – we had only four hits all night. A single by Davir Murphy, doubles by Elvis Andrus (which should have been an error) & Hank Blalock, and the home run by Byrd. That was IT. Most everyone took an ofer. But it was enough.
It was enough due to Scott Feldman, who was brilliant. EIGHT innings (a career high), four hits, three walks, two strikeouts, but ZERO runs. He left with 110 pitches thrown. Had he not had that many pitches, he might have gotten the chance for the complete game – he was looking that good. CJ Wilson threw a scoreless ninth for the save, allowing just one hit.
Our pitching was freakin’ fantastic. Wow. We win our fifth in a row. Didn’t pick up any ground on Anaheim (still 3.5 back there) or Bostson (2.5 back there). We did pick up a game over Seattle (who was shut out) – now three games up on them.

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G93: Rangers sweep Boston with 3-1 win

Does anyone remember May 2, 2004? That was the last time the Rangers swept Boston at home (I believe). It’s also the date of the famous SWEEP SWEEP SWEEP chant that just dominated the entire stadium – we have Hanks’ Homies to thank for that. That was a major highlight, and while I don’t believe the same thing happened this time (I didn’t get to see/hear the game, more on that later), this is something I thought needed to be brought up from five seasons ago. :)
I mean, we swept the Boston Red Sox, before the series started, I believe the team with the second best record in the AL. That’s seriously impressive, and as I wrote about in the last game’s commentary, something that will probably serve us well, should we happen to be fortunate enough to meet up with Boston in the playoffs. Anyway, about this game…
I didn’t see it. I got burnt by not checking my TiVo. The TiVo will record the ESPN feed for a game before the FSSW feed, because ESPN has a lower channel number. Since ESPN is blacked out, I got three hours of ESPNNEWS while the game was going on over on FSSW, not being recorded. Grrr.. Normally I pick up on those and fix it, but I forgot to look for this game. I just saw highlights.
Clay Buckholz, one of the “untouchables” for the Red Sox started, and got hit – a little. Not a lot, he wasn’t awful, but six hits and two walks for three earned runs in four innings is a bit “meh”. That was all our offense, however, as despite ten hits, we only pushed across three runs.
But it was enough, as Dustin Nippert, making a spot start for the suddenly flu bitten Vicente Padilla, got the win. Went 5.2 innings, giving up five hits and two walks – but just one earned run. Came out after throwing 94 pitches. He was followed up by Doug Mathis, who threw a 3.1 inning scoreless outing for a long save – his first of the year.
Kinsler had a home run, Marlon Byrd had a double, but otherwise, it was a power outage, as everything else was a single. Even the Sox didn’t have a lot of power. Six hits for them, only one wasn’t a single (it was a solo home run).
But a sweep of the Red Sox. We’re closing in on the trade deadline, and we’re just 3.5 games out of first place in the AL West, and just 2.5 games back behind the Red Sox in the wild card race.
It’s exciting, man. I wonder who we’ll move to bring in a piece before next Friday. You get the feeling something is going to happen. Well, OK, maybe I do and you don’t. :)

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G92: Hunter outduels Beckett for 4-2 win over Boston

Yet another game that proves the axiom that you have to play the game, and can’t rely on the on-paper matchup. Because this game seemed like an easy made win for Boston. At least it did for me. Josh Beckett, who has all kinds of accolades, topped mostly by his performance as a Marlin over the Yankees a few years ago. The guy is good. Real good. Tommy Hunter is a decent enough pitcher, but let’s face it. He’s not Josh Beckett good.
Which is why the following lines are that impressive:
Beckett: 8IP, 7H, 4ER, 1BB, 7K, 104P
Hunter: 6IP, 4H, 1ER, 1BB, 2K, 85P
I mean, I’m picturing the old picture of “Dewey defeats Truman” here. I was really impressed with Hunter in this game. I remember when he first came up that I thought he’d be one of those “one or two starts, never heard from again guys”. Nice to see myself wrong there.
Our offense wasn’t exactly on fire either, but we had enough to get the job done. Two doubles (Jones & Kinsler) and five singles were all we got. But this game wasn’t about our offense.
It was about Tommy Hunter beating Josh Beckett. Dropped the Red Sox into second. Good job Tommy. Lets see more of that!

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G91: Rangers homer their way to a 6-3 win over Red Sox

This game was (mildly) billed a faceoff of two old Atlanta Braves pitchers. Kevin Millwood, who was with them less (1997 – 2002), and John Smoltz, who was with them for a lot longer than that (1988 – 2008). Given Smoltz is in that tail end of his career time, and Millwood is not, you’d expect that Kevin would have the upper hand. He did, although not right away.
The game started off fairly well pitched with a 2-1 lead by Boston holding up going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Then the wheels seriously fell off the Smoltz wagon, and he didn’t survive the inning. It was longball time in the bottom of the sixth, which means the Sonic Slam contestant on TV won an additional $200 on top of what they had won for the first one. :) Michael Young, David Murphy, & Jarrod Saltamacchia all homered off of Smoltz. Murphy’s was a two run shot, the others were solos. That accounted for the five spot the Rangers put up in the bottom of the sixth. It was also the end of our offense for the night, but it was more than enough. We did also have three doubles to go with the three home runs this evening, but the homers were the big story.
Kevin Millwood did a good job too, even though his pitch count was a bit too high. He only threw six innings on 111 pitches. He did get the win, as he gave up just six hits and a walk for two earned runs. A quality start for sure.
Eddie Guardado followed up with a scoreless frame. Darren O’Day gave up the other run (unusual for him), and CJ Wilson closed it down for his eighth save.
This game dropped Boston into a tie for first, and while I don’t particularly want to help the Yankees, you have to like the fact we beat Boston. That can only be good if we meet up again later, like say October.

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G90: Kinsler bookends 5-3 extra inning win

This picture is pretty much what everyone will care about for this game.

I mean you can talk about the first ever two sac bunts by Saltamacchia in his career. There’s several other small things you can talk about. There was another home run by Ian Kinsler – the first at bat of the game, and it’s cool that he got another home run on the last at bat to win the game.
But come on. Dogpile! That’s all we really care about. Even kind of erases the down feeling from almost being swept.
DOGPILE!

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G89: Rangers drop 50th in a row, lose 4-1

0-16 with men on base, and 0-7 with men in scoring position. That’s pretty ugly. No wonder we can’t score. We can set up good, but we can’t deliver.
That’s pretty much the whole story. In fact, our only run came on a Nelson Cruz solo home run. That’s it. Scott Baker was quite good. Eight innings, six hits, just the one solo home run, and eight strikeouts. A pretty good performance.
Scott Feldman wasn’t as good as that, but he wasn’t bad. Six innings, five hits, three earned runs on five strikeouts. He deserved better. Sigh.
Feeling flat. Meh.
(This is a short commentary, as I only have a couple of minutes to update before vacation bible school starts at church shortly).

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G88: Padilla blows this one, Rangers lose 5-3

Well, that was annoying. The only reason I’m writing was because I took the annoyed two line sentence stance I do for two of the last three games before the All-Star break.
The game started off pretty good, with a Josh Hamilton home run right over the wedgie that would have made the right field foul pole in Fenway Park proud of the “ball curve” path it took. Went most of the way up the stairs there, too – a pretty nice poke. In fact, Josh did pretty well overall in the game. He went 3-3 with 3 RBI’s and a run scored.
He was, however, the only Ranger with more than one hit. He was also the only Ranger who got anything other than a single. He was the only Ranger who got any RBI’s at all – Josh drove in all three.
However, it wasn’t enough as Vicente Pidente was rather hittable. He did stay out there a long time – seven innings. But in that time, he gave up eleven hits. I suppose the only thing that kept it from being worse was the fact that he didn’t walk anyone. The big blow was a three run home run by Jason Kubel in the third. Which actually was the close of the scoring. Neither team scored any more after the top of the third inning.
Pidente settled down, and put up zeroes during innings four through seven. But the damage was done.
Further damage was done when you look at the scoreboard and see that Seattle and Oakland won. Fortunately, Oakland was playing Anaheim, and the A’s won, so we didn’t lose any ground on first place, but it tightened up a bit below us.

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AL wins again over NL by score of 4-3

I’m not going to say much, as I’m pressed for time, and I want to write this before I forget.
Well, the AL won again. No major shock there. It seems to happen all the time.
I really enjoyed the Presidential video before the game. I didn’t think I would given the subject (real life people), but I ended up enjoying it.
Nelson Cruz didn’t play in the game, but he had his moment the night before in the Home Run Derby.
Michael Young made a play in the field that looked like he’d been playing third for 10 years.
Josh Hamilton went 1-3 with an RBI. Michael Young also went 1-3.
Neither had any major impact on the game, except for perhaps Young’s play, which I think saved a run at the time.

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Nelson Cruz and the Home Run Derby

When it was announced that Nelson “Sail Around the World” Cruz was going to be in the 2009 Home Run Derby, I don’t think anyone expected much out of him. I mean look at who he was playing against. Ryan Howard, Albert Freakin’ Pujols, Prince Fielder. Not that Nelson Cruz is a slouch – he’s having a great power season. But come on, he’s not Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols. I think just about everyone EXPECTED Pujols to win the thing before it started.
Nelson came out, and showed some power in the first round. He tied Prince Fielder for most in the first round with eleven home runs. He also seemed to love the “Big Mac Land” sign in left field. First, he hit the thing, making a quite audible bang. A few later, he hit a ball right over the sign, and then the next swing after that one he hit it WAY above the sign, up into the fourth and upper deck. Quite a titanic shot. They only said it went 440 ft, but it looked a heck of a lot longer than that!
He had some that were quite impressive, and I enjoyed seeing Cruz perform. Obviously because I’m a Rangers fan I liked that, but I think I would have enjoyed that performance had I not known him ahead of time.
In round two, Nelson only had five home runs, but it was enough to give him second place after the second round, putting him in the finals against Prince Fielder. Nelson seemed a little out of gas, although when he did connect, it was good. Check out this chart of where all his hit balls went:

There’s a video montage of Cruz’s home runs via this link over at mlb.com. Stupidly, they don’t allow you to embed video remotely, or I’d do that. Anyway, the ball that hit the Big Mac sign was his second home run. The one that went over the Big Mac sign was the eighth home run (roughly 1:34 into the video clip), and then the titanic shot was right after that at time mark 1:39.
Again, I liked seeing him get as far as he did, and I don’t think there’s anything bad with him second. Was a nice showing for him on the national stage.
Now that’s the nice-y stuff. Here’s the complaints…
1) TOO FREAKIN’ LONG! – Nelson Cruz didn’t come up to bat until the show was already about twenty minutes long. They had this silly thing first where someone came out, and pointed where he wanted Albert Pujols to hit a home run – and he tried. Twice. Didn’t get it. Pujols took like a dozen balls before he swung it seemed. Wow. I don’t really have a problem with this in theory, but given the problems this event has with being peceived as too long… Waiting 20 minutes to actually start is stupid. Perhaps this could have been after it was over, or inbetween rounds 1 and 2 or something like that? Come on.
2) TIME SLOT – This is more a TiVo/DVR thing, but.. Does anyone believe it will stay within it’s time slot of two hours? Come on – this hasn’t ended in under two hours in like, ever… Even before it started, I padded it by an hour, and you know what? It didn’t even fit. My TiVo recording ran out (to record something else at 10PM) when Fielder was batting in the final round. Fortunately, I immediately flipped over to my iPod touch and the MLB At Bat app, which was showing the derby live streamed. I was able to see the end of it that way, but when the Derby doesn’t fit within a three hour allotment of time (one of which was a grant from me), that’s just STUPID. If I remember right, they finished the first round just a few minutes before the two hour mark. Good lord, that’s nuts.
3) Chris Berman: I know a lot of people dislike Chris Berman. I like him a lot – but for football. I’ve never been a fan of his baseball commentating. Even saying that, I’ve always kind of liked him in the HR derby. But not anymore. I think it’s time for a change – his shtick needs to go. I think they should put someone else in there. But NOT Joe Morgan. I could do another entry on why he needs to be replaced, too. ESPN has enough guys on their roster, they could stick someone else in there. Put John Kruk there, we could see the Randy Johnson / John Kruk footage every year. :)
4) Talking over at bats: I believe it was Joe Mauer this year, but it seems there’s always a player that is up at bat, and the announcers are busy talking to some baseball player or exec or something during that player’s Derby atbat. But they don’t talk about the guy at the plate – they’re talking about anything BUT him. While I’m not a Twins or Joe Mauer fan, if I was one, I’d be pissed they weren’t talking about my guy, and talking about anything else. That kind of stuff should be between rounds, not DURING them. Shut up! What would be nice would be using the alternate language feed TV stations almost never use to let me hear what’s going on in the stadium, but shut off the announcers.
I’m undecided about ESPN’s home run tracker thing. The “put a trail on the ball” as it flies out of the park. I kind of thought that the NHL tried that some years ago with “Superpuck“, and it went away when the real fans started a revolt over the idea. I expect the same thing will happen here. If they try bringing it in on their regular coverage, I might have to have a stronger reaction.
On the positive side, I am so glad they stopped having some sideline reporter accost the player when they come out of the box. They always asked them stupid questions like “What did it feel like when you hit home run #4?” I mean come on – who cares? That was auto skip stuff on the TiVo. At least it’s gone – last night they just sent a kid with Gatorade and a towel, which is what it should be.
Overall, I think the derby is fine. I know a lot of people rag on it, but I think it’s just minor tweaks and it can be OK. Does anyone remember the last home run derby that wasn’t led by Chris Berman?
And for a laugh, check out this link, which is a drinking game based on the 2009 Home Run Derby. Made me chuckle for sure.

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G87: Rangers drop series with a 5-3 stinkbomb loss.

Well, that was annoying. I didn’t think games 1 & 3 would be topped for annoying losses.
I was wrong.

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G86: Rangers & Millwood lose annoyingly to Seattle, 4-1

Darnit. This was the same way we lost the first game in the series, more or less.
Here’s the bottom line. Kevin Millwood was great through six. Stunk up the joint worse than any pitcher the Rangers have ever had in the seventh. Lost the game, 4-1.
Made me mad.
That’s pretty much it.

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G85: Rangers homer their way to 6-4 win in Seattle

This is good old classic Texas Rangers baseball. Much has been made of the 2009 edition being built on the classic baseball axiom of “pitching and defense”. That much is true, our pitching and defense is improved this year. But Friday night’s win was pretty much the old fashioned way of doing it. We homered our way to the win.
It’s ironic that we win where 100% of our runs were accounted for by home runs on the day that Nelson Cruz was added to the All-Star roster (replacing injured Torii Hunter), and the night we heard that Cruz was going to participate in the home run derby.
It got started in the second inning when Hank Blalock hit a ball way out over the right center field fence. You kind of saw Ichiro making a half hearted jog in the general direction, so you knew it was gone before the ball was seen on TV.
The next inning was a three run shot by Michael Young. This was an opposite field job, which Ichiro came within inches of making a spectacular steal of the home run ball, but it landed a mere inches past his glove. This home run gave us the lead back – we were down 2-1 at that point. Nice for Young to get some numbers going again. He’s got 106 hits at the moment just slightly past the halfway point. As long as he stays on the field, 200 shouldn’t be a problem again.
The third and final home run was by Nelson Cruz. It was a titanic shot into the upper tank in left field. It was WAY up there – you don’t normally see home runs hit up there. Perhaps Seattle fans do as they see more games in that park than we do, but I can only recall a shot by Arod going up there awhile back. But it was an absolute no doubter of a shot, even Nelson stood there and watched for a bit.
Scott Feldman started the game, and had a pretty good outing. Six and two thirds innings giving up seven hits, one walk, and just two earned runs. Not a bad outing. Derek Holland followed up on him, and technically allowed two earned runs, but htey scored on a hit off of Jason Jennings. Shame.
Frank Francisco came in and pitched a scoreless inning of relief to get his fifteenth save of the season.
Overall, a nice win. Hopefully we can win out in Seattle and go into the break on a strong note. We remain a half game ahead of Anaheim for the division lead, and Seattle is now 4.5 games back.

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G84: Rangers lose game rather annoyingly; 3-1 to Mariners

Tommy Hunter got screwed. He pitched six innings, allowing just four hits. No runs, three walks. 104 pitches. He was quite good. He matched Felix Hernandez very well. Felix went eight innings, three hits one run.
It was a spectacular pitching matchup. In fact, the one run we only had was on a wild pitch after a double steal. Definitely a manufactured gift run. The only three hits we got were all singles. Two of them were by Hank Blalock, and the other was Michael Young. That’s it. That was the sum of our offense.
So to come out of that in the late innings with a 1-0 lead was quite impressive. The fact that we could win the game with so little offense was quite surprising.
So the three run home run that CJ Wilson gave up in the bottom of the eighth was particularly annoying. When the ball was hit, all I could think of was “Shit!”. That’s pretty much my one word review of this game.
SHIT.

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G83: Andruw Jones homers 3 times on way to 8-1 win

Well, this game was really about one thing. Well, two.
The most important one was the fact that the Rangers took over sole possession of first place again. This win was a big deal, as we went into Anaheim not solely in first place, and left with sole possession of first. That’s a big deal.
However, the sexier thing was the fact that Andruw Jones had a three home run night. He had one in the first, one in the third, and one in the fifth. Only four RBI’s though – two of them were solo home runs. Those weren’t the only home runs, though. Two other Rangers had them – Taylor Teagarden & Marlon Byrd. So this was a big power game. Nice that it was us with the power instead of the other way around. We also had a couple of doubles, so seven of the 12 hits were extra base ones. That’s a nice display, for sure.
Josh Hamilton & Elvis Andrus took ofers, but everyone else had at least one hit. Three guys had two, so it was nice offensive display to leave in the mind of the Angels as we left town with the lead.
Vicente Padilla had a good outing. Six innings, and just one earned run. A few too many hits (eight), but it didn’t damage his line. Six innings of one run ball is always a good thing. Jason Grilli, Eddie Guardado, & Darren O’Day came within one walk (Grilli) of throwing three perfect innings of relief. Something really nice.
Speaking of Darren O’Day, I was hearing some love for that pickup on XM Radio’s MLB talk channel this afternoon, so that’s nice to hear.
Boy, was this nice to come out of Anaheim the way we did.

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G82: Rangers back in first with 8-5 win over Anaheim

Again, I refuse to call them the Los Angeles Angels. They’re in Anaheim. Sorry Moreno.
I think pretty much everyone figured that John Lackey was going to last more than two pitches, and he’d be the good pitcher he really is. Last night was certainly the chase there. At least for awhile. Through the first four and two thirds, Lackey was putting up zeroes. We had a few chances, but he always danced his way out of trouble. Then came the fifth inning.
Elvis Andrus tried bunting for a single, but hit it poorly, it went straight towards the pitcher, so he was thrown out. After that, Ian Kinsler struck out swinging. Looked like another Lackey style inning. Then, as Josh Lewin said, the wheels came completely off. Seven straight Rangers reached base. After two outs! Here’s a rundown:

  1. Single by Michael Young

  2. Single by Josh Hamilton
  3. Home Run by Andruw Jones (on a two strike count, if I remember right)
  4. Double by Hank Blalock
  5. Walk by Marlon Byrd
  6. Walk by David Murphy
  7. Wild Pitch, scoring Blalock
  8. Single by Saltamaccha, scoring Byrd & Murphy

After that, John Lackey was pulled from the game. He was relieved by Mark Bulger who stopped the bleeding in that inning. That was a six run outburst, all after two outs in that inning. Most impressive.
Overall, our offense managed fourteen hits. Only one guy took an ofer, that being David Murphy. But even David managed a walk, and scored, too.
Pitching for us was led by Dustin Nippert, who looked quite different with that beard. Also, he appeared to be wearing a rather thick necklace, which may have been new. The reason I think that is that he had a big tag of some sort on his left shoulder. It was either from his uniform, or the necklace. It was gone after the first inning. :) Anyway, Nippert was making his 2009 debut, and wasn’t terribly great. He didn’t survive the fourth inning. Gave up seven hits and a walk for three runs overall. The run output wasn’t horrible, but seven hits in less than four innings is not. He was “meh”. I’ve seen worse lines, but was really far away from even “just good”.
That forced our pen into action early. Derek Holland threw two innings of relief, and allowed just a single hit. He also allowed a run, but it was unearned. In what would have been his final batter, Saltamacchia dropped an easy popup in front of the plate. Holland was relieved, and Jason Jennings had some issues getting guys out (he walked two more, loading the bases before getting out of it). Anyway, Holland was quite good. Two innings, 19 pitches, no runs. The rest of the pen only allowed a single run, and that was from Frank Francisco, who gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. While Jennings didn’t allow any runs, he had some major control problems, and probably should have had a few runs on his book the way he pitched. Darren O’Day & CJ Wilson looked good, too.
The first game of the formal second half of the season put us back into a tie for first place with Anaheim.

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G81: Rangers lose series opener to Anaheim, 9-4

I don’t think anyone expected the Rangers to beat the Angels every game between now and game 162. However, for some reason this loss seems bad. Probably because of the way that Kevin Millwood pitched. Or more to the point did not pitch.
Kevin’s been great this year, and has been chronicled already, should have been on the All-Star team pitching roster. This game however, was not of the same calibre. Kevin did toss five innings, but during those five innings, he gave up nine hits and three walks for a total of all nine earned runs. Was a stink job. It lowered his record to 8-6, and kept him from having 10 wins before the All-Star break, something of a goal I think everyone had for him. Still, he’s doing well overall, and provided this isn’t the start of a trend, it can be overlooked. Jason Grilli & Doug Mathis (who I just found out a couple of days ago switched uniform numbers in June) followed up and threw scoreless relief.
Offensively, the big night was by Josh Hamilton. Josh returned to the lineup for the first time in awhile and went 2 for 4 with a double and a single. Struck out twice, too. Ian Kinsler got a hit again for the first time in about two years with a home run in the seventh inning. it felt good, but you got the impression it was “little too late”.
So we lost the game. The only positive thing about losing in Anaheim is that you don’t have to sit through the stupid rally monkey nonsense. Although, as bad as the Rally Monkey is, it at least isn’t just assinine. Which is a word that describes this Angels fan. Check out this jackass on Youtube. I wouldn’t go there and insult him in his comments, as that would be as bad as what he does. Just vote his video one star.

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G80: Rangers sweep Tampa Bay with 5-2 win

Scott Feldman led the way to a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays and a continued tie with Anaheim for first place. Scotty was quite good, going six innings, allowing just three hits and two runs (only one was earned). He did have a few too many walks (four), but gave up no longballs, and pretty much kept Tampa in check.
In fact, the three hits that Feldman allowed were all singles (Crawford, Burrell, Gross). Our bullpen (Jennings, Wilson, Francisco) all pitched a perfect inning to hold the game and grab the win. Really nice pitching in this game. Hopefully we can keep it up when we hit the road on Monday.
Offensively, we didn’t have a ton going on either, just eight hits in all. Which is better than what Tampa got, but isn’t an onslaught like the previous game. David Murphy was by far the best in this one with three of the eight hits. It was a singles brigade, with just two doubles (Young, Salty) being the only hits that weren’t singles. Despite the number of hits, only three guys took ofers (Kinsler (again), Blalock, & Cruz).
Was one of those “just enough” games for the win and the sweep.

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G79: Rangers unload on Rays, trounce them 12-4

When we came into this game, I wasn’t looking forward to the pitching matchup. Not that I didn’t trust Derek Holland to do a good job (well, OK maybe I did a little), but I knew David Price. I remembered him from the playoffs and World Series last year, and was expecting him to shut us down. Which was something we didn’t need as we seem to be just getting going again after a slump.
Much to my surprise we unloaded on Price and the Rays. Price was just destroyed, and the most telling stat of all is he allowed more walks than outs recorded. Five walks in just one inning and a third. Three hits, five walks, and six earned runs. Yeah, that was pretty awful. In all that, only one home run, but it was a big one – a three run shot to Andruw Jones. I do have to admit to being surprised by that, as I figured Price was going to keep us contained. Epic fail there.
On the flip side, Derek Holland was OK. Six runs, seven hits four earned runs. Most of the damage there was the longball. Derek allowed a solo home run to Jason Bartlett in the second. However, the one that skewed his pitching line was the three run home run to Dioner Navarro in the fifth. Take those out, and it wasn’t too bad, but you can’t base a pitching line on “just take out those two guys”.
The Rays used three relievers. The first one (Lance Cormier) also didn’t fare too great, although not nearly as bad as Price. Cormier went three innings, and gave up four hits and three earned runs. One of which was a solo home run to Nelson Cruz.
Chad Bradford was next, and didn’t give up anything, so naturally, he was in for the shortest time, just two thirds of an inning. The last reliever was Jeff Niemann, who didn’t give a home run, but did allow three more runs (on six hits).
Our offense was extra base oriented. Four doubles, a triple, and two home runs accounting for half of the 14 hits we got. Elvis Andrus & Ian Kinsler took ofers, but everyone else was on the board from the starters. David Murphy & Nelson Cruz led the way with three hits each.
Overall, a nice win. Sweep coming up on Sunday night perhaps?

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G78: Tommy Hunter wins his first; 3-1 over Tampa Bay

Yesterday was Tommy Hunter’s 23rd birthday, I believe. I know it was his birthday, not sure of the number, but that’s really irrelevant. He started the game for the Rangers, and looked pretty decent last time out. So he took the mound on his birthday (with his family in the stands), and threw a pretty decent game this time out, too.
He went 5.1 innings, throwing 90 pitches. I missed when he came out of the game, so I’m not sure of the situation, but the one runner he left on base didn’t score. Didn’t seem like a huge jam from the boxscore, but I missed that part of the game. Anyway, Hunter allowed just three hits and one run. He also walked three and struck out five. Not exactly dominating numbers, but definitely good enough for the win, which was his first in the majors.
That was held up by our bullpen, who backed up Hunter with 3.2 innings of no hit, shutout relief. Jennings & Wilson held it for Frank Francisco who bounced back from his meltdown in the return to the closer’s job. Frankie threw one inning, allowed no hits and no walks, striking out one for the save. Nice to see this kind of pitching. Wish it would have been more consistent in June.
Offensively, we didn’t have a ton going on. While Tampa Bay only had three hits the whole game, we didn’t do a ton better. The Rangers had just five hits. All five of our hits were against Tampa starter Scott Kazmier. Their bullpen was as good as ours. However, it was enough. No Ranger had more than one hit, they were scattered, however, there was some power hidden in there. We had two doubles (Byrd, Cruz), and the big deal was suddenly power stroke heavy Hank Blalock. Hank hit a two run home run out over the center field wall in the fourth inning, putting us up at the time 2-0. Both teams added a single run in the fifth, and that was the end of the scoring.
Bit surprised that our offense is still in low gear, but the win was enough to tie us for first place with Anaheim again. Feeling good about that, as I’m sure most of us are.
To quote Jamey Newberg: Smoaklahoma! Here he comes. September callup? :)

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G77: Rangers walkoff after blown save, 9-7

I seem to have developed a pattern of updating series after they’re over, doing all the games at once. I need to get out of that. By the time I get to the third one, my mind has a hard time coming up with something unique to say about the final game. Such is the same here. We won, but all I can think of to write about was how Frank Francisco blew the save, and then we won on a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth.
One other thing worth mentioning: Julio Borbon got his first major league hit – and RBI at the same time. Also, from the TV coverage, they didn’t show the ball going back into the dugout – that usually gets shown for some reason.

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G76: Rangers bounce back against Angels Tuesday, win 9-5

Well, for the first time in a couple of years, I headed out to the Rangers game to retake the pictures for my seat selector feature here on my site. First done about ten years ago, it’s something I’ve always had fun with, but it is a heck of a lot of work. Once I get the pics all sorted out, I’ll update my online feature, and post a story about it.
Anyway, when that was over (I started at 5:10PM and finished at 6:48PM, downed 60oz of Gatorade, and two bottles of water during all of this), I sat down to watch the Rangers game. It’s only my third game of the season so far, but I always like just sitting in the last row of the upper deck with my Palm to score the game and my headphone radio. I enjoy those. If the park wasn’t so far away, I’d probably go to more. Anyway..
After an insanely long first two innings (an hour), I came to the conclusion that I’d be there for awhile. The Rangers scored three in the bottom of the first, and then gave them right back in the top of the second. It was 3-3 after two. Neither pitcher had much of anything on the mound, and both escaped some situations that would have made the three a much larger crooked number on the scoreboard.
Joe Saunders is a pretty decent pitcher, but not here. Before the game, one of the radio guys (get well Eric!) said that Saunders was something like 0-5 with an ERA in the 12’s in our ballpark. This game didn’t help. Saunders was hit pretty hard, giving up eight runs on five walks and six hits in just 3.2 innings. He was pretty bad. In fact, in the first inning, I really thought we were going to score six or seven and get him out of there with less than an inning pitched, but he escaped that.
Our offense was propelled by the home run. We had five of them in all. Four off of Joe Saunders. Kinsler led off the game with one. Marlon Byrd had a two run shot later in the first inning. That felt good, as a lot of ours have been solo home runs lately. What felt better though was the three run home run Byrd also had in the fourth inning, which was followed up by a solo shot by Nelson Cruz. David Murphy also added a solo shot in the seventh. The home runs accounted for seven of our nine runs.
Pitching wise, I have to say that Scott Feldman was pretty pedestrian, bordering on awful the first two innings. He completely failed in the shutdown inning, he just looked bad. Which is what makes innings three through six more impressive. After 57 pitches in the first two, Scott settled down, and pitched extremely well in 3-6. He needed about 60 pitches to get through the other four innings, and allowed no more runs. At one point he retired a ton of guys in a row – I forget how many. In fact, had his pitch count not been at 116 after six innings, he probably would have come back out – he was looking QUITE good.
Problem is our pen made the game seem closer than it really was. Going up 9-3 in the ninth, CJ Wilson coughed up a couple of runs. One was unearned, but still. 9-3 would have felt a lot better than 9-5, even though both resulted in a win, and us getting back to just one and a half games out of first.
Still kind of bummed at how far we fell in June, but the win helps ease that a little.

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G75: Rangers lose to Angels 5-2; drop 2.5 games back

When Anaheim came into town, I think most Rangers fans weren’t particularly looking forward to it. We started the month up four and a half games, and the Angels came into town now up a game and a half. That’s not a particularly fun thing when you factor in the sluggishness the Rangers have exhibited the last few weeks. I saw the inbound Angels as something bad. They’re not firing on all cylinders either, but right now they seem better than us, and I wasn’t thrilled with that mindset.
Game one didn’t help most Rangers fans. They dropped it 5-2. Our offense was mostly flat again. Granted, we had eight hits, and three of them were from Marlon Byrd. Outside of the Birdman, just five hits. Two of them were home runs, however. Byrd & David Murphy went back to back in the third inning, but that was the only two runs we got.
Pitching wise, Pidente was more than flat. He wasn’t very good. Five innings, five earned runs on ten hits and two walks. Throw in a home run for good measure, too.
The only really positive thing to take out of this game was that our bullpen was great. Four guys combined for four innings. Only two hits and one walk were allowed, but no runs.
But at the end of the game I had a really bad feeling.

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G73: Holland pitches like a rookie, Rangers lose 7-3

Derek Holland started this game, and pitched the way you’d think a first year starter should. Pretty horrible line. 5.2 innings, thirteen hits, one walk, seven runs allowed (six earned). The only thing really good was the fact that he struck out eight guys in his time out there. But he was hit around pretty good, that was the reason the Rangers lost this game.
Offensively, there wasn’t a ton going on. Rangers managed only six hits. Two doubles and a home run (Chris Davis again). That was about it.
I’ve seen uglier games by the Rangers, but it just felt like it should have been a whole lot worse. The Padres set a season record with sixteen hits in a game. Figures it’d be against us.

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G74: Tommy Hunter hard luck pitcher in 2-0 loss to SD

There is not a ton to say about this one.
The Rangers managed just one hit. Was a bloop single by Michael Young early on. That was it. San Diego starter Chad Gaudin had what appears to be the best start of his career. He went eight innings, gave up just the one hit. He did walk two, but struck out nine Rangers. The only Ranger to not strike out was Elvis Andrus. Pretty bad when the best highlight you can think of is who didn’t strike out.
Tommy Hunter was called up to make the start, and was a hard luck loser. He went 6.1 innings, giving up just the two runs. One was a solo home run. But I felt bad, he pitched pretty well, he was just seriously upstaged by Chad Gaudin.

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G72: Rangers blow out San Diego with 12-2 win on Friday

Well, I was actually going to go to this game. Given I’m unemployed now, I was going to head out to the park and retake the pictures for my seat selector feature on the site. So I left Garland at 4PM. I wanted to be there when the gates opened, so I can get pictures of all the sections of the park. I have a pretty good drive to the Ballpark (about 33 miles or so – you can see it here). I get to about Jim Miller & I30 in Dallas, which isn’t very far at all, and the traffic just stopped. This was at like 4:15. Flipped on KRLD, and they said it was like 45 minutes to an hour JUST TO GET to the Mixmaster in Dallas. Screw that. For me to do what I wanted to do would require me to be ready to roll at 5PM. I’ve done the “take a picture of every section in the ballpark all at once” twice before, and it takes just about all of the two hours you have from gates open to game start. So I turned around and went back home. Too much traffic. Stupid Arlington not paying for Dart. I want a high speed rail line that takes me to the Ballpark.
Anyway, I watched it at home in HD, and for the first three innings, I was regretting not sticking it out to watch the game. The Rangers just destroyed the Padres pitching, and Walter Silva in particular. Granted, Silva was weighed down with some stupid fielding (two balls muffed in the infield, and a doofus catch by Gwynn in right which looked like me in little league), but he only actually allowed one unearned run. Problem was Silva allowed eight EARNED runs in his 2.1 innings pitched. They just teed off. Everything was falling in, going the right way.
Chris Davis went 1-3 this game after going 4-5 last night. That raised his average to .210. He did walk again, which is good. Of course, he struck out twice. Sigh. Our offense was in gear. In all, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and a pile of singles. One of the home runs was David Murphy, and it went upper tank in right. The other one by Blalock led off an inning that we left the bases loaded on right before that. Darnit – one batter too late for the grand slam. Michael Young & Nelson Cruz took ofers, but everyone else had at least one hit.
Elvis Andrus had the biggest numbers hit wise. He went four for four with two RBI’s and a run scored. His triple in the fifth was one of those no doubters to the area right in front of the Rangers bullpen. Triples are ALWAYS nice to see.
Our bullpen kept things in check. Jason Grilli, Willie Eyre, & Doug Mathis all pitched perfect innings. Most impressive.
While I did miss seeing that game, I do have to say that when the game was over, I was already home. That’s a great payoff for missing the game. :)