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WS G7: Rangers lose game and series, 6-2

I love my baseball team.

JUST NOT RIGHT NOW.

Done talking about baseball for awhile.

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WS G6: Rangers blow it multiple times, lose 10-9 in 11

I don’t think I can write about that.

That was some EPIC level disappointment. Lost the lead five times, was within one strike of winning it all TWICE. Couldn’t get the job done.

That’s about all I can think of to write. Read the official links from the guys who get paid to write about the game. They have to. I don’t.

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Game 6 of World Series postponed by rain

Well, Game 6 of the World Series was postponed due to rain. If you’re reading this, then you know it already, as I’m writing this after the point the game would have been over had it been played. :) This page is primarily here as a marker for my schedule page, so I can have an entry for the rainout.

It ended up working out for me OK enough, as the 26th is my wedding anniversary. My wife and I have been married 15 years now. We went out to dinner, and no game meant that we didn’t have to rush home to watch it. So that was nice.

Had a nice dinner at a pretty good Tex-Mex place only a few miles from our house. Place called “Primo’s“. Been going there for ages, and I tonight I talked ‘em into making an off menu item. Got ‘em to make brisket fajitas for me. Worked out really good, quite tasty. If you’re out in the Garland/Rockwall area by Lake Ray Hubbard, check it out.

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WS G5: Rangers take series lead with 4-2 win over Cards

This was a really bizarre game. But I can say this. It was one of the most stressful games I’ve watched in awhile.

CJ Wilson was dancing with trouble the whole time he was out there, but didn’t really break. He made it into the sixth throwing 108 pitches. But he allowed four hits, and five walks. Granted, two of the walks were intentional to Pujols, but still. You always felt he was on the verge of giving up 5 runs, but he never did. Gave up two, although one was unearned. Alexi Ogando wasn’t a whole lot better. He only pitched one inning, but allowed two hits and three walks, but no runs. Go figure that one. :) He too was teetering like Ceej was, but nothing happened run wise.

All told, the Rangers gave up nine walks, although four of them were intentional. Three to Pujols, and one to Berkman.

The errors. There were two official errors, and a few other plays that probably should have been, but weren’t according to the official rules.

Given all the walks, the errors and fielding issues, we should have lost this game, but we didn’t. The Cardinals left 12 men on base, including the bases loaded at least twice that I remember. Rather surprised at that, to be honest. The Cardinals scored their runs early on in the second. Neither was a huge deal. One was a single to left, and the other was an infield groundout. Murphy’s bobble on the first hit allowed the second to score (eventually), and it was unearned because of that. But that was it for their scoring. Given how many guys were on base, it’s a surprise.

I’ve felt that Mitch Moreland has developed the Chris Davis problem, which is he swings much too “big”, and is stupidly susceptible to a slider down and in. Swings through it all the time. Kind of like the reverse of Juan Gonzalez’s old slider problem. Anyway, the Rangers got back into the game quickly in the bottom of the third when Moreland connected with a ball, and hit it halfway up the upper home run porch. Was a no doubter of a home run. One amusing thing, which is a Tom Grieve reference of sorts.. Immediately before Moreland went yard, Tim McCarver said “he hasn’t shown it in the post season yet but Moreland has some pop”. Does that count as the call? :)
The game stayed that way until the sixth when Albert Pujols connected on a ball and jacked it over the left field fence to tie the game. Given how little we were doing up to that point, it was a big booster to my feelings at the time. This game was seriously stressful, and the home runs seemed like a bigger deal than a solo shot to tie a game at 2-2 would normally be.

While I seem to be blowing off innings here, I have to point out again that this game was enormously intense. So much so that once I ran out of buffer time on the TiVo, I would pause the game for a few minutes, then watch a few minutes of the latest episode of “Two Broke Girls” from CBS. Then I’d go back to the game. I did this because I was mostly skipping the stuff inbetween the pitches. I didn’t want to wait for all the posturing, the mound conferences, the delays between pitches. I did watch every pitch of the game, but the stuff inbetween I didn’t want to watch due to the fact that the game was so intense.

Anyway, we get to the 8th, and then the real fun begins. It started off well, with Michael Young doubling, but then Beltre struck out. Still felt good about the inning. Then Tony LaRussa, aka “Super Genius” (see Wile E. Coyote) walks Nelson Cruz intentionally, and changes the pitcher to Mark Rzepczynski. Oddly enough Wash doesn’t counter that move with the RH Gentry, but sticks with Murphy. It works out, as Murphy hits a slow ball back to Rzepdzlqwrvgski and it bounces away. While we’ll never know what would have happen, his deflection let everyone be safe and loaded the bases. Super Genius had the reaction I captured in the picture here to the play. The next batter was Mike “MVP” Napoli. And you can guess what happened.

He doubled to the right center corner scoring Young & Cruz. Murphy goes to third and THEN is pinch run for by Gentry. While that was the end of the scoring, the rest of the inning log is worth looking at. Mitch “Davis” Moreland strikes out, and then the real amusing stuff starts. Super Genius brings in Lance Lynn, and has Lynn intentionally walk Ian Kinsler. While the TV guys were talking about that move, out comes Super Genius again and replaces Lynn with Jason Motte. What the heck? Bring in a guy to intentionally walk someone, then take him out? What was that? Well, Motte strikes out Elvis to end the inning, but that was definitely a “What the heck is he doing” moment.
Speaking of odd things in the 8th.. I was texting with a friend of mine who lives out in Arlington during the game. Here’s a small exchange between us about the game. It’s a screen dump from my iPad, we were chatting on the new iOS 5 iMessage feature. I had been talking about how stressful the game was, and my friend Jeff,… well, read it. :)

So I attributed the 8th inning to the fact that I went and got a beer. I ended up catching up to live TV just before Napoli’s hit, which is probably good, because someone might have texted me and spoiled it (I had a few others texting me at the same time).

We get to the ninth and Neftali Feliz comes in for the save. Doing his best to call up the ghost of John Wetteland, Feliz hits his first batter, Allen Craig. Then comes a move that Super Genius blamed on miscommunication – like the miscommunication with the dugout phones. You almost thought Super Genius was going to say something like “Well, it would have worked if the phones were working, and people would have gotten my signals”. In a move that hasn’t happened the ENTIRE 2011 season (spring, regular, post), Albert Pujols struck out, and then Craig was caught stealing at second. That was the first time all year Albert has done that. So I say again, “Thanks Albert!”.

Even the final out of the game was an adventure. Lance Berkman struck out, but Napoli dropped the ball, and it caromed off his foot, and rolled towards the Rangers dugout. He ran it down, much further than I’ve ever seen a catcher go after a dropped third strike, and underhanded it to Napoli for the final out of the game.

As weird as this game was, Super Genius blamed the bullpen phone for the mixup with the relievers in the 8th inning. He claimed that he asked for a guy to get up, and someone else was up. He even called twice, and the bullpen coach said he didn’t hear the same name that Super Genius asked for. The names in question didn’t even remotely sound anything like each other, so the whole exchange sounds fishy. You can read more about it here and here.

When the game was finally over, I posted this to Twitter. Was short and sweet.

Exhale #Rangers

It was intense, and I don’t think anyone wanted to go to St. Louis down 3-2. Instead, we’re UP 3-2. We’re only one win away from winning the World Series. The only thing more surreal than that will be the post saying we won (assuming we do). But being on the edge is both nervous and exciting.

The Rangers won a game it had absolutely no right winning. How did they survive to pull this one out? Only the baseball gods know the answer to that one. The Rangers were charged with only two errors, but made five major defensive miscues. They issued four intentional walks (only the third time in World Series history that’s happened). They walked nine batters altogether (only the 16th time a team has walked nine-plus in a World Series, and only the fourth team to win). They hit a batter and tossed a wild pitch. They threw 181 pitches in nine innings.

That bit above was taken from an ESPN story on the game. My response to it is this…. The bottom line is a W. That’s *ALL* that matters in the playoffs and especially the World Series. Not HOW you got the W.

Oh, and for the record, I enjoyed Derek Holland’s impressions in the game. I know some were saying it was inappropriate. I know Jamey Newberg didn’t like it, and the guys I listened to on XM Radio in the morning didn’t like it, but I did. Made me laugh. For me, I saw it as lighthearted. If anything, it was an extension of Ron Washington’s attitude about having fun and not being too serious.

P.S. It also never occurred to me until last night that our closer’s surname translates to “Happy”. Don’t know why I didn’t pick up on that before.

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WS G4: Holland masterful; Rangers even series with 4-0 win

After getting trounced the night before, 16-7, I’m not sure many Rangers fans knew what to expect the next game out. Anyone who picked a near complete game shutout by Derek Holland was either really high on Holland, or perhaps just high. I don’t think anyone really figured we’d get THAT good of a performance from Holland.
Oh, he’s shown moments of greatness during the season. He’s had some dominating performances for sure. But in the World Series in the next game after giving up 16 runs? No, that’s a new level of greatness for the man who sports the goofiest ‘stache around. While I didn’t think he’d stink it up, I can’t say I was terribly confident in Derek before the game started. After the blowout, it was pretty important we even it up 2-2, as if we went down 3-1, it was realistically over.
But Derek proved me wrong, by coming out and dealing. Derek was just lights out. He allowed just two hits in his 8.1 innings of work. Both of them (single, double) were to the same batter, Lance Berkman. That was it. Derek did walk three, one of which was his final batter in the ninth. Speaking of the ninth, I have to say when he did come out for the ninth, I was QUITE surprised. I didn’t think Wash would send him back out there. He was dealing, and still looked quite impressive, but I figured for sure we’d bring in Feliz for the ninth. Feliz came in anyway after Holland walked a batter, and got a great standing O, but it was seriously impressive to see a Rangers starting pitcher of recent vintage who wasn’t named Cliff Lee be that dominant in the World Series. Painting the corners, struck out eight – he was just lights out. Was really REALLY impressive.
Thing is, we weren’t doing a lot against Edwin Jackson, either. We did push across a run in the first inning, but left the bases loaded. Never ever a good sign to do that. But that one run held up. It was still 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. We had missed a few opportunities to score, one when Kinsler was picked off to end an inning. There was a double play in there too if I remember right, so we weren’t exactly raking in the offense. The one thing Jackson WAS doing was walking guys. He walked seven in all during his 5.1 innings of work. Rather a lot, actually. But they hadn’t burnt him. Until now. Tony LaRussa made one of his “genius” moves, and brought in Mitchell Boggs from the bullpen to face Mike Napoli..

Mike jacked the first pitch he saw up near where Albert Pujols’ big home run from last night went. A titanic blast that was an instant no doubter. When it happened, I threw my arm up in the air, and did my “Oh, GOODBYE!” thing I do when it’s a total no doubt home run. That set the tone for the rest of game. Put us up 4-0, and while there was no more scoring, it was fun from that point forward.
The top of the ninth had a little drama, but not TOO bad. Nick Punto grounded out, and then Holland walked Furcal. This prompted a visit to the mound, and Wash ended up taking Holland out. Brought in Feliz, who walked Allen Craig. Not good. But he kept Pujols in check again with a flyout, and struck out Matt Holiday to end the game.
It was a stellar game. Pitching, some power, this is what Game 3 should have been, not that fiasco that masqueraded as a World Series game on Saturday night.
We’re now 2-2 again, and going into Monday night’s final game in Arlington for 2011, we need CJ Wilson to step up and be the starter than he should be. I mean, look at this graphic they flashed during the game last night. It’s an impressive negative statistic. He needs to break out of it NOW, as this is his final start of the season. Gotta make it work, CJ.

Back to St. Louis Note: There’s an 85% chance of rain in the Forecast for Game 6 on Wednesday. If that happens, Game 6 will probably be Thu, and Game 7 will probably be Friday. If that’s the case, do we see the ‘stache again in Game 7?

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WS G3: Rangers BLOWN OUT. Lose to Cards 16-7

I never thought I’d say this about a World Series game that my team was in.
The less said about that game, the better.

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WS G2: Rangers come back late, beat Cards 2-1

That simple title does not do justice to this game at all. Not EVEN CLOSE. This was an epic game. There’s so much to write about on this one, but I’ll start it off with just two quick questions:
What if Elvis Andrus got the bunt down?
What if Albert Pujols cut off the ball?

While both of those questions happened during the same at bat, they’re both really deep questions. If Elvis Andrus had gotten his bunt down during the 9th inning (which he did not), he wouldn’t have gotten the single to right he did, which set up the scoring for the Rangers. Granted, if Elvis hadn’t gotten the single, we wouldn’t be asking the second question. Which itself is probably a bigger issue. If Elvis HAD gotten the bunt down, it’s probably likely the Rangers would have tied the game. One never knows for sure, but I’d say it’s probably a reasonably safe bet we would have tied it. However, when Elvis singled, Albert Pujols clearly muffed the cut off throw, and due to that, it allowed Elvis to get to second on the throw. This set up second and third, nobody out, and the Rangers tied the game and then took the lead on two consecutive sac flies by Hamilton & Young. It was an epic EPIC ninth inning. Tony LaRussa used three pitchers in that inning. He started off with his closer, which he pulled after just two batters. I’m not sure if I agree with that, I probably would have walked Hamilton and played for a double play. He brought in Arthur Rhodes, who threw one pitch, and was out. That was the sac fly pitch to Hamilton. That’s where the muff by Pujols was HUGE. That put Andrus on third with just one out.
I’ve seen a lot of baseball games in my life. I’m just 46, so not nearly as many as some friends of mine (Hi Tom & Stan), but still. One of the better playoff games period. Speaking to that, I was listening to XM’s baseball channel yesterday afternoon, and heard something on there that rung pretty true to my ears. They said that this was the first truly pure World Series in some time. What they meant was that the teams are pretty evenly matched all things considered. On top of that, the teams haven’t played each other. Oh, they played three games a few years ago in Arlington, but let’s face it. We really haven’t played them. Their angle was that it was two evenly matched teams who haven’t faced each other except in the World Series. They said it was an old school World Series, and I agree with that. Then on top of it, we got a couple of really good games the first two!
This game was a serious pitcher’s duel for quite a long time. It was scoreless into the bottom of the seventh, when the Cardinals scored their run. Leading up to that, Colby Lewis & Jaime Garcia were matching zeroes. Garcia actually pitched a little better than Lewis in terms of the pure numbers:
Garcia: 7IP, 3H, 0R, 1BB, 7K
Lewis: 6.2IP, 4H, 1ER, 2BB, 4K
But they matched zeroes. Truth be told, the one run that Lewis allowed was an inherited runner that Ogando allowed to score. The play that scored the STL run was reminiscient of Byung-Hung Kim in the Diamondbacks/Yankees series 10 years ago. Two straight games, two of the same result. Ogando allowed an RBI hit to Allen Craig. Both times pinch hits, too. That was frustrating, and had me talking at home, and on Facebook about how I hate pitchers batting. At that time, Garcia was pitching great, and he was taken out due to wanting a hitter. Granted, the move WORKED, but their (at that time) doing quite well starting pitcher was removed. I grew up in an NL town. I lived NL baseball until I was 28. I don’t like pitchers batting – kills almost everything offensively.
Speaking of pinch hitting, our pinch hitting in this series has been total ass. Check this:
Rangers:
Game 1:
Craig Gentry – PH for David Murphy, struck out, left two men on.
Esteban German – PH for CJ Wilson, struck out, left two men on.
Game 2:
David Murphy – PH for Craig Gentry, was pinch hit for himself before he batted
Yorvit Torrealba – PH for David Murphy, struck out.
Esteban German – PH for Alexi Ogando, grounded out.
Cardinals:
Game 1:
Allen Craig – PH or Chris Carpenter, singled, RBI (off Ogando)
Game 2:
Allen Craig – PH for Jaime Garcia, singled, RBI (off Ogando)
Needless to say, the Rangers pinch hitting has been a wasteland. Actually, David Murphy had the best at bat, he didn’t even make an out! Granted, he didn’t have an official at bat, either, but he did statistically make an appearance, and didn’t make an out!
Anyway, I was really enjoying the pitching matchup, and I do have say after the Cardinals got their one run, I was a bit concerned about going home to Arlington, 0-2. Not in full fledged panic mode, but it was a bit of #johnvittas clenching, for sure. Speaking of the “Vittas Clench”, it snuck in full force when Colby walked the other pitcher. That’s always BAD. Fortunately it didn’t hurt us
The big hero for me for this game has to be Elvis Andrus. He was clutch in a bunch of places. He had two spectacular defensive plays in the field, both of them ended an inning. One was a feed to Ian Kinsler (who bare handed it) for an inning ending double play. The other was a dive on a ball I didn’t think he’d get to, and a backwards glove only flip to Kinsler for an inning ending force at second. Then in the ninth, he had the single and the extra base take on the Pujols error. He also stole a base. He was big all over this game.
Overall, there wasn’t a ton of offense in this one. COMBINED, the teams had 11 hits, 3 runs. Of the hits, only one was anything but a single (Furcal’s double). Was JUST enough. Felt more like an NL game.
The ninth inning comeback was even more improbable when you realize it was against the Cardinals’ closer – who up until that point was untouched in the playoffs. Then Tony LaRussa started his “car of circus clowns” approach to relievers. Just keep pulling ‘em out of the car door. Heh. Seriously though – that he pulled his closer was impressive. Once Elvis got to second on the Pujols muff, I kind of figured it was over. Second and third with nobody out, you just FELT like we were scoring those two.
Afterwards, there were several people who were equating the comeback to the same kind of thing against the Miami Heat in the NBA finals a few months back. Stunned the Heat at the end of game 2, sending it back to DFW with a split. We know what happened there. :)
Bring it on home, boys! Thanks again, Albert. Way to support your team by bailing out and not talking to anyone after the game, too. Probably didn’t want to take the hard questions like “Albert, do you think that because of your error, you may never play another game in St Louis as a Cardinal now?” :)

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WS G1: Rangers lose tight Game 1 of World Series, 3-2

Well, one down. Unfortunately, it went in the wrong win column. But it wasn’t as awful as all that. The bulk of the Cardinals’ offense was on a single hit that Nelson Cruz almost got. It definitely fell under the category of “good break” for St. Louis.
The game was a pitcher’s duel for awhile. When one says “pitching duel”, you think of well pitched games, with lots of strikeouts, and not a lot of messing around. That’s not the way this one went. CJ Wilson was “effectively wild”. While his line wasn’t too bad, he did walk a ton of guys, and got out of a few innings with double plays. He was anything but crisp. 5.2innings and just three earned runs isn’t too bad. But he had more walks (six) than hits – although two of them were listed as intentional (one wasn’t, really). He also hit Albert Pujols. So he was all over the place. Came out of the game with 94 pitches. The World Series is not a time to mess around.
Our pen kept the Cardinals down, throwing 2.1 innings of scoreless relief between Ogando, Gonzalez, & Feldman. That part was as advertised. But Wilson continues to underwhelm this post season. He’s pitching like a #5 starter, not a #1 starter.
Offensively, we never got much sustained. In fact, our two runs came solely on a longball by Mike Napoli – a no doubter oppo to right field. We had just six hits total. Two by Kinsler, two by Adrian Beltre, and one each by Nelson Cruz & Mike Napoli. Not a lot of offense there.
While I didn’t like the outcome of the game, I did like the three Stella Artois beers I drank during the game. :)
It WAS a good game, even though we lost.

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ALCS G6: Rangers blow out Tigers 15-5 to take series!

After the third inning, it was over. We still had to play five and a half more innings to make it official, but it was over. The nine run bottom of the third was something to behold.
This game had so many moments, had so many things go our way, I don’t know where to begin. Honestly, I really don’t know what to write about this game, it was so cool.
I will say this. I’m saving the recording of this game. Transferred the entire game, including all the Post game celebration stuff, and the Fox 4 coverage. Given I have a TiVo, I can transfer the program to my computer, save it there, and if I want to watch it on the TV again, I’ll get it back. It’s a 5hr32min HD recording, and it takes up 35Gb in all. Need to move that off the TiVo. :)
Boomstick set a new record for home runs in any round of the playoffs, besting names such as Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr, Chase Utley, and own Juan Gonzalez, who did that in 1996.
Michael Young finally came through, in the game that mattered the most. As exciting as this game was, I’m probably not writing much, because I’m just so excited about it – when I sit to think about it, it’s just to marvel at it. Not pick apart the details.
Wow. Just wow. Two years in a row in the World Series. Nobody’s done that in the AL in a decade, and that was the Yankees at the height of their late 90’s power. Given what that late 90’s Yankees team did to us back then, it’s nice to be the only other team to do that since.
I’m going to close this one out with a couple of selected pictures. I have time to write about this game right now, but I’ve tried a few times, and all I can come up with is “Wow.”
Just watch this video. Again. And when you’re done, play it again. BTW, it includes Eric Nadel’s call, too. And the Rangers spanish coverage, too! :)

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ALCS G5: Rangers doomed by big inning, lose 7-5

The Rangers went into game five, up 3-1, and needing just one win to get back to the World Series. Justin Verlander was the starter for the Tigers, and it would be a tall task to get past him.
We didn’t. But he wasn’t as infallible as normal. He did go 7.1 innings, and tossed a lot of pitches (133 total). But we did manage to get eight hits and three walks off of him, for a total of four earned runs. Most of our runs didn’t come until late, though. We technically were up early. 1-0 going into the bottom of the third, but that was it for a lead in this one. The game was tied 2-2 after five, but in the bottom of the sixth, it fell away.
The Tigers plated four in the bottom of the sixth, on a natural cycle by the team. Ryan Raburn led off with a single. Miguel Cabrera doubled to left, scoring Raburn. Victor Martinez rumled around for a triple, scoring Cabera, and finally Delmon Young homered.
The Tigers plated their final run in the 7th when Raburn homered off of Kohi Uehara, which reminded me a bit of Byung-Hung Kim giving up gopher balls to the Yankees in 2001. Anwyays, that was it for the Tigers.
The Rangers did make some noise coming back after that. The score was 7-2 after the 7th. The Rangers scored two in the 8th, when the Boomstick struck again for a two run shot. We scored another in the ninth, and had two men on after that with the go ahead run on the plate, but didn’t finish the job.
Most of this game was the Rangers playing catch up, and while we got close, we couldn’t get it over the hump, and the Tigers won. Not too terribly surprising.
Rangers offensive highlights.. We had 10 hits overall, and five of ‘em were extra base hits. Four doubles (Kinsler, Young, Murphy, & Hamilton) plus the Cruz home run. Everyone had at least one hit except Beltre & Moreland who took ofers.
As I said in the other loss, I never expected a sweep. I kind of always figured Rangers in 6 or 7. This series has gone quite well, it’s been tight, well played (mostly) baseball. With the right set of breaks, the Tigers could have easily been up 3-1 at this point. No doubt.

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ALCS G4: Rangers win in 11, 7-3 to go up 3-1 in series

I’m pressed for time today, as I have a lot of things going on, so I can’t write about this one too much, as much as I’d like to.
I think I can sum it up pretty good with the graphic I created after Cruz’s grand slam the other night. It fits well here, too.
Obviously, that’s not the only thing going on, but last night, Mr. Boomstick got his second home run and 7th RBI ONLY in the 11th inning, and ONLY in this series. It’s quite impressive. Also, when Cruz got the home run in the 11th, I almost spiked my iPad on the sofa. I didn’t, but I was rather excited by that. :)
Cruz also had a very impressive throw from right field to Napoli at the plate to gun down Miguel Cabrera who was trying to score. Cabrera was out by a mile and a half. That’s probably more to Cabera’s slowness than Cruz’ throw – but man, the throw was great. Not to demean the throw, because it was great. But Cabera was out by an EXTREMELY large amount of space. Some of that had to do with his (lack of) speed.
Michael Young finally came through with an RBI; he’s been dreadful in that regard in the playoffs so far.
Speaking of dreadful, our starting pitching this round continues to be pretty blah. No stamina, and our pen is getting worked around a bit. Look at this:
G1: Wilson, 4.2IP
G2: Holland, 2.2IP
G3: Lewis, 5.2IP
G4: Harrison, 5IP
None of them went six. Lewis was the closest, but the overall workload for the pen this round is a minor concern. Not enough to cause a panic, but they are getting worked a lot. Probably won’t hear anyone complain about it given where we are, though.

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ALCS G3: Rangers drop one to Tigers, 5-3, now up 2-1

Well, I never thought the Rangers were going to sweep the Tigers. So a loss or two was inevitable. While one never wants their team to lose, it wasn’t terribly ugly, either. So that’s something positive in the loss.
Doug Fister was the story here. He pitched quite well. We picked up a run in the first, but that was it off of Fister until the Rangers got a second run in the 8th inning. Fister looked quite good. 7.1IP, 3K, 2ER, 102 pitches. Great outing for him. He deserved the win. We never got anything totally sustained going on. The hits that the Rangers got in the first were all bloops or seeing eye hits. Nothing hard hit at all. The one we got in the first was in retrospect, a surprise.
Colby Lewis gave up more home runs than anyone this season, and ALCS Game 3 was no surprise. Gave up two of them. The first tied the game early on, and the other was the fourth run. Uehara, who followed Lewis gave up a solo home run of his own. Our pitching wasn’t horrendous, just “meh”. Problem is “meh” doesn’t get you anywhere in the playoffs. No time for “meh” now. Darren Oliver had a good inning, and Tateyama didn’t give anything up run wise, just a single. But the damage was done by that point.
Torrealba played for the first time in the series, and went 3-3. Overall the Rangers had just eight hits. Two doubles, and six singles. Not much going on, but that’s because it was down to Fister.
Lewis didn’t look like the guy from last year’s playoffs at all. But again. “meh”.
Game 4 is in a couple of hours from now, hopefully we have a better response against the Tigers than last night.

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ALCS G2: Rangers historically homer their way to 7-3 win

I’ll talk about the floating head to the right later, but I did want to say that the start of the game was rough going for me. My wife and I spent the afternoon at a hospital talking to someone about an upcoming exam we have for our son. That was happening right as the Rangers game was getting started. When that was over, we went and grabbed some dinner, as neither of us were in the mood to cook after a couple of hours talking at a hospital. I chose a restaurant that had no TV’s, and was unlikely to be a talking place for the Rangers. It worked out, because I managed to survive from 3PM till we got home around 7PM from finding out anything about the game. Oddly enough it turned out the game was still going when we got home, but I didn’t know that. More on the TiVo recorded game later. But I pulled it off.
Sat down to watch the game, and instantly thought it was repeat of Game 1. Derek Holland was doing the same kind of stuff that CJ was in the first game. Pitching all over the place, too many pitches, and being bailed out by his defense. There was one play in particular that I was sure was going up the middle for a two run single. But Kinsler ranged REALLY far to his right, got the ball and barely got it to Elvis in time for an inning ending forceout at second. Replays show it was the right call, but by the barest of margins. It was a really great play. Pretty typical of the way we’ve looked this post season.
Derek Holland wasn’t good at all. He only went 2.2 innings, but allowed four hits and four walks for a total of three earned runs. The three runs all came on a three run home run to Sam Raburn in the third inning. You could make the point that the home run was the only costly thing he gave up. However, he was all over the place. 76 pitches in just 2.2 innings. That many walks and big counts will do it. In the playoffs, all that counts is W/L, and the way he pitched, he deserved the L. No doubt.
We did have the lead early on. We scored twice on three consecutive hits. A single (Elvis), a double (Josh), and another double (Beltre). That put us up 2-0 early. Felt good, even with the 25 pitch mess in the top of the first. However, Holland’s team bailed him out again. After he lost the lead with that home run, we cruised (get it? Cruz? har har har) along until Nelson came up in the bottom of the seventh. Matt Scherzer, who had been pitching quite well for Detroit, let the game get away by allowing a solo home run by Nelly off the fair pole in left. Tied the game. Felt good about that.
I’d be remiss by not mentioning Scott Feldman, who came in after Derek Holland failed. Scott pitched 4.1 innings of one hit shutout ball. He also struck out four and just 49 pitches. He really deserves major props for keeping the game where it was at at the time. Wouldn’t have won this one without him.
Then came the roller coaster. After we tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, you started to get that feeling of “Man, we just need ONE. JUST ONE! You always like those going into the bottom of the 8th, and then the 9th, because it’s generally easy, unless the opposing pitcher is shutting you down. The top of the 8th felt like a good setup, as Ogando got the Tigers out 1-2-3, finishing it up with an extremely well placed ball away for a called third strike. The bottom of the 8th started off good when Elvis Walked. Speedy guy on, just need one run. Was feeling even better when Hamilton lined the ball hard down the third base line. Unfortunately, he lined right into a double play, as Elvis had run way too far by that point. Quashed that feeling pretty quick.
Then in the top of the 9th, you were getting the sinking feeling, as Ogando got the first two out quick (good), then allowed a single, and was replaced by Mike Gonzalez, who allowed a double to the only guy he faced (bad). Feliz came in, and oddly enough intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera. Usually that thing is done by the outgoing pitcher. No matter. He ended up getting Victor Martinez to pop out to end the threat with bases loaded. Dodged that bullet.
Then came the bottom of the ninth. Adrian Beltre led off with a double. Then they intentionally walked Mike Napoli to get to Nelson Cruz. Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases up in the bottom of the ninth. Needing just one run, the game was surely in our hands now. Wild pitch, walk, balk, any number of ways to get the job done. Surely a short fly out to left field, and a 3-2-3 double play to end the threat won’t happen, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened. In a play that got some noise for a non Washington move, he didn’t sub in Craig Gentry at third, a way faster runner than Beltre. The flyout to left by Murphy was shallow. I’m not sure Gentry would have made it, despite his speed; we’ll never really know. But Mitch Moreland, who has struggled mightily this post season grounded into the 3-2-3 double play to end the inning. Bottom of the ninth, needing just one to win, bases loaded nobody out, and don’t get the job done. Yeah, that’s a a surefire sign of a forthcoming extra inning loss. Always seems to roll that way.
Both sides of the 10th went quickly. Which is good, as it seems that 9 times out of 10 we lose in extra innings in the 10th. We passed the 10th test, which is great. Mike Adams came out for the 11th, and struck out the first two batters, allowed a single, then a flyout, so it was pretty uneventful.
And that’s where I ran into trouble. As I pointed out earlier, I was out when this game was going on live, or at least the start of it. When I TiVo baseball games for viewing later, I usually add an hour to the designated time. Most MLB games are slotted for three hours, and I make ‘em four. Given the 15 minutes of crap that Fox puts in front of the game, I made the extra time an hour and a half. And when did that give out? That’s right, just before the last pitch of the top of the 11th. Felt kind of like this Charlie Brown picture here. It was seriously frustrating. Problem is I couldn’t cheat and go to the live Channel 4 feed and pick up what happened after I stopped recording, as too much time had passed. TiVo has about half an hour of live TV buffer, so when my recording stopped, the live buffer took over. But when I hit the end of my recording, it was about 50 minutes after LIVE end of the game, so that buffer was lost. Auuuuuugh indeed! I was scoring the game on my iPad, so I switched over to the MLB At Bat app, and saw we had plated four in the bottom of the 11th. There’s only one scenario where you can get a 4 in the bottom of an extra inning when the game is tied. It meant a walkoff grand slam. Even before I went and looked at the highlights or read the recaps, I went and blew off steam to my wife talking about. All I needed was about 10 more minutes. Oh sure, I saw it on local news recaps, on the MLB At Bat highlights video, but that wasn’t the same. I was robbed. Thanks Fox for not starting the “right” game time! Bah! :)
Enough of rant. Get to the bottom of the 11th, and Michael Young and Adrian Beltre both single. I’d normally write about the tension at this time, but given I knew what happened before I saw how it got there, there was none. Napoli singled to load ‘em up again. Surely we couldn’t blow a win with bases loaded, nobody out twice, eh? OK, I’m faking it. No tension again.
Nelson Cruz came up, and on a 1-2 count….

Nelson Cruz made history.. He hit a no doubter grand slam to win the game. While that was super important, and sends us to Detroit on a big high.. It was also the first time anyone had hit a walk off grand slam in extra innings in a playoff game. Ever. Never happened before. Let’s see Andrew Bailey top that one. Click the Nelson Cruz drawing below if you don’t know what I’m talking about. :)

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ALCS G1: Rangers outlast Tigers and rain, win 3-2

October baseball continues, but for me, a first. I could watch it on TV, since it was on FOX. Fortunately, this year the Rangers are on Fox in the second round. So I sat down with my drink, my iPad, and watched the game. Speaking of my iPad, I just remembered that the scoring software I started using for 2011 allows me to email a PDF of the scorecard to myself. If you’d like to see that scorecard, click here.
Truth be told, I would have preferred the Yankees over the Tigers. The Tigers are a team we’ve had trouble with a lot in the last few years. Our record in Detroit isn’t that good. A lot’s been written about how this isn’t the same team from earlier in the year when we played the Tigers. That may be, but I’m working on gut feeling here, not any measurable anything. I would have felt more comfortable going into the series with the Yankees than the Tigers. However, that’s not what we got. We got the Tigers, and game one was CJ Wilson vs the (unannounced) 2011 Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander. I figure Verlander would be the hardest challenge we’d have, because he’s Justin Verlander. All fairness to CJ Wilson, he’s been a surprise the last two years as a great starter. But he’s not Justin Verlander.
CJ started the game with a three pitch strikeout, and got the game off to a great first batter feeling. However, he let that feeling go by allowing two straight singles and then a walk to load the bases. Not the response you’d expect after a 1-2-3 first batter. However, he did induce a grounder to third, which resulted in a 5-3 double play, forcing the runner at second base. That was a little bit of a theme, as CJ got out of the second inning in the same kind of way on another double play. He was a bit wobbly for sure, but got the job done, and in the playoffs, wobbly doesn’t matter. Getting the job done does.
Surprisingly, Verlander was just as bad early on. While he didn’t allow any runs in the first inning, he did throw 25 pitches (as opposed to CJ’s 20 in the first). Not the kind of outing you’d expect. While I don’t believe he threw 25 again, he certainly didn’t have many of the 7 pitch 1-2-3 innings either – if any. He was equally rocky, throwing 49 pitches through the first two, and 82 over 4. Verlander’s outing seemed to me to have two main factors working against him.
1) The Rangers weren’t swinging at most of the crap pitches out of the strike zone. It was a good job of picking up the pitches.
2) Verlander seemed to be getting squeezed. He was visibly bent out of shape on the mound a few times, and was seen talking to the home plate umpire. But it did seem to me that he wasn’t being helped by Tim Welke at all. There were a few of those that directly benefited us.
CJ kept going past the rocky start and got into the groove. Struck out the side in the fourth. That inning got me to do a few fist pumps and a “Goodnight” from the sofa. Felt good after that inning. Enjoyed that.
Going back to the second, we got on the board first, which is always important, I think. Napoli started off the inning with a single. He was followed by a flyball by Nelson Cruz which I felt he just missed getting out of the park. Little worry though, as David Murphy followed up with a ball that landed right in front of the Rangers bullpen for a triple. Off the bat, it looked more like a can of corn, but kept going. That scored the first run, and I had a Rick Berman moment when Napoli was coming around third. Thought “Rumblin, Bumblin, Stumblin”. While he’s not quite Ryan Howard or Bengie Molina slow, he’s certainly not Craig Gentry, either. :) Ian Kinsler later singled in Murphy which put us up 2-0 in the first. It didn’t feel very secure, because of the wobbly performance of CJ up to that point, but after he settled down, I started feeling better.
One fun note, during the bottom of the second, my six year old daughter was still sitting on the couch with me watching the game. She had her magnetic doodle board, and was just doodling random stuff. In the bottom of the second, she showed me what her latest was, and I had a “proud baseball daddy” moment. See here, this is what she drew. :)

Bottom of the fourth though featured an appearance from the oft missing this year #boomstick. Nelson Cruz jacked one way back over the left field fence for a solo home run. That also ended the scoring for the Rangers for the game. The home run felt good.
Oh, as much as I lay it on Ian Kinsler for his “Capt Uppercut” personae, he did have some great at bats tonight against Verlander. His first at bat was an eight pitch walk. His second was just two pitches, but was a single. He was called out on strikes on his third, but it was a nine pitch at bat. His final at bat was a five pitch flyout against Perry. Went 1-3 with a walk, but saw a ton of pitches (24 over 4PA).
The rains came in the fifth. The first delay was about 45 minutes or so, and CJ Wilson came back out. There was a lot of talk they’d go to Ogando after the rain, but Wilson came out. Probably shouldn’t have as he didn’t have it anymore. The fifth went double, groundout, double, walk, walk, wild pitch run, ground out, intentional walk. The rain delay was in the middle of all that. So we went to rain delay again with the Rangers up 3-2, the bases loaded and two outs. Figured after the second, there was no way Wilson was coming back. But all that activity did also force Verlander out of the game. Normally you wouldn’t want a pitcher out you were doing OK against, but there was some talk that he had “figured something out” during the first rain delay when he was pitching in the came.
A lot of people figured Ogando was coming back out when play resumed. But he didn’t. Michael Gonazlez came out, and got his job done. Retired the one batter he faced. He was followed by Alexi Ogando who pitched two innings, and was pretty good.
In fact, all the relievers on both sides were pretty good. After play resumed following the second delay, there was no more scoring. I’m not going to write about most of the relievers, because they all did a good job. However, I need to mention Neftali Feliz.
He was GAS tonight. Just lit the guys up. The first batter (Ramon Santiago) had a bunt single that just got past Feliz, and was too slow for Kinsler to get. But after that, bam bam bam – Feliz struck out the side with some real GAS. It was one of the more dominating performances he’s had this season. So much so, it made me wonder where that Feliz has been the whole season. It’s ramped up for the playoffs and all – I get that, but man, after the bunt, he looked unhittable.
So we’re up 1-0 over a pitcher who I’d say it’s safe to say most Rangers fans believed we’d probably lose to. Game 2 is important, because I don’t want to go to Detroit 1-1, where too much will be made of “the momentum has shifted” or “Tigers now have home field”. I want to go to Detroit up 2-0, and with a real possibility of not playing any more at home. While I’d love to see the Rangers clinch and get to the Series at home, I’d much rather for a nerves standpoint have them clinch up in Detroit.
I’m writing this on Monday morning, the day after Game 2 was postponed due to rain on Monday night. It was rescheduled for about 3:15PM today. That time means I have to play “avoid the score” as I’ll be occupied at that time, and won’t get to get home and see the game till about 8PM or so. That won’t be easy. :)

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ALDS G4: Rangers win 4-3, advance to ALCS again!

I didn’t get a chance to see the early part of the game, as I was watching a liveblog of the Apple iPhone 4S press conference as well as watching my kid, as my wife and my other kid were out of the house. :) After I did that daddy duty, I came onboard the game, although I did get to hear the couple of home runs early on by Kinlser & Beltre to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
The Rays got back into it in an inning with a walk and a double, although that inning did have Matt Harrison striking out the side, but it wasn’t terribly dominant. It carried over into the third, as Harrison struck out the side two innings in a row. That’s six strikeouts in six outs in a row, and seven strikeouts over the first nine innings!
Beltre apparently got irritated at not having much power so far, as he jacked a second home run to Adrian Beltre in the fourth, an opposite field home run.
This game is moving fairly quickly, or at least comparitively to yesterday’s game. It would be moving even faster if Matt Harrison had a good pitch count. Or got help from the umpires, as a ball that was said on replay to be a stirke was called a ball, and Kotchman singled in a run right after that. Harrison bounced back with his ninth strikeout through four innings. That’s 9 out of 12 outs as a strikeout. But way too many pictures (81) through that four for him to get into truly lofty places, he won’t be around long enough for that.
He did come back for the fifth, led off with a walk, then went 1-2-3 (or 2-3-4 depending on your point of view). Still, that’s 100 pitches (or close to it) through five. Given this is an elimination game, I doubt he’ll be back for the sixth.
Matt Moore, the pitcher who shut out the Rangers in Game 1, came out for game 4 in the 5th, and retired everyone in the fifth and the sixth. He needed only 7 pitches in the 6th to get all three guys. Bet the Rays were hoping they could have thrown him out there a bit earlier.
Matt Harrison did indeed exit the game after five, and was replaced by Derek Holland, who doesn’t usually relieve. Still, in an elimination game, it’s usually all hands on deck, although usually not the team that DOES the eliminating. Derek did OK allowing no runs, although he did give up a single. 14 pitches, yeah, it was good.
If yesterday was the “Year of the Napoli” game, this was the “Year of the Beltre” game, as he went deep a THIRD time on the top of the 7th. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Bob Robertson, George Brett, & Adam Kennedy are the only other players to do that in the same game.
I AM NOW TIRED OF THAT “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. TIRED!” commercial for five hour energy. I think it was on this game about 20 times.
Holland did come out and get the first out in the bottom of the seventh, then Wash came out and made the move to Mike Adams. Adams got his two guys quite quickly, much better than his previous appearances.
The Rays’ changed their pitcher for the 8th, this time Joel Peralta.
In the middle of the top of the 8th, Evan Grant tweeted this. Love it.

28,299 at Juice Box. Those here are doing the Wave. In an elimination game. It’s an epidemic of stupidity.

Peralta walked a couple, and gave up the mound to Wade Davis. It brought up Adrian Beltre, who did loft a ball to right, but didn’t get all of it, and didn’t get a fourth home run.
Bottom of the 8th brought on Alexi Ogando who had some good looking sliders and struck out Longoria quite easily on three pitches. The whole inning was pretty quick, as Ogando got the Rays 1-2-3 on 11 pitches. Looked pretty good doing it.
Wade Davis stayed on for the ninth, and got “Year of the Napoli” striking out. He took care of Cruz quickly, but Murphy singled, and then Moreland walked. We didn’t get any extra insurance there as we left two guys on.
Bottom of the 9th, Feliz time. Feliz let a run score, which really ramped up the clench factor. Due to that, I didn’t want to write a lot, I was a bit nervious after the run scored. BUT… The Rangers got the job done, and elimintated the Rays for a second year in a row. In St. Petersburg.
Napoli better get MVP of the ALDS here. :)
The Tigers are up 2-1 over the Yankees and play later tonight. This could be quite interesting. Given the troubles we have with Detroit, I’m not sure who I want to win that series.
Last thought.. It’s actually Evan Grant’s thought via a tweet. For the amount of money we would have likely paid Cliff Lee for 2011, we paid the same amount give or take for both Adrian Beltre & Mike Napoli. Gotta love THAT.

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ALDS G3: Rangers survive a real clencher over Rays, 4-3

Random quote from the game: “Eric Nadel: “Here comes Napoli, a one man wrecking crew the last week”. #Rangers”
Before the game started today, I got in the mood by playing my Texas Rangers playlist. Here’s the tunes:
Brother Cane – And Fools Shine On
Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire
Little Texas – God Blessed Texas
Merle Haggard – That’s the Way Baseball Go
Terry Cashman – Talkin’ Baseball
Al Dean & The All Stars – Cotton Eyed Joe
Pat Green – I Like Texas
Pantera – Walk
If you have Spotify, you can click here to check out the playlist there.
Once that playlist was over, it was time for the pre-game show on Rangers radio. Listened to that, and got my video stuff ready.
A few pre-game thoughts.. David Price has never beat the Texas Rangers, either post season or regular season. Colby Lewis hasn’t been as lights out this season, so I’m not so confident on our side. Hopefully I’m proven wrong.
The Rangers got a man on early with a single up the middle by Elvis Andrus, and he got to second on a play by Kasey Kotchmann where he ALMOST blew it and allowed Hamilton to reach. Kotchmann also robbed us right after that when he speared a hard liner by Michael Young, which would have easily scored the first run of the game. Nice to see us not being dominated by Price early on.
Rays started off with a 10 pitch at bat by Desmond Jennings. Didn’t lead to anything, as it was an 18 pitch 1-2-3 inning for Colby. Not too bad, given the 10 pitch inning early on.
Both sides had a play in the first two innings where the pitcher was late covering first and it almost cost them an out. Both plays resulted in outs, but it’s a bit of a surprise that both sides pulled the same thing and got away with it early on.
Colby’s looking pretty good through three. Perfect through the first three innings, throwing just 38 pitches (27S/11B). Price has allowed three hits, and no runs yet, but the Rangers seem through the first three innings just “this close” to breaking through against him.
His perfect ended there, as the first pitch of the fourth was a home run by Desmond Jennings. Can’t say I’m too surprised either, what with Colby giving up the most home runs by anyone this season. After the home run, Colby came back with a walk, but then got it together, and struck out the side after that. He followed that in the fifth with a seven pitch 1-2-3 inning. Colby, despite the home run, has looked pretty good today. Not liking we haven’t broken through against Price so far.
There was an issue with Price’s finger during the bottom of the fifth, which at the time the Rangers radio guys weren’t sure about, a blood blister, a fingernail, but the first batter of the sixth was a walk. There was then an infield single, and an out by Hamilton that took a really acrobatic play by Price or it would have been another infield single. We ended up not getting the job done though, left men on second and third. Sigh.
Eric Nadel was going on a lot about the positioning of the Rays fielders being a big deal as to why the Rangers weren’t getting much done through the first six innings.
Colby walked another runner in the sixth, but didn’t break, allowing just that.
In the top of the seventh, Mike Napoli jacked a two run home run to left center, which prompted me to say this on Twitter:

I think Mike Napoli has stolen Nelson Cruz’s #boomstick this year. It showed up again right there.

Craig Gentry got a single after the home run, and that knocked Price out of the game. Price won’t win against the Rangers again. The first batter after the pitching change to Brandon Gomes was Ian Kinsler, who walked. Followed in the next pitch by a double steal! Haven’t seen many of those lately.
“35k Faithful Rays fans” was uttered by Steve Busby in the 7th when Gomes was throwing balls. I dispute that. There aren’t any faithful Rays fans that total 35,000 based on the way their games are attended. Gomes ended up walking Elvis Andrus too, which led to another pitching change (JP Howell) and Josh Hamilton.
JP Howell was no better. He threw a strike, then allowed a single to Josh Hamilton, scoring Craig Gentry & Ian Kinsler. That was it for Howell. Just two pitches. Elvis got caught on a fake throw to second when Hamilton was stealing second, he was caught in a rundown, and got tagged out on the famous 1-2-5-2 play. :)
After that, Darren Oliver came in for the 7th. I would have let Lewis pitch a bit more, but I guess with the weapons we have in the pen, I can understand it, the playoffs aren’t the time for individual stats. Oliver did give the Rays a hit when he had the play where he had to quickly cover first, and he didn’t do it, allowing Johnny Damon to reach. It was INSTANTLY followed by a hard hit single to right field, bringing the tying run to the plate. I still would have left Lewis in.
Darren Oliver got knocked around a bit too hard. As of yet no hits, but they’re hitting him hard. The bases were loaded up by three straight singles. He came out and was replaced by Alexi Ogando. Oliver came out with one out and bases loaded. Not good.
The first Ogando pitch was popped up into foul ground, and both Beltre & Andrus missed the ball. Tough break there, it would have been an enormous help in that situation to get that second out on the first pitch. The Rangers did get the out, but it was a groundout to Moreland, which allowed a runner to score, making it 4-2. That was it. In an inning that made me fairly nervous, Alexi Ogando got out of it, and given they had the bases loaded with just one out, a single run scored isn’t too bad.
The Rangers didn’t do anything in the top of the 8th, and Mike Adams came on for the bottom of the 8th. He allowed another home run to Desmond Jennings, his second of the game. That’s a bit of a surprise, as he had just 10 of them all season. Lovely tweet by Evan Grant right after that…

From start of 2009 season with SD until traded to Rangers, Mike Adams allowed 5 HRs. Since traded: Four.

Bah. I felt a bit better after the Rangers pitched out with Longoria on base, and they caught BJ Upton on a caught stealing. But then Adams walked Longoria, so it’s a “seesaw” feeling of emotions in this game. Mike Adams’ command seems to be non existant this game. He gave up a home run, and then three walks. Bah again.
He’s replaced by former Pirates closer, Mike Gonazlez, who comes in and strikes out Johnny Damon. He’s immediately replaced by Neftali Feliz, who will come in to get a four out save, bypassing Koji Uehara, who had been warming up, ramping up the nervous factor in this game. Feliz came in and struck out Ben Zobrist.
The Rangers made no noise in the top of the ninth, well almost no noise – Ian got a double. But generally the Rangers went down quickly.
A thought as we start the bottom of the ninth as I harness my inner John Vittas… “It’s clench time”…
A second thought as we start the bottom of the ninth by me: “I see Bank of America is sponsoring the Game Breaks on TBS. Does that mean they’ll charge me $5 for each of those they show?”
Throwing over to first a few too many times, in my opinion.
We ended the game on a 5-4-3 double play!! It’s unclench time! Clapped my hands at home – what an exhale end to a really nervous game!
Rangers up 2-1. Possible elimination of Rays in Tropicana Field up tomorrow at 1PM.
Final word: David Price is now 0-6 against the Rangers all time.

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ALDS G2: The first ALDS Home Game Win… EVER, 8-6

From Joe: I was unable to attend or watch this game due to a personal commitment, so I had a good friend of mine Jeff Winget take his family to the game instead of me, and is sitting in on this commentary. Thanks to Jeff for going in my place last night!


First and foremost, a shout-out to both Chevrolet and Joe Siegler for giving me and my family the extraordinary opportunity to attend this game. A million thanks is not enough!
So, having been given an extremely rare opportunity by Joe to attend this game, there was no way I could turn it down, and I was hardly disappointed by the baseball played on-field, not to mention the playoff atmosphere that was in the air. I always enjoy attending regular season games, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something about a playoff game that really brings out the most energetic and hardcore fans. When my wife and I attended the ALDS game last year, we had a blast. And then my trip to the only World Series game the Rangers won was by far one of the best experiences of my life. But for some reason, I just don’t remember so much energy as there was tonight. Granted, I think that having the bases loaded – TWICE – probably had something to do with it (although the second time was due to an intentional walk). But overall I felt like the fans in that stadium tonight were a step above – and they were repaid by witnessing history by the Rangers, all 51,351 of them!
Now, on to some real substance. The first inning started out rocky for Holland, which I expected considering the circumstances and his youth. But after loading the bases as the result of a walk, and then walking the runners around the bags, Holland managed to close out the inning with a fielder’s choice. The next couple innings for Derek were rather effortless, but in the 4th, the Rays extended their lead with a rather deep homerun from Joyce. Holland worked one more inning after that, then Washington called upon the bullpen for the 6th.
Fortunately, after Joyce’s homer, the Rangers came roaring back in the fourth, scoring 5 runs off good hits and solid base-running. After Elvis was beaned by Sheilds (three HBP for the Rays in a single game), the Rangers managed to make it all the way back to the top of the order with hits from Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Murphy (as the result of a strike-out that got away from Shoppach), and Moreland (sacrifice). During this inning, while the bases were loaded, is the loudest I can remember hearing the fans be at the ballpark – period. It was sensational.
After a fairly quite fifth inning, Washington called on Ogando to take the reins from Holland. Ogando performed very well, making quick work of the pinch hitter, and finishing the inning by causing Joyce to ground out. The Rangers came to life again in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two more runs on a double by Kinsler. Texas again loaded the bases, and again the fans went wild cheering, clapping, and shouting. Unfortunately, this inning would be cut short by a strikeout for Young after Hamilton was intentionally walked to load the bags.
In the seventh, Ron Washington made another pitching change which I very much disagreed with. Seeing Uehara come into the game turned my stomach, as I’ve seen him perform very poorly in some situations where we have a seemingly comfortable lead. My suspicions were confirmed when he opened this inning with a walk to Jennings, followed by a BJ Upton single, moving Jennings to third. Then, Evan Longoria stuck a knife through the heats of Ranger fans with a deep shot to left-center field. After pandering around for a few moments, Washingon (thankfully) emerged from the dugout, and Koji’s night was finished. In came Darren Oliver to quickly finish things off in order, leaving the score at 7-6, Rangers leading.
The bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth were rather uneventful, with Gomes quickly retiring the batters he faced in order, and Mike Adams taking care of another pinch hitter, followed by Kotchman and Joyce.
In the bottom of the eighth I just so happened to have my camera out, snapping away pictures of my daughter, when BOOM, I hear the crack of a bat, and the place goes nuts! I had an inkling that he would be the guy to do it, and since he only went 1-3 the whole night, he made that one hit count. If there were any fans starting to get distracted by things other than the game, Moreland’s solo shot to right field certainly brought them back. At the longest home run hit tonight, Moreland’s run added insurance to the Ranger’s slim lead.
In the ninth, Feliz came on to finish the job, and while he did walk the second batter he faced, Upton, Feliz did great work, and after only 15 pitches, the game was over. A much needed win, as I would not have felt very comfortable traveling to Tampa down 2-0 in a 5 game series. Now, with the series knotted, it’s really a best-of-3 with the Rays having home-field advantage, if you can even call their paltry attendance numbers and “advantage”.
Again, I want to extend my thanks to Joe and to Chevrolet for their kindness and generosity. Ballgame!

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ALDS G1: Rangers lay an egg, lose to Rays 9-0

A note for Rays fans written after the game:

Dear Tampa Bay Rays,
Please note that we allowed you to win game 1 so that you can return home for 2 games and experience the same crowd in those 2 combined as we have on a Tuesday afternoon batting practice. Revel in this win, there won’t be any others!
Sincerely,
50k fans per game

Back to the regular game update:
This is an interesting way to “watch” a game. Given I can’t get TBS to watch the game properly, I’m having go a different route. I bought the postseason.tv package, as I thought it was a way to watch the TBS feed online. That’s not what it is. It’s basically video clips and whatnot. I’m not too mad about that, as it was only $6, and if I went to a restaurant to watch the game, I’d spend WAY more than that. So I’m sitting at my computer with two monitors, ready to go. At least I’ll get to see the Rangers on FOX for the second round. :)
I have MLB Gameday up on Monitor #2, and the audio stream from the Rangers radio guys. I’ve got the postseason.tv video up on the other monitor. So I’ll have that covered well. I’m also going to be scoring the game on my iPad. The kid I was in the 70’s might not recognize this way to “watch” a baseball game. Would probably seem too complicated to old school baseball people, eh? I even grabbed a beer for the start of the game. Not quite the same sitting at the park with a beer, but since I can’t be there (thanks again Rangers ticket lottery), having a beer and a great radio man like Eric Nadel in my ear is a good substitute.
UPDATE: I forgot about slingbox, a service that lets you watch video from a TV remotely. So I am getting to see the TBS feed, although the video’s not the same cuz it’s over the net. But hey, at least I can watch. I have Eric Nadel doing the talking over TBS video feed. If you’re curious, here’s a screen dump showing what all of this looks like. Click on it for a much larger version in another window.

OK, but what about the game?….
The game started off smoothly, with both teams not making much noise in the first. Josh Hamilton however, got the first single, a slicing hit to left center, dispelling the fact that he can’t hit a lefthander in a day game. :)
There was a 2010 playoff flashback in the second. Johnny Damon had a borderline check swing, and then in the same at bat after that, he hit a home run. Reminded me a lot of the same thing that happened last year with Michael Young in Tampa.
The third was ugly. CJ threw over 30 pitches, gave up three runs, and then Moore came back in the bottom of the third and got a 1-2-3 shutdown inning, including a strikeout of Nelson Cruz that looked pretty darned ugly. The fourth wasn’t much better. After one out, the Rays had two guys on, and we had to get Scott Feldman up in the pen. Not good.
Didn’t get better, as Kelly Shoppach hit a three run home run to put the Rays up 6-0. Ugh. Big time ugh. Didn’t think CJ was coming back out for the fourth, but he did, didn’t give up anyhting.
The Rangers first extra base hit of the game was a double in the bottom of the fourth by Josh Hamilton. But he had a stupid baserunning blunder, and was tagged out on the basepaths when Beltre was on base when he ran when he shouldn’t have. Hope that kind of move isn’t an omen.
Random Comment: Screw Kelly Shoppach, even if it was a Rangers fan as a kid. Blah.
Random Comment 2: Time to put the horse out there and pitch.
The third home run (and the second by Shoppach) happened after an error gave the Rays an additional out in the inning. Bah bah bah!
After Kinsler grounded into a force play, I actually exhaled a loud sigh at the end of the inning. Good thing I didn’t pay big bucks for the playoff tickets. Sorry Mike G. :)
In the bottom of the sixth, Josh Hamilton turned in what can only be called a true “WTF Moment”. He bunted (poorly, too) while down eight runs. What the heck was he thinking? As I saw from a friend on Twitter, “Bunting while down 8 is a sure sign you’ve given up”. Gotta agree with that.
Random Announcer Note: In the 7th, while down 8-0, Steve Busby read an ad copy for 2012 Season Tickets for the Rangers. I know they’re obligated to read that, but when the team is playing a crappy game, I can’t imagine that advert working on anyone. :)
I lost my connection to the slingbox I was watching the game on in the bottom of the seventh. I think the Slingbox was trying to prevent me from seeing any more!
Matt Harrison on in the ninth? WTF moment two!
The Rays scored their third unearned run on a ball that I scored an error, but officially was called a single – it wasn’t officially unearned. I thought it was an error by Elvis Andrus. Whatver it was, it was the Rays’ ninth run. Gah.
This game was a sloppy mess that I kind of saw coming very early even before the Rays scored anything. CJ looked not all there, and our offense couldn’t get anything going. Three runners reached second base, and one reached third. That was the extent of our offense. Wasn’t there. Only the third time we’ve been shut out at home all season. Figures it would come in a playoff game.
Hopefully we pick it up against tomorrow. One cool thing though. The son of the guy who died falling from the stands earlier this season threw out the first pitch. Below is some embedded video of that. Speaking of embedded video, I noticed today that MLB.com will now let you embed video clips. That’s quite cool and long LONG overdue. I wonder when they started doing that.

<a href='http://www.foxsportssouthwest.com/pages/video?UUID=7bfce02b-ec17-4cf5-a198-bd7dc49d1104&#038;src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Stone throws out first pitch'>Video: Stone throws out first pitch</a>

Thanks to Jeff W for that quote at the top. :)

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G162: Rangers finish regular season with 3-1 win

No commentary by me for this game.

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G161: Texas bombs Angels, 10-3

No commentary by me for this game.

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G160: Rangers knock Angels out with 4-3 win

No commentary by me on this game.

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G159: Rangers bomb Seattle, 12-5

No commentary by me for this game.

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G158: Rangers win again, 7-3 over Seattle

No commentary by me for this game.

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G157: Rangers beat M’s, 5-3, clinch division

No commentary by me for this game.
I was at this one, however. Only my second game of the season, too.

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G156: Rangers lose to A’s late, 4-3

No commentary by me for this game.