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.

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.

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. :)

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. :)

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.

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.

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!

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!
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 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 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 will now let you embed video clips. That’s quite cool and long LONG overdue. I wonder when they started doing that.

<a href=';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. :)