Texas Rangers: 2012 AL wild-card game
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said the club would sit down soon and map out what players would be doing this offseason. One of those decisions is whether Ogando is stretched out as a starter heading into spring training.
"My wish is to be a starter, but they haven’t mentioned that at all," Ogando said through an interpreter. "I’m going to go into the offseason and get ready to pitch and whatever they decide, they decide."
Ogando, one of the players who was cleaning out his locker Saturday morning, admitted that he was still processing the idea that the Rangers weren't going to play anymore games in 2012.
"This is a very difficult season to explain," Ogando said. "Being in first place all year and then ending the way that we did is hard to explain and hard to swallow. We have to move forward and keep trying. Overall, (it's) very disappointing."
Ogando was a starter for much of 2011 and made the All-Star team after going 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA in the first half of that season. He hit a wall later in the year and was moved to the bullpen, becoming a valuable and versatile weapon. Ogando appeared to run out of gas a second time in the postseason as he struggled in the World Series.
Ogando turned 29 on Friday and has a fastball with plenty of life and a productive slider. He's been using his changeup more, a pitch that he'll need to continue to develop if he wants to be a starter. With Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz unlikely to be fully recovered until midseason in 2013, it could make sense to stretch him out as another internal option. But much of that may depend on how the club approaches the offseason.
"It's a tough game," Nathan said. "We all came in knowing you don't want to be a part of it. If anybody knows that, it's me. I've been a part of two Game 163s and anytime you play a sudden death, you just don't know. Anything can happen in those games."
Despite the loss, Nathan says he likes the current system and the idea of the wild card teams facing each other in that kind of situation.
"I still like the setup," Nathan said. "The one thing that will change, I'm pretty sure, next year is starting at the team with the best record, starting at their place. As far as the one-game setup, it gives that disadvantage to the wild card teams, which you need. I feel like the other format, we make the playoffs as a wild card there's no disadvantage. You're going in the same as the team with the best record in baseball. So I like this format. I think it's exciting. You just don't want to be a part of this. So win the division."
"I'm thinking it's best I probably go ahead and get the procedure done and get it over as fast as possible," Adams said.
The reliever was bothered by a cervical (neck) strain and symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and didn't pitch in the final week of the season. He's a free agent and wants to be sure he's completely healthy for spring training and whatever team he's pitching for in 2013. Adams would like that to be in Texas, but he's going to get the best deal he can.
"If it's the right deal and the best deal," Adams said. "This is a business, man. That's No. 1. You have ties to places and you like certain places more than others. But when it comes down to it, this is a business. This is my first opportunity and might be my last opportunity at free agency. I'm going to take a look at everything that's out there and sit down with my wife and see what's best for us."
Adams said he doesn't care whether he closes or is a setup man, though he acknowledges that if he was a closer, he'd be in position to make more money. But as for his role, he said he'd do whatever he's asked.
"I enjoy what I do. I like what I do," Adams said. "I don't need to be a closer. If I'm compensated the way I feel I deserve to be, that's what's most important to me. If I'm back here, I'd love to be back here setting up again."
Adams had an inconsistent season, putting up a 3.27 ERA in 61 games, though he dealt with injuries, as well. But if Adams has surgery, he thinks it's about a three-month rehab and he'll be 100 percent by the spring.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers fans showered Josh Hamilton with boos during his 0-for-4 performance in what might have been the five-time All-Star's last game with the franchise.
Baltimore Orioles in Friday night's one-game American League wild-card round. "I gave it my all every time I went out there. Hopefully, (fans) appreciated it more than they didn't. I think they do. It's one of those things, hey, we didn't get a win, but you can't win them all."
Hamilton gave mixed messages about his upcoming decision as a free agent, saying he'd "absolutely" give the Rangers the right to match any offer but would choose his next team solely on the word he receives from God.
"I always would love to stay here," said Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP and a key cog for the Rangers' two World Series teams. "They understand that. They know that. When we talked earlier in the year, we didn't get things worked out, so we said we'd wait until the year was over. They obviously get first shot. I told them they'd get first shot at the end of the year. We'll see what happens."
Asked later what would factor into his decision, the devoutly religious Hamilton said, "With prayer, where God says so. With prayer, where God says so. And with prayer, where God says so. Period. He's always led me to the right places."
If this was the conclusion of Hamilton's tenure with Texas, it ended with a thud.
You can read the rest of the story here.
To read Jean-Jacques Taylor's take on what the Rangers should do with Hamilton, click here.
The Rangers’ search for a true No. 1 is over. He’s on the club for five more seasons.
If Darvish’s offense had scored just a few runs for him, he’d be preparing to pitch Game 3 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he’ll stay in shape in the offseason and return to Surprise, Ariz., as one of the top young pitchers in the game. It was clear that his playoff experience in Japan had helped prepare him to handle the stress of postseason baseball at the highest level.
The Darvish that finished the season with eight straight quality starts was the same one that showed up on Friday in Arlington, despite the magnitude of the game. Darvish didn’t change his approach. He stayed aggressive, tried to get ahead of hitters and then used his off-speed stuff very effectively. His best pitch all year – the slider – was a weapon for him again on Friday. He didn’t walk anyone and when he departed with two outs in the seventh and a runner at second, it was a 2-1 game.
“I felt very good,” Darvish said through interpreter Joe Furukawa. “I felt my command was good and I was able to keep the team in the game. So I thought I pitched pretty good tonight.”
Darvish came into the game at 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his previous eight starts, finishing the season on a strong note. Darvish simplified his repertoire and started attacking hitters more. His curveball and slider kept hitters off-balance after they saw his cutter and four-seamer. He effectively dropped his two-seamer because he didn’t need it.
It all came together for Darvish the past two months as he settled in and looked like the guy the Rangers’ scouts raved about in Japan.
“I think he showed that pedigree during the season,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “It wasn’t as consistent as it was coming down the stretch. He got more accustomed to the major leagues, the U.S., and the more acclimated he became here and the more he learned about how his stuff plays, the better he got.
“The guy has feel. He had to feel it. I think his confidence level went way up.”
Darvish impressed his teammates too as he seemed to improve with every start late in the season. He pitched against playoff contenders and won games – or at the very least kept his team in it.
“That’s why we signed him,” starter Matt Harrison said. “All the hype, he lived up to it the last couple of months. He has the stuff, it was just a matter of him learning the style of baseball here. Watching him pitch the last few months has been fun to watch.”
Darvish said he hadn't had time to reflect on his first big league season, one that likely would have landed him an AL rookie of the year award if Mike Trout hadn't dominated.
"My mind is more of a blank now," Darvish said. "I really can't tell you what kind of season it was. But the way I feel, it's almost like they tll you to run a 30-mile marathon. At the last stretch you're about to finish and they tell you to stop. I had to stop and it was just a little bit more to go and I could have finished it. That's how I feel right now."
Darvish dealt with some discomfort in his right trapezius muscle in the sixth inning, which he attributed to a cramp, but Washington said that was not a factor in his decision to end Darvish’s night after only 91 pitches.
“I wanted to match up right there, a lefty against a lefty,” Washington said. “That was the fourth time they were coming around, and I just thought in that situation try to keep the game at 2-1. I thought Derek could come in and make some pitches on McLouth. It just didn’t work out.
“Once again, you make moves, and if the players get it done, great move. Players don’t get it done, you’re left open. So I’m left open.”
Washington’s decision is easy to second-guess because the statistics didn’t support his logic.
Darvish allowed only five hits and no walks in his 6 2/3 innings, and McLouth was 0-for-3 against him. Left-handed hitters had a higher batting average this season against the lefty Holland (.243) than the righty Darvish (.231).
Holland, who was in the starting rotation all season, had struggled down the stretch. He allowed 11 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in his last three appearances of the regular season. He threw 113 pitches in a Sunday start and 50 more in a rare relief appearance when he got the decision in Wednesday’s division-deciding loss to the Oakland A’s.
Washington had a few middle relievers in the bullpen who, by the numbers, were better options against a lefty than Holland.
Righty Alexi Ogando held lefties to a .234 average this season. Southpaw Robbie Ross held lefties to a .225 average. And red-hot righty Koji Uehara held lefties to a .188 average, not including his two strikeouts of lefties in a perfect eighth inning Friday night.
Washington, however, said he never considered anyone other than Holland when he made the decision to end his ace’s dominant performance.
“I went with who I wanted to go with – Derek Holland,” Washington said.
The numbers say that was the wrong decision. So do the results.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was like a virus that kept infecting the Rangers' bats the past two weeks. A team with one of the deepest lineups in baseball wasn't able to consistently get enough runs home. And it wasn't because they didn't have chances.
Two innings later, the Baltimore Orioles had runners on the corners and no outs and Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly to right to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run. The Orioles executed. The Rangers didn't.
"We just didn't get it done," manager Ron Washington said. "It came down to being able to execute against good pitching. It wasn't the base hits or anything like that. It was just the fundamentals. We tried and we couldn't get it done."
Players were unable to explain it, still stunned from the club's rapid fall from the top of the division to out of the playoffs in the span of 10 days. But they knew that when it mattered most, the bats didn't come through. The club seemed unable to put together enough clutch hits in key games down the stretch. They didn't have enough productive outs to move runners. They didn't do the little things needed for an offense to help win games.
"I don’t know the right way to describe it," outfielder David Murphy said. "I don’t know. At some point we just ran out of gas. We stopped playing like the Rangers. I don’t know why that is. It just happened. It’s disappointing when you don’t perform."
The offense's struggles disappointed hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who vowed to analyze every part of it this offseason and see if there are different things he can do to try to fix it.
"We created opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them," Coolbaugh said. "It wasn’t just a certain person, it was the whole team. It kind of snowballed on us from the standpoint that one guy didn't do it and the next guy couldn't get it done. It went down the line. It was very unfortunate. I couldn’t put my finger on why that transpired. It just happened. It’s frustrating as a hitting coach to know that there’s things that are happening and we weren't able to turn it around. They were all aware of the situation. It wasn’t like they were oblivious. For whatever reason, they weren’t able to execute it when we had opportunities."
Coolbaugh said part of his job is to see if there was anything else he could have done or a way or presenting the information in a better way.
"I think that’s a learning experience for a coach to stay on top of things," Coolbaugh said. "I don’t think I let it go or let it linger on. It was a discussion constantly, but there's things you look at and maybe try to attack it a different way. That’s the learning process or trying to better yourself as a coach. You look at the situation you were presented and say, 'What can I do differently?' We have to get better and that will start before spring training."
It was a stunning collapse that ended with general manger Jon Daniels hugging players in the clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night and teammates saying goodbye to each other.
This was not how the season was supposed to end for the two-time defending AL champions. They led the AL West by five games with nine to play after beating Oakland on Sept. 24. Now, less than two weeks later, they watched their lead in the AL West evaporate on the final day as the Oakland A’s celebrated. And then, despite having the lifeline of a winner-take-all AL wild-card game against a team they dominated in the regular season, the offense had no energy and they wasted a sterling performance by Yu Darvish in a 5-1, season-ending loss.
It’s amazing to consider that the Rangers never had a champagne-crazed celebration in a clubhouse. They toasted the fact that they made the playoffs last weekend, but figured they’d break out the big party for the division title. That never came. Neither did a wild-card win. Former Rangers manager Buck Showalter and his team – many of them former Rangers – turned up the music and dumped beer on each other in the visiting clubhouse in Arlington and will now move on to face the New York Yankees. For the Rangers, a season with so much promise is over way earlier than expected.
“I’m very surprised,” veteran leader Michael Young said. “It was a very disappointing finish. We felt like we had the team and we had the guys to make another run at it. That doesn’t really come down to tonight’s game. It comes down to the last week and a half. We had an opportunity to put our best foot forward and set ourselves up for a strong run. We didn’t get it done.”
Texas lost eight of its final 10 games and 10 of the last 14.
On Friday, the Orioles did what the A’s managed to accomplish in a three-game sweep of the Rangers: They took advantage of their scoring chances. The Rangers didn’t. So almost before the playoffs really started, the Rangers were out.
“I’m going to be watching teams on TV next week and I know we’re good enough to be where those guys are and we didn’t get it done,” David Murphy said. “For that, we don’t deserve to be there, and that’s frustrating. I know what type of personnel we have in here. I know what type of talent we have. I know the quality of guys we have. That makes it frustrating.”
Players were stunned as they gathered their things and talked to one another. All those plans for another long postseason stay are over.
Closer Joe Nathan and others vowed to let it motivate them.
“It won’t be hard to get up in the morning and go there (to the gym) for sure,” Nathan said. “These things fire you up and want you to get it going.”
Needless to say, but this should be an interesting evening.
But Hamilton was absolutely awful down the stretch, as the Rangers let their AL West lead slip away by losing seven of the last nine games. Hamilton had no homers, no walks and 17 strikeouts during that stretch, when he hit .256. Worse, his effort was questioned when he whiffed on a routine pop fly and jogged after the ball on the play that gave the A’s the lead for good in the de facto AL West title game.
Which Hamilton will show up during the postseason? That could determine whether the Rangers make another World Series run or if they even get out of the blocks.
“We’re certainly looking tonight to jump on his back and take a ride,” manager Ron Washington said, expressing confidence that Hamilton will perform like the MVP candidate who finished the regular season with 43 homers and 128 RBIs.
Washington added that there are a lot of guys in his lineup capable of carrying the Rangers.
You can’t question that Hamilton has that kind of talent. However, how can anyone be confident he’ll have the proper focus for the postseason after watching Hamilton the last couple of weeks?
“Well, I think his talent mainly more than anything else,” Washington said. “As far as focus goes, we all know what’s at stake here, and the past couple of years, the success we’ve had, Hamilton has been a big part of it. The success that we’ve had this year, Hamilton has been a big part of it. So there’s no reason for me to think otherwise that Hamilton isn’t going to show up tonight and be there for us now. …
“He can take a ballgame over, and you never know what day that is going to be. I’m a very optimistic guy, and I believe that today is the day that we can jump on Hamilton’s back.”
Allowing the Oakland A’s to make a historic rally for the American League West title is a distant memory for the Rangers. Well, that’s their story and they’re sticking to it in the hours before a one-and-done wild-card game against the Orioles.
“Great, we’re excited,” clubhouse leader Michael Young said when asked about the Rangers’ morale after losing seven of the last nine games, including a three-game sweep by the A’s that bumped Texas into second place for the first time since April. “Postseason starts today. We’re excited about the opportunity we have. We’re ready to play.
“This is the fun part of the year for us.”
Manager Ron Washington doesn’t deny that the Rangers were extremely disappointed that they failed to accomplish their goal of winning the AL West.
However, the Rangers insist that their stumbling down the stretch isn’t weighing on their mind now. Young said the regular season “is all flushed down the toilet,” stressing that the Rangers built trust and equity in their clubhouse with their World Series runs the last two postseasons.
“What we know is we can play baseball,” Washington said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and putting it together the way we know we’re capable of doing it.
“Tonight, if we do that, [not winning] the division, I think that’ll be in the distant past. We’ll be in the playoffs, and then anything can happen.”
Washington said he didn't see anything unusual about his team as the players arrived at the ballpark today.
"They came in and started getting their work done," Washington said. "I haven't noticed any change in attitude negatively. They needed it. After the disappointment that they had, having a workout wasn't going to make that much of a difference. They needed some time off to relax and be with their families and come today, go through our normal routine and play a game."
* Mike Adams still hasn't thrown much. He hasn't had a long-toss session or thrown off a mound and is doubtful for the ALDS. Washington said the club can't really put him on there if he hasn't thrown off a mound and it seems unlikely he'll do that before Sunday.
* Washington said Tanner Scheppers was left off in favor of Yoshinori Tateyama because Tateyama gives right-handed hitters "a different look." With the flexibility of changing the roster after the ALDS, Washington went with 11 pitchers, including four lefties. He hopes to be prepared to make any changes needed to get a favorable matchup.
* Washington said he checked with Beltre when the slugger arrived at the park and Beltre told him he was ready to go, so he's in at third base today after being the DH in the series in Oakland.
* The Rangers' intention is to pitch Matt Harrison in Game 1 of the ALDS, but if they need him today, he can pitch. It's his normal day to throw, so he could give them an inning or two and it wouldn't leave him unable to pitch Sunday.
"He's not swinging the bat like he was earlier," Washington said of Murphy against left-handers. "My main thing today was I just wanted to get those young legs of Gentry out there running the ball down in center field and give Hamilton a little break on the other side. I tried to put as many righties in there as I possibly could against Saunders."
In fact, Hamilton is the only left-handed hitter in the lineup today.
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Michael Young
DH Mike Napoli
C Geovany Soto
CF Craig Gentry
LF Nate McLouth (L)
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis (L)
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters (S)
DH Jim Thome (L)
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty (L)
3B Manny Machado
|Rangers GM Jon Daniels comments on the state of the team heading into Friday's elimination game against the Orioles. |
Saunders (9-13, 4.07 ERA): The veteran has helped give the Orioles some key innings since the acquired him from Arizona in August. ... He is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA in September, though only two of those starts were against playoff teams. ... He's 3-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas, including 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six previous starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. ... Saunders has started four playoff games in his career and is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in those starts. His last one came in 2011, when he gave up three runs in three innings in the NLDS.
Hitters: Ian Kinsler (10-for-24, 4 HR, 8 RBIs), Nelson Cruz (6-for-20, 2 HR, 3 RBIs), Michael Young (10-for-28, HR, 3 RBIs) and Geovany Soto (4-for-6, HR) have hit Saunders well. ... Darvish has never pitched against the Orioles.
|Ben and Skin set the scene for tonight's Rangers game by covering every angle possible including the story of the night: Yu Darvish. |
"It's great. I get to sleep in my own bed," Davis said. "I think it helped playing here in August to get all the emotions out, obviously a place I was here for awhile. After being traded, I turned the page."
And his career has turned a corner. Davis has been outstanding this season, finally putting together a complete season instead of just flashes of the power he had in Texas. Davis hit .270 with a team-high 33 homers and 85 RBIs in 139 games. Davis finished with seven homers in the final seven games of the season, including hitting a homer in six straight games.
Davis wasn't going to get an opportunity to see regular playing time, which was part of the reason the trade with Baltimore made so much sense. The Rangers got Koji Uehara, who has been one the club's best relievers the past month and could be in position to pitch in some critical situations tonight and in the postseason. Davis got the chance to make some mistakes and learn from them with regular playing time in Baltimore. And he's taken advantage.
"It’s been a great fit," Davis said. "I think I kind of wore out my welcome in Texas, so to speak. I was doing everything I could to hang on, but after those guys signed (Adrian) Beltre, Mike Napoli, I kind of saw the writing on the wall. I have no hard feelings. I’m very appreciative of the fact they gave me a chance to go play somewhere else."
Davis is certainly a player Yu Darvish will have to watch tonight. He's still prone to the strikeout -- 169 of them this season -- but he can also crush mistakes. It should be fun to see how he does back at the ballpark in a huge game tonight.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.