"That defense, man, they played some defense," Torii Hunter said. "They D'ed us up like Michael Jordan. I always thought they had pretty good arms. The defense looks way better."
The Angels have won an impressive number of AL West titles because they not only have the pitching, but also the defense that makes key plays in close games. They saw the Rangers do that on Thursday in taking the first game of this four-game series.
Lee saw it too.
“There were definitely some great plays,” Lee said. “Even the play that Hamilton almost made in the fifth, that would have been a heck of a play too. There were some great plays all night. It was some good defense out there for sure.”
The play Lee is referring to was Hamilton sprinting toward the left-center field wall, reaching up behind him and nearly catching a hard hit ball off the bat of Maicer Izturis. Several Angels said few left fielders even get to that ball.
But it wasn't just Hamilton's near-miss that was impressive. Ian Kinsler dove for a ball to his left to get an out in the fourth. Nelson Cruz got turned around and still managed to catch a ball against the wall in right in the fourth. He also made a sliding catch on a Hunter line drive in the ninth in a one-run game. Michael Young had a nice stab on a liner in the sixth.
It was consistent, solid play from the defense that made a difference in a one-run game. And it's that kind of defense the Rangers will need down the stretch.
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.