Rangers can play it NL-style, too
Sounds as though the Rangers, once known only for their big bats, are a perfect fit for the style predominantly played in the NL. Good thing since Texas will open its first-ever World Series on Wednesday night at AT&T Park, the home of the NL champion San Francisco Giants.
"I love playing National League baseball. I do," Washington said. "You get every single person engaged. It's a little different than the American League. We went through two series [the ALDS and ALCS] here where some guys didn't get a chance to play. Now everybody's available because there will be certain moves that have to be made."
Which can be a blessing and a curse. For instance, what happens in a tie game or if the Rangers trail 1-0 in the sixth or seventh inning, have the bases loaded with two outs and Lee -- despite his love for hitting (and he was a .273 postseason hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies last year) -- is up? Do you let him hit so he can stay in and pitch or do you pinch-hit for him and put the game in the hands of the bullpen?
"If that opportunity presents itself," Washington said. "We'll react to it."
Lee could very well be called upon to bunt, the calling card of every NL pitcher. That's why the top 12 teams in the majors in sacrifice bunts hail in the NL. The AL-leader in sac bunts? The Texas Rangers. They were also third in the majors in sacrifice flies and seventh in stolen bases. meaning they are proficient in moving and scoring runners without needing a home run.
Yes, the Rangers have the classic AL bashers -- they have 17 in the postseason to lead all teams -- but they've also done a masterful job this season of manufacturing runs. But, anybody who has watched this team in winning the AL pennant has discovered that. The Rangers scored two runs from second base on balls hit in the infield in Game 5 against Tampa Bay, and Elvis Andrus scored the first run of the ALCS clincher against the New York Yankees on a fielder's choice.
"The small ball we play here is amazing, too," Molina said. "We play great small ball. And the National League is known for small ball, so I think you can compare."
Both teams hit 162 home runs in the regular season and the Giants actually hit more extra base hits than the Rangers, who led the majors with a .276 batting average. Equalizing things in the small-ball category could be key as Texas faces its most daunting pitching staff of the postseason.
"I think we can play any way it's necessary to score runs, honestly, whether that's National League or American League ball, however you want to label it, we can do it," second baseman Ian Kinsler said."Like Wash always says, we're going to do what's presented to us. Whether that's move a runner with a ground ball to second, or a sac fly, or a bunt or a hit-and-run, we're going to do it."
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Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss a hypothetical Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee trade, how he would handle Profar's playing time with the Rangers and more.
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
- There are no games scheduled for today.