Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Braves 4
June, 18, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ATLANTA -- The Rangers pulled out a 5-4, 10-inning victory Saturday, recovering after blowing a 4-0 lead. It was a long day of baseball with a 2-hour, 16-minute rain delay and then extra baseball. The blown save meant that Matt Harrison got a no-decision and he deserved better for staying loose through the entire delay and pitching after the game resumed. Some quick thoughts on the game (more to come from the clubhouse):
* Adrian Beltre delivered the go-ahead hit, a single to left-center to score Ian Kinsler in the 10th. Kinsler led things off with an opposite-field double down the first-base line. After Elvis Andrus couldn't get him to third, Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked to get to Beltre and the third baseman came through. It was his first hit of the game.
* Neftali Feliz looked dominant for the second straight game, throwing in the high 90s and moving the fastball around the zone in earning the win. He faced the top of the Braves lineup and got them in order to avoid having to face the dangerous Brian McCann. He had two strikeouts and a ground out (Beltre did nice job staying with a liner after it went off his glove to get the second out).
* The rain came at 4:35 Dallas time and with just one out away from making this an official game. Harrison didn't look happy about it. He stayed loose during the delay and was back out on the mound when play resumed. He needed three pitches to retire Jordan Schafer and end the inning. (Strangely, with the rain coming down, Braves pitcher Derek Lowe took a swing at the first pitch to get the second out, but the umpires decided after that out not to stop it one out shy of the official game.)
* According the STATS, Inc., Harrison came back from the longest delay of the season for any major league pitcher at 2:16. Clay Buchholz came back after a 2:07 delay for the Red Sox on May 7 against Minnesota.
* Harrison ended up retiring five of the six hitters he faced. He made a mistake to Brian McCann, leaving a cutter up. McCann doesn't seem to miss mistakes and deposited the ball over the right field wall for to get the Braves within one run at 4-3.
* Harrison will get an extra day of rest before his next start, which he'll certainly need. But that's a gritty effort to come back out after that long a delay. And he was throwing as high as 96 mph too.
* Atlanta errors helped the Rangers in the first inning. Ian Kinsler started things off with a single and Elvis Andrus singled in the hole between first and second on a 1-2 pitch. Right fielder Jason Heyward missed the ball charging in and Kinsler, despite sliding into third assuming he wasn't going home, scored easily. Andrus went to third. He then scored when first baseman Freddie Freeman bobbled a ground ball from Josh Hamilton. Andrus wasn't going home right away, but once the ball got away, he scampered home. That made it 2-0 before Harrison even took the mound.
* Hamilton made a mental error to end the first inning. He was running on Michael Young's fly ball thinking there were two outs. But there was only one, so it was an easy double play for the Braves to end the inning.
* The Rangers were also prone to miscues. With two outs and no one on in the third, Mitch Moreland got a poor read on Derek Lowe's fly ball and the pitcher got to second on a double. He scored when Jordan Schafer's fly ball hit Nelson Cruz's glove and bounced out. Cruz was there in plenty of time but appeared to lose his concentration.
* Andrus had a nice at-bat to lead off the third. He was behind in the count 0-2 and worked it back to 3-2 before hitting a well-placed bloop single to center field.
* The Rangers added another run in the third on a double steal. With Andrus at third and Hamilton at first, both runners went. The throw went through to second base and by the time Atlanta threw back home, Andrus was able to slide in safely. It was the second time Andrus stole home this season. He's the third Ranger with two career steals of home. The others: Dave Nelson (1973, 1974) and Bump Wills (1977, 1979).
* Michael Young has a five-game hitting streak after an RBI single in the third. He was 6-for-16 in his last four games coming into Saturday.
* Is Yoshinori Tateyama starting to become a trusted bullpen piece? He came in after Harrison exited to pitch to right-handed hitter Alex Gonzalez and struck him out. The Braves put Brooks Conrad, a left-handed hitter, in to pinch hit. Lefties were hitting .280 against Tateyama coming into the at-bat, but Tateyama struck him out with an off-speed pitch. He came back in to face Joe Mather to start the eighth and struck him out on a nice fastball. So Tateyama struck out all three batters he faced. A very solid outing.
* Hamilton was 0-for-4, ending his 24-game interleague hitting streak. It matched the fourth longest since interleague play began in 1997.
* Darren Oliver blew a save in the eighth inning. With one out and no one on, Jordan Schafer bunted down the first-base line and Oliver tried to flip the ball to Young and completely missed him. The error put Schafer on second. He scored when Dan Uggla, batting .087 against lefties coming into the game, doubled. It was the 11th blown save for the Rangers, tied for the third-most in the majors. Uggla's double went off the top of the wall. If it clears the wall, the Braves get the lead. Instead, they never got the lead.
* Mark Lowe came in for the ninth and was impressive. He struck out Freddie Freeman, Eric Hinske and Joe Mather and survived a four-pitch walk to Alex Gonzalez in between those. Still, for a guy that struggled some, that was a good performance. His fastball had life and hit 98 mph. The slider looked good too.