Rapid Reaction: White Sox 4, Rangers 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alex Rios hit a home run off Joe Nathan in the ninth inning just over the fence in center -- and just outside the glove of a leaping Josh Hamilton -- to break a 3-3 tie. The White Sox were able to hang on in the bottom half for the 4-3 win in front of 47,867 fans at a sold-out Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Here are some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers drop to 1-1 on the season after a second straight one-run game in Arlington. The Rangers came back twice in the game to tie the score but could never get the lead. They'll attempt to win the series in the rubber match Sunday, the second of five consecutive night games.
Two-out walks hurt: Derek Holland walked two batters with two outs in the third inning (Brent Lillibridge and Adam Dunn) then threw a hanging off-speed pitch on an 0-2 count to Paul Konerko that he belted to the right-center-field gap for a double to give the White Sox the lead back at 3-1.
Quality start, but no decision: Holland's night ended after six innings and 93 pitches. He did pitch better after the walks in the third, getting 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. But it wasn't good enough to factor into the decision. He gave up three runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in his first outing at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington since his Game 4 start in the World Series.
Coming back quickly: In both games this season, the Rangers haven't allowed the White Sox to sustain any momentum. The White Sox took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third, but in the bottom half the Rangers tied the score. Ian Kinsler's triple led things off (still not sure why Alejandro De Aza decided to dive for the ball in center, letting it go right past him), then Elvis Andrus singled Kinsler home. Andrus scored after going to second on a balk, third on an infield single by Hamilton and home on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre. The Rangers continue to do the little things on offense to score runs. ... On Opening Day, Chicago tied the score in the sixth and the Rangers took the lead again in the bottom half. They haven’t let anyone grab momentum yet this season.
Ogando sharp again: Alexi Ogando needed just seven pitches to get through the seventh. He didn't have any strikeouts but got two groundouts and a popup to retire the bottom of the White Sox order.
Where's the run support?: Holland led the league in run support in 2011. He hasn't had three or fewer runs of support since last August. It's tough to expect he'll get 7.64 runs of support per nine innings again this season. But the Rangers' pitchers are likely to get their fair share of runs behind them with this lineup.
Two-game cycle: Kinsler's triple in his second at-bat Saturday means that he hit for the cycle in six at-bats over two games. He's off to a terrific start at the plate this season.
Hitting with RISP: Mike Napoli feasted on pitchers when the Rangers had runners in scoring position in 2011. He has an RBI with RISP in 2012. With two outs and runners at first and second in the second, Napoli singled to center to score Michael Young and tie the game. Napoli hit .324 with RISP and two outs in 2011 (18th in AL) and batted .372 with RISP overall, fourth in AL. ... Napoli got two more chances in the game and wasn't able to get a hit. He batted with the bases loaded in the eighth and was ahead in the count 3-0 before grounding out to third on a 3-2 pitch.
Early errors: David Murphy charged Konerko's two-out, first-inning single and tried to get De Aza at home plate. But his throw was wide enough that Beltre couldn't cut it off. Napoli tried to block it, but it got away from him, allowing Konerko to get to second. Rios popped out on the next pitch, so it didn't cost the Rangers (and I'm not sure a good throw would have gotten De Aza). But it was the club's first error of the season. ... Two innings later, Holland couldn't glove a one-hopper and was charged with an error.
Pick off: Holland's pick-off move immediately came into effect in the third after his error allowed De Aza to get to first. De Aza was leaning and Holland threw over to first before ever throwing a pitch to Brent Lillibridge. De Aza tried to slide back and wasn't even close. That erased the error quickly.
First-inning hit streak: Kinsler has led off both games this season with hits. He had a single on Saturday and that followed a double on Friday. It appeared the Rangers tried a hit-and-run right away and Andrus wasn't able to hit a pitch thrown low. Kinsler was tagged out at second base.
Tidbits: Konerko played in his 2,000th career game Saturday. ... It was the Rangers' first night game of the season. They were 70-44, a .614 winning percentage, in night games in 2011 -- the best mark in the AL. ... There are 2,500 tickets remaining for Sunday's game and 9,000 for Monday night, when Yu Darvish makes his big league debut.
Up next: The Rangers finish the series on ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” against the White Sox. Matt Harrison will be on the mound against Gavin Floyd.
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.