Game thoughts: Defense costly
April, 16, 2010
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
NEW YORK -- For the second straight game, defensive struggles hurt the Rangers.
And, as was the case in Cleveland on Thursday, one inning in particular got them. The box score from Saturday's 5-1 loss at Yankee Stadium (called after six innings because of rain) shows one error, but some of the hit calls could have gone either way. With the score tied at 1 in the fourth, Michael Young bobbled a ball, Chris Davis hit a runner with a throw and the Rangers infield just seemed out of sync.
The inning actually started a frame earlier, when Taylor Teagarden threw out Nick Johnson trying to steal second. Alex Rodriguez was at home plate and facing an 0-2 count. So he led off the fourth and was hit by a pitch (it was close...I couldn't tell if it hit him on the replay). That got things rolling. An infield single (on a bobbled ball) by Robinson Cano and a walk by Nick Swisher loaded the bases.
Starter C.J. Wilson did get a strikeout with bases loaded and no outs. But the next hitter hit a shot toward first. Davis made a nice play by diving to the ball, but then tried to throw to second to start a difficult double play rather than get the out at first. He hit the runner in the process, allowing an additional run to score. The Yankees scored three runs in the inning to take control of the game. C.C. Sabathia took care of the rest.
The bottom line: The defense has to get better. A reminder: It's still early in the season.
Some other thoughts:
* It is worth pointing out that Young also made a very nice play in the sixth, getting to a ball chopped down the line and throwiong across to first off-balance for the out. And Elvis Andrus went in the hole and nearly made an incredible play to get Francisco Cervelli in the sixth. He was barely safe. But, as manager Ron Washington preaches, they have to make the routine plays too.
* The Rangers had three hits through six innings on Friday. They had three hits through nine innings on Thursday. And they scored three runs combined in the two games. You can get great pitching, but at some point the hits have to come. Right now, the Rangers' offense isn't on a hot streak. Maybe that will happen this weekend.
* LHP C.J. Wilson may not have been as dominant as we've seen, but he did a solid job on Friday. And just three of his runs were earned, giving him a quality start. He also topped 100 pitches for the first time, finishing with 112. He got some tough luck on some of the defensive plays and seemed upset with himself for not making a play behind the mound that might have prevented the Yankees' fifth run, scored in the sixth. Wilson was going to have to make the play with his back to the plate, so it wasn't easy. But he's made that type of play before. He pitched out of some jams and gave the club six innings. The starters sure have helped the bullpen on that score. And Wilson stayed in to finish the sixth because it seemed clear there would be a delay. Doug Mathis was warming up, but I'm sure Washington didn't want to use him and then see the rain come down.
* CC Sabathia was on his game. It sure seemed like he was 0-2 on most of the Rangers' hitters. I can tell you that on two of the Rangers' three hits through five innings, they were hit on 0-2. Sabathia got ahead and stayed aggressive. He had nine strikeouts and five ground ball outs. It was very impressive.
* C Taylor Teagarden had a tough start to the game. He couldn't grab a high fastball from C.J. Wilson with a runner at third and two outs in the first, allowing Derek Jeter to score on the passed ball. And he struck out in his first at-bat. But he also made a great throw to get Nick Johnson trying to steal in the third, ending the inning with Alex Rodriguez standing at home plate. Teagarden's struggles at the plate continued. He struck out in the second and fourth innings. Don't let the one passed ball cloud your overall view of Teagarden's defensive game. He blocked some balls in the dirt tonight and was good other than the throw.
* Young, fresh off his first multi-hit game on Thursday in Cleveland, had a single in the first -- with two strikes -- to help start the Rangers' scoring. Josh Hamilton followed with a double to left and Vladimir Guerrero brought Young home with a sacrifice fly, executing on the situational hitting.
* The bottom four of the Rangers' order were 1-for-10 with six strikeouts. Joaquin Arias provided the only hit.
* The Rangers now have eight quality starts in the first 10 games of the season, which is impressive. Wilson gave up five runs on Friday, but only three of them are earned. He got through six innings, giving him the QS. That also keeps the ERA low for the Ranger starters.
* Click here for a replay of tonight's in-game chat. Join us Saturday for another one. The game starts at 12:05 Dallas time.