Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Rangers showing some playoff mettle
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- I know that it's one game against at Yankee lineup that was not at full strength last night, but the way the Rangers won in extra innings on Tuesday should give them even more confidence. A few random things that struck me:
* Past editions of the Rangers the last 7 or 8 years would have lost that game last night. They had the lead twice and couldn't hold it, the last coming with a game-tying solo home run off the bat of Alex Rodriguez, which would have been a shot to the gut that other teams may not have recovered from. They also had three errors. Yet despite it all they found a way to win.
* The offense, which has taken some grief the past few weeks for not scoring runs consistently, did what it had to against one of the best closers ever to win the game. They did it by staying patient when needed (as evidenced by David Murphy's ability to work the count against Mariano Rivera in the 10th) and getting runners over to set up opportunities.
* This team doesn't allow lost opportunities to completey sink them. Elvis Andrus was clearly frustrated he couldn't come through in the bottom of the ninth. But the club came right back to set things up to win in the 10th.
* The little things have made a huge difference with this team. Josh Hamilton making a great slide to prevent a double play. Michael Young beating out an infield hit. Key sacrifice bunts and fly balls to create scoring chances. This team does it and last night it helped them win a big ballgame.
* Important role players become key for teams that contend. Murphy is turning into one of those guys right now just when this team and offense need him.
* It takes a solid mental game to contend for division titles and make a playoff run. Don't underestimate the psychological boost beating Rivera is for this team. They stayed tough mentally all night to bounce back after blowing two leads and to get to the Yankee closer.
Warning: They'll face a hungry and more potent Ranger lineup tonight. Maybe that means it's good timing for Cliff Lee to take the hill. It should be fun. We'll have a live in-game chat with several panelist through ESPN.com tonight, so join us!
BTW, click here for a column on Lee's impact on the Rangers.