Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Rapid Reax: Rangers move to 5-0
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers got a sterling performance from their young starter and then held on after a hiccup in the seventh by the bullpen. Great defensive plays, including a diving catch by Julio Borbon, helped the Rangers preserve a 3-2 win.
They've won five in a row to start the season. Another 30,953 were there to see it and they had some good energy, especially late. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):
* What a performance for Alexi Ogando. In his first major league start, he managed to pitch six shutout innings and gave up just two hits. He threw 90 pitches and his final one was at 93 mph for a strikeout of Jack Cust on a 1-2 pitch. It was important that Ogando was that good, too, as Seattle starter Michael Pineda didn't make things easy on the Rangers.
* After the bullpen had issues, ironically in the setup role that was vacated by Ogando and left some questions in relief, Julio Borbon made the play of the night. Borbon started back on a fly ball by Milton Bradley, but then sprinted in and made a tremendous dive to catch the ball and preserve a 3-2 lead in the seventh. That's the kind of speed that manager Ron Washington talks about. And despite breaking on it wrong, Borbon made the play.
* Ogando is the first Rangers pitcher to have six shutout innings in a debut as a starter since Brian Sikorski in 2000, for what it's worth.
* Ogando mixed his pitches well, which means Yorvit Torrealba deserves some credit. Ogando's split-fingered fastball sure looks like a real weapon. He fooled hitters with it repeatedly the first time through the lineup and it had very good movement. When you can touch 96 mph with your fastball and then drop things down by nearly 20 mph and still throw strikes, you've made it really tough on the hitter.
* The second time through the order, Ogando relied more on his slider as the secondary pitch. He did well there, too, allowing a double and a walk and otherwise getting outs without too much trouble.
* Ogando gave up a one-out double in a 1-0 game in the fifth, but got Jack Wilson to ground out. With a runner at third and two outs, Ogando went 3-2 on Michael Saunders, but got him to fly out to Mitch Moreland in right. It was a big out and a confidence booster.
* Ogando had a small blister on his right index finger, but he stayed in for final out of sixth inning. And Ogando, not an emotional guy on the mound, showed some when he got that final out, slapping his hand in his glove as he left the mound.
* Stat of the night: Rangers have 18 two-out RBIs, tops in the majors. They had two more on Tuesday.
* Even when he's not hitting homers, Nelson Cruz has an impact. He was facing starter Pineda, making his major league debut, and the rookie pitched around him with two outs, issuing a walk in the second. That allowed Mitch Moreland to come up and he crushed a ball to left-center and off the wall for a triple. Center fielder Michael Saunders thought it was going over the wall and jumped. It hit off the wall and that may have helped Moreland make it a triple as opposed to a double. It gave the Rangers an early lead.
* Cruz did not homer, ending his streak at four straight games to start the season.
* Pineda was impressive. He had the Rangers' hitters chasing his secondary pitches and looking unsure at times. That was a departure from the first four games of the season. Give the rookie some credit for that. But he did give Texas some hittable pitches as he went along and the Rangers don't miss too many mistakes.
* So one night after hitting a rare home run, Elvis Andrus put down a nice sacrifice bunt to get Ian Kinsler to second base with one out in the sixth for Josh Hamilton in a 1-0 game.
* Hamilton took advantage of the opportunity, blasting one to right-center field for a double and an RBI. The 2010 AL MVP has had a slow start to the season. Maybe that's the hit he needs to get going.
* Michael Young sure does hit well to the opposite field. He had a double to right, his 850th double, to make it 3-0 Rangers in that sixth inning as Hamilton scored.
* The Rangers have 30 extra-base hits in five games.
* Mark Lowe came in for the seventh inning and with one out allowed three straight singles to make it 3-1 and exit in favor of Darren Oliver. Lowe had the velocity on his fastball and changed speeds, but didn't have much movement and the ball was up in the zone. Mariners didn't hit ball particularly hard, but they hit him.
* Oliver came in and gave up a single to Saunders to make it 3-2. That means the 6-9 hitters helped the Mariners get back in it. Ichiro, the leadoff hitter, then grounded to second base, but Kinsler bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Ichiro to get to first to load the bases with one out. But Oliver threw a nice cutter inside to Chone Figgins to get him to pop out and Julio Borbon made a great catch to keep it a 3-2 game.
* Oliver went in for the eighth with the left-handed hitting Jack Cust and switch-hitter Justin Smoak due up and managed to have a 5-pitch inning. He got three groundouts and kept the Rangers in front at 3-2.
* Neftali Feliz came in for the third straight day and got the final three outs, getting the bottom three in the M's order (the same group that helped get them back in the game). Feliz featured a wicked curve and then blew a fastball by Michael Saunders to win it.
* Michael Young made his major league debut at first and save his best play for the ninth. He was playing near the line in a one-run game against Adam Kennedy and was positioned just right, diving into foul ground to snag a liner for the first out. Young also made a nice stretch on a high throw earlier in the game.