Thursday, August 4, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Tigers 2
By Richard Durrett
DETROIT -- The Rangers managed to take one game in the three-game series, beating the Tigers 5-2. They got a strong outing from Alexi Ogando, a solid effort by the bullpen and timely hits from the offense, something that was missing for most of the trip. The win means they'll start the homestand on Friday in sole possession of first place in the AL West. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse):
* Mike Adams came in for the eighth inning and needed just eight pitches to get out of it. He allowed one hit up the middle with two outs. But he also retired Brennan Boesch, who homered off him on Tuesday.
* The bullpen as a whole did its job. Darren Oliver got his lone batter (Jhonny Peralta) as did Koji Uehara (Magglio Ordonez) to end the seventh. Adams got the job done in the eighth and Neftali Feliz handled things in the ninth.
* Feliz was aggressive and didn't mess around, getting all three batters he faced with a fastball that found the zone and his 97 mph.
* The Rangers didn't try to do too much off Tigers starter Brad Penny, going with pitches on the outside part of the plate and sending them up the middle or the other way (particularly the right-handed hitters) and coming through with the big hits they didn't get for most of this road trip. Mike Napoli hit a single to score Young in the fourth to make it 2-0 and start a 3-run inning.
* Later that same inning, Endy Chavez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Napoli. It was the kind of productive out the Rangers offense hasn't been able to handle on this road trip.
* The three-run fourth came after the Rangers had an opportunity for an early run and couldn't execute. With runners on the corners with one out, Michael Young hit the first pitch he saw from Penny, a changeup, to third base to start a double play. It was important for this offense that they battled back and didn't let that failure snowball the rest of the game.
* Ogando didn't need much run support. His fastball was humming in the mid to upper 90s and he was able to locate it and change elevations while keeping the velocity up. The slider was effective as usual and he incorporated more changeups, especially to left-handed hitters. The Tigers have good fastballs hitters that it left-handed, so it was a way to change speeds on them. And it worked (credit for that probably goes to catcher Mike Napoli).
* He becomes the first pitcher in the majors this season to beat the Tigers three times. The last Texas pitcher to beat the Tigers three times in one season was Ken Hill and Roger Pavlik in 1996. Ogando has allowed 3 runs on 16 hits in 21 innings pitched against the Tigers in 2011. That's a 1.28 ERA.
* Ogando is the first Rangers pitcher to get to 11 wins, getting to that mark before Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson, who all have 10 wins.
* A crazy play in the second put the Rangers in front. With Nelson Cruz at second and Mike Napoli at first, Mitch Moreland hit a ground ball to the right side. First baseman Don Kelly stepped on first and then got Napoli caught in a rundown. After tagging Napoli, Kelly threw home to try to get Cruz for a triple play. And the throw was on time, but dropped by catcher Victor Martinez. So Martinez was given an error and Cruz scored the first run of the game. That's the way things are going for this offense -- they need a crazy, near triple-play to score a run.
* Ian Kinsler came up with two outs and runners at first and second in the fourth and hit a single to center field. It was just his second hit in his last 33 at-bats, but it was an RBI and might be what Kinsler needs to get going. He ended up with three more fly outs in the game and is 2-for-34 in his last eight games.
* Kinsler's rough stretch at the plate has not impacted his defense. He made another great play going to his left and then throwing to first to end the sixth inning. He gets to nearly everything at second base.
* Elvis Andrus had a walk, a stolen base (the club's first of the road trip) and a single in the third. He also made several nice plays in the field.
* Josh Hamilton's single in the first was his third consecutive hit in the day (going back to Sunday in Toronto). Hamilton had a good at-bat, fouling off pitches and finally hitting the ninth one he saw to left. He added a single in the seventh.
* Napoli remains red hot. He has an eight-game hitting streak and is 15-for-32 in that span. Napoli has 17 homers and 43 RBIs, the most homers and RBIs for any player with 210 at-bats or fewer.