Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Rays 0
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A great spot start by Scott Feldman, a towering homer by Josh Hamilton and solid bullpen help paced the Texas Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the club's 16th shutout of the season, one shy of tying the club record (1977). The victory means the Rangers will at least stay 3 1/2 games up on the Angels, who are playing in Seattle. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse later):
* Scott Feldman sure looked a lot more like the guy that won 17 games in 2009 and not the one that struggled most of 2010. His sinker and cutter were working, he mixed in some changeups and his overall command was solid. Feldman looked confident and pitched like it, too.
* For a spot start, the Rangers got much more than they expected. Feldman was on a pitch count of between 80 and 90 pitches. He gave them 88 and six shutout innings. Feldman allowed just two hits and the Rays had just one runner in scoring position off him.
* Feldman also showed off his glove, getting to a hard grounder right back to the mound from Johnny Damon to end the third inning.
* Josh Hamilton absolutely annihilated a first-pitch fastball from Jeremy Hellickson in the sixth, breaking a scoreless tie. The homer went approximately 449 feet, a mammoth distance for a pulled homer. It went more than halfway up a section of the Home Run Porch.
Maybe Hamilton is starting to heat up. He was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs on Sunday and then added a big homer tonight.
* Murphy had a great September in 2010 with Hamilton hurt. Can he have another late-season surge? Murphy had two hits, including an RBI single in the sixth. He is 8-for-19 with two HRs and seven RBIs on this homestand.
* It was a strange baserunning play in the third for the Rays. Elvis Andrus charged a tough grounder and then noticed that Sean Rodriguez had rounded second. Andrus turned around and got him in a rundown. But rather than throw the ball to second baseman Ian Kinsler, Andrus tried to run Rodriguez down and tag him. Rodriguez was called safe at second. Replays showed Andrus got the tag down before Rodriguez got back to the bag, but he still should have thrown to Kinsler. The Rangers got out of the inning.
* The Rangers wasted a chance in the fourth. Josh Hamilton led off the inning with a double off the wall in left-center. But Hellickson struck out Michael Young and Mike Napoli, elevating his fastball well. He intentionally walked David Murphy to face Yorvit Torrealba. The Rangers catcher worked a walk to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who just missed a double down the first-base line foul before flying out to right.
* Torrealba made a terrific throw to second to get the speedy B.J. Upton trying to steal in the fifth. And then followed it up with another good throw (and a nice pick-up by Kinsler with the tag) to get Sean Rodriguez in the sixth. That was the fourth baserunner he's caught stealing in the last five attempts. He's caught five of his last nine would-be basestealers.
* Moreland made a nice defensive play for the second out of the fifth inning. He dove to a ball to his right across the foul line hit by Matt Joyce and flipped to Feldman for the out.
* Kinsler also made a play that has to make Baseball Tonight's Web Gems. He was fully stretched out in a dive to his right and caught Casey Kotchman's liner.
* The 23,069 at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday marked the lowest attendance since April 26 vs. Toronto (21,755). School night and heat were probably a factor.
* The Rays once again employed the shift on Moreland. They did it in Tampa last time, too. The Rays are the only time I've seen do it.
* Mike Adams likes pitching in Rangers Ballpark. He has thrown 9 1/3 scoreless innings in Texas since the trade with three walks and 10 strikeouts. Opponents are just 5-for-32 (.156) off him and he's thrown 13.39 pitches per inning.
* Neftali Feliz made things interesting, but with runners on the corners he got Evan Longoria to hit a ground ball to second to start a double play to end the game and preserve the shutout.
* T. Boone Pickens threw out the first pitch as part of MLB's tribute to Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday celebration this year.