Sunday, April 8, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, White Sox 0
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After hitting one homer in the first two games, the Texas Rangers hit three Sunday night, powering their way to a 5-0 win over the White Sox. Here are some quick thoughts on the game:
What it means: The Rangers win their first series of the season, taking the rubber match. Texas has not lost a three-game series at home since July 1-3, 2011 vs. Florida. Texas now welcomes the Seattle Mariners to town for four games to finish off the first homestand.
Shutout performance: Matt Harrison turned in a solid 2012 debut Sunday, going six shutout innings. He had two walks and three strikeouts and wasn't really in too much trouble. He was in full command, throwing strikes, changing speeds and then was able to bear down with two on in the sixth and the Rangers up 3-0. A two-out single by Paul Konerko was followed by an Alex Rios walk. But manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux stuck with Harrison against A.J. Pierzynski, and he struck him out swinging on a sinker.
Terrific trio: Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy accounted for all six of the Rangers' hits Sunday. They were 6-for-11 with three homers and four RBIs.
Big league debut: LHP Robbie Ross got a chance to pitch his first inning in the majors and walked the first batter he faced, Gordon Beckham. But Ross was able to calm himself and got Adam Dunn to pop up to third, he struck out Paul Konerko (and the Rangers made sure to keep the ball for him) and Alex Rios hit into a fielder's choice.
Great catches: Hamilton's glove was certainly at work Sunday. He made a nice running catch to his left in center field off the bat of Peirzynski, ending an 11-pitch at-bat. In the seventh, Hamilton raced to deep left-center field and made a diving catch to rob Alejandro De Aza of a double and an RBI.
Oppo power: Beltre's first hit of 2012 was a 410-foot blast into the Rangers' bullpen in the fourth. That's noteworthy in that Beltre is a right-handed hitter, so that was some impressive opposite-field power. The two-run shot gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
Long ball: Murphy drilled a 2-1 pitch into the upper deck in right field for his first home run of the season. It traveled an estimated 396 feet. Murphy was 3-for-6 with two doubles coming into the game. He's traditionally a slow starter, but is off to a hot start on offense so far in 2012.
Crushed: Texas had three home runs on the night, with none hit as far as Josh Hamilton's crushing blow to lead off the sixth. As soon as he hit the fastball from Gavin Floyd, it was clearly out of the park. The question was whether it would reach the upper deck in right-center. And it did, going 431 feet.
Natural position: Michael Young played second base Sunday with Ian Kinsler at DH. It was a chance to get Young on the field, and the veteran has always said second is his most natural position. He showed good instincts and range in the third, backhanding a hard grounder and throwing to first to end the inning.
Long at-bats: Harrison had thrown 47 pitches through three innings and 21 of those (44.6 percent) were to two consecutive batters -- Pierzynski to end the second and Alexi Ramirez to start the third. Both were retired.
Bobbled ball: Murphy bobbled a ball hit out to him by Beckham to lead off the fourth, and Beckham went to second when he saw Murphy was just a little late being able to grab it and throw it to the infield. It was ruled a double. Beckham got to third with one out, but a nice play by Harrison ended up eliminating Beckham and keeping Murphy's mistake from costing the Rangers.
PFP sure helps: Harrison got a chance to put those defensive skills he worked on in spring training to use. With Beckham at third and one out, Konerko hit a bouncer back to the mound. Harrison got his foot on it, gloved it and got Beckham leaning. Harrison threw the ball to third and got him caught in a rundown.
Good ninth for Uehara: Koji Uehara finished off the game for the Rangers, pitching a scoreless ninth. It was Uehara's first action of the season and should be a nice confidence-builder after a shaky spring.
Up next: Yu Darvish mania is here. The 25-year-old Japanese pitcher will make his first big league start against the Seattle Mariners on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. CT in Arlington. Join us for a live in-game chat here on the ESPN Dallas Rangers blog.