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Tuesday, May 8, 2012
A word about Rangers' approach last night

By Richard Durrett

BALTIMORE -- It's easy to think that after knowing the Baltimore Orioles needed 17 innings to beat the Boston Red Sox on the road and used up their bullpen in the process (don't forget they played extras earlier in the series, too) that the Texas Rangers' approach would be to see as many pitches as possible.

But that was not the thinking heading into Monday night's game. Why? Because the risk on simply going up to the plate and thinking patience is that hittable pitches might just fly right by for strikes.

Manager Ron Washington said before the game that if Brian Matusz didn't throw strikes, the Rangers would see pitches and work him. But if they worked him, it would be because that was the best way to get to him, not because they had a preconceived notion that they had to stay patient.

That approach worked, of course. The Rangers did work Matusz, forcing him to leave the game with 103 pitches after just five innings. They collected 10 hits and seven runs off him, attacking pitches they could hit.

Washington stresses the importance of keeping things simple. If you see a pitch you can hit, go after it. Scott Coolbaugh preaches the same thing. He notes that some hitters are more comfortable hitting in deeper counts (see Mike Napoli) and others don't need to see as many pitches (see Josh Hamilton) to get comfortable.

The bottom line: The Rangers will stick with their game plan no matter the situation. And Matusz's inability to get ahead in the count early allowed the Rangers to work more counts and get his pitch count up.