Texas Rangers: Game Thoughts

More game thoughts: Sixth wins it

July, 29, 2010
* As C.J. Wilson's pitch count climbed over 90 in the sixth, the A's began to chip away at the lefty. Wilson gave up a double to start the inning, which set Alexi Ognado off to warm up.

After a fly out, Oakland catcher Landon Powell hit into a fielder's choice. The Rangers had a shot at the double play, but after Joaquin Arias made the out at second, he mishandled the ball as he tried to tun the double. That cut the Texas lead to 4-2 and kept the A's alive in the inning.

After Ogando entered one batter later, he promptly gave up a double to Cliff Pennington to leave the Rangers up 4-3.

With a man on second and third and two outs, Ogando walked Coco Crisp to load the bases. The reliever was able to get Rajai Davis to ground out to escape the jam.

* David Murphy opened the sixth taking a 2-2 pitch for a 431-foot home run, which gave Texas its winning run, but the fireworks weren't over.

Two batters later, catcher Taylor Teagarden took another 2-2 pitch out of the park for a two-run shot bringing in Arias and put the final nail in Oakland's coffin.

It was Teagarden's first home run of the season in his 12th appearance for Texas.

* Oakland's Davis added a run in the top of the ninth, but couldn't get any closer than 7-4. The game ended on a double play, with Elvis Andrus recording the final out in a run-down.

* Following the game, Mitch Moreland received another major league first -- a shaving cream pie to the face.

Game thoughts: Offense strikes back

July, 29, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers managed just four hits and a run off of Oakland on Wednesday night, but the Texas bats were back to work Thursday. The Rangers dinged the A's for 14 hits on their way to a 7-4 win to push the A's 8 1/2 games back in the AL West.

* The Rangers' offense was not fazed in the least by an early A's lead.

Outfielder Rajai Davis did most of the heavy lifting to get Oakland on the board in the first. Davis got a double off of Texas starter C.J. Wilson before stealing third with one out. Designated hitter Kurt Suzuki drove in Davis with a sacrifice fly to hand the A's a 1-0 lead.

Texas came right back as Michael Young hit a single followed by a Josh Hamilton double to put runners at second and third. Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero's groundout brought in Young before a Nelson Cruz single got Hamilton home. David Murphy flew out at the warning track to end the inning with a 2-1 Rangers lead, but he would get his home run later in the game.

* First baseman Mitch Moreland started his first major league game Thursday night, as the Rangers shuffled their infield to account for Ian Kinsler's trip to the DL.

Moreland made the start count, recording his first MLB hit in the bottom of the second.

He was fortunate to get the hit tonight, as the arrival of Jorge Cantu might signal Moreland is returning to the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks. GM Jon Daniels said before the game one of the two left-handed first basemen (Moreland and Chris Davis) was most likely to move to make room for Cantu.

* Cruz made a fantastic hustle play in the top of the third to get under a foul ball hit by Davis to right field. Cruz made the catch an instant before running into the wall.

* In Texas' half of the third, Young and Hamilton again had hits to put Guerrero at the plate with a runner in scoring position. Vlad brought in Young again, this time with an RBI single right over the second baseman's head.

Oakland starter Vin Mazzaro then walked Nelson Cruz to load the bases with one out.

Murphy, on a 3-1 count, popped up just beyond second base. A's shortstop Cliff Pennington misread the ball and had to quickly adjust but was able to make the catch, and Oakland remained down 3-1.

* Shortstop Elvis Andrus was the only Ranger not to record a hit in Thursday's win, going 0-for-4.

* Oakland first baseman Adam Rosales made an athletic tag in the fourth to keep Andrus off the bags. Rosales caught the throw from shortstop Cliff Pennington before tagging Andrus in mid-air. The out call brought out Rangers manager Ron Washington for a brief talk with the first-base ump.

* For the third time in the win, Young and Hamilton had back-to-back hits in the fifth to give Guerrero a chance to record another RBI. This time, Guerrero hit into a double play, but Young was able to score to bring the lead to 4-1.

Young finished with 4-for-4 with three runs, while Hamilton was 3-for-4 with a run.

More thoughts to come ...

Game thoughts: Rangers win series

July, 7, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas --The Rangers erased a two-run deficit on a Michael Young home run before Julio Borbon played hero to give Texas a 4-3 win Wednesday and claim the series from the Cleveland Indians.

* The Rangers jumped on Indians starter Mitch Talbot early but couldn't do a lot of damage.

Elvis Andrus led off with a double, which was followed by a Michael Young walk. David Murphy managed to beat out the throw at first to avoid a fielder's choice before Josh Hamilton drove in the Rangers' only run of the frame with a single that dribbled between the first and second basemen. The hit extended Hamilton's home hitting streak to 27 games. Talbot's defense ended the threat with a 5-4-3 double play, but Texas was up 1-0 and Talbot threw a 20-pitch first.

* Rangers starter Colby Lewis seemed strong through the first three innings, but on his first pitch of the fourth, he ran into trouble. Lewis left the pitch near the dead center of the strike zone, and Cleveland second baseman Jayson Nix lifted the ball 402 feet to tie the score, 1-1.

The right-hander also gave up a double and an RBI single to third baseman Jhonny Peralta in the top of the fourth but was bailed out by tough catches from Andrus and Blanco to escape the inning.

* In the top of the fifth, a single and a walk had Indians on first and second before an Andres Blanco fielding error allowed Cleveland center fielder Michael Brantley to score on an unearned run. The play put the Indians up by two and was Blanco's biggest miscue this week coming off the bench.

Blanco, who was 3-5 with two RBIs Tuesday, had two leaping catches Wednesday to end innings to make up for the error.

* Center fielder Julio Borbon earned his free trip home from Michael Young's fifth-inning homer (his 12th of the year). As the first batter in the frame, Borbon fired down the first base line, narrowly beating the throw to get on base. Young's 383-foot shot did the rest of the work, but the first 90 feet were good running by Borbon.

He followed that run with an RBI single that brought in Matt Treanor in the bottom of the sixth to give the Rangers a 4-3 advantage.

* Young had a chance to break the game open with the bases loaded in the seventh, but after laying off two outside sliders to go up in the count 2-0, he fouled off the next two pitches. Young hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

* Rangers relievers Alexi Ogando, Frank Francisco and Neftali Feliz went one inning apiece. They were nearly perfect over those three innings and combined for three strikeouts, one walk and no hits.

* Indians manager Manny Acta was ejected with the second-to-last batter of the game at the plate for arguing a strike call.

Game thoughts: Guerrero powers win

July, 1, 2010
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Rangers defeated the Angels, 6-4, behind a sterling peformance by Vladimir Guerrero: 4-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs. You think the Angels wish they had him back? Some thoughts:

* Guerrero sure has reminded the Angels of what they lost by not re-signing him. He hit a grand slam home run and pumped his fist some as he trotted toward first. The long ball gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead. Guerrero added a solo shot in the eighth. It was his third multi-homer game of the season and 42nd of his career.

He also doubled in the fifth, showing heads-up play on the bases. There was no one going to cover second base, and Guerrero quickly turned at first and made it there without a problem. He got another nice ovation when he came up for his first at-bat. But Guerrero has three homers and eight RBIs in two games against his former team here in Anaheim. He has 18 homers and 68 RBIs on the season. The RBIs are tied for the league lead with Miguel Cabrera. More on Guerrero in Ranger Reax.

* All eyes were on Omar Beltre in his first major league start. Things didn't begin well. He gave up a home run to the first big league hitter he faced, Erick Aybar, becoming the first Ranger to do that since Doug Davis on Aug. 9, 1999 against Toronto's Shawn Green. He then allowed two more runs in the second after hitting a batter and giving up some singles. Beltre did settle down to get through the third and fourth. He ended up with four walks and six strikeouts -- he struck out Bobby Abreu, who was 0-for-3 against him -- and allowed five hits. It was an up and down outing, but he left with the Rangers in front. He'll learn from it.

* Ian Kinsler continues to hit the ball well. Manager Ron Washington talked about how he was squaring things up and not trying to do too much before the game and that carried over to Wednesday as well. He hit a hard single to center to score a run in the fifth, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead at the time. Kinsler seems dialed in right now, which is important to the middle of that lineup. He's also getting the job done defensively. He sprinted to shallow right and made a nice catch to end the fifth.

* The little things can catch up to you. Dustin Nippert gave up a leadoff double to Bobby Wilson in the sixth and then threw a wild pitch to get him to third. That allowed him to score with one out on a ground ball to the right side of the infield.

* Nippert came in for the fifth inning in relief of Beltre. He made things interesting in the sixth after a leadoff double, wild pitch and ground ball scored one run. Howie Kendrick and Abreu had singles and executed a double steal with Torii Hunter at the plate. But Nippert pitched well to Hunter and ended up getting him to hit one back to the mound after breaking his bat. That kept things 5-4 through six. I was surprised when Nippert was left in for the seventh, but he got through a 1-2-3 inning (thanks in large part to Elvis Andrus) and got the club three innings.

* Andrus turned in another spectacular defensive play in the seventh. He dived, fully stretched to his right, on a hard hit ball by Mike Napoli, caught it and threw to first to get him. That's got to be a top play on SportsCenter. And Andrus always seems to make those things look routine.

* Josh Hamilton's hit streak is now at 23 games after his double down the left-field line in the eighth inning. He finished June with 49 hits, a club record for any month. Hamilton had a fielder's choice, a ground out and an intentional walk before getting the double.

* Frank Francisco needed 22 pitches, but he got a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts. And he threw 17 strikes. Francisco was aggressive and didn't mess around.

* Neftali Feliz ended a good night of work for the bullpen with a perfect ninth.

Game thoughts: Rangers fall, 6-5

June, 30, 2010
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was an entertaining game, but the Angels got the key hits to grab the lead and then hang on for a 6-5 win. They close to 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers. We'll have some reaction from the clubhouse coming up.

* The Angels took advantage of their big-inning opportunity and the Rangers didn't. Texas loaded the bases with one no outs in the fifth. But Vladimir Guerrero hit into a fielder's choice (Elvis Andrus was thrown out at home, but a nice slide by Andrus prevented a double play). Josh Hamilton's ground ball became a force out at second that scored a run, and then Nelson Cruz hit a fly out. So despite a huge jam, the Angels allowed just one run.

Anaheim then came back in the sixth. After scoring a two-out run on a hard-hit ball that took a strange hop and went off Andrus' glove and away from him just far enough to score a run, Darren Oliver came in with two on and two out. The usually solid Oliver walked Howie Kendrick on four straight pitches to load the bases. Then, on a 3-2 count, Bobby Abreu hit a long single to right field to clear the bases and give the Angels a 6-3 lead.

The Angels got the big hits and the Rangers didn't. Texas had the tying run on second (as Cruz stole second while Justin Smoak was up) with no outs in the eighth and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but couldn't score.

* Scott Feldman was given a lead three times and couldn't hold it. He was up 1-0 after the top of the first and the Angels got it back in the bottom of the inning. It was 2-1 Rangers in the third and then the Angels tied it up in the fourth. Texas went in front by a run in the fifth and the Angels tied it and eventually took the lead in the sixth. Feldman ended up getting five earned runs on his line (two of those were charged to him on the bases-clearing single by Abreu) on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

* Good to see a standing ovation for Guerrero when he came up in the top of the first (just after Kinsler's homer). It was clear Guerrero was very appreciative of the response. And he gave the crowd one of his monster homers in the seventh, hitting one to straightaway center (just over the 400-foot sign) to close the gap to 6-5. The homer had some of the Angels fans cheering.

* Ian Kinsler had a good night at the plate. He hit his second homer in three games in the first and just his third homer of the season. Maybe it's a sign that Kinsler is beginning to find his power. He had a single in the third and then had a great at-bat in the fifth. He was down 0-2 in the count and fouled some pitches off, took some balls and ended up walking on a nine-pitch at-bat to load the bases with no outs. His one mistake: a bunt that was popped up in the seventh.

* Hamilton extended his hit streak to 22 games and set a club record for hits in a month with his 48th hit of June. Read more about that here.

* Give the Angels' defense some credit in the eighth. First baseman Mike Napoli stole an extra-base hit from Smoak that would have tied the score. Later, Torii Hunter sprinted to track down a deep fly ball off the bat of Julio Borbon that might have dropped for extra bases to tie the score.

* Cruz's rifle arm was on display in the third. A base hit by Hideki Matsui sent Abreu toward home. But Cruz charged the ball and fired a one-hop bullet to Matt Treanor, who tagged out Abreu. It kept the Rangers in front 2-1.

* The Rangers got aggressive on the bases in the fifth after Andrus and Michael Young singled. On an 0-2 count to Kinsler, Andrus and Young executed a double steal. It was a good time to go, as Joel Pineiro tried to throw one low and away to get Kinsler, and there was no throw.

* Alexi Ogando sure looked good. He threw 12 pitches (eight of them strikes) to three batters in the seventh and got a 1-2-3 inning. That kept it a one-run game.

* Smoak made a nice catch on a line drive in the eighth off the bat of Erick Aybar, reaching out to his right to make the play.

Game thoughts: Nine straight wins

June, 22, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers earned their ninth consecutive victory Tuesday, beating the Pirates 6-3. The Rangers were behind 2-0 in the fourth, but took the lead on a Julio Borbon homer and never looked back. Some game thoughts (we'll have Ranger Reax shortly):

* Rangers tied their second-longest winning streak ever at nine games. The longest streak is 14 wins in 1991. But they've had three nine-game winning streaks, the latest May 20-31, 2005. If they win tomorrow, it will be only the second-ever double-digit winning streak in franchise history. At worst, the Rangers will remain 3.5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.

* OF Julio Borbon continued to hit the ball well. He hit a 387-foot homer to right field with two outs and two on in the fifth to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Borbon was 12-for-31 on the road trip, hitting his first homer of the season then. He now has his second. Lost in Josh Hamilton's crazy good June is that Borbon is doing very well this month as well. He came into the game with a .426 average in the month, second only to Hamilton. Borbon has really bolstered the bottom of the order. I asked manager Ron Washington about Borbon before the game and he talked about Borbon's confidence. You can read that here.

* Great defense by the Rangers in the sixth. Lastings Milledge hit a double to left field and Ryan Doumit tried to score from first. Hamilton got the ball quickly in the corner and threw a bullet to Elvis Andrus, who turned and made a perfect throw to catcher Matt Treanor, who absorbed a hit and tagged the runner out. He was out easily. The Pirates added a run in the inning to close the gap to one run, but the play helped contain things. Andrus made some great defensive plays as well, grabbing one grounder behind the second-base bag and making a full turn to get the runner and also a diving stab on a hard-hit liner in the seventh.

* Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a double to left-center in the fifth and then added a homer in the sixth. It looked like Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen thought the double was going out, but it hit the dirt of the warning track instead. He knew the homer was out, turning and watching it go over the wall in right-center. It was his 17th homer of the season. He should have won player of the week honors last week, but may be on his way this week.

* RHP Tommy Hunter got a quality start, going six innings and allowing three runs (two earned) with six strikeouts and no walks. But he actually wasn't at his best. He threw 88 pitches and 66 of them were strikes, but some were up in the zone, helping the Pirates to nine hits. The Rangers' defense was well positioned, helping him turn some hard-hit balls into outs. But give Hunter credit: He limited the damage and left with the Rangers leading the game.

* RF Nelson Cruz looked just fine returning from the disabled list after straining his left hamstring. He ran hard toward the wall and made a nice running catch to end the second inning and didn't show any signs of hesitation as he did so. He also had a big sacrifice fly in the eighth to extend the Rangers' lead to 6-3.

* 1B Justin Smoak made a bad throw to home plate in the fourth inning, allowing Pedro Alvarez to score the second run of the game for the Pirates. Smoak charged a ball down the first-base line and tried to throw on the run and one-hopped it to Treanor.

* Michael Young, playing at home for the first time since becoming the Rangers' all-time hits leader, hit a home run to the opposite field in the fourth for the first hit and run of the game for Texas. The club hung a large banner in right-center field (on the office building) that read: Congratulations Michael, Texas Rangers All-Time Hits Leader.

* Treanor got a big hand for a ball he didn't catch. A bunt attempt in the fourth inning was popped up foul and Treanor dove head first between home plate and the Rangers' dugout to try to get it, but couldn't come up with it. The effort netted him a nice ovation.

* Smoak outdueled a fan for a foul ball in the fifth. He caught a ball over the first row of seats, getting his glove higher than a fan (wearing a Just Do It shirt, ironically) to make the play.

* Andrus showed his speed, going from first to third on an errant pickoff throw that went into foul territory down the right-field line in the fifth.

* Neftali Feliz got the save after Darren Oliver pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Hunter.



Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182