ARLINGTON, Texas -- In the Angels clubhouse following a 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Thursday, it wasn't Cliff Lee that was on the minds of many of the players. It was the Rangers' defense.
"That defense, man, they played some defense," Torii Hunter said. "They D'ed us up like Michael Jordan. I always thought they had pretty good arms. The defense looks way better."
The Angels have won an impressive number of AL West titles because they not only have the pitching, but also the defense that makes key plays in close games. They saw the Rangers do that on Thursday in taking the first game of this four-game series.
Lee saw it too.
“There were definitely some great plays,” Lee said. “Even the play that Hamilton almost made in the fifth, that would have been a heck of a play too. There were some great plays all night. It was some good defense out there for sure.”
The play Lee is referring to was Hamilton sprinting toward the left-center field wall, reaching up behind him and nearly catching a hard hit ball off the bat of Maicer Izturis. Several Angels said few left fielders even get to that ball.
But it wasn't just Hamilton's near-miss that was impressive. Ian Kinsler dove for a ball to his left to get an out in the fourth. Nelson Cruz got turned around and still managed to catch a ball against the wall in right in the fourth. He also made a sliding catch on a Hunter line drive in the ninth in a one-run game. Michael Young had a nice stab on a liner in the sixth.
It was consistent, solid play from the defense that made a difference in a one-run game. And it's that kind of defense the Rangers will need down the stretch.