MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 14: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers hands the ball to manager Ron Washington #38 during the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins on April 14, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
- Yu Darvish was better than in his first start of the season, and you can reasonably claim that, if Adrian Beltre is playing third base rather than DHing today, Darvish wouldn't have given up any runs, as one of the runs he allowed was unearned because of an error on Michael Young, and the other was the result, in part, of a failure by Young to make a play on a ball that Beltre may well have fielded. Nevertheless, Darvish again wasn't real sharp, walking 4 batters, hitting another, and striking out just 4. He kept the ball on the ground and was victimized by a couple of week hits, but it was another game that saw him scuffle with his command, and really, he was fortunate to have escaped after 5.2 innings having just allowed two runs.
- Questionable bullpen management from today...when the bottom of the sixth kicked off, Texas was up, 2-1, and the bottom of the Twins' lineup -- Danny Valencia, Chris Parmalee, and Alexi Casilla -- was due up. The top of the Twins' lineup includes Denard Span (leadoff), Joe Mauer (3rd), and Justin Morneau (4th), all of whom are lefthanded hitters. My feeling was that you let Darvish face the bottom of the order, hopefully get out of the inning, and then bring Robbie Ross in for the 7th to face Span, Jamey Carroll, Mauer and Morneau. Valencia singles and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but then Darvish retired the next two batters. No one, at this point, was warming in the pen, and Darvish faced Span, who was already 2 for 3 on the day against Darvish. Span quickly made that 3 for 4, as he spanked a double to centerfield, tying the game and bringing Carroll up. After Darvish hit Carroll, I thought surely Ross would come into the game to face Mauer, but Ross apparently was sent to warm up too late for him to face Mauer, meaning that Darvish had to stay in the game. After walking Mauer on four pitches, Darvish was pulled, with Ross coming in, finally, to face Morneau, but with the bases loaded and no margin for error. Ross got Morneau to pop out to end the inning (and, with the Rangers scoring in the top of the 7th, got credit for his first major league win), but it seems like it would have been preferable to get him in to face Span, or at least Mauer.
- That being said, there is a reason why you might leave Darvish out there in that situation. When Phil Jackson was coaching, he would often not call a time out in a regular season game, particularly early in the year, when his team was struggling and most coaches would call time out. He wanted to see how his players responded in that sort of situation, how much resiliency they had and how they handled pressure. I don't think it is unreasonable for Ron Washington and Mike Maddux to have left Darvish out there because they feel like this is a guy who they expect to become a legit #1 starter, and they want to see how he responds on the road, with his pitch count approaching 100, in a tight situation and with the top of the order coming up. Find out what you have now, rather than later.
- I said that I saw no reason for Brandon Snyder to be on the 25 man roster, and there was much carping here and on Twitter when it was announced he was getting his first start of the season today. He promptly went 3 for 4. Trust the Gut.
- Also getting three hits today were Josh Hamilton, who, of course, doesn't usually hit in the day time, as well as Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, neither of whom had been hitting all that well. All three of those guys had a single and a pair of doubles, coincidentally enough. With the offense not firing on all cylinders early in the year, it would be a very good thing if Cruz and Beltre are snapping out of their early season slumps.
- Mike Napoli was 0 for 3 with 2 Ks, and is now 2 for 20 with 9 strikeouts for the season. He's drawn three walks on the year, all of them coming in the 11-5 win against Seattle, and he has no extra base hits.
- The Rangers, as a team, drew just two walks today, continuing a trend of not logging a bunch of base on balls.
- Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams have now pitched 6 times in 9 games, and
haveOgando has appeared in the last two games, meaning that you can probably expect Ron Washington to have to lean on Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara tomorrow in the late innings. Joe Nathan threw 26 pitches this afternoon, which would suggest that he might not be available, either, although Wash and Maddux may try to go back to the well with him again if the Rangers have a lead in the 9th.