Thoughts on splitting a doubleheader

April 21, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison (54) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Texas 10, Tigers 4 in Game 1. Detroit 3, Rangers 2 in Game 2.

  • That was quite the explosion in the first inning of Game 1. 8 runs, off of a pretty decent pitcher in Rick Porcello, in a great pitcher's park. Yes, the Detroit defense helped the Rangers' cause, but still, that was impressive.
  • On the other hand, after that, we also saw the inconsistency and streakiness that the Ranger offense seems to be prone to. Over the final 16 innings of the doubleheader, the Rangers scored 3 runs. Yes, Justin Verlander started Game 2, but he was responsible for just 6 of those innings. The Tiger bullpen gave up 2 runs in 10 innings.
  • Matt Harrison was outstanding again in Game 1, going 7.2 innings, striking out 6 batters, wakling no one, and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits (including a homer). Giving up the 3 runs caused his ERA to skyrocket all the way to 1.66. Harrison got a big lead and pitched like he had a big lead, working quickly, challenging hitters, and making sure the game never got back into doubt.
  • Koji Uehara had a very Koji Uehara outing, striking out 2 batters in an inning and a third, but also allowing a two run home run to Miguel Cabrera, on a poorly located offspeed pitch (it looked like a splitter) that was high and inside, but which Cabrera turned on and drove out to left field. Uehara's regular season ERA since coming to Texas is 4.09, which isn't bad at all...but of the 10 runs he's allowed, 7 of them have come on home runs, and you get the sense the Rangers aren't comfortable bringing him into a game where the tying run is on base or at the plate.
  • Neftali Feliz picked up his first career complete game, even though it was in a losing effort. Feliz had one bad inning, the 4th, when, after retiring Austin Jackson on a deep fly to center, he went HBP, K, walk, single, walk, single, walk. With three runs in and the bases loaded, Feliz looked like he was in danger of giving up a huge inning, but he battled back and got Brandon Inge to pop out to end the inning. Feliz ended up retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, including the last 10.

  • There was a lot of surprise expressed, both here and on Twitter, when Ron Washington allowed Feliz to pitch the bottom of the 8th. Feliz was at 107 pitches, Mike Adams (who hasn't pitched since last Sunday) was warming, and it seemed like going to the pen was the obvious move, particularly with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder coming up. Washington and Mike Maddux stuck with Feliz, though, and he rewarded them by setting down the side in order, ending up with 119 pitches for the game. I suspect that Wash and Maddux were going to let Feliz try to finish out the game, with plans to pull him if anyone got on base. I also suspect they wanted to see how Feliz responded to being pushed to go deeper into the game, to see how he handled a higher pitch load, since Feliz is going to be expected to go 110-120 pitches now and then as the season progresses. As a result of Feliz's complete game and Harrison's strong start, the Rangers made it through a doubleheader using only one reliever -- and Uehara, pitching an inning and a third today, would probably be available to pitch tomorrow, if the Rangers really wanted him to (which they probably won't). The Tigers used five relievers today, for a total of 11 innings, with six relievers going a total of 16 innings for the series. The Rangers have a well-rested pen for tomorrow's game (and then the three game set starting in Arlington against the Yankees on Monday), while the Tigers, with Drew Smyly starting tomorrow, will be more limited.
  • Eight Ranger hitters picked up 2 hits in Game 1. Elvis Andrus was 0 for 4 with a walk, and Mike Napoli was 1 for 5, with the one hit being a home run. The eight Ranger hitters with two hits apiece included Alberto Gonzalez, who entered the game for Adrian Beltre in the second, after Beltre pulled up lame at second after a double. The word on Beltre is that he's got a strained hamstring and is day-to-day...he was unavailable for Game 2 and won't play tomorrow, but is hoping to play against the Yankees in the homestand that starts Monday.
  • The Beltre injury is a reminder that, while the offense is potent, the position players on this team are fragile. Beltre missed significant time with hamstring problems last season, and this is the sort of problem that often recurs during a season. Nelson Cruz's hamstring problems are well documented. Josh Hamilton is injury prone. Ian Kinsler's 2011 was his first healthy season in some time. Mike Napoli has a history of injury issues. The lineup is strong enough that the loss of any one or two of these guys isn't devastating, but seeing Beltre pull up like that was scary, and we're going to have to cross our fingers and hope that this really is just a few day thing, and not something that will be popping up again later in the year.
  • Beltre being out left the Rangers with a three man bench for the rest of Game 1 and all of Game 2. While this was a non-issue in Game 1, it may have influenced Ron Washington's tactical decisions in Game 2. With just Mike Napoli, Brandon Snyder, and Alberto Gonzalez available on the bench, Washington opted to have Yorvit Torrealba bat with runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the eighth, with the Rangers down 3-2. Facing Joaquin Benoit, Torrealba grounded out meekly to shortstop, snuffing out the rally. With a full (or fuller) bench, Washington may have lifted Torrealba for a pinch hitter. On the other hand, Washington may not have wanted to lose his only other catcher at that point in the game...nevertheless, the three man bench is going to limit Washington's options going forward as well.
  • Napoli did come off the bench in the 9th, after Mitch Moreland drew a leadoff walk against Detroit closer Jose Valverde. Napoli struck out, dampening the rally, but Ian Kinsler managed to work a walk, putting the tying run in scoring position in the form of Brandon Snyder, who had pinch-run for Moreland, with Kinsler representing the go-ahead run at first. Elvis Andrus, after making Valverde work, lined out to Ryan Raburn in left field for out number two, before Josh Hamilton anticlimatically whiffed to end the game.
  • Hamilton's seven game hitting streak ended in Game 2, as he went 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts. Mike Napoli's five game home run streak -- which he barely kept alive, with a home run in his final at bat in Game 1 -- came to an end in Game 2 when he fanned in his only plate appearance. Mitch Moreland, meanwhile, had a TTO night, striking out in three of his plate appearances, and walking in his fourth.
  • Craig Gentry, who has (justifiably) been praised for his great defense in centerfield, contributed to a Detroit run in Game 2 with an unusually poor defensive play. In the bottom of the fourth, with the bases loaded, two outs, and a run in, Neftali Feliz gave up a line drive single to Ramon Santiago over a leaping Elvis Andrus. Prince Fielder scored easily from third, and the Tiger third base coach waved Delmon Young, the runner at second, home. Gentry got to the ball and seemed to have time to get Young at home with a good throw, but his heave to the plate was weaker than usual, a four-hopper that ran up the third base line. Torrealba caught it and spun to try to tag Young as he ran by, and for a moment it looked like he might have tagged him, but Young was called safe with what ended up being the winning run. A good throw from Gentry, and I believe Young would have been out.
  • With a lefty starting for Detroit and Adrian Beltre out, I'm guessing we see Brandon Snyder, Craig Gentry, and Alberto Gonzalez all appear in the starting lineup tomorrow. Colby Lewis will be taking the mound for Texas.
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