Thoughts on an 8-7 win

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 25: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers runs past second base at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 25, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 5 Rangers 8, Blue Jays 7

  • I love this team.
  • What the Showalter, man. A couple of times a season you have a game that seems to make you run through every sports emotion you can feel within the span of just a few hours. Joe Posnanski had a blog post on September 28, 2011 (if you're a real baseball fan, you remember what night that was) in which he had a line that encapsulates this: "I never argue with people who say baseball is boring, because baseball is boring. And then, suddenly, it isn't. And that's what makes it great."
  • Its almost an afterthought, but Colby Lewis started for the Rangers today. I saw a few people on Twitter talking about a Colby Lewis "meltdown" after he got pulled. Colby pitched well today, though, better than the 5.1 IP, 4 ER marks in the box score would reflect. The 6th inning "meltdown" that resulted in him being pulled and replaced by Alexi Ogando started off with a ground out to first base. Eric Thames then hit a ball very well to center field that went for a double. Josh Hamilton got turned around on the ball, but I'm not sure he would have had a play on it either way...Craig Gentry might have, but even that's questionable. Brett Lawrie then hit a hard grounder to shortstop, and Thames broke for third. Elvis threw to third, but Thames beat the throw, putting runners at first and third. David Cooper then hit a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop...but it was on a hit-and-run, with Elvis breaking to cover the bag, which meant that the ball rolled into the hole vacated by Elvis, resulting in an RBI single. Instead of being out of the inning, as would be the case if Elvis had thrown to first instead of third on the Lawrie grounder, Lewis had runners on the corners, a run in, and just one out. Omar Vizquel then placed a bunt perfectly down the first base line, resulting in a bunt single, another run in, and the end of Colby's day. Colby Lewis pitched well today, striking out 6, walking no one, and allowing a Colby Rasmus home run that hit the foul pole in right field. He deserved a better fate than his line indicates.

  • I was sure Robbie Ross was going to pick up a tough loss when he left the game. After allowing a one-out single to Brett Lawrie, Lawrie was able to advance to second with two outs on a passed ball. Yorvit Torrealba should have blocked it, and it was a bad passed ball...but at the same time, Torrealba was catching the 13th inning of the game in 90 degree weather after having caught nine innings the night before. That takes its toll, and I have to imagine he was pretty drained at that point in the game. Craig Gentry made what could have been a critical mental error in throwing home to try to get Lawrie when he had no shot at him, allowing Omar Vizquel to advance to second, so when Yunel Escobar hit a sinking liner to right field that Nelson Cruz caught and then dropped (resulting in a tough error being charged to him), Vizquel was able to score, giving the Jays a two run deficit.
  • Robbie Ross pitched an exciting top of the 12th the inning before, walking Colby Rasmus with one out, then striking out Jose Bautista. With two out, Rasmus stole second, but Ross seemingly was out of the inning when Edwin Encarnacion grounded to shortstop. Rasmus crossing in front of Elvis meant that Elvis couldn't charge the ball, which allowed Encarnacion to beat the throw to first by an eyelash, the second time in the game that a Jay got an infield hit on a grounder to shortstop when Elvis couldn't make the throw in time. Ross escaped the inning without Rasmus scoring, however, when he got J.P. Arencibia to tap back to the mound.
  • Alexi Ogando was once again mortal, giving up a run for the third time in his last four outings, resulting in his ERA jumping all the way up to 1.35. Mike Adams and Joe Nathan each had a perfect inning of work, each striking out a batter apiece, and Koji Uehara had two perfect innings, though there was a brief scare when Uehara's third out came on a high fly ball to right field that Nelson Cruz caught on the warning track. It was an easy play for Cruz, but with the way the ball has carried today, there was a moment's fear that the ball was gone.
  • The 2012 ERAs for the Ranger relievers who appeared today: 1.35, 2.08, 2.29, 1.04, 1.85, 2.70. The 2012 WHIPs for the Ranger relievers who appeared today: 0.68, 0.92, 0.92, 0.52, 0.99, 0.60.
  • Elvis bunted twice today, once in the first and once in the ninth. The first inning bunt was silly and pointless, the reflexive "leadoff hitter gets on, the #2 hitter bunts him over" move that we see too often. The ninth inning bunt, however, was even worse, and indicative of a complete lack of situational awareness in the Rangers' dugout. After Ian Kinsler reached base on an HBP to start off the inning, Elvis Andrus bunted Kinsler to second. That meant that the righthanded Casey Janssen could intentionally walk Josh Hamilton, the Rangers' best hitter, to face the righthanded Adrian Beltre with runners on first and second. I'm sure when Wash is asked about this after the game, he'll say he wasn't concerned about them walking Hamilton, that he had as much faith in Beltre getting Kinsler home as Hamilton, but that's silliness. You don't want to take the bat out of Hamilton's hands in that situation. Let Andrus swing away. Maybe he advances Kinsler anyway. Maybe he gets on base...his OBP this season is close to .400. But you're more likely to get a run home in that situation letting Elvis swing away and taking your chances than you are by having him bunt Kinsler over and allowing the Jays to walk Hamilton.
  • Its worth noting, incidentally, that the Jays brought Janssen, their closer, into the game in the bottom of the 9th, in a tie game, with the top of the Rangers' lineup due up. Most teams save their closer on the road, even in extra innings, until they take the lead. The Jays, however, are not most teams, and I think their use of Janssen makes more sense than the "traditional" way of utilizing their closer. If the Rangers score in the bottom of the 9th, the game is over. The top of the Rangers' lineup was due up. It makes more sense to use your best reliever in that situation, to keep the game tied with the Rangers' best hitters coming up, than to save him for a situation which may not even arise.
  • I wrote the above two paragraphs before Kinsler led off the 11th with a single, and Washington had Elvis bunt him over for the third time, this time with a lefty on the mound. And of course, Kinsler didn't score, after Hamilton grounded and Beltre grounded out. I'm mindblown.
  • I wrote the above three paragraphs before the Rangers' comeback in the bottom of the 13th. I said on Twitter, after the Cruz error allowed the Jays' insurance run to score, that that may be a good thing for the Rangers, since it meant that if Kinsler got on base, Elvis wouldn't be allowed to bunt. Sure enough...
  • With Craig Gentry on third base as the winning run with two outs in the 10th and Mitch Moreland due up, the Jays went to the bullpen for lefty Darren Oliver. Not surprisingly, the Rangers lifted Moreland for a pinch hitter. Somewhat surprisingly, the pinch hitter was ice-cold and under-the-weather Mike Napoli. Napoli struck out, his 6th K in his last 6 ABs, and since a 3 for 4 game against the Angels on May 13, Napoli is 3 for 27 with 16 Ks and 3 walks.
  • Michael Young led off the 12th inning with a single to right field, prompting Ron Washington to ask Craig Gentry to bunt. Had Gentry bunted successfully, Nelson Cruz would most likely have been walked, resulting in the Rangers looking to Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli to get the run home (with Torrealba needing to avoid a GIDP to bring Napoli up). Gentry popped up a pair of bunts, then swung away and meekly popped out to right, making that moot. The Rangers did get the winning run to second base, when Torrealba drew a two out walk, but Napoli popped out to end the inning.
  • The Lucky 13th. Another terrific at bat for Ian Kinsler, who went to 2-1 against Ryota Igarashi, fouled a pitch off, took a splitter, fouled a fastball off, and then checked his swing on a 3-2 fastball...and I will say, my stomach clenched then, as he tossed his bat and started trotting to first base. The ball looked close enough as I was watching that it could have been called a strike, and Kinsler looked like he might have gone around. But the home plate umpire called it a ball, the first base ump said he didn't go around, and Kinsler's leadoff walk set up the Ranger comeback.
  • Elvis Andrus, representing the tying run, continued to show his growth as a hitter and burgeoning power by driving a 2-1 Igarashi fastball to left-center field. Initially, off the bat, I was afraid that it was a medium deep fly out, but the ball carried and carried, splitting the outfielders and going to the wall, driving home Kinsler. For a moment I thought Elvis was going to end up at third, but he was held at second, bringing the winning run to the plate in the form of Josh Hamilton. Jason Frasor was brought into the game to face Josh, and quickly got up on Hamilton 1-2. But after fouling off a fastball, Hamilton smoked a changeup onto Greene's Hill, his 20th home run of the season, giving the Rangers their first walk-off win of the season, and turning an awful loss, a game where the storyline was all the missed opportunities, into an incredible come-from-behind victory.
  • When Josh Hamilton is at his best, he's probably the best player in baseball. For the first two months of 2012, he's been playing at his best.
  • Also forgotten in all the extra inning and bunt drama was that Jays starter Henderson Alvarez got ejected in the 6th inning, supposedly for throwing at Ian Kinsler. Alvarez had just given up back-to-back-to-back homers to Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba, and Mitch Moreland to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead, and I assume that had home plate umpire Marty Foster looking for a possible confrontation. Still, the pitch that got Alvarez run -- a 1-2 fastball that was way in on Kinsler -- seemed to be a pitch that got away from Alvarez more than a purpose pitch, and I think the ejection trigger was overly quick.
  • Jays pitchers threw 182 pitches yesterday. Jays players had a total of 203 pitches yesterday, but 21 of those were by Jeff Mathis, so in terms of the toll on the pitching staff, 182 seems the more relevant number. The Jays pitchers threw 206 pitches today. I hope Kyle Drabek is prepared to go deep into the game for Toronto tomorrow.
  • Every Ranger starter had a hit today, with Mitch Moreland going 3 for 4, and Hamilton, Kinsler and Adrian Beltre each picking up a pair of hits. Kinsler also had a walk and an HBP, getting on base four times, but he also had a pair of bases loaded GIDPs. The Rangers had 23 baserunners on the game, but left 13 of them on base, and the story for the game at one point seemed like it was going to be all the opportunities the Rangers wasted on their way to dropping a winnable game.
  • Elvis Andrus now has 14 extra base hits this season. In 2010, Elvis had 18 extra base hits for the entire season.
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