(author's note: I'm a writer over at the Dallas Mavericks' SBNation affiliate, Mavs Moneyball. I'm a huge Ranger fan but live a bit too far from Arlington to get my fix in person, so I suffice for hitting up Round Rock Express games with press credentials. Here's a report focusing almost solely on the Ranger prospects. Admittedly not my best work tonight (compared to this and this) but I did my best to power through writing suckitude.)
Justin Grimm would probably prefer to be sporting a better Major League ERA than 10.80, but nothing can take away from the overall experience of being in the bigs. It certainly hasn't effected him taking care of business down in triple-A, allowing just five runs in the 21 innings he's pitched since his demotion. On Friday night, it was more of the same from the highly regarded Ranger prospect (took #8 on the LSB Community Prospect Ranking, which we all know is gospel).
A leadoff single by Daniel Robertson was quickly erased when he caught stealing second, and that seemed to set the tone for Grimm as he cruised to the sixth inning helped by good command, especially of his fastball. A low pitch count allowed Justin to continue into the seventh, the first time he had done so with the Express (remember, he was in Frisco before his MLB promotion). Despite a four pitch called strikeout to start the inning, he walked the next batter on four pitches and then gave up a two-run home run to 2B Anthony Contreras. Grimm's final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 103 pitches (63 strikes), 15/26 first pitch strikes, and by my count, 8 swinging strikes.
On the offensive side of the ball, there were two players who have been Rangers this season: Leonys Martin and Brandon Synder. The latter showed why the Rangers felt as if he was an expendable piece of the Rangers roster, going 1/4 with two strikeouts and a fielder's choice that should have been a GIDP if not for a dropped relay at first base.
Martin had a much better game, showcasing his speed right off the bat by driving a pitch the gap in right and beating the throw to second base. Extending back to before he was called up, he has a ten game hitting streak with the Express. With the defense playing in on the grass during his next at bat, he slapped a grounder by the second baseman that drove in two, part of the four run bottom of the second. His biggest at bat was in the bottom of the ninth, though. Albuquerque had taken the lead in the top of the ninth, but the left-hander came up to bat with one on and no one out and drove a pitch right down first base line for a double. Fellow outfielder and former Ranger Julio Borbon would finish the job with a walk-off two-run single. Martin's line: 3/5, two runs, two doubles and two RBI's. Borbon: 2/4, one run, three RBI's, and a sac fly. Neither of them struck out.
The most exciting part of the night, though, was the foul ball popped straight back that was about a foot away from hitting and probably destroying my new laptop. Triple-A baseball, as much as I love it, just doesn't quite compare to my entire life flashing before my eyes. Yes, I'm exaggerating, but it was a traumatic event that may or may not scar me for life. Regardless, it was a great night for both baseball and Ranger prospects.