September 03, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) starts to charge the mound after being hit by a pitch and is restrained by home plate umpire Mike Everitt (57) and Kansas City Royals catcher Brayan Pena (27) in the eighth inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
- Yu Darvish's final line shows 3 runs allowed in 7 innings pitched, but that doesn't give a full picture of how dominant Yu was today. Darvish retired the first 17 batters he faced, and appeared to have retired 18 in a row when Johnny Giavotella watched a 3-2 slider go by that initially appeared to nick the outside corner. Home plate ump Mike Everitt called it a ball, ending Yu's perfect game bid, and then David Lough followed that up with a blooper that fell just barely out of the reach of Elvis Andrus to end the no hit bid. Yu may have been rattled by that, he may have undergone a letdown after losing the no-hitter, or he may just have hit a rough patch, but regardless, that sequence was followed up by a Tony Abreu line drive triple that Nelson Cruz didn't get a good read on, and then Alex Gordon doubled to bring Abreu home and suddenly make it a 6-3 game. Billy Butler followed up with fly out to left field to end the inning, and then Darvish retired the side in order in the 7th to end his outing. In all, he retired 17 in a row, then allowed 4 batters to reach base in a row, then retired 4 more consecutively.
- This was one of those outings where you were thinking no-hitter early on. After Yu retired the first nine batters, he looked so dominant, so in control, that I seriously started thinking about the possibility of a no-hitter, particularly given how efficient he was being with his pitches. Even with Darvish striking out 6 and going just 7 innings, he threw only 87 pitches (60 of them for strikes), and could have probably gone all nine innings had such an effort been needed.
- The bullpen, which I've been bragging about lately, was shakier than usual today. Mike Adams, pitching for the first time in almost a week, allowed three hits and a run in an inning's worth of work that could have been much worse. After allowing a pair of singles, Lough hit a hot shot that Mitch Moreland (on for defensive purposes in place of Mike Olt) fielded cleanly, leading to a double play. Then, Tony Abreu's single brought a run home, but because Adams was out of position, he was able to cut off the throw home and nail Abreu attempting to advance on the throw. Adams has been one of the Rangers' best relievers this season, but today wasn't his best day.
- Joe Nathan, meanwhile, pitched a scoreless inning, but also allowed a pair of hits before getting a GIDP to end the game. The bullpen limited the damage, but the Royals were 5 for 8 off of the Rangers' top two relievers today.
- I was out of the room for the top of the 9th, and thus missed the fireworks. Nelson Cruz, who apparently offended the Royals by spending too much time admiring a mammoth blast off of Bruce Chen in the top of the 6th, was hit by a pitch to lead off the 9th, resulting in the benches clearly. The very next pitch was driven by Michael Young out of the park to left field, giving the Rangers a pair of insurance runs and Rangers fans in the Metroplex half price pizza tomorrow. Young is now 3 for his last 9 with a single, a double, and a homer.
- The Rangers had a weird hit distribution today...with two outs in the 9th, the Rangers had just one single on the day, from David Murphy. To go with the single, however, they had a David Murphy double and a whopping five home runs -- one apiece from Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Geovany Soto. The Rangers had just 11 baserunners in the game -- along with the six XBHs and the Murphy single, Cruz reached on a walk and on the 9th inning beaning, and Moreland and Ian Kinsler each picked up 9th inning singles -- but they made those baserunners count.
- Not a good day at the plate for Mike Olt, who was 0 for 3 with 3 Ks. Olt has now struck out 11 times in 34 major league plate appearances. When there was the groundswell of support to bring Olt up, my concern was that his contact issues and approach would make him vulnerable to major league pitchers...it seems like Three True Outcome types like Olt need longer to adjust to major league pitching when making the leap than other types of hitters do.* He did make some nice plays in the field today at first base, but he didn't do anything at the plate today to give Ron Washington reason to try to find him at bats the rest of the way.