Thoughts on a 4-0 Rangers victory

Bob Levey

Thoughts on the Rangers 4-0 win over the Houston Astros

Rangers 4, Astros 0

  • So, I was at the game yesterday and today, and the Rangers won both games. I wasn't there Opening Night, and they lost. Clearly, the Rangers need to pay me to travel to all their games this season so they can go 161-1.
  • Strong outing for Alexi Ogando, who went 6.1 innings, struck out 10 batters, walked just 1, and allowed 4 hits and no runs. The lone extra base hit of the game allowed by the Rangers pitchers was a double by Jose Altuve that went off the glove of Adrian Beltre to start the game. The Astros got Altuve to second base on a Brett Wallace grounder to second, but Carlos Pena and Chris Carter struck out to strand him there. No other Astro runner got as far as third base.
  • I wasn't feeling super-confident in Alexi Ogando in the third inning when, with a runner on first and two outs, he balked the runner over to second, then walked Brett Wallace, then went 2-0 on Carlos Pena. Ron Washington went out to the mound, and at first I thought Ogando might be hurt since it was Washington instead of Mike Maddux, but apparently Wash just had some things to say to Alexi Ogando.
  • Whatever Wash said to Ogando worked, as he got Pena, and then allowed just 2 more hits the rest of his outing.
  • With one on and one out in a 1-0 game in the 7th and Rick Ankiel due up, the Rangers went to Robbie Ross, and the Astros countered by lifting the lefty Ankiel and bringing in J.D. Martinez. Ross was just in for one batter, but to me, he didn't look terribly sharp, leaving the ball up, giving up a long, loud foul ball, and getting to a 3-2 count and needing 9 pitches to retire Martinez.
  • Ross was replaced by Tanner Scheppers, who faced three batters, retiring two, before being lifted for Michael Kirkman in the bottom of the eighth with one out. Kirkman struck out Brett Wallace and Carlos Pena to end the 8th, and Joe Nathan came in in the 9th and struck out the side, meaning the final 5 Astros of the game fanned.
  • The Ranger offense put up 4 runs, which is good enough, but the bats didn't inspire a ton of confidence today, and didn't do a real good job converting the opportunities they were presented. Most notably, in the second, Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski had back-to-back one-out singles. Mitch Moreland fanned, and then Leonys Martin was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two outs for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler (who ended up 0 for 5 on the day) went the other way, something he seems to have been doing more this spring and so far this year, but flew out to right to end the inning.
  • When the Rangers finally did push a run across, it was in underwhelming fashion, and in part of a missed opportunity. Lance Berkman walked in the top of the 6th, and then Adrian Beltre and David Murphy each singled, loading the bases (I can't tell you how this sequence looked, because Rowan and I were off getting a pretzel -- I came back to find the bases loaded) for Nelson Cruz. Cruz brought a run home, but at the cost of two outs, as he hit into a broken bat double play. The Astros then brought in Wesley Wright to face Pierzynski, who flew out, and that was the end of that rally.
  • When the Rangers finally broke out offensively, it was in the 8th, against righthanded Astros reliever Hector Ambriz. Elvis singled, Berkman doubled him home, Beltre picked up an infield single, and then after a Murphy strike out, the Rangers scored a pair of runs on a Cruz single and a Pierzynski sacrifice fly/error. Texas had an opportunity to pile on at that point, with two on and one out, but in what has become a familiar refrain this season, Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin couldn't get anything done, and the inning ended with the Rangers up 4-0, which would also end up being the final score.
  • We had a Julio Borbon sighting! I was sure he wouldn't get off the bench before getting DFA'd, but Borbon pinch ran for Berkman as part of that three run eighth inning, and made a heads-up play on the basepaths. Beltre his a slow roller to third base that he beat out for an infield single...Borbon got a good lead off second while the ball was in play, then broke to third on the throw to first, making it safely.
  • I am finding myself baffled by Ron Washington's refusal to use the bench in the opening series. The Rangers have lefthanded hitters stacked up at the end of the lineup, and Bo Porter, not surprisingly, has been bringing in lefty relievers to face them. Despite having righthanded bats on the bench, Washington has refused to use a pinch hitter in the first three games, choosing instead to let Pierzynski, Moreland and Martin face the lefties. I'm not sure if this is Wash's way of showing faith in his guys, if he's trying to see what his lefty hitters -- and Moreland and Martin, in particular -- can do against lefthanders, or if he's just for whatever reason opposed to pinch hitting, but it is baffling. In the top of the 7th, Moreland and Leonys were due to face the lefty Wright. Jeff Baker was available on the bench to hit for Moreland, but Baker stayed stapled to the bench, and Moreland grounded out. Now, if you lift Moreland for Baker, the Astros may go to a righthander -- Josh Fields came into the game after Wright retired Leonys -- but if you force that move, you then have Leonys with a platoon advantage next, rather than forcing your string of lefties to face lefties. And if you aren't going to pinch hit, I don't think you can continue to have Pierzynski, Moreland and Leonys all hit consecutively.
  • Of course, part of the problem with Martin and Moreland is that neither of them are hitting anyone so far. Moreland is 0 for 11 and has yet to get on base, while Martin is 0 for 6 with an HBP. Craig Gentry earned raves this spring for his performance and is a better defender than Martin, so a slow start could see Leonys lose time to Gentry. Moreland's job is probably safer, if only because there's no one else on the roster who you could consider an even semi-viable option as a regular first baseman.

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