Thoughts on an 8-0 Rangers win

Ronald Martinez

Yu Darvish, one out away once again

Rangers 8, Red Sox 0

  • The story from tonight's game is obvious...for the second time in a little over a year, Yu Darvish was one out away from a no hitter, only to give up a single.  Its frustrating.  But at the same time, it shouldn't overshadow the fact that Yu was masterful.  When Yu has his A game, when his stuff is on and he's commanding his pitches, there's not a better pitcher in baseball.  Its a joy to watch him when he pitches like this.
  • Yu took at perfect game into the 7th inning, retiring the first 20 batters before a David Ortiz fly ball into shallow right field fell between Rougned Odor and Alex Rios, being (controversially) ruled an error.  Mike Napoli then drew a walk, putting two on for Grady Sizemore, but Sizemore flew out to end the 7th.  Xander Bogaerts also drew a walk to start the eighth inning.  Those were the only baserunners before Ortiz's two out 9th inning single.
  • The Ortiz single was a clean, hard hit single.  The Rangers were playing the shift against Ortiz, and there were some who retrospectively criticized that decision, saying if the Rangers had played Ortiz straight up, Odor, playing second base, might have made a play on the ball.  I don't think that's the case, but regardless, criticizing the shift in hindsight is foolish.
  • Darvish ended the evening with 8.2 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 12 Ks and 0 runs.  This was Yu's first 12 K game.  Strangely, before tonight, he had a 15 K game, 4 14 K games, 8 11 K games and 7 10 K games, but not a single 12 or 13 K game.  Yu also threw 126 pitches, the third most he's ever thrown.
  • This is the fourth time Yu Darvish has allowed just one hit in a game.  The previous three times, however, were all against the Astros -- once in 2012, once in 2013, and once in 2014.
  • The Ortiz fly ball that fell between Odor and Rios, and was ruled an error, was the subject of much controversy and argument on Twitter.  If you haven't seen the play, you can check out a gif here.  To me, its a simple call...its an error.  The rulebook says a play is to be ruled an error if a fielder could have made a play on it with ordinary effort, and clearly, Rios (who was charged with the error) could have made a play with ordinary effort...if you look at it, it was a routine fly ball to right field.  A number of writers on Twitter (and, apparently, Harold Reynolds on MLB Network) argued that this should be called a hit because, well, that's the way it is usually called...it doesn't matter, according to these folks, what the rules are, if scorers usually say its a hit, then it should be called a hit in this case.  I've always taken the position that calling those balls hits is stupid, and if two fielders let a pop fly fall between them when one of them could make a play, that should be called an error, so I agree with the call here.  That's not me being biased, or a homer...its intellectual consistency.  I'd say the same thing if Clay Buchholz were throwing a no hitter, and Adrian Beltre hit a fly ball that fell between Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino.
  • One thing that I have thought for a while, though, is that there's a hidden cost in shifting.  I think a lot of what players do in the field is the result of practice, repetition, muscle memory...a routine play is a routine play because it is part of their routine.  Its something they've done hundreds of times.  When you shift a player, when a shortstop is, for example, asked to make a throw to first from the wrong side of the second base bag, it is something he's not used to, its a throw he's not used to making, and it increases the chances that hes going to make a mistake.  In this case, the shift clearly led to the confusion that resulted in the Ortiz ball dropping between Odor and Rios...normally, that's a ball Rios comes in and catches, a routine fly out.  But because Odor is stationed in shallow right field, he's much closer to where it ends up landing than he normally is, and so is going back more aggressively.  Rios is thus less assertive in making a play on what should be his ball.  I was accused on Twitter of making excuses for Rios and Odor, but that's not what I'm doing...I'm simply pointing out that these sorts of mistakes are simply more likely to happen when players are put in unusual or out of the ordinary positions.
  • So we're 800 words into the post-game recap where the Rangers scored 8 runs, and I haven't yet mentioned the offense.  The offense was really good.  Everyone got a hit except for J.P. Arencibia, and even he hit a deep blast to left field that was close to being a home run, but ended up being a sac fly.
  • Elvis Andrus moved back to the #2 spot in the lineup, and responded by getting hits in his first four plate appearances.  He struck out in his final at bat, though, thwarting my hope that I'd see a Yu Darvish no hitter and a 5 hit Elvis game in the same evening.
  • Leonys Martin went 2 for 4, including a homer off of lefty Chris Capuano down the right field line.  Its only Leonys's 5th XBH this year -- he has 1 double, 2 triples and 2 homers now -- but Leonys continues to hit for average and put up a solid OBP to go with his quality center field defense.
  • The other multi-hit game was from Mitch Moreland, who had 3 singles, and who is now hitting .308 on the season.
  • Prince Fielder was 1 for 3 with a walk, but perhaps his most impressive at bat was in the first, when he blasted a ball to deep center field that looked like a homer off the bat, but that died in this new, non-jet-streaming TBiA air.  Prince Fielder hitting the ball hard, and a long way, in the air is a promising sign.
  • Rougned Odor had his first major league hit, a single to right field.  I'm willing to wager it is the first of many to come.
  • Odor and Leonys were both thrown out trying to steal by A.J. Pierzynski, in the same inning.  I'm not sure if Pierzynski threw out two runners trying to steal all last season when he was with Texas.
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