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Thoughts on a 4-3 Rangers win

Justin Grimm was great, the baserunning was bad, and the 9th was scary

Justin Grimm
Justin Grimm
Hannah Foslien

Rangers 4, Twins 3

  • Justin Grimm was considered the co-favorite, along with Martin Perez, to win the Rangers' 5th starter job this spring. However, he had an awful spring, and was bounced from the competition early on. However, with Martin Perez and Kyle McClellan hurt and Robbie Ross in the bullpen, once Matt Harrison went down after a pair of starts to begin the season, Grimm was pressed into duty, and he's responded. 7 shutout innings last night, where he walked no one, struck out four, and allowed no runs on five hits has dropped his ERA after three starts to 1.59 on the year. Grimm scuffled in his first start, against the M's, but in his past two outings he's looked terrific.
  • Tanner Scheppers continued his strong start to the season by picking up a hold with a 1-2-3 8th inning. However, the 9th was scarier than it should have been. With Texas up 4-0, Ron Washington went to Joe Ortiz to face the Twins' 3-4-5 hitters. Josh Willingham led off the inning with a line drive double to left field, and then Justin Morneau picked up a looping single to center that was just out of the reach of Elvis Andrus.
  • This prompted Gerry Fraley to tweet that this is why Wash will use Joe Nathan with a 4 run lead, because now Ortiz created a "mess" that was going to make Nathan's job that much harder. The problem with this position is that Ortiz wasn't necessarily pitching poorly, it was still a four run lead, and you had Chris Parmalee and Trevor Plouffe due up. Also, as a practical matter, the chances of Joe Ortiz giving up a four run lead in the 9th inning is basically the same as the chances of Joe Nathan giving up a four run lead in the 9th inning. I get frustrated when baseball writers perpetuate the idea that a 4 run lead is a situation where you should use your closer, whereas a tie game in the 8th or 9th, or a one run deficit in the 8th or 9th, isn't the sort of situation where you want to use your best reliever.
  • In any case, with two on and no one out, Wash was going to go get Joe Nathan once he was warmed up. Wash left Ortiz in to face the lefty swinging Parmalee, and Ortiz struck out Parmalee swinging, though there was controversy, as strike three bounced out of Geovany Soto's glove, and Parmalee argued vehemently that he had made contact with the pitch, meaning that it was a foul tip and thus he was still alive. I didn't see a replay that indicated whether it was a foul tip or not, so I can't weigh in on that, but it was an important call.
  • Joe Nathan was promptly brought into the game to face Trevor Plouffe and fanned him, bringing lefthanded hitting Oswaldo Arcia to the plate with two outs. Arcia promptly hit a line drive home run down the right field line, clearing the bases and making it a 4-3 game. Ryan Doumit, also a lefty, came in to hit for the hapless Aaron Hicks, and thought he stung the ball, Craig Gentry made a play on it in center to end the game.
  • Personally, I would have preferred to see Ortiz stay in the game, rather than using Nathan. Ortiz wasn't pitching badly, and while Plouffe is righthanded, Arcia is a lefty, and Aaron Hicks can't hit his way out of a paper bag right don't want to make a move that allows Gardenhire to pull Hicks and gain the platoon advantage, I don't think.
  • The Rangers had 15 baserunners last night, including 7 extra base hits, but only scored 4 runs on the game. This was due in part to baserunning issues, as the Rangers had two runners thrown out at home with no one out. Geovany Soto got on base to lead off the second on a grounder past third baseman Plouffe that was generously scored a single, and then Mitch Moreland doubled to the wall in left. Gary Pettis sent the sluggish Soto, rather than holding him at third, and Soto was nailed at the plate. It was the type of play that I would agree with if there were two outs, but with no one out and a slow baserunner, it seemed a bad risk.
  • Elvis Andrus then was thrown out in the top of the third at the plate, also with no outs, after a foolish decision to try to score on an error. Elvis and Lance Berkman had back to back singles, and when Elvis went to third on Berkman's single, the throw from right field got away from Plouffe. Elvis -- with, I repeat, no one out, and Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz due up -- decided to try to score, and was thrown out easily at home. Lance Berkman then compounded the problem by trying to advance to third on Adrian Beltre's ground ball to the left side of the infield, getting tagged out on the bases (this was truly a TOOTBLAN episode) and giving the Rangers a runner at first and two outs.
  • Texas did not score in either the second or the third innings, after putting two runs on the board in the first. An opportunity to knock starter Scott Diamond out of the game early was wasted.
  • The Rangers ended up getting what became a key insurance run in the top of the 9th. Geovany Soto led off the inning with a walk, but Mitch Moreland fanned and Craig Gentry grounded into a fielder's choice, bringing up Ian Kinsler with two outs. Kinsler smoked a double off the wall in center -- a ball that was just a few feet from being gone -- to bring home Gentry with the run that ended up being the difference in the game.
  • Every Ranger starter except for Gentry had at least one hit, with Kinsler, Elvis, Berkman, Cruz and Moreland all picking up a pair of hits, and Soto drawing the team's lone walk to go with his hit. Moreland's two hits were both doubles, and encouragingly, they were both off of the lefty Diamond, who allowed six singles, five doubles and a homer in 6.1 innings, but kept Texas to just three runs due to bad baserunning and key double plays.