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Thoughts on a 6-4 Rangers win

The Rangers avoid the sweep as the bats come alive and the bullpen does its job

Tom Szczerbowski

Rangers 6, Jays 4

  • I've gotten to where I don't like it when the Rangers play the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Rangers always have someone whose hamstrings are bothering them, and who thus can't play on the turf. Weekend games always start at noon Central, which is annoying. Trips to Toronto seem to be part of a trip where someone is hurt or the team isn't playing well or something. And the Rangers seem to have a hard time winning there.
  • Justin Grimm was one bad pitch away from having a great outing. In the bottom of the third, Grimm got a strikeout and a ground out to start the inning, before walking Melky Cabrera. That brought up Jose Bautista, who hit a grounder to second for what appeared to be a routine 4-3 to end the inning. Jurickson Profar fell down, however, after fielding the ball, allowing Bautista to reach on what was scored an infield single. The Jays took advantage of the mistake, with Edwin Encarnacion singling and Adam Lind hitting the always-devastating two out, three run home run to give the Jays a 4-0 lead, and prompt Rangers fans to start abandoning ship.
  • Grimm settled down, however, and after pitching a scoreless fourth and fifth inning, he was pulled with two on and two outs in the 6th in favor of Neal Cotts, who got pinch hitter Mark DeRosa to strike out. Grimm ended the day with a line of 5.2-5-4-4-3-6-1. While the numbers aren't great, he did a good job maintaining his composure and limiting the damage after going down 4-0.
  • Interesting bullpen usage today by Ron Washington and Mike Maddux. With Robbie Ross unavailable after throwing 30+ pitches in yesterday's game, Cotts was left in to start the 7th, and retired the first two batters he faced. With Jose Bautista coming up, Cotts was then pulled for a righthander. While one would have liked to have seen Tanner Scheppers in that situation, Scheppers is the 8th inning guy, so you can't use him in the 7th, even to get one out before pitching the 8th. Instead, the call was made for newly promoted Kyle McClellan. McClellan allowed a single to Bautista and then walked Encarnacion, bringing to the plate Adam Lind, who already had one two out, three run homer under his belt today. Fortunately, McClellan retired Lind and escaped the jam.
  • Scheppers had an uneventful 8th inning to set the stage for a scary 9th. Joe Nathan led off the inning with a walk to Macier Izturis, and then Kawasaki hit a grounder to shortstop that resulted in Elvis Andrus being charged with an error. With two on and no one out, the Jays did Texas a favor by having Melky Cabrera sac bunt. Nathan fanned Bautista swinging, and then got Encarnacion to pop out to second base to end the game.
  • The Bautista strikeout was an interesting sideshow, as Nathan threw a breaking ball that (per the Fox Box) caught the bottom of the strike zone. Bautista watched it go by, it was called for strike one, and Bautista was clearly unhappy. Bautista then was called for strike two on a failed check swing on a pitch way up and in, followed by a swinging strike three on a ball in the dirt. Bautista then barked at home plate umpire Garry Darling, got run, got aggressively in his face, then threw his bat and helmet out onto the field. I'm thinking we'll see a one game suspension there.
  • Half the Ranger runs came on solo homers today, with Nelson Cruz hitting a blast to center in the 4th, immediately following the Jays 4 run inning, Adrian Beltre hitting a homer in the 7th to give Texas the lead, and David Murphy hitting a blast in the 8th for an insurance run. Chris McGuiness chipped in with an RBI double -- his first major league hit -- and Nelson Cruz singled in A.J. Pierzynski in the 5th.
  • The sixth run the Rangers scored, the run that tied the game, came courtesy of some aggressive baserunning combined with some poor defense. After McGuiness singled to lead off the inning, Leury Garcia hit into a fielder's choice. Craig Gentry pinch hit for Leonys Martin and singled to center, putting the Rangers in a great situation with a pair of very fast runners on base and just one out. Gentry ended up breaking to second on a stolen base attempt where Josh Thole had no chance to throw him out. Thole threw anyway, the ball went into centerfield, and Garcia came on home easily with the tying run, Gentry advancing to third.
  • After great baserunning scored a run, awful baserunning ended up inning that inning. After the error, Elvis Andrus ended up hitting a blooper to shallow center that second baseman Emilio Bonifacio caught with his back to home plate. He turned and threw wildly home, not having a prayer of catching Gentry. However, as it turned out, Gentry hadn't tagged up...he was several steps towards home when the ball was caught, and rather than returning to third, just went ahead and ran home. Third base coach Gary Pettis was standing right next to him and seemingly said nothing to Gentry. The Jays appealed and Gentry was correctly called out.
  • The Gentry baserunning mistake ended up not would have given the Rangers the lead, but the Beltre and Murphy homers made that run moot. However, it is the latest in what has seemed to be an alarming number of mental mistakes from the Rangers.
  • Beltre, Cruz and McGuiness all had big games at the plate with two hits apiece, and Beltre and Cruz also adding a walk apiece. On the negative side, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar were a combined 0 for 9 with a walk at the top of the lineup, and Leury Garcia went 0 for 3 with a walk. Garcia went 3 for 6 against the Astros on May 12. Since then, he's 3 for 29, and on the season, he has 2 walks and 1 XBH in 50 ABs. Garcia now has a .180/.212/.220 line on the season. I think we're approaching the point where, if the Rangers aren't going to keep Jurickson Profar up when Ian Kinsler returns, they need to go outside the organization to find a utility infielder, because Garcia isn't getting the job done.