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Thoughts on a 2-0 Rangers win

Yu Darvish is pretty great.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 2, Nationals 0

  • That was almost like a ho-hum Yu Darvish outing.  Denard Span doubled on the first pitch of the game, so we didn't have the no-hitter tension, and Darvish pitched so well, and seemed so in command, even though the Rangers never scored, it seemed like Yu had things under control all along.
  • Span got to third with one out in the first, but was stranded, and other than that, there was only one other real threat that Yu dealt with in his eight innings on the mound today.  With one out in the sixth, a hard-hit Jayson Werth single was followed up by a pop into shallow left by Adam LaRoche that fell in for a hit, putting runners on first and third with one out.  No problem, though...Darvish fanned Wilson Ramos, then got Ian Desmond on a fly ball that was hit well to right center, but was caught by Alex Rios (fighting the sun) for the final out of the inning.  The Nats were hitless after that, with their only baserunner the rest of the game coming when pinch hitter Greg Dobbs drew a four pitch walk.
  • The four-pitch walk to Dobbs was after Mike Maddux came to the mound to talk to Yu.  I blame Maddux for that, as he obviously threw off Yu's rhythm.
  • Yu's final line:  8 IP, 0 runs, 12 Ks, 2 walks, 5 hits (a double and 4 singles).  Yu was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 9th, but was only at 102 pitches (70 strikes), so if this had been played under A.L. rules, Yu might have gotten a shot at a complete game shutout.
  • Or maybe not...Wash may have just preferred to go with Joakim Soria in the 9th, even with Yu at just 102 pitches.  While Yu was great, Soria has also been great, and its hard to argue that the Rangers would definitely have been better off with Yu, at 100+ pitches, facing hitters the fourth time through in the 9th, rather than going with Soria.  There's no question that having Shin-Soo Choo hit for Yu in the 9th was the right move...the more interesting question is, would lifting Yu for Soria in the 9th even absent Yu being lifted for a pinch hitter have been the right move?
  • Soria was Soria, needing 10 pitches to get the save, getting a grounder to Beltre for the first out, then fanning the next two hitters to end the game.  I really like Joakim Soria.
  • With Choo and Mitch Moreland getting the day off (Busby and Grieve suggested Moreland's back had him unavailable altogether) and Michael Choice being a late scratch because of a shin problem, the Rangers had a motley, ragtag lineup that still managed to register 14 baserunners on the game.  On the one hand, you see Daniel Robertson leading off, Donnie Murphy hitting 5th, and no DH, and you think 2 runs sounds about right...but given the number of guys they had on base, you feel like Texas should have scored more than 2 runs.  Fortunately, it didn't matter...
  • Weird replay situation in the first inning.  The Rangers had Alex Rios at first and Elvis Andrus at third with two outs and Donnie Murphy at the plate.  Rios broke for second, and Wilson Ramos threw through to try to catch him, giving Elvis the opportunity to break for home.  Rios slid in safely, but then came off the bag and was tagged out.  The initial call on the field was that Elvis made it home before Rios was tagged, so the run scored, but Rios was out and the inning was over.  Ron Washington challenged the call at second, and Nats manager Matt Williams challenged the call that Elvis was home before Rios was tagged out.  Fox Sports Southwest never showed a replay that you could glean anything from (although they showed a bunch of shots of umpires standing around, umpires talking, and umpires with headsets on), but the ultimate result was that Rios was out and Elvis did not cross the plate before Rios was tagged out.  As a result, the inning was over, and no run scored.
  • Rios was just the first CS the Rangers lost a runner the 7th, with the score tied at 0, Murphy led off with a single, prompting Wash to put on the hit-and-run with Leonys Martin at the plate.  Leonys swung and missed, and Murphy was a dead duck at second, wasting the leadoff baserunner.
  • Leonys promptly redeemed himself, however, blasting the next pitch (I think) from Tanner Roark over the right field wall for a home run, giving Texas a 1-0 lead.  So yay, Leonys!
  • The Rangers' second run came in the 8th.  Daniel Robertson singled, and then Elvis, after bunting unsuccessfully at the first two pitches, got a two-strike sac bunt down to move Robertson to second.  Alex Rios struck out swinging, and then Adrian Beltre was walked intentionally, but Murphy came through again with his third single of the game, driving home Robertson with an insurance run.
  • Wash had Luis Sardinas try to bunt Chris Gimenez over from second to third with two strikes and no one out in the top of the 9th.  Sardinas struck out.  That was irksome.
  • Aside from Murphy going 3 for 4, the Rangers got multi-hit games from Elvis and Rios, who each went 2 for 4.  Sadly, though Yu Darvish came to the plate 3 times, he didn't get a hit.

Yu's strikeouts:

And the Alex Rios caught stealing in the first that prompted the dual challenges: