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Thoughts on a 5-2 Rangers win

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Rangers 5, Yankees 2

Prince is as surprised by this sweep as we are
Prince is as surprised by this sweep as we are
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 5, Yankees 2

  • Hey, a sweep!  In New York!  I like that...
  • The Rangers are now 21-23, in third place in the A.L. West, and just a single game behind the second place Angels.
  • It didn't feel like it was going to be a Rangers win early on, though.  Staked to a 1-0 lead, Yovani Gallardo took the mound and immediately had Elvis Andrus make Elvis's obligatory "Yovani is starting" error to Brett Gardner, the first Yankee batter of the game.  Gardner was thrown at at third for the first out when he tried to advance on a Chase Headley single to center, with Leonys Martin making a very impressive throw to nail him, but then ARod singled, Mark Teixeira advanced the runners on a 3U, and then Brian McCann drove both the runners home, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Gallardo then walked Garrett Jones, bringing up Chris Young with two on and two out, and you had a bad feeling the game was about to get away from Gallardo.  Fortunately, he responded by fanning Young for the third out and, if you are paying attention to the final score, you know that the Yankees didn't score again the rest of the way.
  • Gallardo allowed just two more runners over the next five innings, via an E3 and a single.  I expected Gallardo, who was at just 95 pitches through 6 IP, to go back out for the 7th inning, but Jeff Banister opted to go to the pen instead.  Keone Kela threw a scoreless 7th inning to lower his ERA to 2.14, but things got dicey in the 8th.  Ross Ohlendorf and his dead-ball-era windup allowed a single and a walk while retiring a pair of batters, resulting in Sam Freeman being brought into the game to face lefty Brian McCann.  McCann represented the tying run, and there's a bad history of lefty relievers giving up three run homers to the first batter they face in Gallardo-started games this year, and of course, Freeman hasn't done a ton to inspire confidence so far.  Freeman promptly fell behind McCann 2-0, and Shawn Tolleson started warming, presumably to come into the game should McCann get on and Joe Girardi opt for a pinch hitter for Garrett Jones.  Freeman ended up inducing a shallow pop fly center, though, escaping the inning and setting the stage for Tolleson to start the 9th.
  • Shawn Tolleson struck out the side in the 9th inning for the save, but perhaps most remarkable was the way the ESPN booth was gushing over him.  Tolleson was compared to Jonathan Papelbon -- favorably, with it being meant as a compliment -- and he twice threw pitches which were described as a "literally perfect pitch."  This is a guy who was a middle reliever for most of last year, who was supposed to be the 7th inning guy this year, and who inherited the closer role this past week because Neftali Feliz spit the bit, Keone Kela isn't quite ready for the job and Tanner Scheppers is struggling with his command.  This is a guy who was claimed on waivers from the Dodgers in the 2013-14 offseason, and who fans were suggesting this spring shouldn't have a job already locked up, Jeff Banister's proclamations to the contrary notwithstanding.  Its been quite a rapid ascent for Mr. Tolleson.
  • After scoring 25 runs the previous two games, only 5 runs seemed like a letdown today, and really, you had to feel like the Rangers should have scored more runs.  Starter Chris Capuano was chased in the 5th inning, and everyone except Elvis got a hit for the Rangers.  Prince Fielder continued to rip the ball, going 3 for 5 with one of the longest singles you'll ever see, a rocket that hit the top of the right field fence, just a couple of inches shy of going for a home run.  Adam Rosales, meanwhile, had a home run that was just a couple of inches shy of being caught by Brett Gardner.
  • Rosales ended up going 2 for 3 with a walk, and Shin-Soo Choo and Delino DeShields also had two hits games.  Rosales also, however, was at the plate when Banister opted to play super-small-ball in the 8th.  Leonys Martin led off the inning with a double, and Robinson Chirinos sac bunted him to third base.  Banister ended up putting the suicide squeeze on with Rosales facing David Carpenter, and Carpenter threw a breaking ball down and away that Rosales couldn't get his bat on, trapping Leonys in no-man's-land.  Rosales ended up singling, a hit that would have driven Leonys in, and that botched play was in the forefront of my mind while watching Freeman struggle with McCann in the bottom half of that inning.  As it turned out, though, the failure there ended up being moot.
  • Squeezing with a three run lead in the top of the eighth seems like a questionable strategy, although if you think about it, the value of additional marginal runs goes down the bigger your lead is, especially late in the game.  The argument against bunting is that it might increase your chances of scoring a single run, but reduces your overall total run expectancy, so you are trading a better chance of multiple runs for a better chance at a single run.  However, at a certain point, the advantage of multiple runs becomes de minimis, and if that delta becomes significantly smaller for the 2nd, 3rd, etc. runs in an inning compared to the first run in an inning, playing for one run makes sense.  And I have to wonder if a 3 run lead might not be that tipping point -- if your chances of winning are substantially the same up 4 runs or more than 4 runs in the 8th inning, but your chances of winning are NOT substantially the same up 3 runs or more than 3 runs, then playing for one run in that situation is the right strategy.
  • I could go and look this information up somewhere, I guess, but that's more effort than I feel like expending on a Sunday night.
  • I'm mystified about this team right now.  They could sweep Cleveland or get swept by Cleveland and I wouldn't be surprised at this point.  Phil Klein could eat an entire wheel of cheese on the mound tomorrow, and I wouldn't even be mad.  This is a strange season.
  • Oh, and Josh is gonna be back in the lineup tomorrow.  You hyped?