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Thoughts on a 4-1 Rangers win

Rangers 4, Jays 1

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 4, Jays 1

  • The thing about being in a tight playoff race, especially when you are behind, is that every game seems to have outsized importance.  That is especially true when your team has lost a couple of games...all the sudden, what should be just another late-summer game feels like, if not a must-win, at least a need-to-win.  With over a month to play, a random mid-week day game in front of a sparse crowd feels like a playoff game.  Well, not a playoff game, exactly, since there's not the sense of "just happy to be here" you get from being the playoffs (unless you are a bitter and jaded Yankees fan, in which case, anything short of a World Championship seems to be a failure), but a kind of edge-of-your-seat drama in which you are just trying to, to steal a phrase from the NCAA and Jim Valvano, survive and advance.
  • And the Rangers did that today.  After a pair of losses -- one via a gut-punch ninth inning blown lead, courtesy of a pair of walks, a bloop single, and an error by Adrian Beltre of all people, and one a blowout the featured a bullpen meltdown reminiscent of early-season disasters -- this felt like a game the Rangers had to win.  They had fallen a half-game behind the Twins for the second Wild Card, were just a half-game ahead of the Angels, and were five back of the Astros.  A sweep at home against Toronto would certainly diminish a lot of the enthusiasm that has been gathering as a result of the quality play of late.
  • And the Rangers survived and advanced.  Yovani Gallardo wasn't great -- on a day the Rangers were needing at least 6 IP from him, he needed 101 pitches to record 16 outs -- but he kept the Jays off the scoreboard and successfully protected the one run lead the offense staked him to in the bottom of the first.
  • Keone Kela came into the game in the sixth with one on and one out, walked Jose Bautista on four pitches, and gave up a double steal, putting the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with one out.  No worries, though...Kela struck out Edwin Encarnacion, then Dioner Navarro, escaping with the lead intact.
  • More drama ensued in the 7th when Jake Diekman struck out Kevin Pillar, but then loaded the bases on a single-walk-single combo, leading Jeff Banister to bring in Sam Dyson to protect the one run lead.  Sam Dyson did Sam Dyson stuff, eliciting a ground ball double play to end the inning, and with the Rangers putting 3 more runs on the board in the 7th, we were all able to breathe easier.  Dyson allowed a run in the 8th, but just one run, and then Shawn Tolleson closed the door in the 9th, salvaging the series finale for Texas.
  • Recently slumping Delino DeShields energized the offense today, going 2 for 2 with 3 walks, scoring the first run of the game in the first inning when he came across on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland, and then accounting for the other three runs when his single to right field in the 7th got past Bautista in right field, allowing baserunners Bobby Wilson and Hanser Alberto to score, and racing around the bases to beat the throw home himself.
  • Every Ranger starter got at least one hit, but only Elvis Andrus joined DeShields in the two-hit club, and a double by Elvis was the lone base hit.  With 11 hits and 4 walks in all, you'd normally expect more than four runs, but that's okay...we can't put any extras in the freezer and save them for the next game, and four was plenty today.
  • Here's the DeShields single plus three base error that made the difference in the game: