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Thoughts on an 11-3 Rangers win

Rangers 11, M's 3

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 11, M's 3

  • What a weird win.
  • Martin Perez wasn't as awesome as he was last time out, of course, when he went into the 9th with the only baserunners allowed being via an error and an infield single.  But he was plenty good, only getting in trouble in the bottom of the fourth.  Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a double, then Robinson Cano had a little blooper that just barely made it out of the infield and into center for a single.  Jesus Montero then singled home Cruz, which was followed up by a pretty egregious passed ball that Chris Gimenez whiffed on to put runners on second and third.  A pop out followed by a sac fly brought a second run home and put a runner at third base when Brad Miller flailed at an outside pitched and hit a weak roller for an infield single that brought home the third run.  It was an unpleasant inning, especially since the Rangers had just scored 3 runs and then turned around and allowed Seattle to tie it up, but it also featured more bad luck than bad pitching.
  • The final line for Perez was 6 IP, 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits, 5 Ks and just 1 walk.  In particular, Perez showed terrific command, throwing 71 strikes out of 102 pitches, and starting 20 out of 24 batters off with a strike.
  • Sam Dyson pitched the 7th, walked a batter but otherwise was unscathed.  Jake Diekman fanned four hitters while throwing an 8th and 9th where the only baserunner came via a Rougned Odor error, allowing Jeff Banister to bring in Shawn Tolleson for the 10th.
  • Things started off badly for Tolleson, though, when Seth Smith got to second on a fly ball to the warning track than Ryan Strausborger simply dropped.  After striking out Mike Zunino and Corey Kyle Seager, Tolleson intentionally walked both Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano to bring Jesus Montero to the plate.  I really didn't like that decision...I feel like the chances of Montero bringing in a runner with the bases loaded are greater than the chances of Cruz bringing in a runner with a runner at second.  Yes, Cruz is hot, but so many things can go wrong in a bases loaded situation...even an infield single brings home the runner, or a walk, or an infield error, or a wild pitch.  It worked out fine, but I thought that was a questionable move.
  • Which gets us to the other big questionable bullpen move getting discussed.  Texas scored 8 runs, seemingly giving Jeff Banister the perfect opportunity to get Luke Jackson his major league debut.  Barring that, you've got Anthony Bass or Sam Freeman available to turn to.  In any case, you don't burn your closer, already over 20 pitches, for a second inning in a blowout.  But that's what Banister did, leaving Tolleson to rack up 48 pitches in a blowout.  That's not just the most pitches Tolleson has thrown in the majors -- it is more than he's thrown in any game in the minors that B-R has pitch data for (basically, above low-A ball).  Its nonsensical.
  • Jeff Wilson tweeted that Banister said after the game that they were worried that, if Anthony Bass couldn't get the M's out, that would leave Luke Jackson closing out the game in his first major league appearance.  While Banister apparently didn't want to go to Spencer Patton because he had warmed up already in the game, it doesn't explain why he wouldn't go to Freeman if Bass got in trouble.  The entire thing makes no sense, and it makes me wonder if Banister doesn't know he screwed up, and is offering post-mistake justifications for the decision.
  • Anyway...moving on.  The Rangers jumped on Seattle starter Mike Montgomery in the 4th inning, with Ryan Strausborger scoring on a Prince Fielder double after a leadoff walk, Prince moving to third on a Beltre groundout, and then, after a Mike Napoli walk, scoring on a Josh Hamilton single.  Elvis lined out for the second out, but after a Rougned Odor infield single, Montgomery walked Chris Gimenez to force in a run.  It looked like the floodgates might be opening after Montgomery got to 3-0 on Delino DeShields, but after taking a strike, DeShields grounded out to end the inning.
  • Texas actually lost four runners on the basepaths today.  Adrian Beltre got picked off for the final out of the 2nd inning when he strayed too far off first and was gunned down by Zunino (Beltre was originally called safe, but that was reversed on replay).  Gimenez was called out in the third trying to score from second on an infield single by DeShields, another play where the Ranger runner was called safe but was then out on replay.  DeShields was thrown out in the top of the 7th trying to stretch a single into a double, on a play the Rangers unsuccessfully challenged.  And then finally, in the 9th, Rougned Odor was thrown out stealing on what appeared to be a busted hit and run.  Ed. Note -- I thought the Rangers challenged the DeShields play, but they didn't -- they challenged a pickoff play in the bottom of the 7th.  Unsuccessfully, of course.
  • Still, it all worked out.  The Rangers exploded for 8 runs in the 11th, with Josh Hamilton singling in the go-ahead run, Odor singling in a run, Gimenez and DeShields each driving in a pair, and then Prince homering to put a capper on things.  The Rangers are a game over .500, and just 4.5 games back in the A.L. West.
  • The Rangers are still in the playoff race.  I just wish Jeff Banister would not handle the bullpen like he thinks every game in this race is a must-win game.