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Thoughts on a 2-1 Rangers win

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Rangers 2, Angels 1

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 2, Angels 1

  • That's what meaningful late season baseball feels like.  We forgot about this last year, but its back, and its scary and gut-wrenching and nerve-wracking and exhilarating.
  • Derek Holland pitched his ass off tonight, working quickly, pitching efficiently, getting ahead of batters and letting his defense do work behind him.  The lone Angel run came in the bottom of the first, when Mike Trout blasted a ball off the wall that turned into a triple when Delino DeShields got too close to the wall and let it get past him, and then, after a walk to Albert Pujols, C.J. Cron hit a weak tapper towards the mound that gave Holland a play only a first.  Well, Holland mis-played the ball initially, but even if he fields it cleanly, the run probably still scores.
  • Holland only allowed two more hits -- both singles -- and one walk after that, pitching 8 innings, striking out 5, and lowering his ERA on the season to 2.37.  Holland hasn't pitched much the past two seasons, but when he's been on the mound, he's been great.
  • Shawn Tolleson scared me with his first three pitches to Mike Trout...it appeared his command issues were back again tonight, and I was hoping Jeff Banister had someone up and warming, ready to replace him.  No need, though...Tolleson got Mike Trout looking on a borderline called strike three, then retired Pujols and Cron easily to pick up the save.
  • Jered Weaver appeared vulnerable early, and the Rangers appeared to be in position to get up big in the first, when a walk-walk-single-HBP sequence loaded the bases with one out and a run in.  Elvis Andrus flew out to center, though, to shallow for Prince Fielder, at third, to score, and Rougned Odor flew out to left to end the inning.
  • The Rangers loaded the bases with one out again in the fourth, bringing catcher Bobby Wilson to the plate, and this is a scenario where Banister didn't make the type of unconventional move that, when he was hired, I thought he'd be inclined to make.  With rosters being expanded, you have three catchers on the active roster and a bunch of bench guys.  Wilson is only marginally better as a hitter than a pitcher, and bases loaded, one out in the fourth of a tie game is a situation where you have an opportunity to blow the game open.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring up Josh Hamilton against Weaver, and see if he can lift a fly ball to bring a run home, maybe get a hit, maybe even run into a ball and go deep.  But no...Wilson was allowed to hit, and popped out in the infield.  DeShields then got up 2-0, but had a check swing on the third pitch of the at bat that led to a roller to first to end the inning.
  • Similar situation in the sixth inning...Will Venable was hit by a pitch with two outs, bringing up Wilson, and I thought it was a time to bring in a pinch hitter.  But Wilson flew out to Trout in center, ending the inning.
  • As the Rangers missed on chances, there seemed to be a sense of doom settling over the game, the feeling that the Angels would take advantage of the Rangers not putting them away and steal the game.  Instead, in the 8th, Mitch Moreland hit a one-out single to right, and after Ryan Strausborger came into the game as a pinch runner, Elvis Andrus had a hit-and-run single that just barely squeaked by second baseman Taylor Featherston, who had been moving to cover second.  Odor then blasted a ball to center field that he pimped a little bit, even though it stayed in the park -- but hey, it was a go-ahead RBI sac fly, and ended up being the winning run.
  • After Adrian Beltre had an RBI single in the first, the Rangers were 0 for 7 with RISP, continuing a road trip-long trend of not hitting with guys in scoring position.  Still, the Rangers won, and that's what matters at the end of the day.
  • Only six hits for the Rangers today -- two apiece by Elvis and Moreland, one by Choo, and the Beltre RBI single.  Choo also drew a pair of walks, and Will Venable got on base both via an HBP (as did Moreland) and via a walk.
  • Houston lost, so the Rangers are back to being just two games out of first place in the A.L. West.
  • This is a whole lot better than last year, isn't it?