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Thoughts on a 7-6 Rangers ALDS Game 3 Loss

Jays 7, Rangers 6

MLB: ALDS-Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Jays 7, Rangers 6

  • I really didn’t want to get swept.
  • What a disappointing finish to a really terrific year for the Rangers. Best record in the A.L., home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they get dumped out in three games against the hated Blue Jays. Ugh.
  • I said yesterday before the game that I suspected Jeff Banister would have a quick hook with Game Three starter Colby Lewis. As it turns out, he did, but it still wasn’t quick enough. The Jays were squaring up Colby in the first inning, with Ezequiel Carrera leading off the inning with a line drive single, Edwin Encarnacion homering on a 400+ foot blast two batters later, and then Russell Martin going deep two batters after that, putting Texas in a 3-1 hole after they’d managed to score a run and take a lead for the first time all series in the top of the first.
  • I thought Banister might go to Tony Barnette, who was already warming, to start the second, but he stuck with Colby, who got a 1-2-3 inning in the second, and seemed to be settling down.
  • Alas, it wasn’t to be. In the third, Carrera singled again, stole second, and then scored on a ground rule double from Josh Donaldson, making it 4-2, and ending Colby’s night. Barnette entered the game, gave up a single to Encarnacion to make it 5-2, and it seemed like the game was over right there.
  • But this team fought back, and the bullpen, designed to be deep and potent in the postseason, did its job. Barnette went an inning, Alex Claudio went 1.1 IP, and Jeremy Jeffress went an inning. By the time Jeff Banister made the fateful decision to lift Jeffress in the sixth, Texas had re-gained a 6-5 lead, and the pen was setting up well to close things out and salvage a victory for Texas.
  • Banister opted to pull Jeffress for Jake Diekman, however. Diekman, who gave up three runs in the 10-1 Game 1 blowout. Diekman, who wasn’t right for all of September. Jeffress had just given up a single to Troy Tulowitzki, and lefty Michael Saunders was due up, so you can defend the move...although the Jays then went and got Melvin Upton Jr. to pinch hit for Saunders, and I think you’d prefer a Jeffress/Saunders matchup to Diekman/Upton. Upton doubled, Diekman intentionally walked Kevin Pillar, and Keone Kela was brought into the game, bases loaded, one out.
  • Kela got Darwin Barney to foul out, bringing up Carrera, and it looked like the Rangers might wriggle out of the jam. But no...the first pitch to Carrera was outside, Jonathan Lucroy saw it glance off his glove and go back to the backstop for a passed ball, and the tying run scored.
  • What a crippling play that was. It wasn’t an easy ball to stop, but you traded for Lucroy, a championship-caliber catcher, in part because he shouldn’t let balls like that go by. And on that play, the game shifted.
  • Kela got out of the inning with no more damage, and then pitched a scoreless seventh. With the pen down to Matt Bush, Sam Dyson and Martin Perez, Banister asked Bush to go as long as he could, and he was stellar in the 8th and 9th, retiring six batters in a row, four by strikeout.
  • Then the 10th. Another Donaldson double. Another intentional walk. Bush got Jose Bautista swinging for one out, then induced what looked like it might be an inning-ending double play ball from Russell Martin. Elvis Andrus went into the hole, made the through to Rougned Odor, and with Encarnacion on top of him, Odor threw wide to first. Mitch Moreland, trying to make a play, reached for it while trying to stay on the bag, couldn’t field it. Donaldson, seeing the ball loose, headed home. The throw was late. The game, the series, and the season was over.
  • And that was that.
  • And its unfortunate. Things had set up for another great comeback story. Texas got to within 3-2 due to an Elvis Andrus home run in the third, and then made it a 5-4 game on a Rougned Odor blast to center. Mitch Moreland came through with a big opposite-field double that was juuuuuust out of the grasp of Kevin Pillar in the top of the sixth to make it a 6-5 game. It looked like that might be enough.
  • It wasn’t to be, though.
  • The bats, after that Moreland double, shut down. Moreland’s double was the final baserunner of the game for Texas, as the Jays retired the final 13 batters they faced. And it was part of a series that, overall, was pretty poor for the Rangers hitters.
  • Ryan Rua, in 3 plate appearances, had two hits, for a 1333 OPS. Elvis Andrus had a 1182 OPS. Robinson Chirinos walked in his only plate appearance. Rougned Odor and Mitch Moreland had identical 833 OPSs. No other Ranger had an OPS for the series above 523 (which is what Adrian Beltre put up). For the series, the bats had a .204/.255/.320 slash line.
  • Particularly disappointing were the Rangers’ late season additions. Lucroy, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Gomez combined to go 5 for 36 with 2 walks and no extra base hits, and of course, Lucroy had that critical passed ball that cost the Rangers a run.
  • Even with that, however, the Rangers were in position to win Games 2 and 3, after an awful Game 1. Both were winnable games, the types of games where, during the regular season, fortune seemed to smile upon the team and things would go the Rangers’ way. Take just one of those, and there’s a game at noon today. Instead, we’re watching the rest of the playoffs.
  • The Rangers seemed well equipped to do some things in the playoffs. They had a strong top two in the rotation, a deep, quality bullpen, and a lineup that, while not great, was solid from 1 to 9. The bullpen did its job. Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels didn’t do their jobs, and the bats didn’t come through.
  • And in a best of five series, that’s enough to end your year.