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Thoughts on a 7-5 Rangers win

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Rangers 7, Astros 5

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Rangers 7, Astros 5

  • Game one of what will be 17 or 19 or something like that games between the Rangers and the Astros this season, and man, it feels like the media is trying to turn this into A Rivalry.  To me, there's just not enough history between these teams for me to really care that much about the Astros -- the Mariners are still the team I most consider a "rival," and then there's the A's, who we can't stand, and the Angels, who we also can't stand.  And the Astros?  Yeah, they're in the state of Texas, but until last year, they either weren't in the same league or were a punchline.  And even last year, the Rangers came from behind and ended up winning the division.  I just can't get worked up over what feels like is being turned into a manufactured rivalry.  Maybe in another couple of years...
  • In any case, Derek Holland took the mound today, and had a frustratingly Derek Holland outing.  He gave up a couple of hard hit balls in the first inning, including a George Springer double, but escaped unscathed, and then allowed three straight hard-hit doubles to start off the second.  The Rangers had put 3 on the board in the bottom of the first, but then the Astros had two in, a runner on second and no one out, and it felt like a tie game was imminent, and we could be seeing Nick Martinez by the fourth inning.
  • But Derek righted the ship...he got Jason Castro on a comebacker, struck out Jake Marisnick, and then got Jose Altuve on a hard hit grounder right at Adrian Beltre to end the inning.  After that, Holland wasn't in trouble again all game.
  • Of course, Holland didn't last long enough to have too many opportunities to get into trouble...he was pulled after 5 innings at 105 pitches, leading Steve Busby to lament that he was getting pulled because of "pitch counts" even though he was throwing as well as he had all game.  And yes, Holland was pitching his best over the last couple of innings...but 105 pitches in 5 innings is a stressful load, and he missed time last year with a shoulder injury.  I'm not sure if the third start of the year in mid-April is the time to be getting aggressive with pushing Holland.
  • Holland's final line:  5 IP, 5 hits, 5 Ks, 1 walk, 2 runs.
  • Tony Barnette pitched the 6th inning, a move I kind of questioned, since you had a fully rested pen, and with a two run lead, you could use Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, Sam Dyson and Shawn Tolleson (spoiler alert -- all those guys pitched anyway).  Barnette gave up another Houston double, to Tyler White to lead off the inning, though it was a ball that should have been called an error, as Delino DeShields jumped pointlessly for the ball, then watched it bounce off the heel of his glove and fall safely for what should have been called an error.  Barnette retired the next three batters, though, and turned it over to Keone Kela in the 7th.
  • Kela retired the first two batters he faced, Castro via a strikeout and pinch hitter Preston Tucker on a fly out, before giving up a home run to Jose Altuve to left field on a ball down and in that Altuve went and got.  No big deal...except George Springer followed that up with a home run to dead center field, reducing the Ranger lead to 6-4.  Kela then walked Carlos Correa, leading Jeff Banister to come get Jake Diekman, who struck out White to end the inning.  Kela, as several folks pointed out, has given up three home runs this year, after allowing just four all of 2015.
  • Because Diekman apparently can't start an inning if he pitched in the previous inning, he was replaced (after one batter and four pitches) by Sam Dyson, who pitched the 8th, mowing down the Astros 1-2-3.  Shawn Tolleson then took the mound for the 9th, walked pinch hitter Colby Rasmus, ended up letting Rasmus score after defensive indifference, advancing on a fly out, and scoring on a ground out, then fanned Springer to end the game and pick up the save.
  • Holland was shaky early and strong late, Kela had a troubling game, but otherwise, the pitchers looked pretty good.
  • Glovework was, generally, solid...Beltre had a couple of nifty plays on hard hit balls, Elvis Andrus made a pretty play on a ball up the middle where he did a 360, and Ian Desmond took a less than ideal route but still made a nice play on a line drive to shallow left.
  • The bats looked nice tonight.  Home runs by Prince Fielder (a tremendous blast) and Mitch Moreland, and Elvis Andrus hit a ball down the line in left that he was so certain was gone, he went into a home run trot, only to have to start hustling to get to second when it hit off the top of the wall instead of going out.  Ian Desmond smoke a couple of balls to deep center, one of which went off the fence for a double, another of which was caught on the warning track...but he looked like he may be getting back into a groove.  And DeShields had an amusing bunt down the third base line that kept looking like it was going to roll foul until it finally stopped rolling and was still fair.
  • Two hit nights for Moreland, Desmond, Elvis, and Rougned Odor, with everyone in the lineup getting a hit other than Nomar Mazara, who drew two walks.  That included a tremendous job working the count against Scott Feldman after getting down 0-2 in the count, battling back, making Feldman work, until he was able to induce a walk on a 3-2 pitch.  Mazara looks like he's been in the majors for a decade.
  • First place Texas Rangers, y'all.