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Thoughts on a 6-2 Rangers win

Rangers 6, Pirates 2

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Rangers 6, Pirates 2

  • Another series win for the Rangers, who are now sitting at 29-21 after 50 games.  At the same point, the 2010 and 2011 teams were both 26-24.
  • Another solid start for Martin Perez, who was aggressive and threw strikes.  27 batters faced by Perez, 20 first pitch strikes, and he had 65 strikes out of 98 pitches over 6 innings.  You'd still like to see him be more efficient and generate more swinging strikes/fewer foul balls, but you'll take this outing.
  • Pittsburgh got on the board two batters into the game, with Jordy Mercer and Andrew McCutchen hitting back-to-back doubles to start the game.  Perez stayed composed, though, and made a nice play on a rundown when the next batter, David Freese, hit a comebacker to him.  He executed perfectly, running at McCutchen and making him commit to going back to second, allowing him to throw him out and keep Freese from advancing past first base.  A K and a fielder's choice ended the inning.
  • The only other Pirate run scored in the third inning, when Freese hit the first pitch he saw, with two outs, out to right-center field for a home run.  Adrian Beltre followed that up with a throwing error, and I had that fear that we were about to see things start to snowball, but Perez got Starling Marte on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
  • Perez stayed out of trouble afterwards until the sixth, when Marte laid down a drag bunt to start off the inning with a single, and then Francisco Cervelli followed that up with a base hit.  Sean Rodriguez flew out for the first out, but then Marte stole third, putting runners on the corners with one out.  Perez got Matt Joyce to strike out, however, and then induced Chris Stewart to hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning, and his outing.
  • Final line for Marteen:  6 IP, 7 hits, 3 Ks, 1 walk, 1 home run, 2 runs allowed.  His ERA is now down to 3.12 on the season.
  • Speaking of Stewart...he's a former Ranger, acquired for Johnny Lujan in January, 2007.  When the Rangers traded for him, they were still about six months away from even signing Martin Perez out of Venezuela.
  • We got Matt Bush, Tony Barnette and Sam Dyson for the 7th-8th-9th, and they didn't allow any runs (and only Barnette allowed a hit), but still...this usage is getting worrisome.  Matt Bush, who has been in prison the last few years, not pitching, has now been used five times in the last seven days, and his velocity was off today.  The last three times he's pitched, the Rangers have been up three runs once and four runs twice.  Dyson pitched the ninth, at home, with a four run lead, in what was his 2nd in the A.L. 26th appearance.
  • We said last year that Banister was running guys into the ground, and Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela both 1) were limited at the end of last season, and 2) have not been right this year.  Tolleson, Kela, Tom Wilhelmsen and Andrew Faulkner were all counted on to be key parts of the bullpen on Opening Day, and all are out of the mix right now.  But you've got Barnette (who, yes, did pitch today), you've got Luke Jackson, Jose Leclerc will probably be up at some point...Banister is going to have to start using someone other than the same three guys late in games when the Rangers have a single-digit lead.
  • The folks who pushed back against the "why isn't Joey Gallo playing?" people had their day today, with Prince Fielder homering in the fourth off of the lefty Francisco Liriano to make it a 2-1 game, and then Mitch Moreland had a tape measure blast later in the inning to make it a 4-2 game.  Both hitters showed that, when they connect, they can hit it a long way, and this game will be pointed to as justification for Banister being patient and sticking with them, rather than thrusting Gallo into a more prominent role.
  • On the other hand, Fielder and Moreland were 0 for 6 with 3 Ks and a GIDP in their other at bats.  Prince is still sporting a .197/.268/.306 line, and Moreland is at .222/.293/.392.  Jared Sandler tweeted the question of which of the two you have more faith in returning to form, and I think that is easily Moreland...he's a streaky hitter who will probably put up his normal 750 or so OPS the rest of the way, particularly if he sits more often against lefties.  He is, I think, still Mitch Moreland.  Prince, on the other hand, looks like he doesn't have the bat speed to be close to where he has been in the past.  If I have to bet on one of these two going forward, it would be Moreland.
  • Texas had the opportunity to make it a blowout in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no one out on an Adrian Beltre single, followed by Nomar Mazara and Ryan Rua walks.  Moreland, alas, struck out swinging, and after a Bryan Holaday fly ball to center brought Beltre home, Hanser Alberto (starting at shortstop for Elvis Andrus) also struck out.
  • Meanwhile, Jurickson Profar manufactured a run in the seventh in the fashion that showed why folks get so fired up about him.  After leading off the inning with a single, he advanced to second on an infield groundout.  He couldn't advance on a Prince flyout, and then when Beltre swung at strike three, it appeared he would be stranded...except the ball got past Cervelli, giving Beltre the chance to beat out a throw to first base.  Profar went to third when the ball got away, and kept going when Cervelli threw to first, barely beating the throw back home with a terrific slide to make it a 6-2 game.
  • Everyone got on base today except for Hanser, who was 0 for 2 with a sac bunt.  Profar was the lone Ranger with a multi-hit game -- he had a pair of singles -- while Beltre was 1 for 3 with a walk, and Rua had two walks in 3 plate appearances.
  • Oh, and I see that the Twins just beat the Mariners, which means the Rangers enter play on Memorial Day in sole possession of first place in the A.L. West.  Enjoy it, Rangers fans...