BoSox 8, Rangers 7
- One of the hallmarks of the 2016 Rangers has been their exceptional performance in close games, and their ability to shut down opponents when using the back-end group of Jake Diekman, Matt Bush and Sam Dyson. Both of those trends came to an ugly halt yesterday.
- Pressed into rotation duty because of the myriad of injuries, Nick Martinez was okay yesterday, going six innings and allowing four runs, two on a two-run Hanley Ramirez home run, two on a two-run Jackie Bradley, Jr., home run. Still, because the Rangers jumped on David Price early, six innings with four runs allowed appeared to have Martinez in position to pick up the "W", especially when Tony Barnette followed that up with two scoreless innings.
- Then, the fateful ninth. Jake Diekman got the call, being asked to protect a three run lead, and promptly walked the leadoff batter, although he recorded the next two outs, seemingly positioning himself for a save. Sandy Leon doubled, however, bringing the tying run to the plate, in the form of Mookie Betts, and prompting Jeff Banister to go to the pen and get Matt Bush. The move made sense, as Bush has been lights out...but Betts took Bush deep for a game-tying home run. A walk, a single, and a wild pitch then brought the go-ahead run home, and when Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth, that was game over.
- There was the predictable yelling about why Banister didn't go with Sam Dyson in the ninth, but those complaints are silly. First of all, is there a demonstrative difference in quality between Diekman, Bush and Dyson? Hell, we've been talking for a while about how Bush seems like he's going to end up the closer eventually, due to having closer "stuff", while Dyson is a groundball guy who seems more like a traditional setup man. There's no reason to think Diekman and Bush can't handle the ninth inning of a close game as well as Dyson..
- But the other factor with Dyson is that he came into yesterday leading the majors in appearances. He pitched eight times in twelve days prior to Thursday's off-day. That pace simply isn't sustainable. Banister said after the game that they wanted to lighten his load and that Bush and Diekman should be trusted to close out a game, and I agree with him. I also kind of wonder, given Dyson's command issues of late, whether he's not quite 100%, and if that hasn't prompted Banister to decide Dyson was unavailable yesterday. In any case, Dyson can't continue to close out every game with a lead...not if the Rangers want him to still be functional come September and October.
- The bats jumped on Price early on, with Shin-Soo Choo homering to lead off the game, Elvis Andrus stroking a two run single in the first, Ian Desmond driving in a run in the second, and a Bobby Wilson bases loaded two run single bringing home a pair of runs in the third, and driving Price from the game. The Rangers had 12 hits in 2.1 IP against Price, a remarkable total...the problem is, they only had 4 more hits the rest of the way. That failure to build on the lead -- other than a solo Prince Fielder home run that registered run #7 -- cost Texas yesterday.
- Ultimately, it was a loss yesterday, and a bad, ugly loss. But it is still one game. Texas is still up 9 games in the A.L. West. They still are 20 games over .500 at 47-27. And despite all the crying and wailing about how awful this game will be if the Rangers miss the playoff by a game...well, if the Rangers miss the playoffs by a game, there will be a whole lot more losses that feel just as bad, if not worse, than this one. The Rangers have been fortunate this year in terms of out-performing their run differential and, yes, with sequencing, resulting in a record that wouldn't be expected based on their raw numbers. Things are still going extremely well as far as wins and losses go this year. Losses are going to happen, blown leads are going to happen...its a 162 game season.
- So let's appreciate how the season is going, and not get all worked up about this one game.