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Thoughts on a 4-1 Rangers win

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Rangers 4, Cubs 1

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 4, Cubs 1

  • This was a much needed win.  It had been over a week since the last victory, the lead in the West had diminished, fans were panicking, players were looking flat...a malaise seemed to be setting in, especially after two unpleasant losses to start this series in Chicago.
  • And then Cole Hamels took the mound today, and fixed everything.  Hamels was, per Jeff Banister after the game, dealing with a blister in his previous two starts, which helps explain why his last couple of outings were so non-Hamels-like.  Hamels started off this game with six straight strikeouts, and then ended the third inning with a strike out of Kris Bryant.  Strangely, over the next five innings Hamels pitched, he didn't strike anyone else out, but it didn't matter, as he was in control anyway.
  • Hamels was victimized by some bad defense, one instance of which cost him a run, and one instance of which could have.  The lone Cubs run came in the third inning, when a one out grounder by Albert Almora was booted by Adrian Beltre, resulting in an E-5.  John Lackey popped up for the second out, but then Javier Baez doubled Almora in, making the score, at that time, 2-1.  Baez stole third, but the Bryant K snuffed out the rally.
  • Other than a two out Bryant single in the sixth, Hamels was untouched until the seventh, when the defensive issues struck again.  With one on and no one out, Addison Russell hit a looper to center field that Ian Desmond got a poor break out, and then made a diving attempt at, to no avail.  It was recorded as a single, but it was a ball you'd think Desmond should've gotten, and it put runners on first and second with no one out in a 3-1 game.  Jason Heyward than ripped a ball towards first, and I immediately thought we'd be looking at a tie game, but the line drive was right at Prince Fielder, who caught it and beat Russell back to the bag, making it a U3 DP, and setting the stage for a tapper back to the mound to end the inning.
  • Hamels had a 1-2-3 eighth, and was pulled at 91 pitches, a move that I questioned...I felt Hamels was pitching great, and it was safer to have him start the ninth than go to Sam Dyson, who has been shaky of late.  Dyson, however, struck out the side swinging, so it was all good.
  • Final line for Hamels:  8 IP, 4 hits, 0 walks, 7 Ks, 1 unearned run allowed.  ERA on the year is now 3.00.
  • The bats didn't do much today, but they did enough.  Texas took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second -- a lead that, as it turns out, was sufficient for the day -- when Prince Fielder led off the inning with a rocket into the right field corner for a single.  Ryan Rua then singled to left, and after a Nomar Mazara K, Elvis Andrus singled home Prince.  Robinson Chirinos then hit a deep blast to left center that looked like it would be extra bases, but which Almora made a great running catch into the wall on.  Rua still was able to come home with the second run, however, and it looked like the Rangers might do more when Hamels singled after that.  Alas, Rougned Odor flied out to end the inning.
  • Run #3 came in the top of the fourth, immediately after Chicago go on the board.  Rua and Mazara had back-to-back walks, and then a Chirinos double (after an Elvis K) brought Rua home and put runners on second and third with one out.  Hamels bunted, but the runners weren't moving, suggesting it was a botched squeeze play...Mazara likely would have scored had he gone when the bunt went down, but since he didn't, Hamels was simply thrown out, and an Odor K ended the inning.
  • The final run came when Ian Desmond, who had been 0 for 11 since the second half resumed, lofted a fly ball down the left field line.  Dave Raymond, on the call, acted like it was no big deal, and the camera seemed to think it was heading foul, as the shot was focused that way...but instead, it went fair and into the stands for a home run, giving Texas their final 4-1 margin of victory.
  • Overall, though, it was a quick, relatively uneventful game.  Rua was the only hitter to get on base twice, with a walk and a hit, and the Rangers didn't even end up pinch hitting despite being in an N.L. park...Jurickson Profar was on deck to hit for Hamels in the 9th when Chirinos made the final out.
  • And so Texas heads to Anaheim with a victory under they belt, and seemingly feeling good, with A.J. Griffin, Kyle Lohse and Martin Perez slated to pitch against the Angels in the series starting Monday.  Houston is currently up on Seattle as I write this, but that just means the Rangers won't extend the 4.5 game lead they came into today with.  Things seem a bit more under control now...