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Thoughts on a 2-1 Rangers win

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Rangers 2, Royals 1

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Rangers 2, Royals 1

  • That felt like a game from early in the year, when the rotation was surprisingly good, the offense was kind of sputtering, and the bullpen seemed to be hit and miss.
  • A.J. Griffin went 5 innings, and had an A.J. Griffin outing...he allowed just one run, on a home run, but seemed to be dealing with baserunners regularly, and of course, couldn't go past five innings.  Kansas City had a lot of long at bats against him, it seemed -- he needed 89 pitches to get through 20 batters -- and on a hot day, still working his way back from his injury issues, Banister thought 5 innings was enough and went to the pen.
  • The one scary moment for Griffin was in the bottom of the second, when he walked Kendrys Morales to start the inning, then had Alex Gordon double into the corner.  Morales is incredibly slow, so he had to stop at third, but it looked like the Royals were poised to get on the board early.  Paolo Orlando struck out, and then Whit Merrifield hit a chopper to shortstop.  Elvis Andrus and the rest of the infield were playing deep, but Morales didn't get a good break, and so Elvis was able to gun him out easily at home.  Drew Butera then popped out to end the inning, and the threat.
  • Alex Claudio was actually used in a key situation in the 6th, in a 1-1 game with Eric Hosmer, Morales, and Gordon due up.  The L-S-L alignment meant going with Claudio (or Jake Diekman) made sense, but I was thinking that Banister wouldn't trust Claudio in that situation.  But he let Claudio pitch, and despite a one out double allowed to Morales, Claudio escaped the inning without a run coming across -- a pretty huge moment in the game.
  • Keone Kela and Jake Diekman pitched the 7th and 8th, with no one reaching on either of them, setting up Sam Dyson pitching the ninth with what was, at that point, a 2-1 lead.  There had to be drama, though, of course...Morales singled to lead off the inning, and after a fly out and a fielder's choice Dyson made more exciting than it should have been, Salvador Perez came up with two outs as the winning run.  An HBP was called back when a replay revealed Perez's bat, not Perez, was hit, but he singled on the next pitch to put the tying run at second and the winning run at first.  Pinch hitter Cristian Colon was retired, however, preserving the win and letting everyone go home happy.
  • Morales was 3 for 3 with a walk, but every other Royal combined for 4 hits and a walk...overall, the pitching kept the Royals bats in check, both in terms of runs and in terms of baserunners.  The Rangers, on the other hand, had a ton of opportunities that they couldn't cash in on, making this game even more nerve-wracking due to the "are we going to blow these chances then give the game away at the end?" factor.
  • The first run came in the top of the sixth, although not without a sequence that had you alarmed they were blowing another golden opportunity.  Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the inning, and Rougned Odor hit a ball towards the center field side of the right-center field gap.  Beltre made it to third easily, and Odor opted to try for second...a questionable risk, I thought, given there were none out, and a risk that didn't pay off when Odor was thrown out (though Banny opted for a replay challenge, it was unsuccessful).  Elvis Andrus then grounded out, with Beltre being unable to get home, and with Mitch Moreland up, it looked like it would be yet another chance slipping through the Rangers' fingers.  But Moreland singled, tying up the game, so we were happy.  And then Delino DeShields homered to lead off the 7th to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead, and that was all Texas needed.
  • However...there were blown chances galore, many of which were due in part to decisions to bunt.  In the second, Elvis tried to bunt for a hit with one on and one out, and was thrown out, though credited with a sacrifice.  A Moreland walk had two on and two out, but Robinson Chirinos flew out to end the inning.
  • In the third, a DeShields single, a stolen base, and a Nomar Mazara singled put runners on first and third, one out, but an Ian Desmond GIDP ended the inning.  In the fourth, an Odor walk/Elvis single combination put runners on first and second with one out, but Texas couldn't score.  In the fifth, DeShields doubled to start the inning, was bunted over to third by Jurickson Profar (why?  I don't know, either), and then stayed at third when Ian Desmond grounded to second with the infield in.  With a ground ball pitcher up, it seems like if you are going to bunt the runner to third, you're going to put the contact play on and have him break as soon as the batter hits the ball, in order to score even with the infield in -- especially when you have a runner as fast as DeShields.  But he didn't break, and thus couldn't score, and was stranded at third.  Even in the eighth, the Rangers got two runners on, had Elvis bunt them over, then saw Moreland and Chirinos fan.
  • Regardless, even with the missed opportunities, the Rangers won, maintained a 2.5 game lead over the Astros, and head home Monday up in the West.  And the Rangers won a series for the first time in almost a month, so that's good.
  • Yay team!