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Thoughts on a 6-3 Rangers win

Rangers 6, Nationals 3

MLB: Texas Rangers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 6, Nationals 3

  • The Rangers took the first two games on the road against arguably the best team in the National League. That's pretty good.
  • Also, games that start in the morning, like this one did, are less than ideal.
  • Martin Perez started the game off well for Texas, had some bad luck with balls in play in the fifth that resulted in bases loaded, none out, but escaped, and got the opportunity to start the sixth as a result, protecting a 1-0 lead. Things didn't go as well in the sixth. Bryce Harper laced a double to right field to start off the inning, then Daniel Murphy poked a single the other way, and Perez was out, replaced by Tony Barnette with runners on the corners and no one out.
  • Barnette hasn't been sharp this season, and wasn't sharp today. Anthony Rendon hit a sac fly to tie the game, and then the next batter, Adam Lind, took advantage of a pitch Barnette left up to smoke a home run and make it 3-1. And that looked, for most of the game, like that would be enough.
  • The bullpen kept things under control, though. Jeremy Jeffress pitched a scoreless seventh, Jose Leclerc pitched a scoreless eighth, and then the Rangers tied it in the ninth. Bottom of the ninth, no one out, Stephen Drew doubled off Leclerc, prompting Jeff Banister to go get Alex Claudio. A ground out by Matt Wieters put pinch runner Wilmer Difo at third, with Brian Goodwin up, in position to win the game with a medium deep fly ball. After a lengthy at bat, Claudio struck out Goodwin, bringing up Trea Turner. Turner laid down a nice safety squeeze bunt, but Difo got a mediocre secondary lead, broke home, then hesitated, allowing Claudio to run at him and catch him in a rundown, ending the threat.
  • Keone Kela, on the heels of getting pulled in the 9th last night, pitched a scoreless tenth, then, given a lead in the eleventh, struck out the side in the bottom of the inning for the win. Just a terrific performance by a beleaguered unit to help the Rangers pull out the victory.
  • A victory, it should be noted, that was looking pretty unlikely, and looking like it would be blamed on quiet bats, when Texas came up to bat in the ninth, trailing 3-1. Facing Koda Glover, Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a home run, making it a 3-2 game. Elvis Andrus then laced a single to left field and stole second base, which was followed up with an Adrian Beltre walk. Despite Beltre stealing a base earlier in the game, Jeff Banister decided a guy in his late 30s nursing a sprained ankle wasn't the best baserunning option, and so lifted Beltre for pinch runner Pete Kozma. Nomar Mazara then ripped a ball that looked at first like it would be a home run, but ended up being a double off the right field wall, putting runners at second and third with none out.
  • Ah, then, the weird play that seemed like it would doom the Rangers. Robinson Chirinos lifted a fly ball to right field, which Bryce Harper caught, quickly firing a bullet home. Kozma slid in and was called safe on a play that was surprisingly close — it didn't seem like Harper had a chance of getting him, but the throw was so strong and on line it made it close. Alas, the Nats challenged the play, and Kozmak in sliding in, planted his foot just in front of the plate, and then his spikes caught, slowing him as he slid into home, giving Wieters a chance to tag him out. Instead of a 4-3 lead with one out, it was 3-3 with two outs, and when Rougned Odor fanned to end the inning, it seemed the chances of winning had slid away.
  • But Claudio escaped the jam in the ninth, and the Rangers rallied in the eleventh. Joey Gallo was the last position player on the bench when he was asked to hit for Kozma with two outs. Banister, mystifyingly, had used Jared Hoying and Jurickson Profar as pinch hitters earlier in the game, rather than Gallo, and left Gallo on the bench in favor of Kozma when it came time to pinch run for Beltre. Gallo, when finally put into the game, promptly doubled, causing the Nats to walk Mazara intentionally, bringing up Chirinos. Robinson got down 0-2, but battled back, and ended up launching a shot for a three run home run, making himself a hero and giving the Rangers the win.
  • There was much rejoicing, even though Joey should have been used earlier in the game.
  • The bats didnt do much before the ninth, and registered just nine hits all game — two of those being by Elvis Andrus, two by Delino DeShields. Ryan Rua had a particularly rough game, fanning twice against lefty Gio Gonzalez and having some defensive misadventures, and was replaced by Jurickson Profar mid-game, who also went 0 for 2, and is now 1 for his last 25 in the majors.
  • Adrian Beltre, on the other hand, in his return to the lineup, was 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. He's amazing.
  • Texas goes for the sweep tomorrow, with Austin Bibens-Dirkx going up against Max Scherzer. That's not the best pitching matchup for Texas, but hey, winning the first two, we are playing with house money now, right?