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Thoughts on a 9-6 Rangers win

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Rangers 9, Pirates 6

MLB: Texas Rangers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 9, Pirates 6

  • That was unexpected.
  • Hunter Pence, man. I apologize to all of you I scoffed at back in February when I said he probably wouldn’t even make the team.
  • Shelby Miller started today and pitched quite well, other than one unfortunate at bat involving Josh Bell. He also had another abbreviated outing, throwing 73 pitches over 4 innings, allowing 4 hits (half of them to Bell), 1 walk, and 2 runs, striking out 6. He was lifted as part of a double switch in the bottom of the fifth, with Logan Forsythe replacing Asdrubal Cabrera at third base, so it wasn’t a matter of him being lifted because he was pinch hit for.
  • Still, generally a quality outing. Bell had his number, though, doubling off of him to lead off the second, and then hitting a two run homer in the fourth that went 472 feet, per Statcast — the second longest homer in PNC Park history. Those were the hardest and fourth hardest balls hit in today’s game.
  • Brett Martin and Kyle Dowdy were asked to keep things under control in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, and neither did that. Martin allowed two runs on three singles — one a bloop, the other two of the hard hit variety — while Dowdy gave up run on a stolen base that turned into to bases advanced on Jeff Mathis and Joey Gallo throwing errors, and then a Colin Moran home run.
  • Jesse Chavez pitched a scoreless inning in what appeared to be a lost cause in the 7th, and then Ariel Jurado pitched a scoreless inning in a suddenly tied game in the 8th. Jurado has now allowed 2 hits, along with 0 unintentional walks, in 6 scoreless innings out of the pen thus far this year. It’s too early to jump to any conclusions, but Jurado has looked much better out of the pen this year than I ever would have suspected.
  • Thus, after the heroics in the top of the 9th, Chris Martin came in and got a 13 pitch save. This seems to suggest Martin will be the closer for the time being, allowing Shawn Kelley to continue to be used in a wider variety of roles while Jose Leclerc gets things straightened out. I’m good with that.
  • Offense. The Rangers loaded the bases out the first on an Elvis Andrus single and walks to Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. After Asdrubal Cabrera popped up, Rougned Odor worked the count full before, on the 7th pitch of the at bat, flying out to center field. I noted on Twitter that, from a process standpoint, being patient, getting to a full count, and hitting the ball hard (96.0 EV on the fly out) was good, and while the end result wasn’t good, that at bat at least was a positive sign. (This is called foreshadowing).
  • Joey Gallo gave Texas a 2-0 lead in the third when, after an Elvis double, he hit a 443 foot blast into the Allegheny River for his 100th career major league home run. Gallo did that on a 1-2 count, only the 8th time in his career he has homered on a 1-2 count.
  • The bats stalled out after that for a while. Other than the fifth, which had a pair of singles by Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis, followed by a GIDP from Mazara, then a Gallo IBB and Gallo stolen base just to keep things interesting before a Cabrera fly out, the Rangers didn’t do much again until the eighth.
  • So the 8th. Michael Feliz was pitching, and ended up loading the bases on walks while recording a pair of outs, with Jeff Mathis due up. Hunter Pence, who was responsible for all four Ranger runs yesterday, pinch hit for Mathis. With Texas down 6-2, Pence represented the tying run...but surely, Pence wasn’t going to hit a grand slam. Right?
  • Pence hit a grand slam. He tied up the game, giving the Rangers new life and setting the stage for the team to win it in the 9th inning. He is now hitting .344/.411/.656. I have no real ability to understand what is happening here. I will simply enjoy it.
  • Anyway, come the 9th, Nomar had a one out single, and after a Gallo K, Isiah Kiner-Falefe doubled him home for a one run lead. Then Odor (remember the foreshadowing?) smashed a ball high and over the plate into the right field bleachers, giving Texas a 9-6 lead that would end up being the final score.
  • So Texas is back at .500 for the year. Texas splits the series and avoids being winless on the year against Pittsburgh. And we are done with N.L. baseball for a while.