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Thoughts on a 1-0 Rangers win

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Rangers 1, Orioles 0

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 1, Orioles 0

  • Neither the Rangers nor the Orioles are the worst team in baseball right now, at least by record. That would be the Colorado Rockies. Neither are they the worst team by record in the American League — that would be the New York Yankees. However, I think the consensus coming into the season was that the Rangers and Orioles were among the teams on the bottom tier in MLB — we can quibble about the number, but most people would have said that they are both in the bottom N teams in MLB, with N being a single digit number.
  • Nonetheless, the Rangers and Orioles combined for a weird, remarkable, entertaining, and really good game today, and if you missed it because you aren’t going to waste your time watching a bad Rangers team play a bad Orioles team, it’s your loss.
  • First things first...Kyle Gibson was pretty remarkable today. He needed just 97 pitches to give the Rangers 8 shutout innings. He also threw six different pitches today, per Statcast. And not only did he throw six different pitches, he threw each of them at least eight times. That’s weird, wild stuff.
  • Gibson struck out 6 and allowed just 4 hits in his eight innings of work. At one point he retired 18 out of 19 batters.
  • Gibson now has a 2.53 ERA on the season, despite giving up 5 runs in 0.1 IP on Opening Day. He’s off to a very nice start to the year.
  • With Gibson just at 97 pitches through 8, I thought that he might be allowed to go back out for the ninth, with the score 0-0. Chris Woodward went with Ian Kennedy instead, however, and Kennedy struck out the side. Texas didn’t score in the ninth inning either, however, so it was on to the tenth, and the wacky “start the inning with a runner on second” rule.
  • John King came in to pitch the tenth, with Mikael Franco on second base and Ryan Mountcastle and his romance novel ass name batting. Mountcastle smoked a 1-1 fastball to left center field, and I resigned myself to a lead off double and the Rangers having to score at least one run in the bottom of the inning in order not to lose.
  • But! Willie Calhoun, out in left field after pinch hitting for Leody Taveras in the ninth, laid out and made an awe-inspiring diving catch. When he hit the ground I thought, well, surely the ball would pop out, but Willie held onto it. Franco was able to tag up and move to third, but Calhoun — not known for his defense, and just off the injured listed — saved a run.
  • It seemed to be at least partially moot a batter later when Trey Mancini hit a flare to right field. Adolis Garcia, in right because Joey Gallo got the day off, came in but had to play it in a hop, but then rifled a throw home. Seeing the throw I figured, well, he’s going to score but what the hell, maybe he will stumble or something. But Franco had apparently been tagging, and the throw was up the third base line just enough for Jose Trevino to catch it on a hop, and then turn and tag Franco, who barreled into him as he was heading home. Trevino absorbed the shot, held onto the ball, and Franco was out at home trying to score from third on a clean single.
  • Brandon Hyde, the Orioles manager, came out to argue that Trevino impeded Franco’s path to the plate and just Franco should be called safe. The broadcast noted, however, that the throw took Trevino into Franco’s path, and he’s allowed to do that to make a play on the ball. In any case, the umpires huddled, then said Franco was still out.
  • Franco probably should have gone farther down the line from third — the ball was shallow enough that he probably doesn’t get sent if the ball is caught, even though that would have been the second out, and trying to score from third with two outs is a move you make more often than with one out. Adolis Garcia has shortcomings in his game, but his arm isn’t one of them.
  • King struck out Freddy Galvis to end the inning, and then got credit for the win when Texas scored in the bottom of the tenth.
  • The fact that this was a 0-0 game through nine gives you a hint as to how the offense for the Rangers was today. Through four innings the only Ranger who had reached base was Nick Solak, who singled in the first and reached on an error in the fourth. Jose Trevino smoked a double to left to lead off the fifth and went to third on a Charlie Culberson ground out. Eli White walked, bringing up Leody Taveras. Leody showed bunt for strike one, fouled off a couple of pitches around a ball taken out of the zone, then swing and missed on a pitch well outside for strike three. Isiah Kiner-Falefa then flew out, ending the inning.
  • It has not been a good start to the season for Leody.
  • Texas had two one with one out in the eighth, courtesy of a Willie Calhoun pinch hit single, an IKF sac bunt, and a Nick Solak walk. A pair of fly outs ended the inning, however, and Texas went 1-2-3 in the ninth.
  • Having miracled themselves into a position where just one run would win it with their defense in the top of the inning, the Rangers immediately went backwards in the bottom of the tenth. Charlie Culberson started the inning at second base, and Eli White tried to bunt him over to third, but there was a close play that looked like Culberson was safe due to a bad tag by Franco. The Culb was called out, though, and the replay officials confirmed the call, despite what appeared on the broadcast to be sufficient video evidence that he was safe. That meant that the Rangers had given up both an out and a base with the ill-fated sac bunt attempt.
  • Also, one of the things most annoying about the runner at second base extra innings start is that it so much encourages bunting.
  • White nonetheless ended up at second due to a wild pitch. Willie Calhoun walked. IKF — who has not been hitting well of late — struck out for the third time in the game. A wild pitch saw both runners move up, and Nick Solak walked, bringing up Nate Lowe, who was hitless in the game, and mired in a recent slump? Lowe laced a single the opposite way, the Rangers won, and everyone was happy.
  • Joey Gallo not ever pinch hitting today, despite opportunities in the 8th and 9th, makes me wonder if he wasn’t available today. I thought he might hit instead of Garcia in the 8th — there was a lefty on the mound, but still, even against a lefty, I’d go with Gallo over Garcia in that situation. I was also surprised he didn’t hit for Culberson in the 9th. Strategically speaking, even if you think they’d just walk Gallo and pitch to Eli White, that would mean White would be at second to start the tenth if White was retired after Gallo, and having White on second and Calhoun up seems preferable to having Culberson on second with White up.
  • The ten fastest Ranger pitches today were all from Ian Kennedy, ranging from 94.6 to 96.0. Kyle Gibson hit 94.3 multiple times today, and John King topped out at 94.0.
  • Nate Lowe’s game winning single was 105.4 off the bat, and he also had a 100 mph exit velocity ground out. Willie Calhoun’s pinch hit single was 110.6. Nick Solak’s single was 108.3, and his reached on E5 was 99.5. Jose Trevino’s double was 104.2, and Leody Taveras had a 101.3 lineout.
  • That was a good game. We saw some cool things, and the Rangers won and didn’t get swept. Texas now goes to SoCal, and we will have some West Coast start times next week.