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Thoughts on a 2-1 Rangers loss

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ChiSox 2, Rangers 1

Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ChiSox 2, Rangers 1

  • Okay, we know that this is a rebuilding season for the Texas Rangers. Its not a season where a lot of emphasis is being put on the number of wins the team has. Expectations were low for the team coming into 2021.
  • In light of all that, should we count today’s game as a moral victory? Or no?
  • Kyle Gibson got the start for the Rangers tonight, and registered his fourth quality start in a row. That’s good, right? Now, really, I’m not sure he was as sharp as he was his last couple of times out, but given that the last couple of times out he threw 8 shutout innings with 0 walks and 4 hits and 7 innings of 2 run ball with 2 walks and 4 hits, that’s a pretty high bar that is being set.
  • The White Sox didn’t get a base runner until that Mercedes guy who has beating everyone up hit a shot off the wall in left field, but ended up getting held at first for a single. That was meaningful because Mercedes then tried to steal second, unsuccessfully. Think how different today’s game would be if he had made it to second on the ball off the wall.
  • Gibson gave up a two out single followed by a walk in the fourth, along with a single in the fifth, though Gibson needed a really nice play by Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a smoked grounder up the middle by Nick Madrigal to end the fifth inning. Still, things seemed to be going fine...until That Fateful Sixth Inning.
  • Things began with a weak, soft roller off the bat of Tim Anderson, who beat it out for an infield single. Adam Eaton lined out to Nick Solak at second base, after which Anderson then stole second base, was called safe, but on replay was called out because of that “his hand came off the base for a second” thing that everyone hates, except when their team benefits from it.
  • So it looked like everything was fine! No one on, two outs, Yoan Moncada up. Moncada singled. Jose Abreu then hit a hard one hopper that Isiah Kiner-Falefa had go between his legs. It was called a single but...it looked like an error to me. Luis Robert then walked, loading the bases, and a Kyle Gibson wild pitch sent home the first run of the game, making it 1-0 Chicago.
  • Yasmani Grandal, who I thought retired but then remembered that was Yonder Alonso, whose name also starts with Y and who was also a first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds and who was also dealt to San Diego in the Mat Latos trade, a deal that also included our old friend Brad Boxberger, who I didn’t realize had been around that long, struck out to end the inning, so things could have been worse.
  • They also, of course, could have been better.
  • In any case, Gibson’s final line was 6 IP in 99 pitches, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 Ks. His ERA is now down to 2.30 on the season.
  • Following Gibson was John King, who pitched until the game was over, either because they decided to do a tandem start thing with him and Gibson or because, what the hell, he’s pitching okay and hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches, so why not leave him in there.
  • King allowed only an infield single in his first two innings of work. In the ninth, Luis Robert hit a ball to third base that Brock Holt cut off, but then didn’t throw to first on. I’m not sure if he didn’t think he had a play, or he didn’t have a good grip on the ball, or what, but what looked like a routine out ended up putting the winning run on first base with no one out. A Grandal sacrifice was followed by that Mercedes guy getting walked intentionally, and who can blame the Rangers for that. Billy Hamilton struck out, giving us hope we would get to see the new extra innings rules ghost baserunner wackiness and lots of sac bunting, but instead Nick Madrigal laced a ball to right that brought home Robert with the winning run.
  • King got saddled with the loss, which is unfortunate, because he pitched well, and didn’t really give up a well hit ball until the Madrigal double. That said, we can all agree that pitcher losses are an artifice of the 19th century, an anachronism that should go the way of inkwells and corsets that make you faint, and so we aren’t going to get hung up on that.
  • The Rangers offense only scored one run today — on a Willie Calhoun 9th inning home run, which tied the game and gave John King the opportunity to go back out in the bottom of the 9th in the first place — but they actually, you know, did some stuff. It wasn’t one of those games where afterwards you see the Rangers had four hits and you’re like, “Really? Four? Are they sure? I don’t remember that many...”. Texas didn’t push anyone across, unfortunately, other than via that Calhoun solo shot, but if we’re talking about process and development and all those things, well, they did get 11 hits, so that’s something.
  • Joey Gallo had a two hit game, which won’t end any of the carping about how he’s not hitting (despite his currently sporting a .442 OBP) because one of the hits was a ground ball single and the other hit was a flare that fell in front of the outfielder. He also had 2 Ks, which I know really grinds some folks gears. Joey is hitting .226/.442/.274 on the season now.
  • Also logging two hit games were Willie Rakes, Nate “the New Mitch Moreland, if Mitch Moreland had an 843 OPS” Lowe, and Nick Solak. Solak and Lowe each had a single and a double. Charlie Culberson had a double as well, and its always good to see extra base hits from The Culb.
  • There were no walks today, which, you know, we would like to see some walks. But there were also only 6 Ks, so if you’re one of the people who talks about the Rangers striking out too many times, well, here’s a game for your memorybook.
  • So between Kyle Gibson and John King, who do you think had the fastest pitch tonight? I’m going to guess King, but I’m going to say that their peak fastballs were within 0.2 mph of each other. (Pause to go look at Statcast). John King’s fastest pitch was a 94.4 mph sinker. Kyle Gibson’s fastest pitch was a 94.1 mph sinker. So close. Sigh.
  • Sitting here for no reason thinking about how Gary Trent (the original, not the reboot) was known as “the Shaq of the MAC.”
  • You know that Joey Gallo single that was a ground ball that I said people were still going to be mad about? It had an exit velocity of 103.7 (KVIL). His other single was 72.1 mph. Per Statcast, the 72.1 mph ball was twice as likely to go for a hit as the 103.7 mph ball, because the softly hit ball was in the air where it was likely to fall in front of outfielders, while hard hit grounder was a grounder and likely to be fielded by an infielder.
  • Nick Solak’s double was the high EV for the game for the Rangers, at 110.6 mph. He also had a 99.4 mph single. Adolis Garcia had a 102.4 mph single, a 100.8 mph flyout, and for good measure, a 99.0 mph fly out. Willie’s home run was 104.2 mph off the bat, but it wasn’t his hardest hit ball of the night — that was a 106.3 mph ground out in the second. Jose Trevino had a 105.9 mph ground out. Nate Lowe had a 103.1 mph GIDP, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a 99.7 mph single.
  • I don’t want to be swept by the Chicago White Sox. I still remember them winning ugly with Tony LaRussa. I’m bitter. Don’t let that happen, whatever Rangers end up playing tomorrow.