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Thoughts on a 9-7 Rangers win

Rangers 9, Twins 7

Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Rangers 9, Twins 7

  • That was a wild and wooly one, wasn’t it?
  • Martin Perez, possibly the Rangers’ lone All Star representative at the All Star Game in ten days, managed to cram his worst start of the season into one bad inning today.
  • It was a really bad inning, though.
  • Perez had cruised through the first three innings of the game, facing one over the minimum, courtesy of an infield single to lead off the second.
  • Things went haywire in the fourth inning for Perez, though, as Perez’s command deserted him and he started leaving his pitches up in the strike zone.
  • Perez ended up allowing a pair of doubles, a pair of home runs, and a single in the inning, while also issuing a walk and hitting a batter. He was getting crushed, needed 36 pitches to get out of the inning, and when it was all said and done, Perez had allowed six runs, turning a 3-0 Rangers lead into a 6-3 Ranger deficit.
  • It ended up being okay, ultimately. The Rangers scored four in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead back, Perez had a 1-2-3 shutout inning in the fifth, and worked around a Gio Urshela leadoff double in the sixth to put up another zero in his final inning of work. Take away the fourth inning and Perez retired fifteen of seventeen batters, which is impressive.
  • But you can’t take away the bad inning. I’m not sure what led to the sudden departure of the excellent command that has driven Perez’s exceptional first half of the season. That one baserunner allowed in the first three innings, the infield single, was a comebacker to lead off the second inning that hit him in the leg and caromed off, and I guess maybe that could have impacted him, but one would think that if it were to impact him, the impact would have happened right away, rather than two innings later.
  • Perez, incidentally, threw more changeups (44) than sinkers (35), and generated 11 of his 12 swings and misses on his changeup.
  • Jose Leclerc was brought in to protect a one run lead in the seventh. And against the top of the Twins’ order, no less. There’s not been much indication that Chris Woodward has a whole ton of faith in the reliability of Leclerc, recently off the injured list after Tommy John surgery, since he has been activated.
  • But Leclerc handled his business. He walked Byron Buxton to start the inning, but then got Carlos Correa to hit into a double play. Alex Kiriloff skied a fly ball to right field to end the inning. Leclerc had a couple of pitches nowhere close to the strike zone, but otherwise was close to the zone without leaving clobberable pitches to be clobbered.
  • A back-to-form Jose Leclerc would be a very good thing.
  • Dennis Santana, who has been nails most of this season, then had to try to mess things up. Asked to protect the one run lead in the eighth, he fanned Jorge Polanco before giving up a couple of hard hit singles. After walking Gary Sanchez, he got a tailor-made double play ball back up the middle.
  • However. Santana reached for the ball and, instead of being able to field it, deflected it. The deflection slowed the ball and changed its direction, and when Marcus Semien was able to field it, there was no longer a double play opportunity, and Semien could just get the one out at first base. Tie game, runners on second and third.
  • On the broadcast, it was mentioned that Chris Woodward has emphasized to his pitchers that on those balls back up the middle in that situation, they shouldn’t be trying to make a play on the ball — given the positioning of the infielders, either Corey Seager or Marcus Semien will be in position to make the play, and will be better able to turn a double play.
  • The concern is that if the pitcher makes a play on it, what would happen is what we saw today — a deflection, something other than a clean play, and an opportunity lost.
  • Woodward immediately pulled Santana, bringing in Matt Moore to get out of the jam. Moore needed one pitch to generate a 4-3 to end the inning, but the game was tied, and we were all worried.
  • Spoiler alert — there was no need to be worried. The Rangers scored two in the bottom of the eighth to re-take the lead.
  • For the second consecutive night, Brett Martin was brought in to pitch the ninth with the Rangers nursing a slim lead. For the second consecutive night, Brett Martin picked up the save. Brett Martin, Proven Closer?
  • The Rangers put up crooked numbers in three innings to score their runs. Kole Calhoun hit a three run bomb in the second, Marcus Semien hit a game-tying three run shot in the fourth, Corey Seager followed Semien up with a go-ahead solo homer in the fourth, and then the winning and insurance runs scored in the eighth via something other than a home run, which was weird.
  • Leody Taveras led off the 8th with a hard hit opposite field single on an 0-2 101 mph fastball. Josh Smith bunted Leody over to second. Marcus Semien, with one out and a runner at second, saw four straight breaking balls, taking one for a ball, one for a strike, fouling one off, and then lacing the final one into left field for what should have been an RBI single.
  • I say should have been, because it wasn’t a single, but a triple. Nick Gordon came in hard on the ball, made this sort-of-dive forward that had no chance to result in him catching the ball and seems to have been tried to be shifted mid-dive into an attempt to just block the ball once it bounced off the ground, and ultimately whiffed altogether, allowing the ball to bounce to the wall.
  • That meant Leody scored and Semien went to third base, where he was able to score on a Mitch Garver bloop single, making it 9-7.
  • It is worth noting that, had Gordon played the ball in left field properly, Semien would have had a single, and wouldn’t have scored in the inning. That would have made it an 8-7 game, rather than a 9-7 game. The Rangers could have improved their abysmal record in one run games, as a result.
  • But instead, due to a bad decision in left field by the Twins, the Rangers won by two runs, rather than one runs. And thus the one run record remains just as bad as it was yesterday, allowing us to read whatever negative inferences we choose to read as a result.
  • Charlie Culberson had two hits, incidentally. And to think, some of you wanted him cut.
  • Martin Perez maxed out at 94.2 mph with his sinker, and averaged 92.6 mph. Jose Clerc touched 97.8 mph with his four seamer. Dennis Santana reached 97.4 mph with his sinker. Matt Moore threw just one pitch, an 83.8 mph knuckle-curve. Brett Martin got up to 94.7 mph with his fastball.
  • Corey Seager had a 109.1 mph single that was the hardest hit ball of the game, as well as homering at 102.8 mph, and having a lineout with a 99.5 mph exit velocity. Jonah Heim had a 105.9 mph single. Mitch Garver had a 104.8 mph lineout. Marcus Semien’s home run was 104.6 mph. Leody Taveras’s eighth inning single had a 102.5 mph exit velocity.
  • Go team go. Get that sweep on Sunday.