What did we learn in Detroit? We learned the Rangers can beat the Tigers in Detroit, finally. After 11 straight losses dating back to 2008, the Rangers not only won a game at Comerica Park, but they won the series. In addition to that, they ended their post All-Star Game road trip against Boston and Detroit, two teams that they had a combined road record of 3-19 since 2008, going 5-2. Perhaps curses, history, and trends don't matter in 2010.
- There was a very good chance that Monday's 14 inning affair could have ended up one of the more frustrating Rangers games of the season if the result had ended differently. Scott Feldman was bad in his 5 innings. Dustin Nippert was nailed in the head by ball up the middle. Moments before that happened, Ron Washington was thrown out of the game officially for arguing balls and strikes but unofficially for having the audacity to stand up for his players after John Hirschbeck decided he would glare into the Rangers dugout after the team groaned and yet another one of his terrible calls.
- It was a strange, frustrating game that the Rangers pulled out and that was significant because had they lost, the "The Rangers can't win in Detroit and this weird game is even more proof" calls would have come flooding in from all corners of Rangers fandom and media. Sort of as the opposite of what Adam Morris said Lone Star Ball about the game the Rangers lost in Boston where they were one out away from winning in the 9th, only to lose in extra innings after the Red Sox tied it, if the Rangers go on to win the AL West, the 14 inning massacre of the demon's in Detroit is one of those games we'll remember.
- One of those demons was John Hirschbeck. He was ridiculous all night. His strike zone was a moving target for both team and he dared the players to let on that they noticed so he could ring them up. He's a disgrace.
- Another reason the 14 inning game was so maddening was the fact that the team was scoring runs early almost at will. They had five runs by the end of the 3rd but couldn't score again until the 7th. They then went another seven innings before finally breaking through with Nelson Cruz's two-run home run in the 14th. The Offense, when it goes cold, is frozen.
- Speaking of Nellie, that was his highlight game. He was 3 for 6 with a walk, the game winning home run, 4 RBI overall, and a huge, huge deke on Johnny Damon who was in scoring position at second base in the 11th but could only make it to third base on a lazy single to right-center off the bat of Brennan Boesch. Nellie put his glove up in the air to pretend he was running in to make the catch and that stopped Damon just enough so that he couldn't motor in for the winning run. Stuff like that never works. It certainly never works for the Rangers. And the fact that it worked in a moment where the winning run would have scored in a crazy game was amazing. Fox Sports Southwest had an excellent shot from the third base side in the stands of all of the fans on their feet as the ball is heading toward the outfield and as the ball drops, the fan's arms go up, they're jumping up and down, and almost in unison, you can see them look for Damon at home, then look to see him stuck in between second and third and their arms all go down in exasperation together at once. Beautiful.
- Of course, that play only had the bases loaded with one out. The odds were certainly in favor of the Tigers winning the game anyway. And then Matt Harrison induced a Carlos Guillen double play to breathe new life into the Rangers. That's what Matt Harrison did all night. He came in for the 10th inning to the groans of Rangers fans everywhere. He wasn't great, but in his four gutsy innings, he was good enough. Every time the Rangers would go up to bat and barely muster a hit or just go down in order, Matt Harrison would go out there and keep the Tigers off the board to give the Rangers another chance. That was perhaps the most likable Matt Harrison has been since Spring Training.
- The second and final games of the series were almost boring in comparison. As a Rangers fan, they were so for different reasons. In the middle game, the Rangers won 8-0 on perhaps the most well played game the Rangers have had in several weeks. They fielded the ball extremely well. Tommy Hunter was, as we are increasingly finding out, the usual Tommy Hunter. He's not the first starter in Rangers history to begin his season 7-0. And the offense came to life with eight runs. Even though four of those runs came in the 9th, that was one of those rare games that a Rangers win never really felt in doubt.
- As for the last game of the series, after the Rangers had clinched the series win, it was almost as though the Rangers looked complacent. I'm fairly sure that that isn't the case and instead Max Scherzer is just really good. But the Rangers just couldn't get anything going. It was almost a mirror of the previous game only with the teams reversed. Regardless, you can't be upset with five wins on this road trip. It has to go a long way to silencing some critics of the Rangers and their perceived "soft" schedule.
So what did we learn in Detroit?
Exorcisms do work.