Rangers Score Five In Eighth, Top Indians 5-3

The Rangers return to Arlington to take on the Cleveland Indians and newly acquired Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

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Roller Coaster Series Ends In Rangers' Station


Final - 8.7.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cleveland Indians 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 5 0
Texas Rangers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 X 5 7 0
WP: Darren Oliver (4 - 5)
SV: Mike Adams (1)
LP: Joe Smith (2 - 3)

Complete Coverage >


The script seemed to be written when the eight inning began Sunday.

Colby Lewis pitched well enough to win most nights. The fastball velocity wasn't there, and he couldn't throw it past anyone, but he threw strikes and managed to get whiffs on 8 of 89 secondary pitches. With three strikeouts to one walk, he allowed three earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched in a season where quality starts from last season's break-out stud have been sadly rare.

Meanwhile, when the eighth began, the Rangers' offense had not yet reached second based, and the script seemed to be the offense completely wasting that start. On a night when the Angels had already won. Michael Young knocked his 2,000th career base hit (congratulations, MY), but the history of the moment seemed like it would be inevitably lost in an awful ending to a disappointing series.

Along came Joe Smith.

To that point, the Rangers offense had been stymied by Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who -- while you may have never heard of him before tonight -- has actually been having a solid season. In the eighth, however, Tomlin started to crack, walking Mike Napoli to open the inning, and then allowing a Mitch Moreland single. He was replaced by Smith, who allowed a single to Yorvit Torrealba, loading the bases with no outs. That single didn't score any runs, but it was still a 13% spike in the Rangers' dreadfully-low chances of winning.

Afterwards, David Murphy hit a pinch-hit single, Ian Kinsler walked, Elvis Andrus singled, and Joe Smith left the game with his team down 4-3, after coming in 3-0. Just like that, a game that seemed hopeless nearly the entire way was three outs from a Rangers victory. Josh Hamilton added an insurance run, and Mike Adams threw a perfect ninth to end it.

It was the perfect ending to a wild series. From an outside observer's standpoint, this series had to have been loads more fun than Red Sox/Yankees, with two ninth-inning comebacks, an extra inning walk-off-score-from-second-on-an-infield-single, and a dramatic eighth-inning comeback to finish things, complete with a milestone hit. From a Rangers' fan's perspective, it is disappointing that the Rangers were one Neftali Feliz meltdown from a sweep, but they still managed a series victory to help raise spirits that have likely been wavering over recent days.

This also means we can appreciate Michael Young reaching 2,000 hits without it being tarnished by a loss. 2,000 is no Hall of Fame "automatic qualifier," (nor is 3,000, right, Raffy?), and getting excited about round numbers is kind of arbitrary, but it is still pretty cool. It doesn't, either, come in a late-career limping season. Young's 134 wRC+ is just short of his career high (2005, 136), and he's doing it in his age 34 season. There was concern enough that Young could even provide above-average value from the DH position this season, let alone putting up a career year at the plate so late in life, and what he's done so far has been both valuable and pleasantly surprising. There are reasons Young has taken a lot of flack in the online circles of Rangers fans -- many of them reasonable -- but he is a Rangers' all-timer having a terrific season, and deserves to be celebrated on the night of an exciting Rangers win.

The still division-leading Rangers for at least another day.

Note: The author of this piece did not actually see any of the Rangers game, outside of Eric Nadel descriptions filling his mind's eye, thanks to MLB's ridiculous black-out policies.

GAME CHARTS

FanGraphs Win Expectancy

Wpa_medium

Biggest Contributions (What is this, I don't even. . . ?)

  1. Ian Kinsler 20%
  2. David Murphy 16%
  3. Mike Adams 8%

 

D.J. Rayburn's Strikezone from Brooks Baseball

Strikezone_medium

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Here's Some Drama For You, Rangers Fans


Final - 8.5.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
Cleveland Indians 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 11 0
Texas Rangers 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 8 12 1
WP: Neftali Feliz (1 - 2)
LP: Rafael Perez (4 - 2)

Complete Coverage >



This was a game that seemed like a sure loss at one point, but it ended up happy. This was a game that seemed destined to end on a walk-off home run at one point, but ended up far more exciting.

There was bad in Sunday night's Rangers game that is likely all but forgotten now. Derek Holland still refuses to be consistent, not even seeing the third inning before he had allowed six runs this time. His fastball was located in the heart of the zone way too often, and his curve was completely ineffective. He threw strikes, and with velocity, he just could not put them where the Indians couldn't hit them.

Still, he had a shot at getting out of the second inning with a manageable 4-1 lead when Elvis Andrus bobbled the third out on an easy ground ball he barely had to move to field. With his lack of command, Holland likely would not have done better had he been able to see the third inning, but we won't know as he never had a chance to redeem himself. He was pulled after surrendering a double, and the game looked over at 6-1. Elvis Andrus, fortunately, did get to redeem himself.

There was also an awful, awful strikezone from Jim Wolf, with a complete lack of consistency in the bottom half. The low strike only seemed to show up when it hurt. It was bad both ways, Indians fans probably have reason to be angry, but it should not be bad both ways, it should be accurate, at least consistent, and fair does not make the lack of either okay.

On the good side -- other than, you know, the Rangers winning -- was the offense pounding newly-acquired Ubaldo Jimenez and the Indians' bullpen, as well as the Texas pen. The game never should have seen extra innings, as with any kind of average-to-good luck on balls in play, the Rangers would have overcome the poor Holland start to win in regulation, anyway. Texas hit rope-after-rope directly at Cleveland leather, had well struck fly balls robbed by goods snags, and a couple of seemingly-gone fly balls fade just shy, many in key situations. It was a maddening exhibition of good hitting and bad luck.

Thankfully, the bullpen rose to the occasion and kept the game close enough for the inevitable Rangers knocks to come through. Scott Feldman pitched three and a third quality innings, with just a solo home run allowed, three strikeouts, and one walk before leaving with a blister. Yoshinori Tateyama dominated for two shutout innings, and Mark Lowe struckout two in his one inning. Mike Adams allowed two hits and a walk in his inning and a third, but little was hit hard, and you can't expect everyone to dominate. Big was Neftali Feliz efficiently working through the last inning and two thirds with movement that induced weak contact and efficient outs, throwing just eleven pitches. Though it did not come much from the new additions, it was a display Rangers fans have wished for all season: the bullpen taking over a game and giving the team offense a chance.

With one out left, though, it seemed the bad luck may have just been enough to waste the great bullpen showing, until Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate. A hard single to right brought up Michael Young as the tying run, and as it has perhaps this year better than any other in his career, Young's bat came through; this time with a dramatic two-out home run to tie it.

Prior to Hamilton's at-bat, the Rangers' probability of winning was a dismal 1.6%. At the start of the 10th inning, it was listed at 58.4%, but it felt more like 100; it was just a matter of time. The offense took the 10th inning off, but the 11th inning had Endy Chavez and the top of the order. It always seems (because those are the games we remember) that a dramatic comeback that goes to extra innings needs a walk-off home run, but the Rangers topped that with their own brand of awesome: baserunning.

The team that FanGraphs lists as the best at running the basepaths in baseball was one out from seeing the 12th when Elvis Andrus reached on a bunt hit. A wild pitch sent him to second, and then something fans of other teams never get to see happen happened when Elvis Andrus scored from second on an infield single. Thing is, for a Rangers fan who has followed this team closely since last season, that is not so unbelievable. Josh Hamilton dribbled a ball to the middle of the infield, beat the throw while sliding to first, and Andrus took advantage of the moment to go home and end the game. As crazy as it is, we've seen this before, and we know the Rangers do magic on the basepaths. Few Rangers fans probably doubted Hamilton could beat the throw, and few were probably surprised Andrus was going home after. As exciting as it was, it was also Rangers baseball.

How often do you get to follow a team where scoring from second on an infield single just feels like how things are done?

The Angels won a tight one over Seattle, so this was a game Texas needed. Not only to keep a lead in the division, but because wins like this make fans feel good.

GAME CHARTS

FanGraphs Win Expectancy

Wpa_medium

Biggest Contributions (What is this, I don't even. . . ?)

  1. Michael Young 50%
  2. Neftali Feliz 37%
  3. Josh Hamilton 28%

Jim Fox's Strikezone from Brooks Baseball

Strikezone_medium

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