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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)

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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.


FanGraphs Win Expectancy


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



Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.