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Matsui Walk-off Wins Series For A's

Final - 5.2.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Texas Rangers 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 8 1
Oakland Athletics 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 5 11 2
WP: Grant Balfour (2 - 1)
LP: Darren Oliver (1 - 3)

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Today's game was mostly unremarkable. The home team winning 5-4 is about as typical a game you can construct. Derek Holland was good again (four strikeouts, two walks, two earned runs, seven innings), but not remarkably so. The offense wasn't that good, but they squeaked by. There weren't any crazy good or awful games, this was just a pretty standard baseball game that happened to go 10 innings, and the Rangers lost. Rationally, you expect these games to happen all year, and you expect them to go the other way half the time, usually when you're on the road.

And yet this one was so very frustrating. Too frustrating to just shrug it off as "one of those games."

It was frustrating for ending on a walk-off home run on Darren Oliver's very first pitch of the game. It was frustrating because, in the top of the 10th with the bases loaded and two outs, the Rangers couldn't get a run. On average, a team in that situation can expect to win more than half the time, but that drops when you put in a below-average hitter. That's wht the Rangers did when Yorvit Torrealba pinch hit with Ian Kinsler available, only to strike out. Kinsler, of course, is a much better hitter than Torrealba, and an above average hitter. He has been this year, and he has been for his career, there is no reason to expect Torrelba to bring in runs more often than Kinsler in that situation. Maybe there was a good reason not to go to Kinsler, we don't know yet, but it's unbelievably frustrating to watch a huge situation (highest leveraged moment of the game, in fact; by a lot) end with a lesser player at the plate with no good excuse available at the moment.

It was frustrating because the bullpen continues to fail spectacularly. Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver each gave up home runs, Rhodes to give up the lead in the 8th and Oliver to end it in the 10th. Right now, the Rangers' bullpen has been pretty lucky to have an ERA in the middle of the American League; they have pitched more like one of the worst pens in baseball. Bullpens live in small sample sizes pitched in high leverage situations, so it is probably more aggravating than it should be. It's not yet time to just assume the Rangers bullpen is one of the worst in the game if that's not what you expected before the year began, but so far it has been painful to watch them pitch.

It was frustrating because Elvis Andrus's seventh error on the season allowed Daric Barton to reach, and eventually score, in a game where one run was obviously a difference maker. It was frustrating because the Rangers stranded nearly three out of four base runners, but then the A's stranded more than nine out of ten, so be careful what you complain about. Worst of all was a Nelson Cruz bloop that looked like a sure hit taken away by Conor Jackson that would have changed the entire complexion of the 10th.

It was frustrating because umpires continue to not call the low strike. Which is nothing new, of course, but when you look at it after a close loss it sure is enraging.

Most of all, it was frustrating because the Rangers were so close to a split in a series where that would have been just fine, and had to settle for losing three out of four in a series where that's painful. Just three games above .500, the hot start in April has nearly evaporated now, just through a series loss here and another series loss there. This game wasn't like some of the blowout losses. Individually, it's frustrating, but, other than a loss, there isn't much to panic or worry about. It's just a loss. But a really, really annoying loss.


FanGraphs Win Expectancy


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

  1. Darren Oliver 38%
  2. Arthur Rhodes 22%
  3. Yorvit Torrealba 16%

Dana DeMuth's Strikezone from Brooks Baseball


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