One could forgive Colby Lewis yesterday if he was seething inside before taking the miund against the Oakland A’s. After all, Lewis was facing the A’s for the 5th time, the 4th in which the opposing pitcher was Trevor Cahill. Against Cahill, Colby was 0-3. Now, the day after winning a pennant, Lewis was facing Cahill with a line-up consisting largely of the scrubs. Nowhere was Michael Young to be found. Or Vlad Guerrero. Or Nelson Cruz. Or Ian Kinsler. Or Elvis Andrus. Not even Bengie Molina was there, for pete’s sake.
In their places were Jorge Cantu, Chris Davis, Jeff Francoeur, Esteban German, Andres Blanco and Taylor Teagarden to go with semi-regulars Mitch Moreland, David Murphy and Julio Borbon.
So what did this ragtag bunch of Rangers do? They pummeled Cahill, scoring 7 runs in the first four innings and allowing Lewis to cruise home with the victory, once again proving that statistics aren’t always reliable when looked at on a game by game basis.
Everything about this game going in pointed towards a Rangers loss. Cahill for the A’s, second stringers for the Rangers and the lack of focus that could be attributed to Saturday’s pennant-clinching celebration. But that’s not what happened.
Instead, we had a Rangers line-up all trying to prove why they belong on the post-season roster to face the Rays or the Yankees.
There was Mitch Moreland with two home runs and 5 RBI, Jeff Francoeur getting four hits and four RBI, Jorge Cantu getting another three hits. Even Esteban German, who had only gotten pinch-running duties before now, chipped in with three runs, two hits and an RBI.
Now comes the REALLY WEIRD PART. This is one of those baseball mysteries that will probably go unsolved, but I can’t help but feel there was a reason for it. Going into the bottom of the 8th, the Rangers held a 9-1 lead. That’s easy to explain. Cahill didn’t have it for Oakland and Lewis did for Texas. Matt Harrison came in and pitched the bottom of the 8th. By the time the 8th was over, the A’s had scored six times and Texas had used three pitchers. Suddenly it was 9-7.
But wait, there’s more! In the top of the 9th, the Rangers proceeded to score seven times against two Oakland pitchers to go back up 16-7. Then the A’s managed two more runs in the bottom of the 9th before Alexi Ogando finally got the last out for the Rangers victory.
All told, there were fifteen runs scored in the last inning and a half. There was no sudden weather change in Oakland, nor had the winds shifted direction. I can only surmise that there was something different about the last batch of baseballs used in the game. If Oakland had come back and Texas didn’t score in the top of the 9th then I could brush it off as an off performance by the bullpen. But that many runs in that short a time against both pitching staffs? It had to be the balls.
One more win in the next seven games and the Rangers will once again show an improvement on their record in each year of the Ron Washington era.
Thanks to the seven run outburst in the 9th, the Rangers have now outscored their opponents in the 9th inning on the season. The last time they could make that claim? At the end of Game #2 this year. Also, thanks to the offensive fireworks Friday and Sunday, Texas has outscored their opponents in every single inning except the 13th, where it’s a 1-1 tie.
Home tonight where the Division Champion banner will be unveiled before what I hope will be a sell-out crowd. Closing out with three against the Mariners and four with the Angels. Will we see Josh Hamilton or Frank Francisco in any of those games? It’s anybody’s guess.