Tagged: Giants

A Historical First

The Rangers did something Friday night they had never done before. They won a game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

For eleven consecutive games, including two in the 2010 World Series, Texas had enjoyed zero success in the land of McCovey Cove. In particular, the bullpen stunk it up in the two World Series games that preceded this one. Matt Harrison made sure the bullpen wouldn’t be needed on this night.

Harrison was superb, tossing a five hit complete game shutout at the Giants. It was the third complete game for the Rangers this year, but the first in a winning effort. It was also Harrison’s fourth career complete, third career shutout, fourth consecutive win and eighth win of the year, tops in the AL.

I would love to say this was a rematch of the ’10 World Series, but I have a hard time saying such things. Until Aubrey Huff came to bat in a pinch-hitting assignment, Nate Schierholtz was the only batter Harrison faced who was on the Giants roster for the World Series two years ago. Even his counterpart, veteran Barry Zito, was left off the World Series roster. About the only other batter Harrison faced who he had known in 2010 was Joaquin Arias, who was on the Rangers roster until being traded to the Mets for Jeff Francoeur in August and thus has his own AL Championship ring like Harry.

Ian Kinsler gave the Rangers all they needed with a home run to left leading off the game, the 23rd time he’s led off the first with a tater. Josh Hamilton also broke a slump with a solo home run. The real offensive star, though, was Craig Gentry. The platoon outfield raised his average 40 points with a 5 for 5 night at the plate. Gentry is now up to .341 with an OBP over .400. Harrison, too, had a major statistical benefit from his shutout, lowering his ERA by half a run, from 4.37 going in to 3.87 coming out. Take away the two horrid starts in a row Harrison had April 27th and May 2nd and he would be 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA. Harry has arguably been the Rangers most consistent starter in 2012.

Most importantly, he saved the bullpen for a night. Scott Feldman goes for the Rangers tonight. Since replacing Neftali Feliz in the Rangers rotation, Feldman has only gone 10.2 innings total in three starts, only 1.2 innings in his last start. Sunday’s starter, Alexi Ogando, has been in the bullpen all year and hasn’t been asked to go more than two innings all season. The bullpen will definitely be needed the next two games, so the day of rest Harrison gave them last night is a real boost for them.

Now that the AT&T Park monkey is off the Rangers’ backs, not to mention the 14 hits that broke them out of their offensive malaise, maybe we’ll start seeing a string of “real” Texas Rangers baseball.

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Worst To First: Rangers 4, Cardinals 0

Saturday night, the Rangers had their worst pitching performance in their brief World Series history. Sunday night, they had their best.

Derek Holland came within two outs of becoming the first AL pitcher in 20 years to pitch a World Series shutout, tossing 8 1/3 innings of 2-hit ball in totally shutting down the same Cardinals attack that scored 16 runs just the night before, tying the Series up at two games apiece.

For awhile, I was afraid this was going to be a game in which the Rangers missed opportunities were going to haunt them. Texas had baserunners against Edwin Jackson every inning of the game, but through six innings, they had just a single first inning run to show for it on an Elvis Andrus single and Josh Hamilton double. Jackson wasn’t fooling many hitters. The Rangers sent countless balls deep into the outfield, but none of them had quite enough carry to make any difference. Jackson was even working his way around five walks through the first six innings.

The dam finally broke in the 7th, when Jackson walked his sixth and seventh batters of the night, finally forcing a pitching change. Mike Napoli proceeded to deposit Mitchell Boggs’ first pitch over the left field wall, in what looked like a home run that was a few feet higher than Albert Pujols’ second home run of the night Saturday night, making it 4-0.

Holland and Neftali Feliz did the rest.

It was easily the best pitching performance in the Rangers brief nine games worth of World Series history. Dutch allowed only two hits to Lance Berkman, walked two, struck out seven and was throwing harder in the 8th and 9th innings than he was in the first and second.

There were omens for me before the game even started. One year ago, on Halloween night, I attended Game 4 of the Series against the Giants. The Cowboys lost earlier in the day and so did the Rangers. In fact, they were shut out 4-0. A year later, the Cowboys won their home game in the afternoon (against St. Louis, no less). Good omen #1.

Good omen #2 was my first-born, 18-year-Ranger-Fan, who was in the stands for this one. The term stands is literal. He had a standing room only ticket. He plans to write a post for this space tomorrow. 18-Year has been to more Rangers games than I this year and he entered tonight’s game having witnessed six consecutive Rangers wins in his trips to the ballpark, the most recent with me at the next to last home game of the regular season. He now has a seven game winning streak. Could someone please get him a ticket for Monday night’s game???

This has been one outstanding World Series. The narrative changes after every game. Everything I heard from the time Saturday night’s game ended to the start of Sunday’s game was about the Cardinals outstanding offense and how it would be very tough for Texas to get back into the Series now that the Cards’ offense had been let out of the bottle.

Derek Holland shut the bottle back up tonight. It’s now a best of three series. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

The Show Demo Arrives

MLB: The Show ’11 arrived in Demo form on the Playstation Network last week and I finally had a chance to download it and try it out.

The Initial Bad News: It took a two day span to try it out. The thing took FOREVER to download Friday night!

The Second Bad News: I thought my controller wasn’t working right when I first tried the game out. Turned out everything was on “Total Analog” Mode (or maybe it’s “True Analog” Mode), so the controls for hitting and pitching were totally not what I was used to doing. I’d hit the swing button and the batter wouldn’t swing. At all. The pitching controls were totally different as well. Before discovering what was going on, I think I threw about 60 pitches, of which maybe three were strikes. Fielders fielded the ball but wouldn’t throw it. You get the picture.

The First Good News: The Demo has the Rangers in it- facing the Giants, of course, in a World Series rematch (FYI the default is CJ Wilson vs. Tim Lincecum).

The Second Good News: It is not bad in the “Up To Date” category. The Rangers team already had Yorvit Torrealba, Adrien Beltre and Brandon Webb on the roster. The Mike Napoli trade happened after the game was put to bed, so we have Chris Davis instead of Napoli. I didn’t check, but I assume that means it also has Frank Francisco pitching for Texas as well.

The Weird News: Since the Demo Game is being played in San Francisco, there is no DH. That means, in the Default Mode, Michael Young is NOT a part of the line-up. He is, after all, now the DH. You have to manually put him in the line-up. It seems very strange to play any game as the Rangers and not see Young in the line-up. I should get used to it now. I think that will be permanently true in 2012 (if not this year).

So it took awhile, but I finally figured out a few things. First, you can switch in the demo from playing as the Giants to playing as the Rangers. Second, you can go to Game Controls and set everything back to Classic Mode on your controller, which is the way I’m used to playing. It is a little time consuming to do it, but since it’s just a demo designed to get you to buy the game when it comes out, I can live with it.

As always, the overall graphics are wonderful. The Giants stadium looks very realistic and the crowds look less like the same people layered 50 times in the stands. While the players aren’t bad, I still am surprised the faces aren’t as realistic as I thought the technology allowed. Maybe I’m too picky.

I only played a couple of games but saw one new thing in terms of events on the field. I had an at bat where Josh Hamilton fouled a ball at the plate. It bounced into his leg and Ham-Bone went down wincing. Nice subtle feature.

Didn’t check out all the controls, but it seems now you can use all four control buttons in hitting mode. The triangle is now for bunts, while the circle button is now for a “Contact” swing. I gues that’s for trying to stay alive at the plate when you’ve got two strikes. The X button is still normal swing and the square is power swing.

You can still predict the pitch and locationas a batter. Now they’ve added colored hot and cold zones for your batter to better gauge what pitches are good for you to swing at. Pitchers now have as many as three different pick-off moves. I couldn’t get it to work when I played, but I think that’s because I had “Balk” mode turned off. Yes, this year’s edition can have balks called if you so desire. Your pitchers can now take eight warm-up tosses before the inning as well, so you can get an initial feeling on how their control is.

I know there are more new features than I’ve even discovered but, like the great game itself, I like to play (or watch) but don’t feel the need to dig as deep as I can go. I know enough that I plan to get this year’s edition and retire my ’09 version.

 

And In The End: Giants 3, Rangers 1

And in the end,

The love you take

Is equal to the love you make.

-The Beatles

 

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, World Series Champions of 2010.

If there’s one thing that I can continue to be happy about for the rest of my life, it is that the deciding game of the World Series occured at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers for going further in 2010 than any of us expected. A division title? We thought it was within reach. The World Series? Don’t think it was on the radar for most of us.

I’ve shared my love of the Rangers all season long. They returned that love to me in spades!

More later after I decompress.

Dreams Do Come True: Giants 4, Rangers 0

I hate the result of Sunday’s Game 4. Hate it, hate it, hate it!

Still, the dream came true on Sunday, October 31st, 2010. After 40 years of fandom, I saw my team, the Texas Rangers, in person playing in the World Series!

Whether the Rangers come back and win the last three games to win it all or they’re eliminated Monday night, my bucket list now has one less item on it.

The whole experience was great! We arrived at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington a full five hours before game time. Shopping for World Series mementos among a throng of several hundred in astore designed probably for only 100 or so was difficult but oh so fun. It was tough finding items in “Large” but we perservered nonetheless.

Observing dejected Cowboys fans heading for their cars while we anxiously awaited the gates to open at 4 PM. Visiting the Rangers Hall of Fame for the first time. Seeing people in Halloween costumes interspersed with kids with painted “T’s” on their faces and grown men with red and blue beards- all a sight to behold!

Our seats high on the right center field Home Run Porch- actually a pretty good vantage point to see the game. And the game itself- not the result I wanted, obviously, but it was good to see that, even in defeat, most Rangers fans stayed until the last out, hoping against hope for a better result in the end.

I’m sure the talking heads will be going at it today on the following topics: 1) Pitching Tommy Hunter in Game 4 and 2) The Rangers relief pitching. Hunter, indeed, struggled mightily, expending over 80 pitches in just four innings of work. Still, his only blemish was the 2-run home run to Aubrey Huff. And the Rangers relief corps indeed gave up two runs, albeit it in five innings of work.

For the naysayers who said the Rangers should have gone with Cliff Lee on 3 days rest instead of Hunter (and there were many- most of the national media as well as a substantial number of Rangers fans), I say this. The way Madison Bumgarner pitched, it wouldn’t have mattered who the Rangers had pitching. Bumgarner was that good.

Three hits for Texas. Three measly hits for the team of Hamilton, Guerrero, Cruz, Young and Kinsler. A pitcher is really doing his job when they can hold this team to just three hits and only one time allowing a runner past first base.

At one point, I told Mrs. Mariner Fan-Ranger Fan that I was a jinx on my own team. The Rangers have now been shut out only six times in the entire 2010 season. I have been in attendance at two of them. And I’ve only been to three games all year! She, on the other hand, literally stayed cheering to the end. When even I had lost the will to shout encouragement to my lifelong team, she was there high up in the next to the top row cheering like the game had just started!

I head home for the last time this season dejected over a loss but still optimistic that my boys can eke out another win to send it back to San Francisco for a 6th and, hopefully, a 7th game as well. The odds aren’t in our favor but, as Yogi Berra once said, it ain’t over ’til it’s over!

Dreams still can come true.

Nothin’ Beats Texas Home Cookin’: Rangers 4, Giants 2

Rumors of the demise of the Texas Rangers bullpen have been greatly exaggerated.

 

The Texas Rangers rode two home runs and great relief pitching to become the first team in Texas ever to win a World Series game at home. The 4-2 win cut the Giants lead in the Fall Classic to 2-1.

 

My game preparation Saturday consisted of driving from the Rio Grande Valley to the Austin area, a five hour haul, about three of which were spent listening to MLB Radio on XM, where we proceeded to hear talking head after talking head tell us about every single facet of the game the Rangers have failed at in the first two games.

 

I realize Texas has gotten spanked in both games, but I also know sometimes the scores aren’t indicative of the whole story. I heard about how the Rangers weren’t hitting so far. Well, I guess they conveniently forgot Texas hit well enough to score 7 runs in the first game. They just didn’t hit against Matt Cain.

 

I also heard how the Giants were pasting the ball offensively against the Rangers. True enough in Game 1, but in Game 2, they didn’t do much against CJ Wilson. And even in scoring 9 runs, they only got 8 hits.

 

Of course I’m a homer. I’m going to see more roses for the Rangers than others. I know overall the Giants played better in the first two games, and I especially give them kudos defensively. But I still say this series is closer than the first two box scores have shown.

 

So when Jeff Joyce and Jeff Nelson said they wanted to hear from Rangers fans and if they still had faith in their team, Mrs. Mariner Fan-Ranger Fan called them up, handed me the phone and I proceeded to wax rhapsodic about my beloved Rangers for 2 minutes on national radio. That must’ve been the key to Game 3…

 

We arrived at our son and daughter-in-law’s just in time for the first pitch. It was worrisome right off the bat. Colby Lewis had a rough 1st– 20 pitches, a hit and a walk, but he got out of it with no runs scoring. The bottom of the first wasn’t much better when Elvis Andrus struck out swinging to start the Rangers first and Pat Burrell ended it with a catch against the left field wall on what I could have sworn was going to be a Vlad Guerrero home run.

 

The bottom of the second wasn’t getting much better for me. Nelson Cruz doubled and went to third on an Ian Kinsler groundout, but Jeff Francouer followed with an absolutely TERRIBLE at bat, grounding to 3rd on the first pitch and nearly doubling Cruz off third. Fortunately, Bengie Molina followed with a walk.

 

When Mitch Moreland worked Jonathon Sanchez through eight pitches, I was just telling the family how it was a positive at bat, no matter the outcome. Then came Sanchez’ 9th pitch. BOOM!!! Moreland deposited it over the right field wall for his first career homer off a lefty and a 3-0 Ranger lead! The whole family went nuts in the living room. Even the dogs wanted to share high fives.

 

Lewis took it from there, starting with a 1-2-3 shutdown 3rd inning and continuing with a 1-2-3 fifth as well. Lewis was magnificent through 7 2/3, striking out six and walking two, the only blemishes being solo home runs by Cody Ross and Andres Torres.

 

Sanchez’ night ended in the 5th when Josh Hamilton touched him for a solo shot over the right center field façade, making it 4-0 at the time. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Giants relief corps threw shutout ball from that point forward.

 

As for the Rangers relief, it was enough for Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to do everything but call for Ron Washington’s immediate firing, they felt it was mismanaged so badly. Why, it was OBVIOUS to them that Colby Lewis NEVER should have been allowed to face Aubrey Huff. Why, EVERYONE KNOWS that should have been Darren Oliver’s job. And after Huff, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING bringing in Darren O’Day. Now it’s time to bring in Neftali Feliz to try for a 4-out save. HOW COULD THE RANGERS BE SO STUPID, they seemed to say.

 

Except O’Day got Buster Posey to ground weakly to short to end the inning. And then Feliz threw some serious cheese in the 9th to retire the Giants in order and seal the win.

 

Have you ever noticed when a manager does something that doesn’t make sense to these guys, he’s a terrible manager, but if he wins he’s a great out of the box thinker? It amuses me to no end.

 

So we’re back in it. It wasn’t as pretty as I’d like- we could have used some more offense and I don’t know what Vlad Guerrero was thinking trying to steal second with two outs in the 5th. And the Giants defense finally proved to be human with Edgar Renteria’s error.

 

We’ve got a series now and I can’t wait to get to the ballpark tomorrow to see Game 4 in person! I have a feeling Tommy Hunter is ready to put the woes of his last two starts behind him. If not, I hope Derek Holland is ready to get over his Game 2 performance because he will be needed. Just about everyone, including a majority of Rangers fans, seem to feel Texas should go with Cliff Lee on three days rest, but the Rangers seem pretty intent on starting Hunter (they may have changed their minds if the Rangers had been down 3-0 going into Game 4). Honestly, if we can grab Game 4, I like our chances with Lee, Wilson and Lewis closing out the Series.

 

Arlington, Texas, here we come. WE’LL BE THERE! GO RANGERS!!!

 

 

Refreshing The Batteries For Game 3

One of my earliest readers, a devoted Pirates fan, has spent most of the past two decades watching and cheering his team on through thin and thinner (there has been no thick) to the point where it’s amazing he can still come back for more. It’s amazing how masochistic we fans can be.

Anyway, as much despair as I have been in over the final results of the first two games of the first World Series my lifelong favorite team has played in, it took a fan of 2010’s worst team to put the smile back on my face and the optimistic spring back in my step.

Here’s what he sent me in an e-mail yesterday (and Russell, I hope you don’t mind my quoting you today):

1960 World Series.  Yankees outscored the Pirates by an obscene margin, but the Pirates won the Series in 7.  In 1971 the Pirates lost the first two games to Baltimore and came back to win the Series in 7.  In 1979 the Pirates were down 3 games to 1 and came back to win the Series.  1985.  The Royals lost the first two games at home, but came back to win the Series in 7.  Rangers will come back and win this. 
 The Rangers are NOT out of this thing yet and they won’t be out of it until the Giants have secured a 4th win. I am ready for tonight to be the Rangers 1st win. Thanks for the confidence boost, my friend!