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Texas Rangers: 2
Detroit Tigers: 5
The Texas Rangers fell agian tonight to the still undefeated Detroit Tigers, 5 to 2. And, as with last night, it was the Chris Shelton show in Arlington, TX. Before I get too into this, however, I want to say that I like to make at least one criticism of the coaching staff in each article I writer. However, the Rangers staff was surprisingly mistake-free tonight, so I will instead criticize coaches of other teams, and fans.
The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning via a Michael Young homerun. It was his first of the season. After consecutive singles by Mark Teixeira and Phil Nevin, the Rangers were poised to blow the game wide open out of the gates. Instead, Hank Blalock grounded to second baseman Placido Polanco for an inning-ending double play that took away their momentum and set a disappointing tone for the rest of the game.
By way of interlude, however, I should mention that tonight was Texas sports extravaganza night. I had the Rangers on Fox Southwest, I had the Astros playing the Nationals, and I had the Spurs playing the Mavericks on ESPN. Between the first and second innings of the Rangers game, I flipped over to the Astros game just in time to see Alfonso Soriano strike out looking. I thought some of you would get a kick out of that.
Behind Blalock’s inning-ending GIDP, the wheels started to fall off for the Rangers in the second. With a runner on first and one out, Chris “Ranger Killer” Shelton hit a pop fly to right for an easy out. Except that an easy out becomes not so easy in 35 mile per hour winds. Kevin Mench got totally fooled by the high pop and it fell behind him for a double. After Carlos Guillen knocked in the tying run with a single, Blalock mishandled a Craig Monroe grounder. It would have allowed the run to score either way, but it did force John Koronka to get an extra out.
Chris Shelton extended the lead to 4-1 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. The homerun was his fifth on the season, which leads the major leagues. He was 2-for-3 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs on the night.
In the meantime, the Rangers were quiet offensively. They looked like they would have something going in the fifth when Brad Wilkerson drew a one out walk, followed by a single by Michael Young. But, the rally was abruptly ended when Mike Maroth got Teixeira to ground into a double play.
Koronka was apparently working on a tentative pitch count tonight. Showalter wanted him to throw about 55 pitches. Despite a pretty good outing, he got pulled after the fifth, having thrown 71. His line belies the outing that he had. Take away that flukey double by Shelton, and Koronka has just the one homerun to tarnish his stats, leaving in the fifth down just 2-1. For the reader’s information, Koronka is a lefty with a fastball in the low 90s that he compliments with a pretty good offpseed. From what the commentators were saying during the game, he’s been working on a slider that comes in the mid-80s that is pretty nasty. Fooled a lot of Tigers hitters tonight.
His departure gave way to new callup Rick Bauer. Bauer’s first outing as a Ranger got off to a rocky start as he loaded the bases with no outs. But, he did a great job working out of it by allowing just one run. He ended up pitching two more shutout innings.
When the game came back for the bottom of the sixth, Jim Knox was talking to Kevin Mench’s dad. This leads to two random thoughts.
Thought number one - I hope when I go to my next Rangers game, Jim Knox tries to talk to me so I can tell him to shut the ‘F’ up while I’m watching the game.
Thought number two - After seeing Chris Mench, I know where Kevin got his humongous head.
At this point, by the way, I flipped over to the Astros game to see that they have opened up a 6-1 lead on the Nationals. On ESPN, the Spurs are trailing the Mavs 69-65 with about a minute left in the third quarter.
Still, through six innings, the Rangers offense had shown no signs of life. The Tigers brought in Joel Zumaya in the 7th with two runners on and two outs. Teixeira got my hopes up for a two-out rally when he knocked a single to center field that plated Wilkerson. But, that rally was also crushed when Nevin went down on strikes.
That was pretty much it for the Rangers. They got shut down in the 8th and 9th to lose, bringing their home record to this point in the season to 1-4. No bueno. But let me say this, also - in the 8th, there was a foul popup on the right side that Teixeira was going for. The fans didn’t reach into the field of play for the ball, but they didn’t make room for Tex, either. He didn’t get the ball, and he glared at the fan plenty for it. It ended up not making a difference, but still - when you’re sitting in those seats, you as a hometown fan have an obligation to be more aware of what’s going on around you. You’re supposed to help out your hometeam by giving your player room to catch the ball. Stupid, greedy fans.
Ian Kinsler continues to hit the ball well, as he went 2-for-4 tonight. He’s not cheating on any of those hits, either. Kinsler is making solid contact and really driving the ball, but he’s hamstrung by the fact that nobody is ever on base in front of him, and because Wilkerson isn’t hitting behind him. I wonder how long it will be before he and Wilkerson switch places in the lineup.
The end of that game allowed me to switch back to the Astros game, where I come to my criticism of the perpetual douche-baggery of Phil Garner. Taylor Buchholz was on the mound for the Astros, making his first ever Major League appearance. Let me reiterate that - FIRST EVER Major League appearance. He came into the game in the 7th, and was pitching in the ninth with a chance for the save in his FIRST EVER Major League appearance. Because, if you pitch the last three innings of a game without any lead changes, you automatically get the save, regardless of score.
Buchholz gets the first out of the ninth. Garner has lefty Mike Gallo warming up in the bullpen. I’m thinking, “no way, even Garner wouldn’t do that.” The next batter, Marlon Byrd, got a single off of Buchholz. So, with one out, a runner on first base and a five run lead (with Buchholz, usually a starter, having thrown only 35 pitches, mind you), Garner goes to Gallo for the lefty-lefty matchup against Nick Johnson, robbing Buchholz of the save opportunity. Who does this kind of thing? Only Phil Garner.
Usually my criticism of moves like this are more pointed, but there is simply no way to describe this other than downright mean. What was Garner thinking? What a jerk.
Oh, and the Mavericks defeated the Spurs in San Antonio to regain the lead in the West.
Tomorrow night, Kevin Millwood will have a chance to redeem his first start of the season as he takes on the Detroit Tigers at 7:05 PM. He will go against Justin Verlander, who is making just his third Major League appearance.
Fri 04/07/06, 9:23 pm EST