Watching today’s rubber match between the Tigers and Rangers, I find myself thinking a lot about both yesterday’s game and another game that I watched almost exactly 1 year ago.
Yesterday’s game had a lot of moving parts that led to the team’s 2nd loss of the season.
Most obviously was Hamilton’s barreling into Home, which led to a broken arm that might keep him on the shelf for a full 1/3 of the season.
(Kendry[s] Morales had a similar freak injury early last year and the Angels [and Morales] still haven’t quite recovered. I’m hoping beyond hopes that we don’t look back on this in the same way.)
There was also CJ’s pitching, which wasn’t fooling anybody. The fact that it seemed impossible to ever hold a lead. Some sloppy play in the field. Several missed scoring opportunities.
It was one of those games that just didn’t feel right and everything culminated in Darren O’Day’s 9th inning. After giving up a walk and a single, O’Day got two outs. Then, with the game tied and the always beastly Miguel Cabrera on deck, he walked the bases loaded.
It turns out that this was not a good strategy.
In the aftermath of the loss, it was confirmed that Hamilton fractured his humerus and will likely miss 6-8 weeks.
What this means for the team going forward remains to be seen, but I can’t help but wonder if yesterday’s game was anything like a game in Cleveland on April 15th of last year.
(It’s hard to say why exactly I remember that particular game so vividly, except that sometimes the brain just works that way.)
The game in question was one where Matt Harrison kept the Indians completely in check for 7+ innings and the Rangers were cruising with a 2-0 lead. But the 8th didn’t go very smoothly, as Elvis Andrus committed back-to-back errors and set up Shin-Soo Choo’s game-winning 3-run HR.
At that point the Rangers had a modest 5-4 record, but that loss was the start of a 6-game skid that included a sweep in New York and losing 2 out of 3 in Boston.
In 2011, the Rangers have been almost completely untouchable, but we all knew that a 9-1 pace couldn’t be maintained all season. Now I wonder if the team is in store for a rocky couple of weeks (or months) as we figure out what a Hamilton sized hole in the line-up looks like so early in the season.
It certainly isn’t time to panic, but it’s easy to see where things might start to unravel a bit in the very near future. Somewhat interestingly, the current series will wrap up in the Midwest and give way to a 3-game affair in New York, just like a year ago.
I already felt like the upcoming series might be a pivotal point in this young season, which is even truer now than it was just two days ago. It’s time to see what this team is really made of.
Just as I finished typing this up, the Rangers lost on a Brandon Inge walk-off HR. Darren Oliver takes the loss, but it should be given to Mark Lowe. After the Rangers finally broke through with 2 runs in the 6th, Lowe surrendered 2 to the Tigers in the next half inning.
Spot starter Dave Bush (3IP, 0ER), Mason Tobin (2IP, 0ER), Arthur Rhodes (1IP, 0ER), and Darren Oliver (1IP, 0ER) all did their jobs. If Lowe had done his, Feliz would have pitched in the 9th and Oliver wouldn’t have given up the winning run.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble figuring out exactly what the Rangers see in Lowe and he’s not making much of a case for himself so far.
Getting quick outs is his entire job and he can’t seem to make it happen, which makes me feel even better about Feliz remaining the closer.