The Narrative: When Jon Daniels acquired Mike Adams, Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara over the course of the season, it was widely thought that combined with Neftali Feliz and their insanely consistent starting rotation, the Texas Rangers would boast one of the deepest pitching staffs in all of baseball.
The team’s depth of quality pitching was on full display last night through two rain delays. Rangers relievers took care of four and a third innings, including two frames from Alexi Ogando in which he only surrendered a single walk. Manager Ron Washington used Adams and Gonzalez effectively against only a single batter each and closer Neftali Feliz shut things down in the ninth with three strikeouts.
While David Murphy and Ian Kinsler both took advantage of runners on base in the second inning to knock in a run each, the winning tally was scored off a solo home run by Nelson Cruz off Justin Verlander in the fourth inning.
Anatomy Of A Squeezed Strike Zone
A lot was made of Justin Verlander possibly getting squeezed by home plate umpire Tim Welke. A quick look at the strike zone via Brooks Baseball’s Fastmaps tells us that while Detroit pitchers didn’t have much luck getting calls against left handed batters last night on two pitches:
Tigers pitchers were getting more calls than their Texas counterparts against right handed batters:
The Most Important Play Of The Game
David Murphy’s second inning triple knocked in Mike Napoli all the way from first base and contributed more to the probability of the Texas Rangers winning than any other single play last night (12.8%). Although, it would be a mistake not to mention Nelson Cruz’s home run once again. He took a Justin Verlander fastball high in the strike zone deep for what ended up being the winning run, thanks to the Rangers bullpen shutting down the Tigers bats.
The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
Coming back from the first rain delay, C.J. Wilson appeared to lose what was working for him in the early going. Wilson faced eight batters in the inning, somehow kept the damage to two runs on three walks and two doubles, before Mike Gonzalez relieved him with the bases loaded and two outs. Tigers catcher Alex Avila was sent to the plate for some lefty on lefty action, but the veteran reliever prevailed, inducing a grounder to Ian Kinsler to end the inning.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Detroit Tigers second baseman Ramon Santiago added 17.8% in win probability to his team. Santiago went three for four with two singles and a double.
The Aggravating Thing That The Managers Did
It was very nice of Ron Washington to bat Elvis Andrus second in his lineup and even things out a bit for Jim Leyland who bat Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn at the top of his.
It’s completely a case of hindsight, but I probably would have been a bit quicker with the hook when C.J. Wilson came in after the rain delay looking completely ineffective.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
Justin Verlander’s 2-seam fastball against right handed batters has a whiff rate that’s double the league average.
Only 42% of Verlander’s pitches actually end up in the strike zone.
The Rangers are now 10-1 with the much maligned uniform combination that they wore last night.
The Best New Nickname To Come Out Of The Game
Rangers? More like Rain-gers. Am I right?
Carefully Selected Quote Cliche Of The Game
From Baseball Prospectus, today, we’ll go with Nelson Cruz’s perspective:
You have to keep focused. I don’t understand how it happens, but I’ll take it. It shows that baseball is a crazy game. See, I don’t worry about it. If you keep winning, everything will take care of itself.
Stray Observations Of The Game
The home plate umpire, Tim Welke, looked so excited to be there that he called the first pitch a strike before it even landed in the catcher’s glove.
Austin Jackson had a miserable first inning. He struck out in the first at bat of the game in three pitches. Then, in the bottom half, he dropped an Elvis Andrus fly ball.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona made his debut in the broadcast booth last night. I doubt there’s a single fan base in baseball who doesn’t want him to be their team’s manager next year.
RealTalk: Michael Young isn’t listed as a first baseman, third baseman or designated hitter on a lineup card. All it says next to his name is “heart & soul.”
The first immediate difference between these two teams that I noticed was that the Texas Rangers have a far superior infield defense than the Detroit Tigers. That was the difference in the early going.
During the rain delays, Ken Rosenthal interviewed Joe Torre. It was a horrendously awkward set up. As @BayCityBall noted, it looked like Rosenthal was talking to an extra from AMC’s Walking Dead. Despite Torre’s awful appearance, Rosenthal looked like he was ready to kiss him at any moment.
Prediction: Nolan Ryan’s drawl becomes more pronounced every day until he turns into the literal State of Texas.
I just love how Ron Washington used his bullpen. These words were not uttered at all last year around this time.