Detroit, behind Justin Verlander, had taken a 3-1 lead over Texas in an ugly third inning, as Yu Darvish surrendered a Don Kelly home run to lead off the frame, followed by two singles, a wild pitch, a run-scoring sacrifice fly, a double, an intentional walk, another run-scoring sacrifice fly, and a flyout to finally end a 36-pitch mess.
But the Rangers then went single, single, stolen base, hit batsman, bases-loaded walk, strikeout, bases-loaded walk, strikeout, double, home run in the bottom of the third, turning the game completely around and chasing Verlander. The score was Texas 8, Detroit 3 at that point and would end up Texas 10, Detroit 4, allowing the Rangers to maintain a seven-game lead over Seattle, with the idle A’s, losers of 8 out of 10 games (including a just-completed two of three at home dropped to Texas), falling to 7.5 games back.
Ian Kinsler, after pinch-running the next night, would land on the disabled list with bruised ribs.
Since that May 16 Darvish win (in which he threw 130 pitches) over Verlander, the Rangers have a 9-10 record, Oakland has an 18-3 mark, and now it’s the A’s on top, leading Texas by a half-game.
Kinsler has been shut down all that time, and now Mitch Moreland is, too, after dinging a hamstring in Boston Wednesday night, and two of the Rangers’ three best offensive players are relegated to watching as the Texas lineup limps along, averaging 2.7 runs over the last week.
If Toronto 6, Texas 1 was wearing you out last night and you looked to the names David Ledbetter, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, Joe Jackson, Sam Wolff, Nick Gardewine, Evan Van Hoosier, Jose Samayoa, and Cole Wiper for distraction, if not solace, consider a couple things:
1. Texas, despite this lifeless stretch, is playing .600 baseball for the season. That’s a 97-win pace. Don’t panic.
2. Oakland isn’t going to continue playing .857 ball. Really. They aren’t.
3. Ledbetter, Kiner-Falefa, Jackson, Wolff, Gardewine, Van Hoosier, Samayoa, and Wiper are not only awesome names, they were also the Rangers’ picks yesterday in the 3rd through 10th rounds of the amateur draft, which continues today at noon, just as Darvish and Mark Buehrle tee it up. And those rounds matter.
Now, first-rounders Alex Gonzalez and Travis Demeritte and second-round pick Akeem Bostick aren’t going to impact the Rangers’ 2013 season, and in this stage of the franchise’s history, it’s all about today’s game and the current road trip and this season, not what might happen two or three years down the road like when Missouri shortstop Kinsler was popped in 2003 and Mississippi State outfielder-closer Moreland was chosen in 2007.
Kinsler and Moreland were both 17th-round picks. Think about where this team would be today without those two.
As for Texas falling out of first place for the first time in seven weeks, I’m not that worked up about it. I sorta like the idea of the Rangers playing from behind for a stretch. Maybe it will liven things up a bit.
Maybe it won’t.
Lately, Kinsler and Moreland can only watch, able to contribute no more at the moment than Colby Lewis or Matt Harrison or Joakim Soria or Neftali Feliz or Kyle McClellan, and if you take nothing else out of this morning’s post, maybe think about the first 30 words of this sentence and the sentence a handful of paragraphs up about that .600 winning percentage thing.
This season has a chance to get a good bit better, and that’s without even considering next month’s trade activity.
And Oakland’s can only go in the other direction.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez joins the system only because Texas didn’t sign Kyle Lohse, whose three-year, $33 million Brewers deal has delivered one win so far and a park-adjusted ERA+ (92) that’s worse than Darvish’s (159), former 25th-rounder Derek Holland’s (156), Alexi Ogando’s (150), and former 14th-rounder Nick Tepesch’s, and only marginally better than former 5th-rounder Justin Grimm’s (86).
And Demeritte is here because the Angels gave an eighth of a billion dollars to Josh Hamilton, whose park-adjusted OPS+ (84) lags Moreland (133), Adrian Beltre (133), Kinsler (128), Nelson Cruz (115), Lance Berkman (106), Jurickson Profar (103), A.J. Pierzynski (100), and Leonys Martin (89), while it sits ahead of David Murphy (67) and Elvis Andrus (65).
I’ll have a bunch more to say about the Texas draft in due time. Just not this morning. I’ve had a long week and need a little time to decompress.
The Rangers have had a long week, too, at least on the field, but Yu Darvish can help get things back on track and alive again here in a little bit, and you can interpret that any way you want and it probably fits.