The Texas Rangers Get Good Pitching From Holland And Darvish To Win The Weekend Series With Detroit
BY: Dic Humphrey
The Texas Rangers took two of three from the Tigers this weekend, losing the game started by their hottest pitcher (Scott Feldman) and winning the two started by struggling pitchers Derek Holland and Yu Darvish. The scores were 6-2 in favor of the Tigers in Friday night’s series opener, and 2-1 and 8-3 in the Ranger wins.
The highlight game of the weekend was Saturday’s jewel. Looking at the pitching matchups, it appeared to be the one the Rangers were least likely to win. Justin Verlander was the Tigers’ starting pitcher, and he is the consensus best pitcher in the American League, the reigning Cy Young and MVP awards winner.
Derek Holland started for Texas, and an auspicious start it was. He gave up a home run to Austin Jackson leading off the game, and followed that with a single to Omar Infante. After nine pitches, he had not recorded an out, and the feeling was, “here we go again”. Holland said afterward, that he got mad at that point. Ranger fans can only hope he stays mad until November, for after that point, he was magnificent. He completed 7.2 innings and allowed just one more hit. He struck out nine and walked one. It was clearly his best performance of the year, for sure remindful of the Derek Holland that was the Rangers’ best pitcher over the second half of 2011.
He was actually a tick better than Verlander, who was darn good himself. Verlander gave up single to Nelson Cruz in the third inning that plated Josh Hamilton. That was all the scoreboard damage the Rangers could muster against him over the first seven innings. Verlander allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked no one.
Neither team scored in the eighth. The Tigers threatened in the ninth, loading the bases with one out. Reliever Mike Adams, the third Ranger pitcher of the inning, coaxed a ground ball force out at the plate and a line out to end the Tigers’ threat without a score.
That set the stage for a Ranger walk off win. Cruz and Michael Young opened the Rangers’ ninth with walks. The promising rally appeared to be slipping away two batters later. Craig Gentry could not get a bunt down to advance the runners and flew out to center. Geovany Soto struck out.
Mike Olt was then called upon to pinch hit, and he gave the club a marvelous at-bat. He fouled off four pitches after two strikes and grounded a single on the ninth pitch of the at bat that scored Cruz. It was only the 10th official at-bat for Olt since being called up from AA Frisco, and only the second pinch-hitting appearance in his professional baseball career.
The Rangers wrapped up the series win Sunday with an 8-3 win. Yu Darvish finally won his 12th game. It was just his second win since June. He threw a quality start, pitching into the seventh inning. He struck out eight, but still walked too many batters – five. He was strong in all but the fifth inning, in which he threw 28 pitches and allowed all three Tiger runs.
Texas started the scoring early with a two-run Josh Hamilton home run in the first inning. It was Hamilton’s 32nd of the season, which ties his career high, done previously in 2008 and 2010. Texas added three more in the third inning and another in the fourth to grab a seemingly commanding 6-0 lead before the Tigers halved the lead in the fifth. Texas put the game out of reach with two more in the seventh, both crossing the plate on wild pitches.
Friday night, Scott Feldman was part of a marvelous pitching duel for five innings, after which, the Rangers held a 2-1 lead. The sixth proved problematic. Feldman threw one bad pitch that Prince Fielder sent to the right field seats. Detroit took a 4-2 lead on the big blow, and added another run in the inning off Robbie Ross in relief of Feldman. Austin Jackson completed the scoring with an inside-the-park home run, the first for the Tigers in five seasons.
Hamilton had a hit in every game of the series to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, in which his average is .357. He collected three more RBIs Sunday giving him 15 in 11 August games and moving his league leading RBI total to 99.
Mike Napoli started Friday, going 0-4 with two strikeouts to run his hitless streak to 14 at bats, which included eight strikeouts. He had been playing with a sore left quad, and Saturday he was placed on the disabled list. Luis Martinez was called up from AAA Round Rock, but Geovany Soto caught the final two games. It was his first time to catch Holland and Darvish, and both turned in outstanding performances. A coincidence? Maybe, but it’s a good sign about the Rangers’ catching situation after this season when Napoli can leave in free agency.
Texas is now 8-3 in August, just a win shy of the July win total, and is 67-46 on the season, the second time this year to be 21 games over .500. Oakland and Los Angeles both lost Sunday, as Chicago beat the A’s 7-3 and Seattle beat the Angels 4-1, such that the Rangers’ lead in the West is now 6.5 games over Oakland (seven in the loss column) and eight over Los Angeles (nine in the loss column). The Rangers’ record is the best in the American League and their lead in the West is the largest of any division. Many national commentators were ready to award the A. L. West championship to the Angels when they landed Zach Greinke before the trade deadline. So far, the Angels are 0-3 in Greinke’s starts and are 6-10 overall since the trade.
Texas goes on the road for the next week, first to New York for four games and then to Toronto for three. The first three games in New York start at 6:05 (CDT) and Thursday’s getaway game begins at 12:05 (CDT). The pitching matchups are:
Monday Ryan Dempster (6-5, 2.65) vs. David Phelps (2-3, 2.42)
Tuesday Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.31) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.24)
Wednesday Scott Feldman (6-7, 4.64) vs. Freddy Garcia (6-5, 4.85)
Thursday Derek Holland (7-6, 4.92) vs. Ivan Nova (11-6, 4.70)
- The attendance for the series was 141,310, which moved the Rangers’ season total over the 2.5 million mark in 58 home dates, the earliest the Rangers have ever reached 2.5 million.
Sunday’s game was the final regular season game between the two teams this year. Texas finishes with a 7-3 record and won all three series with the Tigers. This was the third straight series win for Texas, and the Rangers’ overall series record is 23-11-2.