Saturday, October 1, 2011

10/1/11 Tampa Bay Rays 6, Texas Rangers 8

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX
ALDS Game 2
Tampa Bay leads the Series (1-0)

Not much of a moustache…really…

The hashtags this baseball season have gone from the most arcane of inside humor (#countrybreakfast) to the stark raving bizarre (#want) to the predictable (#beastmode), but the raves that #staching has generated has me wondering, truly, what this season would have been without Twitter.

Not to be excluded from the throwback moustache movement, The Rangers’ Derek Holland did, indeed, attempt to sport his own. An attempt that seems to have frozen on his face in the first five minutes of his growth, but that hasn’t hindered his success since the attempt.

I’ve been a supporter of Holland, more or less, since last year. Seeing him come to the mound, with post-season ‘stache still threatening to occupy real estate on his lip someday, I wondered if the fuzz made him look a lot younger than he did without it. But I wasn’t wondering how he’d do tonight against James Shields and the Rays.

This ALDS series has me a bit confused, as far as ‘rooting’ for someone. I find it about as much more difficult to root “against” the Rays than I find it to root “for” the Rangers…and vice-versa. Both teams are excellent, and I really would like to see them both win. But only one can win, and tonight the Rangers trail the Rays after the first game and the overwhelming (and deserved) hype of Matt Moore’s start against the Rangers last night.

A rocky 1st inning and a Matt Joyce 2-out 2-run HR in the 4th found Holland standing his ground and doing well. Not as well as his line would suggest (5IP, 6H, 3R – only one earned, as Joyce’s blast brought in a runner that reached due to Holland’s error), Holland’s command was there most of the time but when it went, so did a few close situations…the Rays stranded 5 baserunners during his innings of work.

After his exit, the Rays just kept on coming back…particularly in the 7th when Koji Uehara pitched to 3 batters, all 3 scored on a Longoria HR with no outs recorded. I almost vomited when Darren Oliver was brought in to relieve Uehara, but he neatly retired the next 3 batters to end the inning.

As for the Rangers…they just did what Ron Washington likes to do the most, staying in front of the long ball Rays by moving baserunners; Mitch Moreland’s 1 out HR in the 8th was the first Rangers HR of the series.

I’m not going to subscribe to the moustache theory just yet…I’m still looking at this year’s Rangers with last year’s Rangers in the back of my mind. But Derek Holland is a pretty good pitcher. I don’t think now is the time to shave off the fuzz.

SCOREKEEPER'S NOTE: Regarding earned runs, I made a theological error on my scoresheet, where I recorded that all 3 of Holland's runs were earned. Yes, 2 of the 3 runs allowed by Holland came in due to an error by Holland. Casey Kotchman would have been the 3rd out; Holland fielded the ball poorly, allowing Kotchman to reach 1st, followed by Joyce's HR. My gut is to always chalk this up as "the pitcher was charged with the error, so he earned that/those run(s)." As much as I hate to admit it (and do so every time I make this mistake), the rules are clear:
10.16(e) "An error by a pitcher is treated exactly the same as an error by any other fielder in computing earned runs."
For this fact, from the rule book, I have no defense...regardless of my typical rule where "it's my scoresheet and I can do whatever the heck I want to."

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