Why did the Texas Rangers even bother pursuing Cliff Lee this past offseason?
It turns out the Rangers have plenty of solid southpaws of their own, as Derek Holland followed Matt Harrison‘s eight-inning, one-earned-run performance with an outing better than his final line (7.2 IP, 8H, 5ER, 2BB, 5K, 11 groundouts, 3 flyouts) would indicate. In fact, Holland was one pitch away from an eight-inning, three-run performance — practically unheard of in this day of pitching specialization unless your name is Roy Halladay or the aforementioned backstabber in the first paragraph — but was probably left in a tad too long, giving up a huge two-run insurance home run to Robinson Cano in the eighth inning on his 112th pitch.
This was particularly ironic in light of the fact that Michael Kay and Ken Singleton were praising Nolan Ryan for revamping the Rangers’ organizational pitching philosophy (one which I happen to think is pretty smart, too — why not have your young pitchers get used to shouldering heavier loads in the minors so that they can come out and comfortably go into the eighth? I’m sure plenty of people would cite the risk of injury, but who of the Rangers’ young pitchers has spent significant time on the disabled list the last few seasons? Perhaps the Yankees need to be drafting more durable pitchers) and letting their guys go deep into games, and then boom, Cano re-extends the Yankee lead to three. So while I think it’s great if you have the confidence in your starter to go deep, part and parcel of that is also knowing when to pull that pitcher. Holland wasn’t exactly getting killed, and Cano is going to do that to a lefty sometime — even if he was 3-18 on the season against southpaws — and so I suppose you can’t fault Wash too severely there, but of course in hindsight it seems like a fresh arm against Cano would’ve been the right call there.
I haven’t even gotten to Freddy Garcia yet, who, in his first start of the season, pitched better than anyone could have ever expected, holding the top offense in the AL to zero runs across six innings and only allowing three baserunners (two hits and a walk). Garcia only struck one batter out, and while that’s not ideal you can live with it when he also gets 10 of his outs on the ground. Joba Chamberlain tossed a scoreless seventh before Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the eighth, giving up two runs to cut the Yankee lead to one, but was able to work out of further trouble after inducing a huge double play off the bat of Adrian Beltre (who nearly bashed a go-ahead three-run bomb two pitches prior). Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and did his thing, picking up his sixth save of the year and locking down the Yankees’ 5-2 victory.
Props also go to Mark Teixeira, for clubbing a two-run home run in the first inning to stake the Yankees to an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and also hitting a sacrifice fly for his third RBI of the game. Andruw Jones picked up two hits, and Derek Jeter went 0-3 with a BB and two more groundouts.
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