Friday, October 8, 2010

Scattershooting: ALDS Version

I'll let you know up front that this is a Rangers-Rays post. I haven't watched one pitch of any other series. Not that I wouldn't like to, but working nights and watching the Rangers-Rays games during my sleep time has limited any other TV watching. As it is, I'm exhausted so this may be a bit scattered and freeflowing, but I'm just going to write it as it comes into my head.

*If I was a Rays fan, or worse, if those calls in the first two games had gone the other way, I'd be livid. I would be calling for the heads of those umps. The call on Carlos Pena in game 1, the one where he foul tipped/got hit by the pitch with the bases loaded, could have gone either way. I watched the replay over and over and it really didn't look like the ball hit anything to me, but it "sounded" like the ball hit something before it hit Molina's mitt. There was that little "tick" sound that was definitely there. Still, that's the kind of play where you get mad if it goes against your team. The play from game 2 where Michael Young was not rung up on the checked swing and then hit a 3-run homer on the next pitch is another example of the same thing. Did Young catch a huge break? It sure looked like it to me. The important thing from the Rangers perspective is that he capitalized on the second chance and got the first postseason hit of his career. If that was Zobrist or Longoria, I'm fuming and yelling from my soapbox. The thing is, that might not have even mattered the way Wilson and the bullpen shut down the Rays for a second consecutive day. Those runs may have influenced the way the Rangers approached pitching for the rest of the game, but we can't possibly know the outcome had Young been called out.

*After the Young homer today, the Rays fans were chanting "Replay", "Replay", "Replay". Even with expanded use of instant replay, I don't think it would be used on checked swing calls or the type of call that affected Pena in game 1.

*Baseball, like other sports, is a game in which it seems like a team will catch all the breaks. Bloop hits fall in, balls are hit to just the right spot, umps make a call that goes your way. The Rangers have gotten those breaks in games one and two. The Rays have hit a number of hard line drives right at people. If those fall in, the series may look different. That's not to say the Rangers pitching hasn't been great, because it has. It sure helps to catch those breaks too.

*I get that B.J. Upton is fast. What I don't get is why he plays so shallow in center. How many balls have the Rangers hit on a rope over his head. All I can say is keep playing shallow B.J. and the boys will keep knocking them over your head.

*I'm no baseball manager. I'll bet you didn't know that! I don't understand why Joe Maddon started James Shields in game 2. I know the numbers...his ERA was 1.5 runs lower at home than on the road. I get that. If Price had won game 1 and the Rays had the luxury of throwing Shields with the worst case scenario being a split, I get that. However, when your ace gets beat, you need to go with your number 2 starter so you don't go down 2-0. You can't put yourself in that hole. Honestly, with a guy that gave up the most runs and homers in the A.L., I'm surprised he was in the rotation at all. Can the Rays come back and win 3 in a row. Sure they can, but the Rangers aren't going to lay down for anyone.

*Speaking of Shields, I've never seen a pitcher let a baserunner get him so flustered. In the top of the 3rd, with Matt Treanor at 3rd base and Elvis Andrus on 1st, Shields lost his mind. He was so preoccupied with Andrus, he fell off the mound on one pitch, a pitch that Shoppach somehow managed to stop even though it went behind Michael Young. I was not surprised at all to see him make an errant pickoff throw that allowed Treanor to score the first run of the game.

*It was nice to see Michael Young get a couple of hits, especially the big homerun.

*Ditto for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler was scuffling a bit at the end of the season, going 3-19 in his last 6 regular season games.

*Mitch Moreland didn't get a hit, but he made a great diving catch of a foul pop-up by B.J. Upton for the first out in the first inning. That followed the leadoff single by Jason Bartlett and helped put out what could have been a first inning fire.

*C.J. Wilson looked sharp. He has really benefitted from the presence of Cliff Lee. He watches how Lee carries himself and has tried to model his approach after Lee. Wilson used to have a bit of a rep as a flake, but copying Lee shows some intelligence.

*I sure would like to have a ticket to Saturday's game. Alas, I'll be watching from the couch again.

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