Texas Rangers are clicking on all cylinders
After a solid start by the Texas Rangers in game one of the American League Championship Series, complete with handing Justin Verlander the loss, the two teams will be back on the field for game two Monday afternoon.
Except, game two was supposed to be played on Sunday night.
Thanks to misinformation, or just the simple fact that Texas meteorologists were wrong again, the game was postponed early Sunday afternoon. Long before any showers had begun around the ballpark. Rangers’ CEO Nolan Ryan cited possible “pop up showers” and said the experts they had expected these showers to continue to happen throughout the night.
They were wrong.
Instead, the rain never fell around Arlington and the fans who had tickets for Sunday night’s game were left trying to get their money back or attempting to get off work to make a 3:20 p.m. first pitch on Monday afternoon.
Something that is unlikely for most fans.
But, though there will be arguments between fans and Major League Baseball, especially the Texas Rangers, the show must go on.
No pressure Derek Holland … but we’re all counting on you
The Texas Rangers needed a big performance out of left hander Derek Holland when he was handed the ball, and a one game deficit, in the American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched like a veteran and helped the Rangers tie up the series headed to game three.
Monday afternoon’s start will be much different. This time, Holland will be handed the ball with a one game lead. He will get a chance to give his team a two game advantage and a solid lead in the series.
No pressure, Derek.
He doesn’t have a lot of experience facing the Detroit Tigers as he’s only done so once in his career, giving up four runs (one earned) over four innings of work. Not exactly enough to say how he will do one way or the other.
What Holland will not have to face is Magglio Ordonez, who will be lost for the remainder of the season after fracturing his ankle. The same one he’s undergone surgery on in the past.
What he needs to stay away from is getting himself into trouble. When he begins to walk hitters and allow hits here and there, he never seems to recover. His pitches become flat, and he starts aiming pitches instead of trusting what he has and trusting catcher Mike Napoli to guide him where he needs to be.
If Holland can keep the Tigers below three runs, it will give the Texas Rangers the opportunity they need to take a two game lead heading to Detroit for game three.
Nelson Cruz finding his stroke?
After a 1-for-15 start to the post-season, Nelson Cruz’s bat finally seems to have found the stroke that the Rangers desperately needed.
In the home half of the fourth, against Verlander, Cruz took a hanging pitch and blasted it 10 rows deep into the left-field seats. It was a blast this team had been waiting to see from a guy who did it time and time again in the playoffs in 2010.
If this is a sign of things to come for the outfielder, the Detroit Tigers and their pitchers could be in a world of trouble. He is one hitter the Tigers do not want to see heat up.
David Murphy stepping up
David Murphy wishes he had more playing time. What Major League Baseball player doesn’t wish that? But when Murphy does get his opportunity, he makes absolutely sure it’s not wasted.
In game one, Murphy delivered an RBI triple to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead, then made 2-0 on an RBI single by second baseman Ian Kinsler.
He isn’t going to be a one-man wrecking crew, but he is the kind of player who can step up and get the big hit when the team needs it. He’s come up with big home runs, and then he’s been able to get on base when the team needed a base runner.
Murphy is the prototypical role player, and he’s handling that role quite well. While he’s not the kind of guy most pitchers would fear, in the back of their minds they know he can hurt them at the absolute worst time.
Neftali Feliz Looks Nothing Short of Dominate
For Rangers fans who have covered their eyes or bit their nails every time closer Neftali Feliz comes in to close a game, Saturday night’s domination was something you would have enjoyed.
He was firing his fastball at 98, 99 and topped out at 101 on two different occasions. But it wasn’t just the fact he was throwing hard, Feliz was hitting his spots. Where Napoli set up, Feliz was right on the glove.
Wilson Betemit never saw the fastballs coming, neither did Austin Jackson. And when Ryan Raburn stepped up with Miguel Cabrera to follow, the fans knew Feliz had to take care of business right then and there.
No matter how much Raburn bit his tongue, he wasn’t going to catch up with what Feliz was throwing at him.
If that kind of domination is what the Texas Rangers, as well as the Detroit Tigers, can expect throughout this series, the ninth inning may as well be a foregone conclusion.