It was tense at times. It was nerve wracking. In the end, though, it was thrilling and when all was said and done the Texas Rangers had defeated the Oakland Athletics by a score of 5-4.
Five runs scored by Texas giving the Rangers a five game lead over the A's in the American League West and reducing their magic number to five.
Early on things didn't look so well for Texas as starter Derek Holland's control was erratic to say the least. Holland lasted just three innings in which he allowed three runs on four hits. He also walked two and struck out four. Those numbers might look good for a pitcher who goes six or seven innings but not three. And definitely not three innings in which he threw seventy-seven pitches. That's just way too many in such a short span of time. Yes he has had some good starts in the past month but it's his lack of maturity which leads me to believe that he is no better than a number four starter in the postseason. Actually he's no better than a number four in the regular season. I realize that the Rangers brass has high hopes for him but he's already thrown 556 2/3 innings in the majors and has yet to show much improvement. He has the occasional flashes of brilliance but then he has the games of epic failure. Matt Harrison has actually become what Derek Holland should be when it comes to left-handed starters.
Where things really worked out was the return of Josh Hamilton to the lineup and the continuing hot streak that Adrian Beltre is on. Hamilton and Beltre hadn't been in the lineup together since September 18th, and while one is better than none you can't deny how having both together can change a game. Hamilton homered early on and, after getting on base, he was brought in by an Adrian Beltre game-tying home run.
Then there was the bottom of the ninth. With one out the Athletics chose to intentionally walk Hamilton in order to face Beltre. I have seen this scenario backfire too many times with the Rangers getting the upper hand. Statistics show that it's actually the right move as you are hoping to induce the inning ending double play but managers need to also look at a player's stats in those situations as well when making the call. Adrian Beltre has only grounded into eight double plays this season and he ended up with the walk-off base hit.
The advantage clearly lies with the Rangers in this four game series. The A's have to contend with a vastly improved Yu Darvish on Tuesday and they have to do it in Arlington. The magic number could very well be three come Wednesday and there's a good possibility that the season ending series between Texas and Oakland in Oakland could be meaningless. At least I hope.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
- Sports & Recreation
- Oakland Athletics
- Adrian Beltre
- Derek Holland
- Texas Rangers
- Josh Hamilton