If you’re a Texas Rangers fan, and you watched them play and lose 3-2 against the New York Yankees tonight, it’s possible you didn’t enjoy the game very much. It was the Rangers third straight loss to the Yankees in the Bronx. In those three games, the Rangers have scored a total of four runs against the starting trio of Josh Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda, and Freddy Garcia, while allowing 14 runs in those losses. Despite Yankee stadium being one of the most hitter-friendly parks, the Texas offense has sputtered to only collect 14 hits, four walks, and a hit-by-pitch in three games. Yet, as I watched tonight’s game that never felt like it was going to be a win, I still found myself enjoying the great game of baseball.
A game is made up of a combination of individual plays. Each of those plays is either a good thing, or a bad thing for a team. Typically, the teams that win a game end up with more good plays than bad plays at the end of it. However, that doesn’t mean that the team that loses the game had zero good plays. Sometimes, when watching a team win a game, all of the bad plays get overlooked, and vice versa, when watching a loss, it’s easy to forget some of the positives in a game. Tonight I still saw the positives, despite the loss.
Josh Hamilton appears to like playing on the east coast (insert comment about his impending free agency here). Hamilton went 2-4 tonight with a pair of home runs, and now has 14 home runs against the AL East this season. Those two home runs were the first two that Hamilton had ever hit in new Yankee Stadium, the last American League ballpark that Hamilton had not yet homered in. Watching a locked-in Josh Hamilton at the plate is fun. The tantalizing thing of it was that Hamilton missed an opportunity to tie the game in the 9th inning. Rafael Soriano threw a soft and spinning slider that didn’t really break, or cut, it just floated towards the plate and ended up hanging center-center. Hamilton took a great cut at it, but fouled it straight back. It seemed like a pitch destined to land 450 feet from home plate and send the game to extra innings, but instead it essentially set up an eventual strikeout.
Scott Feldman once again looked like the hottest pitcher in the Rangers starting rotation. His cutter, sinker, and curveball all worked extremely well for him and kept a potent offense relatively off-balance. He battled against a tough Yankees lineup to pick up a quality start, going six innings on 117 pitches. The three runs he gave up were the result of a couple of weak hits that found holes, but Feldman did a good job of limiting the damage and keeping the Rangers in the game.
There were also some defensive highlights for the Rangers. Elvis Andrus executed a beautiful backhand stop and jump throw to force a runner out at second, a move that Derek Jeter was unable to do the night before, despite holding the patent on that particular play. Feldman himself managed to contort his 6’7” frame to make a spinning throw to first for the first out of the game. On top of that, in the 8th inning, Jeter bunted the ball with runners at first and second with no one out against Mike Adams. Jeter popped it up, and Adams alertly let the ball hit the turf before starting what turned out to be an easy double play. In a maneuver that was intended to leave runners at second and third with one out, the Yankees came away with a runner at second and two out. That is one surefire way to kill a rally.
Baseball is a great sport, especially if you allow yourself to enjoy it for all of its attributes. I don’t mean to sound like I don’t care, but this was an August game on a night when the Rangers lead could have resulted in no less than six games in the AL West. This wasn’t a game that needed to tie your stomach in knots, or raise your blood pressure. This was just another game of baseball for you to enjoy, and like every game, there is always something to enjoy.
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