Friday, October 29, 2010

What the Rangers are Really Made Of

The Texas Rangers made a dream come true for their organization and their loyal fans on October 22, 2010, by clinching a trip to the World Series for the first time. Dallas-Fort Worth has been a fun place to be this post season. I have been thrilled for all my friends who are huge Rangers fans. The Texas ball club exuded a spirit of excitement and confidence though their series with the Tampa Rays and the New York Yankees. Team members have demonstrated a boy-like charm that draws you in and urges you to cheer for no one else. However, during and after Wednesday’s Game 1 in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, I began to wonder…What is this Rangers team really made of?
A Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum match-up was sure to be a pitcher’s duel for the record books. Ultimately, the fascination was not at the astounding pitching, but how far off the mark each former Cy Young winner was. Cliff lee gave up seven runs and five doubles in 104 pitches before leaving the mound in the middle of the 5th inning. Prior to Game 1, Lee’s post season ERA was 1.26. You saw him against the Yankees, you saw him in the 2009 World Series with the Phillies. The Rangers have hung their momentum on this 6’3” starter from Arkansas. When Lee is dominating it is easy to follow his lead, but how will the Rangers push though when Lee is off balance? The answer to this question is what the Rangers are really made of.
With Lee in the dugout the Rangers’ bullpen allowed four more runs. You can credit Mark Lowe with three of those runs. In the meantime, Giants ace Tim Lincecum was taken out after 5 2/3 innings. He was lacking his freakish spark that normally follows him to the mound. Did the Rangers take advantage? Not as they should have. Though Texas had 11 total hits, All-Stars Michael Young and Josh Hamilton did not add to that number. It was worse in the field. The Rangers had four errors: one each by Young and Elvis Andrus and two by Vlad Guerrero. Additionally, where was the base running we saw in Game 5 against the Rays at the Trop (Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.)? In an ALDS 5-1 victory led by Cliff Lee on October 12, 2010, the Rangers showed the world what “run like a deer” really meant. This game showed some of the most impressive base running I have seen, with Andrus inspiring his team mates to follow his quick step. Speaking of Elvis Andrus, instead of stealing bases he was noted for his clumsiness Wednesday night, kicking a ball with his foot for an error. Andrus has what it takes to light a fire under this Rangers team. Signed by Atlanta at the age of 16 in 2005, Andrus was traded to the Rangers in 2007. In 2008, I was at Dr. Pepper Park in Frisco watching my friend Ole play for the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros AA team) in a game against the Roughriders. (Ranger’s AA team) My friend said to me, watch out for that Elvis kid…he will be starting for the Rangers next year. I took one look at the skinny guy and said…no way! He was fast though, and he could hit the ball. “Skinny Kid” started the 2009 season with the Texas Rangers as a 20 year old short stop, after Young agreed to move to 3rd base. I am struck by how well he has done…and by his current size. He has grown into a big league star…now the Rangers need him to lead like one.
Question the Rangers have what it takes to step and win after an off night? Thursday’s Game 2 of the World Series did not prove that they could. A 9-0 shutout by the Giants and starter Matt Cain was hardly the turnaround we had hoped for. Though fielding was improved with zero errors, Andrus, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy came up hitless. Andrus did steal one base, and CJ Wilson only gave up two hits. The Rangers bullpen continued their lack of control, allowing seven runs. Naftali Feliz did not make an appearance….shouldn’t he have?
I am hopeful that the answer to what the Texas Rangers are made of is not indicated by what we have seen thus far in the 2010 World Series. I am looking for some clawing and deer-like momentum that swings in favor of the Rangers. I want to see that boy-like giddiness, as seen in the ALCS against the Yankees, make its way back to the Texas dugout. Come on boys! IT’S TIME! (So I hear.)

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