This is going to be a quick game story, because I want it to be representative of the game, which took a brisk 2:18 to complete. All the Rangers scoring happened in the first inning, and it happened thusly:
With one out in the inning already, Elvis Andrus swung at the first pitch, and bounced a ball that stayed just fair, bouncing high and beyond the bag at third base. Because Corey Spangenberg is not
Manny Machado a wizard, Andrus, was safe with an infield single. Rougned Odor followed, and he didn’t hit the first pitch, but the first pitch did hit him. With runners on first and second, Ryan Rua hit a hard single on, you guessed it, the first pitch. Andrus scored, and there were runners at first and second.
Nomar Mazara also swung at the first pitch (I mean, why not, at that point), but it was about a foot low and outside. Later in the at-bat, however, Mazara beat out a 3-6 fielder’s choice that had hopes of growing up to be a double play, and as a result, Odor scored to make it 2-0. It would stay that way into the bottom of the 6th inning.
That last sentence, actually, is the story of the game. Nick Martinez had struggled of late in Spring, and looked to be pitching himself out of the conversation for the fifth-starter position. But he asserted himself back into it with eloquence tonight, leaving in the 6th after 77 pitches (54 strikes), 5⅓ innings, 4 hits, 3Ks, a walk, and–at the time of his departure– no runs allowed.
One run did score: Martinez left with runners on the corners, and the Padres did the steal-a-run routine, with Travis Jankowski taking juuuust long enough getting tagged out stealing second base that pinch-runner Allen Cordoba could skitter home.
Another run, the tying one, came in for the Padres in the eighth when Alberth Martinez homered off Dario Alvarez (it was Alvarez’ first run allowed this Spring, and with Wesley Wright sent to minor-league camp today, he appears to have won the job of lefty reliever, if indeed such a job exists, and is not abandoned in favor of a long reliever or, say, Tanner Scheppers). That was a long parenthetical, but the home run took a long time to land.
By the time the Rangers got into the bottom of the 9th still tied at 2, it was (probably literally) a no-win situation, since teams don’t often play extra innings. So perhaps it wasn’t as bad a failure as R.J. Alvarez thought when he made it a quick one, allowing a home run to Christian Bethancourt on the 4th pitch of the inning.
Given the two-hour difference between Arizona and Texas these days (THANKS A LOT GEORGE VERNON HARRISON OR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, DEPENDING ON WHICH HISTORIAN YOU BELIEVE), a short game was welcomed.
Even more welcome: that efficient and effective start by Nick Martinez.