There’s an old baseball motto that I just made up just now, and it goes something like this: “It’s literally the first day of March, pal.” It was necessary to make up this motto because up until the fifth inning on Wednesday, the Rangers offense was mired in a (a lot of)-innings streak of futility. And yeah, some of that was because you had the Frisco Roughriders up there taking hacks, but the presumptive starters haven’t exactly been lighting it up, either. What if there’s a problem? What if this portends a calamitous collapse of offense?! WHAT IF--”It’s literally the first day of March, pal.”
Ah, right. Let’s focus on the important things.
Martin Perez had one of those outings that reminds you not to put too much stock in the results of early Spring games. He didn’t finish his scheduled third inning, and allowed five hits, walking one and striking one out. But a no-hitter wasn't the goal: he was working on a pitch. “I was trying to work on my curveball and my sinker down and away,” Perez told us afterwards. “I feel good, my arm is good, and I’m close to being ready to pitch for the Venezuelan team… today was a good outing for me.”
Mike Trout got two of the hits Perez allowed today, including a double to the center field wall. Perez laughed later “Yeah he got me with the curveball. It’s okay, it’s Spring Training. In the season, it’s different. He knows me, and I know him.”
Trout is 4-for-19 with 6 walks in 25 regular season plate appearances against Perez.
The offense did eventually do a little, though 2 runs on 4 hits is hardly the stuff of dynasties. In the fifth inning, Rougned Odor walked and stole second. Robinson Chirinos was next, and he took a hit-by-pitch. Then Doug Bernier–who had already dazzled with a diving play up the middle in the first inning–doubled down the line and to the wall in left field. By the time Cameron Maybin was able to chase down the runaway ball, Chirinos had rounded third. He beat the throw, and it was 2-1 Rangers.
That, for the time being, made A.J. Griffin the pitcher of record. He continued to make the fifth-starter conversation an interesting one: 3 innings, one hit, one walk, one strikeout.
After that, it was time to look at the candidates for the left-handed relief pitcher role. Andrew Faulkner will have to get a mulligan - his second pitch went well wide of the right-handed batter’s box, and the training staff was summoned. Faulkner was immediately removed, causing general panic and despair throughout Texas and abroad, but we later found out that he was light-headed, which is much better than… [googles “what’s some bad stuff that can happen to your arm”]
*ahem* We were all relieved to find out Andrew Faulkner had not suffered a Fun Facts About Sprains and Strains.
Wesley Wright allowed one single in his inning of work, which was quickly erased by a double play. (“Kind of a mixed bag,” Jeff Banister would say later of Wright. “Early strike with a fastball, went with the secondary stuff, and then kind of had to work his way back into the count, but I felt like he threw some good pitches”)
Adam Loewen, also competing for the job and fresh off a bad outing in Surprise a couple days ago, came on to pitch the ninth and allowed three walks and an infield single. Catcher A.J. Jimenez both helped (threw out a would-be base theft at third) and did not help (passed ball allowed the tying run after Loewen gave way to Richelson Pena). Then someone named “Number 95” hit a walk-off to the gap in right center field that Jared Hoying covered a ton of ground to dive for, missing by the slimmest of margins.
1. Our Top 15 Prospects list continues today with #13 Jose Leclerc.
2. There was also a simulated game today. Here are the pitching lines, provided by the Rangers:
Hamels – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R-0 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1 SF, 39 pitches/22 strikes
Kela – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 WP, 18 pitches/11 strikes
Bush – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R-ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HP, 1 WP, 18 pitches/8 strikes
Barnette – 1.1 IP, 4 SO, 15 pitches/12 strikes
There are a few obvious takeaways just from looking at that set of numbers and getting some details from Rangers PR:
A. Tony Barnette was only supposed to throw to three batters, but he struck them out so quickly that they made him throw to another, whom he also struck out. Analysis: GREAT!
B. Keone Kela walked one and struck out one. No hits. Not a great ball-to-strike ratio, but for a sim game, no complaints. Analysis: PRETTY GOOD
C. Cole Hamels is Cole Hamels. You don’t want to see him walking guys, but there’s every chance he was working on a specific pitch. You can worry about some people due to sim game results, but you don’t worry about Cole Hamels. Analysis: COLE HAMELS
D. Matt Bush hit the first batter he saw and gave up 2 straight 2-out hits and a walk before they rolled over (otherwise known as “ended prematurely”) the inning. Analysis: IT’S LITERALLY THE FIRST DAY OF MARCH, PAL.
3. Injury update: Tyson Ross threw from 120-135 feet today and also threw 15 pitches from flat ground. Jose Valdespina is okay. Sam Dyson is throwing, and everyone seems to be the opposite of worried about him. We still don’t know *why* Andrew Faulkner was light-headed today, but that doesn’t seem like it will be anything serious either.
4. Not a baseball story, but after today’s media scrum, Martin Perez asked with a smile “How’s my English?” Good, we all replied. It is actually markedly better than last year, we weren’t lying. Perez smiled as he left. “I’m growing up, bro.”
5. Free-Throw Update: if my math is right, I believe today was the final day of the first round. I believe the winner's bracket starts tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.
Keone Kela > Ryan Rua
Cesar Puello > Matt Bush
Brett Nicholas > Andrew Faulkner
R.J. Alvarez > Mike Hauschild
A.J. Jimenez > Delino DeShields
Doug Bernier > Drew Robinson
Joey Gallo > Jose Leclerc
Jose Valdespina > Jared Hoying
Eddie Gamboa > Jose Trevino
Gamboa, a noted knuckleballer, hit the game-winning shot with a ball that had no rotation. Unbelievable.
Elvis Andrus > Adrian Beltre
Hanser Alberto > Jake Diekman
Tony Barnette > Alex Claudio
Will Middlebrooks > Nomar Mazara
Ronald Guzman > Travis Snyder
Plus, there was a bonus exhibition match: Anthony Iapoce defeated Tony Beasley
Martin Perez > Rougned Odor (Perez shot under-handed)
Tyler Wagner > A.J. Griffin
Ariel Jurado > Jurickson Profar
Brett Hayes > Mike Napoli
Wesley Wright > Andrew Cashner
Adam Loewen > Pat Cantwell
Yohander Mendez > Cole Hamels
Jonathan Lucroy > Chi Chi Gonzalez
James Loney > Dario Alvarez
Yu Darvish . Carlos Gomez
X. Tomorrow’s scheduled pitchers: Mike Hauschild, Dillon Gee, Dario Alvarez, R.J. Alvarez, and Jose Leclerc.
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!