Date: Sunday, October 9th, 2016
Rangers Record: 0-2
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Starters: Colby Lewis (0-0, 0.00) vs. Aaron Sanchez (0.00)
I don’t gamble, because I know the odds are in favor of the casino, in favor of the lottery commission. I’m highly skeptical when it comes to things like essential oils, homeopathy, hypnosis, or other alternative medicines that (at the risk of sounding like a reddit-frequenting vape enthusiast) can’t produce data to back their effectiveness. My wife and I absolutely vaccinate our kids (don’t @ me). When I was a child, I spent entire magic shows analyzing the magician's moves, trying to figure out the logistics of the trick. When I was a much, much smaller child, I pulled the Mall Santa Claus’ fake beard off.
And yet, on Friday, with a recently-slumping Mitch Moreland at the plate, two outs in the ninth, and the Rangers trailing 5-3, part of me still believed that Moreland was going to hit a home run. My inner insufferable data-lover knows that 90% of teams that fall to an 0-2 deficit end up losing the 5-game series. I know that Hamels and Darvish, the “two aces” combo that Rangers fans looked forward to since Hamels came to Texas, have already pitched, and already lost. I know that the Blue Jays have, perhaps, their best two pitchers lined up to throw today and tomorrow, if necessary.
And yet, the part of me that believed on Friday is the same part of me that believed in May that these two teams would meet again; the same part of me that just knew Baltimore had no chance to beat Toronto because Baseball’s Cosmic Destiny Department demanded it… still believes that Colby Lewis is going to come out today and shove. This matchup was too anticipated to end in a sweep, wasn’t it?
I know the odds. And yet…
Welcome the the October 9th Baseball Texas Daily.
Lemolo keeps popping up in my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist, and I keep looking down at my phone, thinking “oh this is good, who is this?” Low Halo is my current favorite, from their album called “Red Right Return”, and seems like a good fit for the day. Minor keys, harmonies, piano. It’s the sort of beautiful-but-dark focus-music anthem that the gravity of today’s game deserves.
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
Occasionally these recommendations come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet here.
1. In case you missed it (you didn’t miss it), the Rangers lost Game Two of the ALDS. Here’s the game story for that.
2. Chris Roland has today’s pitching preview. Take it away, Chris.
The Rangers will play for their season today in Toronto and face another tall task: another all-star pitcher is awaiting them on the mound. Aaron Sanchez, in his first year over 100 innings in the big leagues, has had an outstanding year. The big 24-year old went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA – the best ERA in the American League for 2016. The right-hander struck out 161 in 192 innings while walking only 63. While the first two starters for the Blue Jays had numbers in 2016 that were just as impressive, Sanchez hasn’t had quite the measure of success that J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada did. In a combined 50 at-bats, today’s starters have an impressive .377 average against Sanchez in their careers, with the most success and most history coming from Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor, who are a combined .444 (8-18) in their careers.
In two starts against Texas during May of this year, Sanchez went a combined 13.2 innings, giving up 9 earned runs, striking out 11 and walking 6. This was good enough to earn him one win and one loss in those two games, the loss coming on May 15th in the Jays’ and Rangers’ final match-up of the regular season– a day that will live in infamy, and one that everyone in Toronto will remind Rougned Odor about when he steps to the plate today in the Rogers’ Centre.
Although the home run has played a major part for the Blue Jays so far this series, the Rangers are likely to need to manufacture runs with fewer longballs today, as Aaron Sanchez is not prone to giving up the home run, thanks to his reliance on his sinker, which he throws roughly 65% of the time. The Rangers will do best to look for the 4-seam fastball when ahead in the count. His second most used pitch, the 4 seamer, also has the highest batting average against for opposing batters for most of his career. As demonstrated in game 2, the sooner the Rangers can get to the middle of the Blue Jays bullpen the better. Besides Roberto Ozuna and Fransisco Liriano, the Blue Jays’ bullpen is shaky. With Liriano having been replaced on the roster by Danny Barnes after suffering a concussion when a Carlos Gomez liner ricocheted off the back of his head, the bullpen won’t be at full strength.
3. Adrian Beltre spoke about Sanchez today, and the success the Rangers have had against him this year.
“Our team battles, and… Sanchez is not a nice guy to face. Obviously, he has really good stuff. I mean not just his fastball, but his movement. Obviously, he won the ERA title for something. Our guys have faced him twice this year, and we got lucky, I guess. But we obviously are facing a touch competitor. It’s not easy to beat him but we gotta find a way to do it.”
Beltre also spoke about getting off to a good start tonight:
“It’s huge. I think it’s going to be important for us to get the lead. We haven’t gotten the lead so far in the first two games. Get the crowd calmed down a bit. Obviously, we know how loud these guys can be in here. But to give the team a little more confidence, make sure that we continue to put pressure on their pitching staff, create situations and come through it.”
And on Rougned Odor, who will no doubt hear a shower of boos tonight.
“He’s fine. We have talked, obviously, but he’s fine. (Unless) the fans decide to throw stuff on the field, he’s not going to be bothered by that (the noise). He’s played in an environment like that before-- we were here last year, So, we know how it’s going to be. They are going to have a good crowd here. But besides that, if the fans decide to keep it clean without throwing stuff on the field, we’re going to be okay.”
4. Colby Lewis spoke yesterday about how he views this appearance:
“I don't feel like it's a burden. I feel like it's an opportunity. I feel like anytime I talk to young kids or anything like that it's about opportunity. And just like going to Japan or anything like that in my career, I feel like it's an opportunity for me to go out, perform, see what I can do, embrace it. So there's no extra added pressure or anything like that.
I feel like it's baseball, it's something I've done since I was five years old. Is just go out there and enjoy it. If you want to have any types of pressure, I felt the biggest pressures that I have in life are raising kids and making them grow up with the right morals and values that I would like them to have.
So for this it's another baseball game to me. I've got to go out there, like I said, compete, keep my team in the game and make my pitches.”
5. If you're wondering how the Manager is dealing with the disappointment of the first two games...
I asked him this: “Two-part question: What is it like to be in the dugout when things go the way they have the first two games. You’ve been working towards this goal since Spring Training, and your two aces… things didn’t pan out. And the second part is: whatever that feeling is, how do you channel that into looking ahead at the next - hopefully the next three games and beyond?”
Banister: “So… I’ll go back to the old goals and standards analogy. Goals are physical, there’s a degree of success or failure; goals are production-based. So, the feeling of what’s production-based, there is some ebb and flow with it. A loss? It never feels good. There’s nothing about a loss that feels good. Anyone who tells you there is, they’re lying to you, or they don’t like to compete, one of the two. So it does not feel good. But inside the dugout, to me it’s… except for being on the field, it’s the best place to be. You get to learn a lot about players, the energy level is as exciting a place to be as you could possibly want. I feel bad that fans can’t experience it; there’s nothing like it. You can actually feel the crowd noise in every core of your body, and not even feel it.”
“Now, I’ll go to the ‘how do we?’ So… If you have a core value and standard of belief, and it is strong, and it is livable, and players and coaching staff, and organization breathe life into it. You guys have watched it, talked about it, written about it all year long. And that’s how we get through, go beyond, and move past. It’s about trusting each other, it’s about being prepared, and it’s about the integrity of going out and competing your ass off for every single play.”
“It may not look that way on some plays, because guys make mistakes -- have you ever seen a beautiful error? No! Errors look bad. Have you ever seen a great-looking baserunning mistake? No, they look bad [chuckles] when a guy doesn’t execute a pitch, it doesn’t look great, it looks bad! So that part of it, (fans) tend to (say) ‘man, when the team loses, they look like they don’t have any energy.’, right? Is it that the other team had more, or you had less? I like to look at it in the sense of: inside the dugout, and on that field, am I getting the same vibe every single day? And yes. Because they believe in that. They believe, and that’s what’s going to get them through. And that’s what I trust in.”
Banister sounds like his belief is based in something a bit more tangible than I described in the intro. But it’s still belief. Sports, man. Sports.
ALDS - TORONTO 2, TEXAS 0
ALDS - CLEVELAND 2, BOSTON 0
The Indians took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series over Boston when Corey Kluber pitched 7 shutout innings and Lonnie Chisenhall punctuated a 4-run inning with a 3-run home run in the second. Cleveland went on to win 6-0. Game Three has been delayed until tomorrow, due to inclement weather.
NLDS - CHICAGO 2, SAN FRANCISCO 0
Game One was a 1-0 affair, decided by a Javy Baez solo home run. In the second game of the series, after Kyle Hendricks left the game in the 4th inning (having been hit in the arm by a line drive), Travis Wood became the first relief pitcher since 1924 to hit a home run in postseason play, a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 4th. The series now moves to San Francisco (tomorrow) as the Giants try to stay alive.
NLDS - LOS ANGELES 1, WASHINGTON 1
Los Angeles took the first game by a 4-3 score, as Clayton Kershaw struck out 7 in 5 innings and the oft-maligned Dodger bullpen allowed just one hit in the final four frames. Rookie Corey Seager homered in the first inning against Max Scherzer. Then (after a one-day postponement due to weather) in Game Two this afternoon, Seager again homered in the first inning, this time off Tanner Roark. But Washington roared back in the 4th inning when Jose Lobaton (only playing because of Wilson Ramos’ injury) blasted a 3-run homer to take the lead. The final score was 5-2.
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!