Post-deadline, bad-team baseball isn’t fun. On the surface. But if you go a level deeper, it’s fun as heck.
Incentivized losses? That’s fascinating. Taking wins away from teams that desperately need them? Oh that’s the good stuff. September, deep roster, tryout and cup of coffee types out on the field? Yes, I love all of this.
But in August you don’t get expanded rosters. And the team isn’t quite into the-stack-up-the-losses-for-draft-position territory, not yet. And the Twins, well, the Twins aren’t really going anywhere either, so beating them doesn’t offer the whole ‘oooo, bet that one stings, buddy!’ angle.
That is to say a four game set, against the Twins, in Minnesota, in early August - I forgive you if you weren’t quite tuned in to all four games.
Indifference begins to take sides
A.J. Griffin returned and was solid, allowing only three baserunners across six innings, striking out four. A more stretched out Griffin probably throws more than 81 pitches, but Kela, Bush, and Claudio combined for three shutout innings, allowing only one baserunner.
Joey Gallo hit his 29th home run. Here’s a fun joke: what do you get if you take 23 year old Joey Gallo and add in average contact rates? The answer is an AL MVP.
Martin Perez either was tipping his pitches (according to him), or he wasn’t (somewhat passively-aggressively stated from the coaching staff), or it didn't matter because his pitches were bad (somewhat aggressively stated from the coaching staff), but at any rate he sandwiched effective innings around a couple of Those Martin Perez Innings and left with seven earned runs in 4.2 innings.
His opponent was Large Adult Son Bartolo Colon, though, so seven in 4.2 should have been good enough to compete, except it wasn’t, and Bartolo threw a complete game against Texas. No. Really. Yeah. In 2017.
The salt in the wound? Yu Darvish pitched seven shutout innings, was backed up by an effective offense, and made comments about how easy it was to pitch to an effective framer at catcher. It’s ok. I’m really ok. I’m happy for Yu.
Cole Hamels saw Bartolo’s CG and was like ‘eh, if that’s all ya gotta do’ and mowed through a… let’s be charitable here… not strong Twins lineup to throw nine innings of one unearned run ball (thanks to an errant throw by Robinson Chirinos on hopeful future Ranger Byron Buxton’s stolen base in the fifth).
That’s not to undersell what was a solid Hamels performance as he ended the game with 96 pitches thrown and collected five strikeouts to just four hits.
Tyson Ross pitched a rehab start in AA. He was ok enough, given that MLB’ers in AA operate under three rules:
Buy the post-game spread
Don’t get hurt
Results don’t matter just don’t get hurt
In this case, though, the results were good, as he pitched seven innings, struck out eight and allowed one run. I can’t speak to the post-game spread, but if anyone needs a suggestion, I know a great pizza place up there.
Nomar Mazara’s two run homer in the second provided the winning margin, and Chirinos added what amounted to insurance runs with an RBI sac fly in the second and RBI single in the ninth.
Let’s talk about symbolism, and the first inning. Adrian Beltre hits a three run homer, that’s great right. Well then comes Joey Gallo, and he hits a two run homer. That’s fantastic! It’s great too, because there’s the two-run to three-run difference, and it’s like Beltre is saying to the man who is almost certain to replace him at third base, ‘I am still better than you, although, you, Joey, you are very very good’. I love it.
The Rangers didn’t score again and the lead evaporated by the third inning and third Twin homer. Beltre was hit in the head by a foul ball liner and/or one hopper (accounts vary). He passed concussion protocol, but it’s ok to admit you were scared.
In the fifth inning, the Twins’ winning run came home on a reviewed play where the run barely beat the throw at second to end the inning. So it goes.
Snoozing in the city that never sleeps
The Rangers head to New York to face the dysfunctional New York baseball team, that would be the Mets. The Mets are 49-59, 16.5 games back in the division, and per Fangraphs have a 0.8% chance of making the postseason. But hey at least we’ll get to see some of that fun Mets starting pitching, right?
On Tuesday Andrew Cashner will oppose Chris Flexen, which is also an alias used by New Jersey governor Chris Christie when he pretends to be a muscle man. Flexen, a 23 year old righthander, has started two career games in the majors, totaling six innings with a 12.00 ERA.
On Wednesday A.J. Griffin will oppose Rafael Montero, who has a career 2-12 record with a 5.44 ERA and 5.04 BB/9. Griffin will be making his second start off the DL, so don’t expect any swings at the plate, or baserunning in the odd event he makes it there.
The stories to follow elsewise? Well Yu Darvish will be pitching Thursday, that’s fun. There’s also the waivers to be watching; most of the Rangers roster will be placed on waivers (this is not a big deal, trust me), and any that make it through can be traded without much fuss. If they are claimed, well, they can be traded with some fuss, or they waiver can be revoked. Also, Willie Calhoun will be in Round Rock for, oh, about three more weeks; so far his stay down there has been what I would call fun.
We’re gonna make it friends.
Want more bon mots from Joe? You can follow him on Twitter @thejoeursery or call out for Joe Flexen at your local gym.