Date: Friday, October 4th, 2016
Rangers Record: 0-1
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Starters: J.A. Happ (0-0, 0.00) vs. Yu Darvish (0.00)
It feels a bit silly to type (0-0, 0.00) in the above space after each pitcher, but it’s not without purpose. It is a stark reminder that (9-9, 3.48) vs. (15-5, 3.32) as I could have typed yesterday just doesn’t mean a thing in a five-game series. Neither, then, does (20-4, 3.18) vs. (7-5, 3.41) like I could have typed today.
There’s a certain consolation in a lack of control. Yesterday, after gnawing at gum and my own peace of mind for most of the morning, I put on my headphones, turned my calm-down music WAY up, and walked around Globe Life Park as many of you poured in through the gates. I was reminded how lucky we are to have postseason baseball in a beautiful park; of how it will soon be cold, and the days will soon be short, and we will look forward to the hope of Pitchers and Catchers. I was reminded that only only eight fanbases get what Ranger fans get this year. I remembered the lean years, the losing seasons, the decades mired in obscurity, mediocrity, and anonymity. I remembered bad baseball, and decided that I preferred this, even with the heartbreak that postseason baseball so often brings.
I was reminded to enjoy it, because - not only is another round not promised, nothing is promised beyond this moment. I was reminded of Richard Durrett, whose legacy still continues to inspire those of us still treading these hallowed grounds to help others, none of whom are promised tomorrow. I redoubled my determination to enjoy whatever may come, resting in the knowledge that I can’t control much, the least of which is a baseball game. I just get to tell the story.
The Rangers, I believe, are a good enough team to advance to the next round. So, too, are the Blue Jays. I can’t control the outcome. And so I will take comfort in just knowing that I made it to the park today, and soon I will get to watch a playoff game. Perhaps there will be elation and celebration. Perhaps there will be a gut-punch of disbelief and disappointment.
Either way, it’s better than what the Angels got this year.
I’m sure I’ve recommended Elbow before, but I probably rec’d “Seldom Seen Kid”, which has perhaps my favorite song of all time, “Starlings”. So today, I’ll give you guys “The Take off and Landing of Everything”. It’s their latest full studio album. If you’re wondering what my calm-down music consists of, it’s basically this: Elbow.
(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. The Rangers dropped game one of the ALDS yesterday, and you’d be forgiven for overreacting, just don’t leave the house, whatever you do.
2. Chris Roland has today’s pitching preview. Take it away, Chris.
In game 2 the Rangers will try to bounce back against the big Toronto lefty J.A. Happ. Happ is coming off a dazzling 2016 campaign which saw him go 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA, striking out 163 and walking 60 in 195 innings. His final start of the regular season came against Boston on Saturday where he was wilder than normal. He struck out only 1 over 6 1/3 innings while walking 5 and earning no decision. His outing previous to that was more characteristic of his 2016, holding the Yankees scoreless over 7 1/3 innings. The Rangers faced Happ once this year and saw him go 7 innings, holding the Rangers to 6 hits and one run and earning a victory in a game the Blue Jays would go on to win 12-2. The best history against Happ has come from two newcomers, not with the team for that game in May. Jonathan Lucroy has 7 hits in 20 at bats, while Carlos Beltran has 10 in 36 at bats. The rest of the team hasn’t fared quite as well, hitting a combined .230 in their careers. The Rangers will definitely have another tall task in front of them to find pitches to hit and string together good at bats against the tall southpaw from Illinois. The lineup’s history against Happ is outlined below.
J.A. Happ on the Rangers lineup, specifically the new additions: "I'm going to focus on what I do well, but obviously those three guys really made a difference. You look at where they finished, obviously, we're playing here to start for a reason, the best record in the American League. So they're playing good baseball. They're a really good team -- speed, power and average and defense and everything that you want.
So it's going to be a tough matchup, that's for sure. But, yeah, I'm going to focus on my strengths and we'll go from there.
Yu Darvish on the Blue Jays lineup: "Try not to hit 'em, that's all I think about."
3. Jeff Banister told an interesting story yesterday about a conversation he had wherein he asked Yu Darvish if he liked playing the game. “He said he loved playing the game. I said, well, usually when you love something, there's an outward expression, it's okay. And if you watch our guys, they all play that way. And that's what's fun about our team is it's not traditional.”
Today, Banister expounded on the background of that story. “I ask that of a lot of players,” he began. “Deacon Jones asked me that question. He asked me if I liked the game, when I was in college.” Jones was a scout for the Yankees at the time, and Banister was a college catcher who had not yet fractured his neck in a home-plate collision. The Yankees were scouting Banister, and Jones wanted to see how Banister answered the question.
“I told him no.”
Banister paused for a beat and watched his office full of writers react. Predictably, most of us looked up to see if we had heard correctly. It was perhaps the same reaction that Jones himself had, all those years ago.
“I told him I loved the game. That’s when he relaxed a little bit.”
He went on to tell us that while no one ever tells him a flat-out no, he will occasionally get mitigated answers. “Not right now,” “I love the game, but it doesn’t love me,” and so on and so forth. “Sometimes you don’t know… there’s a great assumption that the player loves the game of baseball, but I think there are times that players have a love/hate relationship with the game based on production, or failure.”
But it’s important, Banister said, because “when you love the game, your effort is consistent, your preparation is consistent, and I think there’s a next level, an appreciation for it, and it turns to your teammates, the team, and it’s not just individual. You begin to realize that to have success and continue to nurture a love for the game – and not to say love is based on success, it’s just – you need everybody else.”
4. Today’s lineup has no Choo and no Moreland. In their place, we have Ryan Rua and Nomar Mazara. Rua is no surprise; in fact, Jeff Banister hinted at it yesterday. Mazara over Choo is a little less expected. To me, at least. But “this was kinda part of the plan from the beginning: Choo vs. Estrada; Mazara vs. Happ. Mazara’s had some success, a few more fastballs along the way, so that was kind of our thought process.”
But Choo is physically fine, lest anyone worry.
5. Asked if he addressed the team about yesterday’s loss, Banister told us this: “Given the way we’ve handled these types of situations, I think the best way for me as a manager, and the coaching staff to be, and one of the things I’ve encouraged our coaching staff, is to be just who you’ve been in all these situations.”
“We will continue to not be reactionary. Reactionary is an emotion. When you become emotional in this sport or any other sport, it starts forcing you to make some irrational decisions. When you make irrational decisions, you affect everyone in a negative way, so I trust our preparation, I trust our coaches are continuing to get face time with all the guys.”
8. Oh, right, I almost forgot: Colby Lewis has been named the Game Three started. Lewis has admitted disappointment at being left out of the rotation last year against the Blue Jays. Now, he'll get his chance. Game Three will be Sunday night in Toronto.
ALDS - TORONTO 1, TEXAS 0
We’re not going to talk about this game any more.
ALDS - CLEVELAND 1, BOSTON 0
The Indians won 5-4 last night, hitting three home runs in one inning. Terry Francona managed the bullpen with a very forward-thinking strategy, using his best relievers early and at length, and it paid off.
NLDS - Both NLDS Series kick off tonight, with Los Angeles at Washington and San Francisco at Chicago.
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!