Date: Friday, May 12th
Rangers’ Record: 16-20 (5th place, 8.5 games behind Houston)
Tonight’s Opponent: Oakland Athletics
Tonight’s Starters: Jesse Hahn (1-2, 3.03) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-3, 2.63)
The Rangers won last night in dramatic walk-off fashion, after doing almost totally nothing for seven innings. It’s the second game in a row that the team has emerged victorious after looking extremely ordinary for the better part of the game, but there was a lot of good to emerge last night as well. Martin Perez had probably his best outing of the year, and the bullpen performed admirably, even getting a scoreless ninth inning out of Sam Dyson. It was the first game the Rangers had won this year after trailing at the end of even six innings.
In short, 16-20 and 8.5 games out of first place is nothing to beat your chest about, but it’s a long season, and all hope is not lost, not yet.
1. Martin Perez had his best outing of the season last night. We talked to Perez a little today about his new mindset that seems to have paid off: “Attack. Like I said (earlier in the week), throw that (crap) in the middle and see what happens. I don’t need to be perfect, I know how good I am, and that’s what I tried yesterday: let me see how good I am. Throw the fastball in the middle and see what happens. I was throwing hard, too. Good movement, changeup good, curveball slider… Lucroy and I had good communication last night, that was a key too. I don’t need to expand the zone early, I just need to attack early and after that, I can expand… It was a good game, man.”
Perez is 1-5 on the season, getting a no-decision with the late-inning heroics last night. But Perez says that doesn’t bother him. “That’s the most important thing,” he said “I didn’t get the win, but we won. And it was a good outing.”
2. Mike Napoli’s home runs last night were, of course, important to winning that game. And they were impressive, too. Twice this season has an MLB hitter had a game in which they hit two home runs, both of which were 430+ feet. The first was Giancarlo Stanton. The other was Napoli last night.
But they were also the sign of a larger trend upward, it would appear. Napoli mentioned last night that he had a “feeling” that he had been looking for. Today, his manager reiterated the optimism, saying that Napoli’s timing looked better, but that “the biggest thing was the walks a couple of nights ago. He hadn’t had one in sixteen games. I think when guys are patient enough, comfortable enough to take walks, seeing the baseball, getting their foot down in time… the swings he was taking, he was just missing some balls. (But) I think the real sign was that he clipped the left-hander, then he clipped the hard-throwing right hander. So that’s two different types of pitchers, two different velocities. So that-- his eye, his timing, his rhythm all seem to be in a pretty good place.”
3. Shohei Otani, who I wrote about yesterday, is all the talk of the town today. Today was not a Yu Darvish media availability day, but we did get a chance to talk to the one other guy in the clubhouse who has seen Otani play: Tony Barnette.
“Definitely a talented individual, I’ll give you that. You guys have probably seen the YouTube videos, but he’s got 100 in the tank, and he swings it from the left side and can play a position (outfield) so… it’s not too often you see a complete player. I didn’t face him all that much, to be honest with you; he was in the other division. I saw a good amount of him simply because we were in the same league, but he was in the other division, so I only faced him [pause to try to remember] I only faced him one time, I believe. But he seems like he’s got a good head on his shoulders, has good people around him.”
I asked what the outcome was when Barnette faced Otani.
“I got him.”
4. Jeff Banister also weighed in, saying that he didn’t know anything more than what he had seen on 60 minutes, but he seemed intrigued at the possibility. Asked if he thought it was possible for Otani to continue to play both DH/outfielder and be a starting pitcher, Banister pondered the question. “Do I think it’s possible?”
He paused for precisely ten seconds before answering, an uncomfortable length of silence.
“You know, I never thought I would see a pitcher pitch with both arms, and I’ve seen that…”
“Look I-- do I think it’s possible?” he asked himself and the room again.
“What you see from the young man, and… look, he throws 100 and hits ‘em a mile. And he runs really well. This is an athlete, this is not-- I’m sure somebody would have said that Bo Jackson would never have been able to play both sports (...) I never say ‘no’ to athletes. Athletes are special, when they have the right mindset, they can go out and do whatever they set their mind to. It seems like this kid has that kind of mindset.”
I don’t remember adding “Vacation” by Florist to my starred playlist, but I (re)discovered it today. “I don’t know how to be / what I wanted to be when I was five / sometimes blue eyes, sometimes green,” it starts in a plaintive near-whisper. That’s the one-song recommendation. Florist has since released a full-length record, titled “The Birds Outside Sang”, and that will be the full-record recommendation.
ALSO: I just found out that Emily Sprague (who *is* Florist) also produced the record I recommended yesterday.
So tomorrow, I guess we have to do a heavy metal or rap record, to avoid falling into a rut.
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally 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.
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