On the 20th anniversary of the opening of Globe Life Park, the Texas Rangers set a new record, though it wasn't exactly a good one. 11 ⅔ scoreless innings occurred tonight, before Robinson Chirinos hit a RBI single to score Kevin Kouzmanoff and give the Rangers a 1-0 victory over the Astros.
The walk-off came at a perfect time for the Rangers, as their effort to score with runners in scoring position had become embarrassing. Particularly in the tenth inning.
After three consecutive walks in the bottom of the tenth, the Rangers had the bases loaded and no outs, a pretty good situation to be in. The Astros brought Marwin Gonzalez into the game for left fielder Robbie Grossman, but stuck him in the infield, giving them a five-man infield and no left fielder. A chopper over the third baseman's head, or even a flyout could have sent Alex Rios in to score. However, groundouts from Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin, and a strikeout from Chirinos meant that the Rangers would find themselves scoreless yet again.
It was frustrating. However, Rangers' manager Ron Washington disagrees. After the game he said, 'I don't get frustrated. Because when you get frustrated you get blind. I wasn't going to be blind to that, because we didn't score, we didn't lose the ballgame, so you have to stay focused. You keep driving, you keep fighting and that's what we did. The guys never lost faith in their dugout, they stayed upbeat and we pulled it off'.
And after two more innings of 'staying upbeat' the Rangers were able to pull it off, as Chirinos hit the ball to right field, Kouzmanoff scored, and the team rushed the field.
The almost twelve scoreless innings were the result of a pitcher's duel, with Rangers' starting pitcher Yu Darvish and Astros' starting pitcher Scott Feldman giving up a combined three hits.
Darvish was close to perfect, but had no support from his offense. In the fifteen innings Darvish has pitched this season, both the opposing team and the Rangers have been unable to score. As he was pitching, Darvish's thumb, and pants, became noticeably covered with blood, but that didn't stop the Rangers' ace from keeping his team exactly where they needed to be.
'This happened many times in Japan and it didn't hurt me, and it didn't affect me, not even a bit' said Darvish through his translator. 'If I could pitch like this in every game I pitched, it would be nice.'
Darvish looked good during the game. Really really good. After earning runner-up in Cy Young voting last year, it appears that Darvish came ready to give it all he's got and win it all.
'I see a more crisper Yu Darvish.' said Washington. 'I think his stuff is the same. He has more command of his fastball now. I don't think you see as many breaking balls, you know and he's using his pitches properly. Especially the fastball. That was his intention over the winter, to come back and control his fastball and he's doing just that. He's saying that he can do anything he wants to do with that baseball.'
Though we can expect Darvish to always throw a good game, the Rangers' may want to show up with their bats next time. At least before the game hits the twelve inning mark.
Tonight's walk-off win marks the third walk-off win, out of three wins, at home the Rangers' have had so far this season. With nine more home games left on this homestand, and the fans health it mind, the Rangers will have to try and win some a little earlier in the game. Try being the keyword.
Game two against the Astros is slated to begin tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. CT.