That one word pretty well sums up the performance from the Rangers' pitchers tonight.
The crazy thing is that it started out looking like it would be quite a good pitching evening.
Rich Harden was making his Rangers debut, and he looked sharp early, striking out five of the first seven batters he faced. The only hit he gave up in that stretch was a wind-aided home run by Alex Gonzalez.
With the game tied 1-1 going into the fourth, it looked like this game would stay close, but then the wheels fell off.
Harden started the inning by hitting Vernon Wells and followed that up with a walk. Giving two free passes is never a good way to start an inning, but he actually struck out the next batter.
The following batter hit a sharp grounder to Michael Young’s backhand, but the usually sure-handed third baseman botched what could have been an inning-ending double play to load the bases.
There was no excuse for the error, but there was still no actual damage done. Harden got the second out on a weak pop-up that kept the bases full but didn’t have enough to close out the inning.
He committed the cardinal sin, twice, and forced in two runs on walks. I would rather see a guy allow a grand slam than walk in two runs. At least if the batter hits it, it means he earned it. There is simply no excuse for such lack of control.
Harden was pulled at this point, and Dustin Nippert finished the inning, but he wasn’t very effective after that.
Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz actually tied the game back up with back-to-back home runs, but Nippert followed in Harden’s footsteps by walking the first batter in the fifth.
I am no professional, but when you start out the inning by issuing a free pass, bad things are bound to happen, and they did.
Wells stepped up and hit the first of two home runs to put the Blue Jays up 5-3.
They pushed it to 6-3 behind two walks, a hit batter, and a sac fly in the seventh. Wells rounded out the scoring with his ninth-inning home run off Darren Oliver.
For those of you that may not have caught all of that, let me sum it up for you.
Rich Harden: 3.2 innings, one hit, three runs, five walks, and one hit batter.
The bullpen: 5.1 innings, four hits, four runs, five walks, and one hit batter.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that these numbers are ridiculous. You will never win a game when you give away that much for free.
The Rangers actually had just as many hits but only three walks, which made all the difference in the world.
The crazy thing is that this came two days after Scott Feldman threw seven innings without issuing a single walk. It is obvious to see the difference in the result.
On Monday they were able to keep the game close and ultimately win, but tonight we let it all slip away thanks to a ton of free passes.
I realize that they weren’t all in the same inning, but if the walks had all occurred back-to-back, they would have scored seven runs. What a coincidence—they did score seven runs, and we didn’t even include the two hit batters.
Walks happen, and I understand that, but if you want to be an elite team, you have to be able to stop the bleeding and keep the impact minor. Giving up that many walks, especially walking in runs, is completely unacceptable.
One of my favorite things about baseball is that they will get the chance to redeem themselves tomorrow when C.J. Wilson makes his return to the rotation in the series finale.
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