The Texas Rangers are a hitting anomaly. With player like Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler, their batting order reads like a fantasy baseball roster. In the infancy of the 2009 season, the Rangers are in the top three of the majors in batting average, runs, slugging percentage, OPS., and stolen bases.
So, why, you may ask, are the Rangers fighting to be a .500 club for the first time since 2004 and entering the tenth year of a playoff drought? It’s the same answer that has been handed out to Ranger fans for over 20 years...pitching.
Even in the nostalgic days of Nolan Ryan, the roster was weaker on the pitching half of the roster. The Texas Rangers have always been known for hitting and infamous for their pitching. Scoring seven runs and allowing nine has become commonplace in the Ballpark in Arlington.
It’s a problem that Tom Hicks has, albeit poorly, tried to buy his way out of in the past. But, in order to be successful, pitching has to be taught, not bought. Last night in Toronto, some teaching made its debut.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, Derek Holland made his major league debut for the Rangers. After allowing an infield single to Adam Lind, he managed to pop out Scott Rolen, closing the inning out to a 7-3 Toronto lead. Holland threw the entire 7th and 8th inning, allowing only two more hits and no runs, giving the Rangers enough time to rally from the four run deficit.
Holland left after the 8th inning allowing three hits, no earned runs, two strikeouts, and no walks. His pitches were in the 90-95mph range and were in the strike zone at a two to one ratio.
After a three up, three down 9th from Willie Eyre, who left with tightness in the groin, it was up to C.J. Wilson to manage the extra innings, which he did, until he was replaced in the 11th with runners on first and second by newcomer Darren O’Day.
Darren O’Day started the day in Panama City, Florida on the waiver wire, not getting to the stadium in Toronto until the 10th inning. While suiting up, he was given the uniform of Kason Gabbord, who was sent to the minor leagues.
Darren O’Day, although it said Gabbord on his back, jumped ahead 0-2, but Milar stayed alive and dropped a double into the left-field gap to end the game.
Once again, the Rangers had found a way to quash any feeling of hope Ranger fans had about the future of it’s pitching staff. At least this time, they found a unique way of doing it.