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July 30, 2013

What You Need to Know

Striking from Second Place

by Daniel Rathman


The Monday Takeaway
The Rangers left Cleveland on Sunday afternoon dogged by a four-game losing streak. The Indians, riding a four-game winning streak, stayed at home and welcomed the White Sox. Both teams emerged victorious in their final at-bats last night. These are their stories.

Ron Washington’s team was 2-8 since the All-Star break, 8-15 in July, and had not won a series against a team other than the Astros since the end of June. One of the Rangers’ two post-break victories came in Matt Garza’s debut with the club, a 3-1 win over the Yankees last Wednesday. They had not won since.

Garza’s second assignment with the Rangers was a date with the Angels, his second straight start in Arlington, and one that—with their deficit in the American League West up to six games and with the Athletics hosting the last-place Blue Jays—they badly needed to win. The right-hander, acquired from the Cubs for a prospect bounty on July 22, turned in a quality start, tossing seven innings and allowing three runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out six.

The first run that crossed the plate against Garza was a story in itself. On June 5, when Garza was still a member of the Cubs, J.B. Shuck turned on a 94-mph fastball and yanked it deep down the right-field line. Unfortunately, he yanked it a bit too much, and although his drive was originally ruled a home run, it was overturned following a replay review. The decision denied Shuck his first career major-league homer. Fast forward a month and 24 days, to the fifth inning of Monday’s series opener, when Garza threw a 92-mph challenge fastball in a 3-1 count to Shuck, who was still tater-less in The Show. Shuck jumped all over this heater, too, but this time, he kept it far to the left of the foul pole, breaking the scoreless draw with the first big fly of his big-league career. And that is the story of how Shuck was able to think, on two separate occasions, that he had hit his first career home run off of Garza.

With that trivia nugget out of the way, we return to more salient matters—such as the 3-0 hole into which Garza dug the Rangers by the time the top of the fifth was over. Old friend Josh Hamilton’s two-run single later in the frame brought out the boo birds at the Ballpark in Arlington, and the Rangers did not give the crowd anything to cheer for until Ian Kinsler drove in Leonys Martin in the bottom of the sixth. Kinsler drove in the Rangers’ second run, too, on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, but the home nine entered the bottom of the ninth still trailing, 3-2, three outs away from its fifth consecutive defeat.

Washington, who switched up his lineup in hopes of jumpstarting a dormant offense, made the bold decision to start both of his catchers, Geovany Soto behind the dish and A.J. Pierzynski as the designated hitter. An injury to Soto would have forced the Rangers to put a novice behind the dish or forfeit the DH.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Leav... (07/30)
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