Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers won Game 1 without clicking on all cylinders
(AP photo/John Raoux)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rangers did not play a perfect game Tuesday, and they know it.
The defense (Jordan Montgomery) and the pitching (Montgomery, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Leclerc) were excellent in the 4-0 victory. But the offense, as second baseman Marcus Semien said, “left a lot on the table.”
The Rangers left 13 runners on base. They scored only once, on a wild pitch, after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth. They left Corey Seager stranded at third with one out in a two-run sixth
But good things had to happen to get that many runners, and the Rangers took advantage of four Rays errors. It should have been five, as Jose Siri was flagged for only a throwing error on Seager’s sixth-inning single after deflecting the ball high in the air while attempted to field it on a short hop.
Evan Carter was at second base and had to hold to see if Siri would catch the ball, and third-base coach Tony Beasley was holding Carter at third until the deflection.
Speaking of Carter, my goodness. The rookie left fielder went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two walks. He also made a diving catch to end the first inning and stole a base.
At age 21, Carter became the second youngest player in club history to appear in a postseason game (Jurickson Profar was 19 in 2012) and became the first player in club history to collect two doubles and a stolen base in a postseason game.
“I just love the way he’s handling himself through all this,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Rangers need to win either today or Thursday to advance to the division series at top-seeded Baltimore. The first two games are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Rangers against fellow right-hander Zach Eflin.
Game 1 “crowd”
Tropicana Field rarely plays host to a sold-out crowd for a Rays home game, but those who remember the 2010 and 2011 playoff series against the Rangers have seen it.
Those crowds were loud, with those dang cowbells. The Rangers won all five Rays home games those seasons.
The crowd for Game 1 of the American League wild-card series was not a sellout. It wasn’t even close.
Chunks of extra seats were visible as only 19,704 fans watched the Rangers’ victory. Once the Aroldis Chapman got the final out of the eighth, thousands of fans got up and left.
Apparently they hadn’t watched the Rangers bullpen perform this season. The Rays went quietly in the ninth against Jose Leclerc, so the traffic-beaters got the last laugh.
Some who watched the game on TV were laughing at the Rays.
My high-school buddies in Colorado wondered if a new ballpark would help or if the fan base just stinks.
The Rays have a new ballpark in the works, though ground hasn’t even broken on it. Maybe that will do the trick.
But the Rays are one of the best teams in baseball, and Tropicana Field at least offers air conditioning. It’s not a great venue, but it’s better Oakland Coliseum (low bar) and it’s not like every third fan who enters the building gets punched in the face.
The Trop is fine. The Rays are great. More people should be watching them, especially in the playoffs.
The Astros beat writer who tweeted that the Rangers’ post-clinch celebration Saturday at Seattle is what cost them the AL West title issued a new tweet Tuesday in which he clarified that he was not in the clubhouse and did not witness the degree to which the Rangers did celebrate.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart assumed that the Rangers had a rager, based on photos from the clubhouse, while the Astros had only a champagne toast after they clinched. Rangers general manager Chris Young called out the shoddy tweet Monday on his weekly radio show, and Bochy said it was a false narrative.
Those who were there said that the Rangers’ celebration lasted no longer than 30 minutes, perhaps as few as 15 minutes, and that Bochy and Semien were adamant that the players not carry on because the Sunday game had significance.
The team then loaded the buses together and went back to the the team hotel.
“I’m moving on,” Bochy said.
While McTaggart admitted that he wasn’t in Seattle, he did not apologize for the tweet and for the vitriol it created from the Astros fan base toward Rangers dugout reporter Emily Jones, who decided to delete her account because of the comments she received from Astros fans after responding to the initial tweet.
This made me wonder if dogs can get brain freezes. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) October 1, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org