Rangers 5-5, Blue Jays 2-2. My Top 10 Observations.
10. I'm impressed. Your Texas Rangers bounced back from Monday's gut-wrenching 18-10 loss with typical, testosteroned resiliency. Granted, the Blue Jays suck - 18 runs one night; last night only 12 hits in 18 innings - but the Rangers could've caved. They didn't.
9. I was reminded last night that there's something really special about meaningful September baseball. The crowd was only 17,203 - I swear there weren't more than 500 people in the park for the day's first pitch at 4:05 - but lively. With a full moon, a comfortable night and every fan hanging on every pitch, Rangers Ballpark was the place to be.
8. Not lost in the wins: Michael Young's pulled hamstring. Suffered in Game 2 trying to beat out a grounder, after the game it looked pretty serious. Ouch.
7. I realize I'm late to the party, but I don't trust C.J. Wilson. He got through the 8th in Game 2, but not before turning a 5-1 lead into a bases-loaded, one-out, 5-2 nail-biter.
6. Most amazing stat of the season that I would've lost $1 million betting against. Despite Josh Hamilton not hitting his 10th homer until Sept. 1 - he hit two in Game 2 after a 23-game, 99-at-bat drought - the Rangers are 16 games over .500. Given Hamilton's drastic drop-off, I would've believed Texas would be 16 games under maybe. But over? Get outta here!
5. The Rangers have the ugliest infield in baseball. The grass, I mean. What the hell? It looks like that cheap-ass golf muni course where the Poana grass takes over the greens. Seriously, it's a splotchy mess.
4. Love me some Chuck Morgan. Nobody's better at in-game entertainment, enthusiasm, excellence, etc. I'm also sure that Frankie Francisco requests this
music noise be played. But when he opens the 9th inning of both games there's this chaotic rumba clave ditty with the backbeat of what sounds like pissed-off New York City cabbies laying on their horns. Frankie went 2-for-2 with nary a baserunner in his two saves, so whatever works I guess. But, um, he's got nuttin' on Trevor Hoffman entering to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells."
3. If you saw Brandon McCarthy's performance coming, raise your hand. Liar, put your hand down. No runs and only three hits over 6.1 fresh off the 60-day disabled list? Wow. After the game McCarthy said he's "100 percent" re-built his throwing motion since spring training. Staff ace Scott Feldman strolled by kinda sorta singing "Return of the Mac." Funny.
2. Had an exclusive, one-on-one interview with fireballin' phenom Neftali Feliz after the game. Well, actually, it was through the team's Spanish voice Eleno Ornelas, who has to translate for the Rangers' most exciting young pitcher since David Clyde. The newsy nugget out of our chat: It's nef-tall-LEE. Now we know.
1. Feliz, in case you haven't noticed, is absolutely, unequivocally amazing. In Game 1 he enters in the 7th inning charged with nursing a 3-2 lead. Muy facil. Strikes out the side without - get this - ever topping 97 mph on the radar gun. Strikes out another in the 8th - All-Star Aaron Hill on a wicked 79 mph curveball on the outside corner that followed an 0-2, 97-mph fastball up around the noggin'. (I've heard his off-speed pitch called a slider, change-up and splitter, but nef-tall-LEE says it's a curveball.) He now has a scoreless streak of 17.1 innings going and for the season has allowed one run in 19.2. Most mind-boggling: 26 strikeouts, 1 walk. He's like a 15-year-old throwing against 9-year-olds. "I can hit 100 whenever I want," Feliz said. "But I can get people out with more than just the fastball." The dude turned 21 in May. And, yes, the Toronto writers in the press box were bemoaning their club not acquiring Feliz in the almost-Roy Halladay trade.
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