Rangers 9, Angels 5: My Top 10 Observer-ations
10. Love ESPN's on-screen strike zone and other unique camera angles and, for the most part, I dig Bobby Valentine's analysis. But when he says a change-up low and away will get David Murphy out "every single at-bat" it's just makes him sound silly.
9. Down 4-1 and facing Jered Weaver, things looked gloomy in the 3rd. When Weaver's on getting three runs can feel like trying to score 30. Key at-bat of the night was Ian Kinsler working a lead-off walk on a 3-2 pitch. Torii Hunter then misplayed Elvis Andrus' fly ball (it bounced off the warning track) into a triple and Josh Hamilton homered onto Greene's Hill. Six pitches after trailing by three the Rangers tied it at 4-4.
8. Loved the aggressiveness on the base paths. Hit-and-runs. Stealing up four runs. Taking the extra base a couple of times on Anaheim's outfield. The Rangers hit Weaver. But they also ran the Angels into submission.
7. Two strange plays aided the Rangers' four-run rally in the 7th: First, Murphy's lead-off double rolled to where the ball girl and a security guard sit on stools down the right-field line. When the security guard jumped out of the way, he left on the ground beside the live ball another ball, a pack of cigarettes and what looked like an iPod. Funny. Then there was Elvis Andrus' attempt at a sacrifice bunt. He got under it, popped it up, only to have it react like a 56-degree wedge, landing on the grass and then back-spinning and slowly rolling to a stop right on the fair line for one of the weakest singles you ever did see.
6. Pitching mounds are suddenly out of control. Every team has a logo carved into the back of the mound and is all that crap laying behind the pitcher really necessary? The resin bag has been around forever, but now there's also a mat to clean spikes and some other tool as big as a lunch box. Because of the height of the mound, a batted ball hitting one of those on the dark side of the moon is almost impossible, but a thrown ball from a center fielder will happen one of these days. It almost happened last night on a throw by the Angels' Peter Bourjos.
5. Colby Lewis was, again, not good. He didn't throw curves with sharp bite, but rather slow, hittable rollers. After Howie Kendrick's homer into Texas' bullpen in the 5th -- his AL-worst 31st allowed -- he was booed by the crowd at Rangers Ballpark.
4. It was 106 degrees at first pitch, the 24th game to start in 100-plus this season. I think the Rangers are going to hold on and win this division, but if they don't I get the feeling some fans are going to use their team playing in almost record heat as an excuse. Please. Don't even think about it.
3. Only bad news from last night is Nelson Cruz's hamstring. Yes, again. He sliced a double to right, but pulled up just after rounding first base. Dude has immense power, but also some dang finicky leg muscles.
2. Rangers were good. And lucky. Murphy's double hit right on the lane -- or did that thing carom right off the bag? -- and Texas benefitted from two seeing-eye singles bounced up the middle through a drawn-in infield, Andrus' bunt and even Hamilton's tie-breaking single in the 7th was about 12 inches from being a double play. That's the way baseball go.
1. In retrospect, Angels' manager Mike Scioscia's decision to start Weaver on three days' rest backfired. He wasn't good and was tattooed for seven runs in a key loss. With the Rangers staring at the Rays and Red Sox the next nine games and Anaheim tripping to crappy Seattle this week this thing is far from over. (Texas' magic number is down to 26.) But a three-game lead after winning two of three over the weekend sure feels more breathable than if it was only one. Don't make plans for Sept. 26-28, when the Rangers finish the season with a three-game series in Anaheim.
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