Yeah, that Gonzalez. The injured one on the Texas Rangers’ bench. The one who is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery. The one with 17 career big-league games.
According to what Pujols told reporters after the game, Gonzalez was chirping and bowing up from the Rangers’ bench when Pujols showed some emotion after dodging the pitch. He explained that he wasn’t mad at Darvish because he knew Darvish wasn’t trying to hit him.
He didn’t know what Gonzalez’s problem was. He didn’t know Gonzalez’s name, either. Or maybe he did and what he said was some pretty solid trolling.
“Chi Chi Rodriguez was popping off like he wanted to come out of the dugout, and I didn’t appreciate it,” Pujols said.
Pretty brilliant, if indeed Pujols knew what he was saying. I bet he did.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 6-3 victory.
1. Darvish said that the Rangers were testing him in the sixth inning, when his pitch count was soaring and the bases were loaded after three of his four walks.
Well, he passed.
Darvish escaped the bases-loaded jam and preserved the Rangers’ 4-2 lead by getting Andrelton Simmons and Ben Revere. The pitch Revere slapped to second base was No. 125 by Darvish, five shy of his career high and the most he has thrown since returning from Tommy John surgery.
The Rangers didn’t let him pitch out of sixth-inning trouble April 18 at Oakland, instead giving him the quick hook and providing the media with some pointed words that were read into again and again.
Afterward, manager Jeff Banister said that Darvish needs to be able to pitch out of those situations because, “He’s our ace.” A nice compliment, one that Darvish interpreted to mean that the Rangers hold him on the same level as Cole Hamels.
That’s probably right.
Darvish’s stuff was very good, though he admitted his command was off. That’s what led to the lack of efficiency. That quality stuff led to the 10 strikeouts and lack of solid contact by Angels hitters.
Despite a pile of pitches, a lengthy fourth inning and the sixth-inning near misadventure, Darvish managed to allowed only one earned run (two total). The Rangers will take that every time, though they want to see more efficiency from their ace.
2. Gomez’s triple in his second career cycle was the most improbable of the four hits because it appears as though the great Mike Trout might have misplayed it.
In the replay I saw, it looked like Trout overran the ball and missed it as he reached back for it. But a triple is a triple, and a cycle is pretty special.
Gomez’s was the third of the season in the majors, with the other two coming at Coors Field in Colorado. Cycling is big in Colorado, so it’s fitting. Gomez said afterward that he promised his son Yandel something special on his eighth birthday.
Assuming Yandel was still awake, he had to love the gift.
The Rangers did, because the triple tied the game in the fifth and the homer stretched the lead from 4-2 to 6-2. Gomez has also started to see results of late to the work he has been doing to get out of a season-opening slump.
He is batting .382 (13 for 34) through nine games of the 10-game homestand to push his average to .239. Some of that production has come as the Rangers’ No. 3 hitter, and the middle of the order has been a sinkhole much of the season.
With Delino DeShields’ ability to be effective as a leadoff man, the Rangers have the luxury of sliding Gomez to the three hole. Shin-Soo Choo, who has reached three times in two of the past three games, could also allow the Rangers to keep Gomez batting third.
The Rangers have some options offensively, something they’ve been missing much of the season.
3. Want another positive sign for the Rangers’ offense? All four of their runs in the fifth inning came with two outs, and three struggling hitters were involved.
Nomar Mazara provided the first run with a single to center to score Jonathan Lucroy, who doubled with one out. Mazara snapped an 0-for-13 skid. Lucroy entered batting .203.
Gomez followed with his triple, and Rougned Odor followed that with a two-run homer off the foul pole in right field. It was Odor’s first homer since April 7, and he entered Saturday batting only .191.
The offense needs those players to heat up, and they also need two-out hits. Banister said that an offense can’t be a quality offense and a team can’t be a contending team without them, and the 2016 Rangers are an example of that.
The Rangers rank near the top of the league in two-out RBIs with 44, but were batting only .195 with two outs. The RBIs haven’t come consistently or been timely. For example, a big chunk came in the eight-run eighth inning Wednesday.
The four Saturday erased a 2-0 deficit.
“It’s something we’ve been missing and something we were pretty good at last year,” Banister said. “We’re getting ready to finish the first month of the season, and those are things you look for inside the game to know that your guys are in a good place and that they’ve got good approaches and that they’re able to find pitches to hit and drive in runs.
“Those are key. Those are what put you into winning situations.”
4. Of the 30 pitches Darvish threw in the fourth inning, one caused particular angst with the Rangers. They had a beef, for those who believe in the accuracy of the pitch tracker and/or those who believe that the knees are part of the strike zone.
Even plate ump Adam Hamari believed it on a 2-2 pitch to Trout, before he didn’t. He raised up to start the lawn mower, the signal he gives for a called strike three, but balked.
Darvish was stunned. Pitching coach Doug Brocail was hot. Trout nodded in agreement before driving an RBI double on the next pitch.
The Rangers have had a few occasions this homestand to gripe about balls and strikes. Alfonso Marquez got locked up on a critical 3-2 pitch by Martin Perez pitch Monday night that was clearly in the zone but called a ball.
The next batter, Brian Dozier, collected a three-run double in a 3-2 Minnesota Twins win. Afteward, Lucroy said that had the Rangers and Twins had the same strike zone, the Twins lose the game.
The Angels weren’t remotely pleased with the Hamari call that ended the game as he rung up Kole Calhoun on a pitch that was shown as low on the pitch tracker.
Call it even?
Though umpires don’t solely cost teams games, they can cause issues. Umpiring has become more and more of an issue because of games like the ones Marquez and Hamari had, and the one C.B. Bucknor had at Seattle and the one Angel Hernandez had Saturday at Washington.
Hamari is a fairly young umpire. The other three are widely regarded as lousy at their jobs.
That’s the problem: These bad umpires are allowed to keep their jobs year after year. I know the umpires have a union, but MLB should flex its ample leverage the next time the opportunity arises.