The Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies completed their game Tuesday night in a mere 2 hours, 44 minutes. If that seems fast, that’s because, sadly, it is.
The game was the third-fastest for the Rangers this season at Globe Life Park, trailing the April 23 games vs. Kansas City (2:38) and Thursday’s game vs. San Diego (2:39).
All three were Rangers wins, which makes sense because the bottom of the ninth wasn’t played in any of the three. But they were well-pitched games in which pitchers worked with tempo and defenses played cleanly.
Quicker games have been a trend for the Rangers of late, and in their seven-game winning streak. Five of those games have been played in under three hours, which feels like a miracle. One of those, the Tuesday game, was a Yu Darvish game.
That’s really miraculous.
Here’s some more Rangers Reaction from a 5-1 victory.
1. Darvish, for whatever reason, dominates in interleague play. Well, here’s one reason: Darvish is very good.
Of MLB starters with at least 12 career starts against the other league, his 2.19 ERA is the best. The best. Next up is Clayton Kershaw.
Darvish isn’t as good as Kershaw overall, but Darvish is elite. His season ERA sits at 2.76, and he has 61 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings after sitting down nine Phillies in seven innings.
He’s confident that his elbow is healthy. He’s throwing his changeup, which he has abandoned in previous seasons. He’s as good as it gets when runners actually move into scoring position, though he said his lone mistake slider allowed a runner to score from second in the seventh inning.
Darvish is nine starts into the season, which is between 25-30 percent of the number of starts he will make if he stays healthy. Health was the Rangers’ No. 1 concern when deciding to wait to go full throttle into negotiates for a contract extension.
There’s a lot of season left and plenty of time for Darvish to get bitten by a stiff neck, as he has in the past, or some shoulder fatigue, as he has in the past. But that’s relatively small-time stuff.
Say Darvish makes only 30 starts instead of 32, 33 or 34, and will make around the same number each of the next five seasons. Should the Rangers pay him $900,000 or $1 million per start if he ends up with a sub-3.00 ERA or even a 3.30 ERA if they are going to win two-thirds of his starts, as they are doing this season?
That might be worth a phone call to Darvish’s agent.
2. Adrian Beltre tried to stave off the media as long as he could, but the persistent beat writers got their man Tuesday afternoon as the Phillies took early batting practice and after he had jogged on the field for the first time since he re-injured his right calf April 8.
He is better, he said. The calf is improving, he said. He doesn’t know when he will debut this season, but is excited by what the next two to three weeks could bring.
That’s rates as exciting considering his 2017 so far, dating to the pre-spring injury to his left calf, his lousy performance in the World Baseball Classic and then an injury to his right calf before camp broke.
The current injury is in a different area of the right calf, but, finally, it’s allowing him to do stuff. Batting practice, grounders and jogging, which will get more intense in the coming days.
By the time Beltre is back, Cole Hamels should be throwing again. Carlos Gomez should be doing some on-field activities. Tyson Ross should be nearing his 2017 debut. The Rangers, at .500 for the first time this season, are trending upward even with daunting schedule ahead after the Phillies leave town (three games apiece at Detroit, Boston and Toronto).
A streak like this and the potential/likely returns of key players are two reasons why the Rangers didn’t dive into the deep end at 11-17 or 13-20 and begin shopping around Darvish and others who will be free agents after the season.
Maybe that happens. Everyone should know by the All-Star break, though the 2015 Rangers were eight games out of first place Aug. 1 and still won the division.
It’s been said here countless times: Baseball seasons are long enough to give teams that start poorly to get back into contention and for teams that start quickly to come back to the pack.
There are also two wild-card spots up for grabs, and wild-card teams have shown in the recent past that’s not a bad way to go.
Beltre needs to be healthy, though, and it seems like he’s getting there.
3. Delino DeShields was nearly picked off in the fifth inning, and would have been were it not for instant replay. That overturned call became a critical event in the Rangers’ win, as he would survive to score from first on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double.
DeShields’ speed is something the Rangers need more than ever with Gomez out and Shin-Soo Choo dealing with a balky back. In Choo’s defense, he said that he wanted to play Tuesday and expects to play Wednesday.
But the speed element is critical to the Rangers, especially while their offense continues to get going consistently. As was the case Sunday, his speed can change the course of a game.
When he beat out that infielder grounder, and subsequently Gomez used his speed to score from second and then pop him right hamstring, the game changed. The Rangers kept scoring in the inning and ultimately won.
An infield hit is still in a hit. DeShields can turn it, or a bunt hit or a walk, into a double with stolen base. Or, as he did Sunday, he can turn an infield hit into a run by scoring from first on a double.
He walked Tuesday in the fifth ahead of the Lucroy double.
The offense is just better when DeShields is in the lineup, and the Rangers need that speed now to help get them generate offense during Gomez’s absence.
4. A line from The Hunt for Red October seems somewhat apt today for those of us at the Star-Telegram.
The good news about the firing squad that ran through the newsroom Monday is that no one was crashing a fighter jet onto the deck of an aircraft carrier and no one is going to perish.
The squad was carrying pink slips, though, and too many good people saw their jobs perish.
In Sports, Charean Williams, our NFL/Cowboys writer, and Dwain Price, who covered the Mavericks, were let go after a combined 43 years at the paper. They broke stories, they broke their backs and they gave readers the news they needed with keen insight.
The problem with the Thompson line is that this business is already out of control. Job losses. Smaller sections. A rush to get the job done first, not necessarily best. Twitter. Not even the giants, more specifically ESPN, can avoid job cuts in the ever-evolving world of journalism.
Another piece of good news, especially for me and my family, is that the Star-Telegram will continue with its Rangers coverage home and road. They’re a Tarrant County team, and it would be a sacrilege to cut back there — even more sacrilegious than cutting baseball box scores.
We’re all wondering what’s coming next. More video? Almost certainly. In fact, start looking for a weekly Facebook Live Rangers report beginning June 1. Covering different sports? Almost certainly. More job cuts? Well, that seems to be the pattern.
This business is out of control.