Baseball was played at Globe Life Park on Friday night, the second night this week in which the Texas Rangers and an opponent avoided a rain delay.
Oh, it rained at the Globe, canceling batting practice. But the storm cell that was to the south and charging northward just before first pitch shifted to the east and allowed for nine innings of ball.
Also for the second game this week, a game was played briskly with the threat of rain in the area. The Rangers and Anaheim Angels played in 2 hours, 35 minutes, 16 minutes slower than Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees but definitely acceptable.
Just imagine if Mike Scioscia hadn’t filibustered in the first inning.
Another factor: Pitchers who worked quickly and efficiently. Another factor: Using instant replay beyond its intent.
Here is some Rangers Reaction from a 4-2 victory.
1. The first question to Rangers manager Jeff Banister wasn’t about the great pitching of Colby Lewis or the milestone reached by Prince Fielder, but instead focused on the Rangers’ successful replay challenge on a play involving Albert Pujols in the sixth inning.
Pujols singled to start the inning, went to second on a Kole Calhoun single, and returned to the bag as center fielder Ian Desmond threw the ball back in. Rougned Odor took the throw and applied and held a tag on Pujols’ left leg.
Banister, to everyone’s surprise, emerged from the dugout and asked the umpires for a review, saying Pujols foot came off the bag while being tagged by Odor. Sure enough, by maybe a quarter-inch and for a nanosecond or two, it did and he was called out.
It was a critical out, one that erased an Angels threat and allowed Lewis to get through the sixth and seventh.
“It was kind of a unique play,” Lewis said. “It was situation for me where I’m definitely pumped up inside. It was a huge out.”
4 Successful challenges, in 10 tries, this season for the Rangers
The Rangers’ replay team of coach Bobby Jones and video guy Adam Brenner, with Jones giving Brenner all the credit, instigated the review by calling the dugout. It’s almost always the other way around.
“We slowed it down to super slo-mo,” Jones said. “We knew it was flat-out. We said, ‘He’s out.’ Big out. Very big out.”
Scioscia, who would probably complain if someone gave him $10 million, exited the dugout after crew chief Dale Scott called Pujols out. Manager’s aren’t supposed to be allowed to do that. Ron Washington would have been ejected, but not Scioscia.
Pujols wasn’t exactly thrilled by the challenge.
“That’s Major League Baseball’s rules,” Pujols said. “Everybody has to adjust. It is what it is. I had my foot on the bag. I tried to switch my foot, and he had the glove. I don’t think that’s fair, but whatever. I tip my cap to their video guy and the manager. They challenged the play. Nothing you can do. And the replay shows that my foot was off just a hair.
“It happened last year. I stole a bag, and I popped up just barely and they called me out. I don’t think that’s what’s replay was meant to be, but it is what it is. Everybody has to adjust to that. That’s a big call in the game. That changed the whole thing. No outs in there. We could’ve easily gotten a rally.
“If you look at the replay, you probably can’t squeeze a piece of paper in there. I guess in super slo-mo they call those things. It is what it is. It’s just embarrassing about the replay thing.
“Come on, dude. That’s not baseball, dude. It’s not baseball. My foot on the bag and I tried to switch foot, and now because I got off when I was safe. One thing if I pop up and my foot is way up there. My foot is on the bag. I just tried to switch feet. He was looking down, waiting for me to switch my feet, if you look at the replay.”
Pujols is right about two things: That wasn’t the intent of replay, and he and everyone else need to adjust. That’s what Banister essentially said the Rangers were doing.
“We’ve been on the other side of a number of those,” he said. “It was a big play for us.”
2. Lewis has been dreadful against the Angels in Arlington in his career. He hadn’t beaten them here since 2003 in his first go-round with the Rangers. He returned in 2010. That’s a pretty big sample size.
Over the past two years at Globe Life Park, he was 0-4 with a 12.73 ERA with a .414 opponents average against the Angels, who were aggressive early in counts against a pitcher who believes in getting ahead early in counts.
The Angels didn’t do anything different Friday, jumping on Lewis early, but he used his full arsenal of pitches and good fastball command to get early outs. He exited after seven innings, allowed two runs on nine hits, and had used only 80 pitches.
3.18 ERA for Colby Lewis, who allowed two runs in seven innings Friday
Within those 80 pitches there were no strikeouts, a first for him since 2011, and no walks. That hadn’t been done over seven innings since Tommy Hunter in 2010.
“It was kind of a weird situation,” Lewis said. “I try to work quick. I felt like I threw some really good pitches ahead in the count, but they were able to put it in play.”
It was yet another quality start, No. 17, for the Rangers, who are now tied with both Chicago teams atop baseball in that category. Lewis also extended the Rangers’ season-opening streak with a starter logging at least five innings to 23 games.
3. A two-out single just past the dive of second baseman Johnny Giavotella gave Prince Fielder the 1,000th RBI of his career and move he and his father, Cecil, alongside Bobby and Barry Bonds as the only fathers and sons in history with 1,000 RBIs apiece. Cecil Fielder had 1,008 RBIs.
“It’s good. It’s very good,” Prince Fielder said. “I’ve had a lot of success. I’m grateful for it. I have to get a lot more. Being tied with those guys is a big deal.”
Fielder is batting .193 this season but he has a team-high 16 RBIs. Yeah, yeah, the batter needs help to collect an RBI, but driving in runs is a skill. Banister, an analytics guy, is one of many who are firm believers in that.
1,008 Career RBIs for Cecil Fielder. His son Prince collected his 1,000th RBI on Friday.
“He hunts them,” Banister said.
Fielder also managed to score from first base on a Desmond double to left field, getting an assist as the throw from all-world Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons was wide of the plate.
Fielder, not exactly at track star, found his trek around the bases as humorous as everyone else.
“I had good momentum,” he said. “I couldn’t stop. Once I’m at third, there’s no stopping it. I would have had to go through that stop signs. There’s a lot of mass.”