The tarp was on the field when the media filed out of Comerica Park. Rain is expected Saturday morning and throughout the early afternoon, which is troubling for a 1:08 local start time.
Rain ruins a lot of things when it comes to a baseball game, but deadlines won’t be one of them Saturday. Dinner plans, though, are in jeopardy as is a Sunday night flight if the worst case (a rainout) unfolds and leads to a Sunday doubleheader.
But we’re not in the business of negative thoughts, which have been pouring in since Derek Holland gave up 11 runs in 2 2/3 innings Thursday. Bad starts happen over the course of a season, knee-jerkers, so stop with the calls for him to lose his rotation spot.
Holland is no Cole Hamels, though, even though he has more career shutouts than the Rangers’ staff ace. Strange but true.
Hamels came up two innings shy of a shutout Friday, but his seven scoreless innings were just what the Rangers needed.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-1 skid-stopping win.
1. Hamels was good. Really good. It wasn’t his best start since joining the Rangers. That would be in Game 162 last season, when he tossed eight scoreless innings after a two-run first and lifted the Rangers to the American League West title.
It could be No. 2, though the Aug. 28 start against Baltimore in which he allowed a run on two hits with 12 strikeouts in eight innings is a contender.
But it was Hamels’ best start of the season at a time when the Rangers badly needed it. The Rangers had lost three straight, and the offense was facing the AL Pitcher of the Month for April, Jordan Zimmermann. The bullpen was in OK shape, but didn’t need to be tested.
113 Pitches on Friday for Cole Hamels in seven scoreless innings
So, Hamels allowed one hit, a bloop single to leadoff Ian Kinsler, and then only two walks over seven scoreless innings. Hamels struck out nine.
There was talk of Hamels getting in a rhythm while working on regular rest after 10 days between his previous two starts because of a groin tweak, and with that came an ability to repeat his deliver more often and have better command.
Hamels, though, didn’t look that deeply. He said he was more focused on his No. 1 goal, getting ahead early with the fastball and using his off-speed pitches at will.
Sometimes it’s that simple. Most of the time it’s that simple. Whatever the reason for his success, the Rangers needed what they got from their ace.
2. Multiple choice: The Rangers’ team leader in homers after 30 games is A) Prince Fielder, B) Adrian Beltre, C) Mitch Moreland or D) Rougned Odor?
It’s true. The second baseman hit his fifth homer in the fifth inning, a no-doubt solo shot to right field. Beltre, Moreland, Nomar Mazara and Ian Desmond have three apiece, and Fielder is stuck on two.
Manager Jeff Banister said that he’d like to have Odor batting lower in the lineup to give it some length, something that becomes a possibility once Shin-Soo Choo returns or Delino DeShields gets hot.
Both are TBD, though Choo could be back in 10 days. He doesn’t particularly like batting leadoff but has done so effectively in the past. Choo was batting second before he was injured and was the No. 2 hitter last season.
16 Home runs last season for Rougned Odor in 426 at-bats. He has five this season in 115 at-bats.
That spot is currently being occupied by Mazara.
Having too many good hitters atop the lineup is probably a good problem to have. The Rangers will have it in the coming days.
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to envision Odor batting seventh again. That, though, is easier to imagine than Choo batting in the second half of the order. Everyone thought Mazara would bat in the bottom third upon his promotion, but that seems unlikely, too.
3. Anthony Ranaudo joined the Rangers on Friday after 13 1/3 innings at Triple A Round Rock and one stay on the disabled list with a groin injury. He’s fine, he says, and the Rangers were in need of a pitcher who can log multiple innings.
That premise eliminated Luke Jackson, who is still getting back on track after a spring back injury but is closing in on becoming a big-league option. Fellow right-hander Matt Bush has logged two-inning outings at Double A Frisco and is going to pitch for the Rangers at some point this season (book it), but now isn’t the time.
A month of minor-league baseball after three years in jail hasn’t prepared him for all that will come his way once he makes his Rangers debut. Bush, who fights alcoholism, will handle the baseball just fine, but the attention and the lifestyle, which will include his teammates drinking freely in front of him, will be something he’s never experienced.
As he continues to play for Frisco, he continues to get his footing and learn how to balance baseball with his daily battle. Once the Rangers believe he is on solid ground, he’ll be in their bullpen.
4. Ivan Rodriguez was at Comerica Park on Friday to take part in the Tigers’ celebration of the 2006 American League championship team, and he sat down for 12 minutes or so with a fairly large group of almost exclusively Detroit writers.
They asked every question. The last sought Rodriguez’s thoughts about the Hall of Fame, for which he will be eligible in 2017. In short, he thinks about it and thinks he should be voted for enshrinement by the fine eligible voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America. (I don’t yet have a vote.)
“It’s getting close,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, I would love to. I think probably the career that I had, I think probably I should be there with all those great Hall of Famers. There’s nothing better than to be in the same room and have a plaque in Cooperstown right next to them.”
He’s right. He’s not being arrogant. He’s right. The credentials are undeniable.
Of course, he’s going to face backlash from those who wonder how he achieved many of his 2,844 hits, 311 homers and all-time record 2,427 games caught. Did he have the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs, as the very credible and famed wordsmith Jose Canseco did in his book?
There was never a positive test. Rodriguez is not mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
But suspicion could keep Rodriguez from getting in on the first ballot anywaym but he’s right. He should get in.