A hardy thank you goes out to the starting pitchers Tuesday night from the media members who were at Yankee Stadium on Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers and CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees did just what the media needed, not to mention their own teammates and stadium personnel, by pitching splendidly for seven innings apiece.
Their work, even including Sabathia coming undone in the eighth, helped bring home 54 outs in 2 hours, 37 minutes.
A game in under three hours couldn’t have come at a better time the night after a 3:43 game that included weather delays of 21 minutes and 215 minutes.
Here’s to another Wednesday.
But first, here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-1 victory Tuesday.
1. Hamels was really good against the Yankees, maybe the best he’s been this season, though his June 17 start at St. Louis was pretty darn good in a 1-0 victory.
Hamels was primed to keep going after seven innings, at only 86 pitches and having retired seven in a row, but the Rangers’ five-run eighth allowed manager Jeff Banister to pull the plug on Hamels and save some pitches for later in the season.
Jake Diekman entered, which raised the ire of some on the Twitter. Diekman has been overworked, critics of the move claimed, and Hamels could have sucked up at least another inning.
Maybe, probably, but Banister finds himself in a tough spot. The rotation is without Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Yu Darivsh and with A.J. Griffin on the way back from injury, Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez.
(The other constant besides Hamels has been Martin Perez, who falls into the don’t mess with a good thing category. Just let him pitch. It’s working.)
Hamels, the April start he missed notwithstanding, is a workhorse who wants the ball and wants to pitch. But when the opportunity presents itself, the manager has to take the ball from him.
Just imagine the Rangers’ rotation without Hamels for a month. Yikes.
So, Diekman entered and allowed a run for the fourth straight outing. He’s either worn out or out of whack. It could be both. Yet, he needed some work to fix whatever is ailing him.
It wasn’t a big deal that he pitched. Help (Keone Kela, trade) is on the way.
To get Hamels off his feet in a lopsided game, as Banister would do with Adrian Beltre or Ian Desmond, is kind of a big deal no matter how well he was pitching.
2. Hamels needs to be on the American League All-Star team, and so does Desmond. Both starred in the Rangers’ fourth consecutive victory, with Hamels doing what he did and Desmond going 3 for 5 with two runs scored.
Hamels, though, could find himself in a prominent position as the AL’s starting pitcher July 12 in his hometown of San Diego. It would be a nice story for one of the game’s best pitchers the past 10 seasons, though he hasn’t had a full year in the AL quite yet.
He’s one of five candidates, with Steven Wright (Boston), Danny Salazar (Cleveland), Chris Sale (Chicago) and Marco Estrada (Toronto). Each can make a case over Hamels, but he can make a case over them.
Wright looks like the popular choice with his knuckleball baffling hitters, except Desmond, en route to the AL’s best ERA. Sale was hot early but has seen his ERA balloon a bit. Not too much as it still sits below 3.00.
But the AL doesn’t have a Clayton Kershaw, a Jake Arrieta, a Madison Bumgarner or a Noah Syndergaard. The field is pretty thin, and Hamels is at the top of that thin group. It would be a shock if he isn’t on the team, especially with the San Diego angle.
Desmond would be a major snub if not selected, but it’s a possibility because of the wacky way in which the reserves are picked. The players vote for the All-Star team, too, and if the top vote-getter in their voting is also first in the fan vote, their second-place finisher gets a reserve spot.
Desmond catches a break because there are six outfielder in play, plus whoever manager Ned Yost might want add. If for some reason Hamels isn’t voted by the players, he would be an easy choice for Yost.
In that case, though, Hamels might be the lone Rangers’ All-Star.
Adrian Beltre is a perennial All-Star candidate, but he has already said that he would decline a selection. Hamels and Desmond are the Rangers’ best bets, and they will know their fate by the end of the week.
3. Technically, the Rangers’ game Monday finished Tuesday, so it still falls into the Tuesday window for this fine edition of Rangers Reaction. Besides, much of the pregame conversation Tuesday afternoon evolved around the long rain delay and ensuing rally.
Banister was asked if he had reflected on the long night, and he had. He rattled off a number of things that made an impression on him, including a few players whose contributions might have been overlooked.
It was hard to overlook the second-deck homer Rougned Odor hit in the eighth inning and who gave it up. Ace lefty reliever Andrew Miller had given up only five hits to left-handed hitters before Odor turned on a fastball on the inner half.
The solo shot trimmed the Yankees lead to 6-5, which kept Tony Barnette in the game and made the game too close for the umpires to call off when they stopped the game in the ninth.
“Just the tenacity of that little second baseman,” Banister said. “There’s no give in him, and he was able to hit a home run. He was able to put us in a spot where we had to make a couple different decisions.”
Barnette did his part in keeping the different at one run entering the ninth by pitching around a pair of hits in the eighth. The last two outs came via the strikeout.
And it wasn’t easy. Barnette said that he absolutely was having trouble gripping the ball but, unlike Aroldis Chapman in the ninth for the Yankees, was able to control his pitches.
“I found try spots and made it work,” said Barnette, who came to the Rangers in the off-season after blossoming into a star closer in Japan. “You pitch in the rain a lot in Japan. They don’t have tarps. Either you play through it or the game is over.”
The game might have been over if not for Barnette. The Yankees were 0-for-5 against him with runners in scoring position in his 1 2/3 innings.
Instead, thanks to Odor and Barnette, umpires didn’t bang the game when they could have during the rain delay that stretched to 3 hours, 35 minutes. Their contributions shouldn’t be overlooked.