The wife brought up coming to Chicago for a long weekend at some point in the not-too-distant future, just her and me. No kids, who at ages almost 4 and 19 months should be able to fend for themselves.
Then I recalled my younger days and hearing people say they went to Chicago for a vacation. The only reason I ever wanted to go to Chicago was to go to Wrigley Field.
A day like Saturday is what I envisioned — ivy covering the walls, not a cloud in the sky, the greenest grass in baseball.
Of course, I haven’t really seen a game at Wrigley. I’ve covered five games here, but never as a paying customer in the stands with Chicago hot dogs and Old Style beer. So, maybe my wife’s trip has new life, though I think I’d like to take my son.
The 19-month-old will probably need a sitter.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from another loss, 2-1, Saturday.
1. Yu Darvish’s first start after his second stint on the disabled list was pretty encouraging as he struck out nine, walked four and allowed two hits and two runs. The Ks and the walks pushed his pitch count to its max of 90 in 4 1/3 innings.
“Darvish, my God,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You could see that guy when he’s well, I’ve seen it before, and it’s beyond electric stuff what he’s got.”
He made only one major mistake, a leadoff walk in the third to the .201-hitting Miguel Montero. He eventually scored on a two-out two-run double by Anthony Rizzo that got the proverbial tip of the cap from Darvish.
The Rangers will take what they got from Darvish each time, though over more innings, and eventually he will be allowed to pitch without a strict pitch limit. More freedom is coming soon, possibly in his next start.
Obviously, the Rangers need him to perform if they’re going to hang on for a playoff spot. The same goes for Cole Hamels, who gets the series finale Sunday.
He’ll be the first to say that his past two starts have been unacceptable, with each lasting only four innings and the Minnesota Twins scoring five runs in each game.
Hamels knows the minimum of what is expected of him, a Rangers win, each time he pitches. Though the last Rangers win was in a Hamels start, July 8, in spite of his lousy outing, he is also expected to allow anywhere from zero to two runs and work no less than six innings.
The Rangers again turn to him to fix their losing ways.
2. All this Rangers losing has really exposed something that all the winning had been covering up — the woes Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland.
To further the conversation from item No. 3 from Friday’s Rangers Reaction, it might not be too much longer before the Rangers are forced to address those woes.
The first basemen/designated hitters have been a problem the entire season, and the Rangers aren’t just waking up to it. But the pitching had been so good and the wins had far outpaced the losses, buying time for Fielder and Moreland to solve their problems.
They haven’t, and if the Rangers’ pitching issues persist, the lineup could be in for a shake-up in an attempt to find more production.
Plan A for the Rangers is to fix the pitching staff and buy the sluggers some more time.
Plan B might be Jurickson Profar, who could start at first base Sunday after finishing up there Saturday. Or maybe it’s Joey Gallo, though he’s dealing with a heel injury and has hit a bit of a slump, too.
Moreland has the Rangers’ only extra-base hit of the series and is capable defensively. Fielder can’t seem to do anything right right now.
Wins might buy them some more time, but maybe not.
3. Manager Jeff Banister’s decision to not pinch hit for reliever Shawn Tolleson, who had never had a plate appearance in the major leagues, while trailing by a run to start the sixth inning had the Twitter up in arms.
The press box was filled with raised eyebrows, too.
The fifth-inning error on Rougned Odor that didn’t get Darvish out of the inning and brought Tolleson into the game was a factor.
So, here are the question from a reporter and the explanation from Banister:
Question: That error, it didn’t get you out of the inning, you, obviously, would have pinch hit for him [Darvish]. It seems like it might have had an effect on how things unfolded maybe offensively.
Answer: “If Darvish is done, we’re going to pinch-hit in that spot, but the need to bring Tolly in that situation, there’s no double-switch to be had. You would wind up taking a bat out of the lineup. You don’t take the catcher out. You don’t take the shortstop out. When you start moving around the list, you move that spot closer than you want it to be.
“It was the sixth inning. We still had 12 outs to go. If we wind up bringing Tolleson in, Tolly’s got to go an extra inning. You saw the number of guys that were out there anyways. Barnette was not going to be available to us. We needed to keep our long man right where he was at. We new Claudio was going to be a matchup lefty, and we got what we needed from him. If you pinch-hit there, Claudio’s got to go a full inning. If he does, then you’re running Bush and Keone out for situations you really don’t want them in the game.”
Tony Barnette not being available was the key domino there, followed by the Rangers apparently wanting to use Alex Claudio in close games only to match up with a left-handed batter.
The explanation makes sense, but the argument against it is that an offense struggling terribly gave away an out to start an inning with the top of the lineup to follow.
Banister gets the big bucks to make those decisions and then to hear about it when they don’t work out.