Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: How an ageless wonder and a bunch of whiz kids teamed up to beat Seattle

Bartolo Colon play good for a belly laugh

Texas Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon was struck in the midsection Wednesday by a grounder to the mound, but threw to first for the out and stayed in the game. He joked about it later.
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Texas Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon was struck in the midsection Wednesday by a grounder to the mound, but threw to first for the out and stayed in the game. He joked about it later.

Colby Lewis was accused of making a rookie mistake in his first day in the broadcast booth.

Ahead of working the Texas Rangers' debut on Facebook, the right-hander said that he hoped Bartolo Colon delivered a quick game so that he and his partners didn't have to talk endlessly for three or four hours.

A Facebook broadcast apparently runs without between-innings breaks.

Hopefully, fans were able to find it. If I could find it, which I did, anyone can find it.

Hopefully, the Rangers aren't put in one of these Facebook matchups again, though Colon followed through on Lewis' request for a sub-three-hour game.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

1. What else is there to say at this point about Colon?

It's still amazing what he's doing, especially eight days shy of his 45th birthday, but the Rangers are now seven weeks into the season and Colon continues to be their best starting pitcher.

He has given them a chance to win every time he has pitched this season. He hasn't allowed more than four runs in any of his seven starts and has gone fewer than six innings in only two of them.

The start Wednesday was his fourth of at least seven innings. He hasn't walked more than one batter in any start. His 2.82 ERA is 10th in the AL. The Rangers are 4-3 when he starts.

Colon was in control in the eighth at 96 pitches. A couple of the balls hit in the inning were well-struck, but Colon hadn't worked hard all game. He was 13-1 in his career at Safeco Field.

He had felt no side effects from getting hit in the midsection early in the game by a Jean Segura grounder back to the mound.

"I have a big belly, so I can handle it," Colon said.

So, why take him out?

Here's the manager, who was tempted to let him finish the inning:

"We felt like that he did his job and got us to exactly where we needed him to get to," Jeff Banister said. "We were going hitter by hitter in that inning. It got to the point where we had our bullpen set up. Once he got his last out right there, it was time."

Colon said of course he wanted to finish the inning. There isn't a starter out there who doesn't. But it was out of his control and worked out, so no harm done.

The things he could control, he did. He said that all of his pitches were working, and he tightened up some loose ends in his delivery after his last two starts by looking at video from his gem last month against the Houston Astros.

That worked out pretty well then.

Things worked out pretty well again Wednesday for the Rangers' best starting pitcher so far this season.

Texas Rangers starter Bartolo Colon tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday to improve to 14-1 in his MLB career at Safeco Field.



2. The Rangers managed to split the poorly scheduled two-game series at Safeco Field. Here's another scheduling curiosity: The Rangers are coming back here in two weeks.

Huh.

They were a run away from a sweep but lost 9-8 in 11 innings Tuesday. Within that game, the young infielders played a significant role.

Keep in mind that not one of them was older than 25. That was Jurickson Profar, who played one full major-league season, and that was before he missed two years because of a shoulder injury.

He scored the game-tying run in the ninth as he raced home from second on a grounder to first. Rougned Odor, 24, ensured extra innings by diving to rob Dee Gordon of a walk-off single and had an RBI double in the Rangers' three-run sixth.

First baseman Ronald Guzman, 23, gave the Rangers an 8-7 lead in the eighth with a single to right that scored 23-year-old third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa. All Kiner-Falefa did was score three runs.

Nomar Mazara, 23, and Joey Gallo, 24, also had huge contributions.

"That's the story right there," Banister said.

The young players are going to have their not-so-good moments, though, and sometimes they will have good and bad in the same moment.

That happened in the ninth Wednesday.

Profar started with a leadoff double ahead of Mazara, Gallo, Kiner-Falefa, Odor and Guzman. Lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski struck out Mazara and Gallo, gave Kiner-Falefa an intentional walk but saw Odor reach on an error that kept the inning going.

Guzman was next, and he struck out, too. But strike three got away from catcher David Freitas, and Profar raced home. Guzman raced to first and was safe ahead of the throw from the backstop, which was long enough for Kiner-Falefa to race home.

That's a lot of racing.

"That's smart no-hitting right there," Guzman said.

So, the kids twice failed to move Profar from second to third in a situation where that is a necessity, but the kids all played with their heads on the wild pitch.

Guess what? The Rangers scored twice more, and those were critical runs.

And how about that double play Profar started to end the game.

The kids can play.

"They're doing a good job," Colon said.

3. Kiner-Falefa and Guzman each gave a nod to their coaches in the minor leagues for instilling in them the instinct to be aggressive, and in Kiner-Falefa's case, he said that he has actually done the score-from-second-on-a-passed-ball thing before in the minors.

Gee, imagine that: Two young players who piled up games and experiences in the minors and were able to apply what they learned in the major leagues.

What a concept!

"That's the way they always tell us in the minor leagues to play the game," Guzman said. "We play hard and we try to take advantage of every situation we can."

Guzman, Kiner-Falefa and Profar have combined for 1,552 games in the minors and 5,884 at-bats. Guzman played 607 games in the minors before his MLB debut. There probably isn't much they haven't seen, and know this about baseball players: They have tremendous memories.

So, when Kiner-Falefa, who has been transitioning to catcher, saw the third strike to Guzman get away, he dashed to third and took an aggressive turn because he believed Freitas would throw to first to try to end the inning.

Once he did, Kiner-Falefa dashed toward home.

"I knew the situation," he said. "The guy's going to pick up the ball and throw to first, and if he's throwing to first, I can probably score. I've done it before. I've probably done it a bunch. We preach in the minor leagues being aggressive."

So, the next time someone wonders why Kiner-Falefa and Guzman are doing so well in their first big-league stints, keep in mind the knowledge they accumulated in the minors.

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