Shin-Soo Choo talks about setting Rangers' on-base record
Take my word for it: The Texas Rangers, and presumably the Baltimore Orioles and everyone else Friday night at Camden Yards, had zero complaints about the weather.
The first-pitch temperature was 84 degrees, which for Baltimore in July is like a 70-degree winter day in, oh, Minneapolis. It was a rare comfortable night, and, unfortunately, it will be short-lived.
Forecasts for Saturday and Sunday call for temperatures in the mid-90s. The game Saturday is a night game, so the temperature might not be too obnoxious. Sunday’s game, though, starts at 1 p.m. and will be pretty miserable.
We’ll always have Friday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-4 victory.
1. If not for this whole trade deadline thing, Cole Hamels’ displeasure with how the game has changed would be the meatiest part of recapping his start. But the July 31 trade deadline is approaching, and what will matter most for the Rangers is what scouts and officials from contending teams thought about it.
Hamels pitched 6 1/3 innings, 5 2/3 more than he did last weekend at Detroit, and allowed four runs. Jose Leclerc was a pitch away from getting Hamels out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, but allowed a bases-clearing double to No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph.
Hamels had been pulled after a four-pitch walk to Chris Davis, who was batting .158 thanks to a single off Hamels in the fifth.
A start that at times looked good ended up looking not as good, especially against the worst-hitting team in the league. The scouts will have their say, as well as a say in what will likely be two Hamels starts after the All-Star break before the deadline hits.
Oh, and Hamels had his say.
“When you give up as many runs as I have in the month, nothing is going to be satisfactory,” he said. “It’s still giving up four runs, so that’s tough.”
The scouts might see it in a different light. Hamels was good through six and then he ran out of pitches. They will note that he ran out at 81 pitches.
He wasn’t out of gas. That’s a key distinction.
Hamels wasn’t pleased that he pitched himself into that situation where, based on going short the past two starts, he was going to be on a pitch count. He wasn’t told that, but he knew.
It’s the way the game has changed, he said. And it appears he doesn’t care for it.
“If you don’t want to put yourself in that situation, then you’ve got to be able to finish games earlier in the week and allow yourself to have a pitch count that you can do so,” Hamels said. “It’s all my fault for what the situation is and the outcome that happened. It’s all directly correlated to pitch counts and giving up runs, and things will play out the way they’ve played out.
“It’s just the way that the game is now. Everything is based off pitch counts and the mathematical equations that are thought up in a think tank on what you can and cannot do. It’s a situation that I understand very well having been around this game so long. I kind of understood what was going to happen.”
Hamels (5-8) walked only Davis and struck out only three. He faced the minimum through four innings, and he managed to limit damage to one run in the fifth. It could have been worse, especially with the dreaded hit batsman on an 0-2 pitch.
The stuff, manager Jeff Banister said, was there.
“He was dynamic tonight,” Banister said. “The stuff was really good.”
Hamels wasn’t having any of it. What’s more important from a Rangers perspective will be what the scouts from contending teams put in their reports.
2. No drama came into play with Shin-Soo Choo and his on-base streak.
He didn’t need to extend the streak in final at-bat. He actually got an at-bat. Multiple at-bats.
(P.S. Don’t ask him about his last at-bat. He was called out on strikes and was still steaming after the game.)
Choo singled in his second at-bat to push his on-base streak to 49 games, and he did so on his 36th birthday.
Back on Wednesday, when he was a mere 35, he was out of the lineup against Boston ace Chris Sale and wasn’t used to pinch-hit in the eighth or ninth innings. You might have heard about it.
The reaction to the decision was split, though the majority who chose to respond to tweets about it said that the streak is all the Rangers have going for them in a season when wins aren’t important.
Well, allow me to retort.
Winning matters to one group in particular: The players.
They don’t show up each day to try to lose, and they aren’t happy to be 20-plus games out of first place. The veterans don’t want to be part of a rebuild, and the coaching staff is trying to develop young players into winning players.
And those coaches’ futures will be determined by doing just that.
Will the Rangers lose 100 games in this development season? They have to win 22 of their final 68 games to avoid that.
The players will show up every day to win all 68. Yeah, winning matters to them.
3. Some funky stuff happened to/for/with the Rangers in Game 95.
Rougned Odor did something I’ve never seen. (Maybe I don’t see enough National League games.) He tried to bunt ... on a 3-0 pitch. A 3-0 green light, and he bunted.
It went foul, and he tried again on 3-1, and pitcher Alex Cobb shot off the mound for the 1-3 putout.
The bunting adventure came in the at-bat after the Rangers used up both of their challenges on one play.
Adrian Beltre bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, but Banister thought shortstop Manny Machado wasn’t on the bag for the out at second and thought Beltre had beaten the throw to first.
Replay confirmed both out calls.
There was no need to review what happened in the third, though some might not have believed what they saw. Yes, Carlos Tocci delivered a base hit.
It was hit No. 3 on the season for Tocci, who gets used about as often as an 8-track player. It could be the rookie’s final hit for some time, as Delino DeShields was cleared to play two days after hitting his head during a tumble at Fenway Park.
Banister sent Ryan Rua to the plate in the seventh to hit for Tocci, and Rua delivered his first career pinch hit in 19 tries. It happened to be a three-run homer that broke a 1-1 tie. Nomar Mazara followed three batters later with an RBI double.
Just prior to the homer, I tweeted, “Ryan Rua hitting for Carlos Tocci, who is batting .500 tonight. What are they thinking?”
People actually thought I was being serious. Sarcasm, people.
And then there’s the longtime Orioles fan who has really good seats just in front of the press box. He believes it’s his duty to stand up and announce to the crowd the pitchers at the start of the game and any relievers who enter.
He used to have a wooden microphone for his announcements but on Friday was reduced to using a bottle of Budweiser, or Bud Heavy as A.J. Griffin once called it.
The Rangers could have used Griffin this season.