Settling into the groove
“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”
― Tommy Lasorda
The Rangers won their second straight series today which means in Lasorda’s terms, they are winning the other third. What does that tell you? It should tell you that everything is alright in Ranger land. Yes, there have been bumps and bruises along the way, but it seems the team is settling in.
On Thursday afternoon, the Rangers continued their day game dominance on the year (yes it’s just a two game sample size) by shellacking the Angels at the “Big A”. Today was all about Yu Darvish and the Rangers red-hot offense—an offense that has flown under the radar due to all that “other stuff” that happened this week. Nevertheless, we are going to talk offense today and we are going to talk Yu Darvish and his “diabolical” slider (as it is so affectionately referred to by Rangers radio voice Eric Nadel).
Pitching: Yu Darvish was not KKKKKKKKKKidding around today.
Yu Darvish pitched like an ace today because, well, he is an ace.
- Darvish’s final line was 7 innings pitched with 5 hits, 10 strikeouts, and 2 walks. Of the 103 pitches he threw, 68 were strikes. The only knock on the day for Darvish isn’t really even a knock. He just took his pretty little time doing everything. Pace of play be damned. Other than that however, he was lights-out the entire day and gave the Rangers everything they needed and then some to win a ball game. Here are a few key notes from Darvish’s day:
- According to Brooks baseball, Darvish had excellent control of his fastball today. Out of his 103 pitches, 46 were fastballs and 33 went for strikes. That’s a 72% strike rate, which is far higher than Darvish’s career average (that sits in the mid 50s).
- Also according to Brooks, of the 103 pitches Darvish threw, the Angels swung at 48 of them. Of those 48, 19 were swings and misses. That, my friends, is a huge number. To put that in perspective, in Darvish’s first start this season, he induced just 5 swings and misses. In his second start, 11.
- Finally Darvish had an incredibly nasty slider today, no doubt aided by his impeccable fastball control. Darvish threw 26 sliders, 17 of which were strikes, inducing 10 swings and 5 swings and misses. The best part about this pitch, though, was its movement. It was moving today better than it has all year, and that made Darvish all the more effective.
All in all, Darvish was lights out; although Mike Hauschild couldn’t preserve the shutout, it’s water under the bridge. Darvish dominated, the key pieces in the bullpen got a day off, and the Rangers won. End of story from atop the bump.
Hitting: It turns out the Rangers are pretty good at scoring runs.
The Rangers were stout today on offensive, top to bottom. Nomar Mazara and Carlos Gomez hit bombs, Joey Gallo continued to do baseball things well, and Elvis Andrus advanced his mission to be better than he’s ever been. Even Shin-Soo Choo and Robinson Chirinos got in on the fun today with 4 hits and 4 RBIs between them. Chirinos, by the way, is hitting .400 on the year. Who knew?
The Rangers also scored in multiple different ways today, continuing a recent trend that shows the long ball isn’t the only way they can score. Watching the Rangers slug away this afternoon had me wondering where they stack up among the early offensive leaders on the season. So, let’s take a look, in no particular order, by number and MLB rank:
- Home Runs – 18 – tied for 1st.
- RBIs – 52 – 1st.
- Runs per game – 6 – 1st.
Now, those stats don’t tell the entire story. Yes the Rangers have struck out a ton. Yes, the Rangers average isn’t great. But the bottom line is this: they are flat-out getting it done. They are scoring in bunches without having gotten close to their full potential. They have several players on the roster still struggling to get going, and a future Hall of Famer on the DL, and, yet, they are putting on an absolute offensive show. This is just one of the reasons that we, as fans, have a lot be excited about.
Jeff Banister: On the performance of the offense the past two days:
“Our guys stayed engaged offensively; we continue to swing the bats very well and we were able to add on runs today, which, after the first game, we talked to the guys about it, and tried to reinforce that message: to add on runs.”
Yu Darvish: How he made adjustments on slider throughout the game and especially after the first three innings:
“It was breaking a lot, so it was just trying to aim it differently than earlier in the game”.
Yu Darvish: How his early command of the inside part of the plate affected things.
“Early in the game I was able to throw sinkers in and, as the game progressed, it allowed me to hit (with) the outside pitches”
Yu Darvish: on getting his first win:
“This is not like my first career win or anything like that, so it’s nothing special”.
Well, Darvish may not think this win today was special, but it most certainly was. Next up, the Rangers will head to Seattle to face the struggling Mariners tomorrow night.