MOMENT 1 = FELIX COUGHS UP 4 EARLY
Bill Krueger was about as disgusted as a guy like him can get, which is not very, after Felix grooved a high slowball to Rougned Odor. If you just joined us, Odor is a bad-ball swinger (not hitter) of Vladian proportions. You don't have to give him many strikes, much less many teeballs. Krueg's take on Felix' early "sloppiness" matched Dr. D's own take. Sloppiness from Felix Hernandez, in a pennant-race showdown with Cole blinkin' Hamels, is weird on a lotttttttt of levels.
When Felix trudged off the mound after 2 innings, the calculator gave the Rangers' chances to win as more than 85%. And the calculator had no clue that Cole Hamels was pitching in the ballgame.
MOMENT 2 = RANGERS LF DECIDES NOT TO FIELD A SINGLE
Pre-quel. Nelson Cruz doubled to lead off. Kyle Seager then doubled behind him, and Cruz ... advanced to third. HEH
Valencia hit a very sharp grounder into the SS hole and Drew Robinson LF waved his glove at the ball vaguely, turned, and watched it roll to the wall. Dr. D is not saying that the earlier Yu Darvish trade had anything to do with this, and he's not saying it didn't. But on the evening, the Rangers had 4 errors, 2 balks and 1 passed ball every single one of which killed them.
MOMENT 3 = FELIX BEARS DOWN
In the third, fourth, and fifth, the King got back to the kind of razor-sharp thinking that has usually characterized his life in baseball. The Rangers didn't get much of a sniff, so Cole Hamels notwithstanding the ballgame was a 1-run affair when ...
MOMENT 4 = LEONYDAS TIES IT
In the sixth, with three out ... whoop, two easy outs and then an easy out that Beltre burped into the railing, so Heredia was on ... Leonydas tripled deep to center. No, wait for it, it gets better. The pitch was a 2-strike (!) curve ball (!) from Cole Hamels. This means that Leonys Martin is watching the pitches travel towards him, rather than hoping meatball and swinging from his wallet.
Under these specific circumstances, Leonys Martin can play baseball in the major leagues. Not to make a value judgment or anything.
MOMENT 5 = FELIX COMES OUT TO PITCH THE 6th
The Mariners have three major strengths and one dubious not-strength:
√ Good offense.
√ Bullpen that is, we must fairly say, excellent.
√ Cy Young #1 starter.
√ the not-strength being the rotation after Zeus.
So we are still in the mold of the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds. This means that if your SP gets you to your bullpen tied, you need'a win that game - especially when you have managed a 6th-inning tie against Cole Hamels.
Politics, if nothing else, ensured Felix came out for the 6th with 88 pitches. There is surely some unwritten rule or other than forbids Scott Servais from removing a $25M pitcher after five innings, however it might jeapordize his chances objectively speaking. Felix promptly allowed 3 of the first 4 Rangers on base in the 6th inning. Luckily for us, one was thrown out stealing. At that point, Servais was free to deploy his big flotilla of bullpen arms and Scrabble came in to KO the Rangers with ease.
MOMENT 6 = ITTTTT'S ROBBBBINSONNN CANNOOOOO!!
9th inning, winning runs on second and third, some Ranger fires a searing lefty sidearm fastball and Cano takes that Edgar-sweet controlled swing. It's a 1-iron right at Shin-Soo Choo and clears him 12 feet in the air before hopping off the wall.
Here's the video. There's something incongruous about a left hand hitter swatting that pitch, so leisurely, to his straightaway pull field. We remember a time in Robby's first year here, four years ago now, when we wondered about a superfast age-out on a superlong contract. Now the main wondering is done over numbers like 3,000 hits, 400-500 homers, 700 doubles, stuff like that.
He's one of the most "aiki" players you'll ever see. His state of mind is as beautiful as his sports motions are.
MOMENT 7 = JIMENEZ OVER DUFFY
The Orioles beat the Royals' ace 2-1, so the M's are -2.5 out of the Wild Card. This is it; August is our playoff baseball. The Royals comin' up, we need 3 of those 4 or else we need 2-2 there and +8 games over .500 for the month of August, or something of that nature.
No more "plenty of time left." We've got the 4-5 starters in here, we've got Zeus casting bolts, we've got two bullpens. We've got to start winning now.