THE NEWBERG REPORT — APRIL 10, 2007
The best game of Chris Stewart’s 2004 season was on August 27, when he went 3 for 4 and scored three runs for AA Birmingham. That day Stewart caught Brandon McCarthy, who was making the third AA start of his career and his best to date, improving to 3-0, 2.84 as a Baron with a sterling seven-inning effort as he gave up one Mobile run on four hits and two walks while punching out nine BayBears.
It’s not a stretch to say that Stewart and McCarthy, roommates for that month McCarthy spent in Birmingham, teamed up on August 27, 2004 and had the biggest game of each of their baseball lives.
Stewart made his first and only big league start with the White Sox two years and a month later, on September 27, 2006 against Cleveland. He went hitless in three trips but gunned Grady Sizemore down trying to steal, twice. And he caught McCarthy, who won his fourth game of the year with 5.2 innings of two-hit ball, walking one and fanning eight.
It was, without question, the game of the year for McCarthy in 2006, and obviously the highlight of Stewart’s big league career at that point.
And last night, Stewart made his Rangers debut, getting his first big league hit and first big league RBI and scoring his first big league run, adding a great-looking sacrifice bunt and the cutdown of one out of two would-be basestealers. Stewart, of course, caught McCarthy, who notched his first Texas win with a solid six frames of work, holding a good Devil Rays lineup to two runs on four singles, a double, and two walks, striking out five. It was the fifth straight quality start for the Texas rotation, with McCarthy notching the bookend efforts.
The high points of Texas 8, Tampa Bay 4 were the sixth inning in which the offense scored twice as many runs — after recording two outs — than it had in all but one game this season. A career-high four hits from Ian Kinsler and career-high three from Nelson Cruz, the two Rangers hitters I’m highest on in terms of having breakout seasons. An 8 for 14 effort from the lineup with two outs. A 7 for 14 performance with runners in scoring position.
But it was a big night for Chris Stewart and Brandon McCarthy, too, something the two of them might have dreamed out loud about three years ago at a late-night diner in Mobile, Alabama, each sporting a per diem that, put together, might have been enough to buy a hot chocolate at a chilly big league ballgame on April 9, 2007.