It struck me tonight, as Ervin “Magic” Santana was punching Rangers out early on like Morris Moss against Kimball High, that I don’t think I’d ever seen, at the big league level, a lineup collectively watch more strikes and swing at more balls out of the zone as Texas did the first couple times through the lineup.

(Is the fact that John Hirschbeck is working behind the plate a factor? Maybe. But it’s not as if we didn’t know who was umpiring tonight.)

One of these days I think I’ll relinquish my perch in center field where I operate that super-turbo-high-tech beacon lighting system, signaling pitches to hitters on nights that Mark Buehrle isn’t on the mound, and instead eavesdrop on the road team’s late-afternoon pitcher-catcher game-planning session.

Would love to know how other teams think they can get our guys out.

Give the Rangers this, however: the lineup forced 103 Santana pitches through five innings. Now, when 10 of his 15 outs come on strikes (11 strikeouts all told), that alone is going to ratchet a pitch count up, but at the same time among those 103 deliveries were 37 allowed to go by outside the zone.

The working of counts has paid off. You could see Santana laboring a bit when Brad Wilkerson took him yard for the second time in the game to lead off the sixth and when Desi Relaford rifled a single on the next pitch. A Travis Metcalf sac bunt followed and suddenly Santana’s night is finished. Nice work.

And a very nice bounceback so far for Kevin Millwood, after some command issues the first time through the lineup.

Love well-pitched games like this.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at

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