What does Texas 9, New York 5 mean?

I’ve said all year that, no matter what happens in 2008, if this team is playing meaningful games in August and September, it’s going to serve the Rangers really well, considering how many young players are learning how to be big leaguers in the midst of 59-54.  It’s not only about learning how to compete against the most consistent players in the world, how to get the job done when you’re not at your best, how to make adjustments when the league starts to figure you out.

It’s learning how to win.  Learning how to win for five months, maybe six.  Hopefully, one day soon enough, seven.

This one featured everything.  

Some really awful umpiring (and not just to the Yankees’ benefit).  There’s a reason Andy Fletcher leads the league in ejections.

A fourth outfielder (just ask the national experts) takes a Hall of Fame-bound 22-year-old (ask them about that, too) deep as an answer to the two solo shots that New York had hit 10 minutes earlier.  The fourth outfielder later triples off one of the best left-handed relievers in the league.

Michael Young muscles a 95-mph fastball the opposite way and over the fence, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead, with only eight or nine fingers not broken.

Josh Hamilton goes 0 for 4 and has a huge impact on the game anyway.

Texas hasn’t had a starting pitcher with as much polished talent as Vicente Padilla since Kevin Brown.  No telling how good he could be if it weren’t for what all comes with that special arm.  (Of course, without the baggage, we never get him for Ricardo Rodriguez.)  

Fletcher’s terrible first inning cost Padilla about 10 pitches, and, ultimately, maybe a seventh inning of work.  Probably doesn’t change the result.  We probably see Frankie Francisco in the eighth and Eddie Guardado in the ninth regardless, and just don’t get Jamey Wright’s inning.

If Marlon Byrd had gotten another two inches off the ground in the eighth, he never even comes up to hit in the ninth.  

But his marginally inadequate jump made possible the most amazing dugout rail leap you’ve ever seen.  If you didn’t catch Ian Kinsler’s aerobatics the second that Byrd’s ninth-inning blast left the yard, I hope you TiVo’d the game.  What Kinsler pulled off in that moment is probably contractually prohibited.

When Jon Daniels spoke to our group on Sunday, one of Grant Schiller’s questions for him was pin down his biggest surprise of the season.  Daniels said the resilience of this team.  Not even the most optimistic among us could have expected, or hoped for, this.

It’s not just the general youth of this team and the strength of the farm system that ought to be making the Angels, A’s, and Mariners increasingly nervous.  This club’s toughness, its ability to fight back late, when the game’s most dominant short-dose pitchers are typically on the hill, is scary.  And it’s not like a David Ortiz team that’s jumping on one player’s back for the comeback heroics.  It’s a different guy every night.

Doing it against the Yankees, of course, makes it a little different from the other nights that have ended this way.  The Rangers may not be consequential to New York in the grand scheme, but the kids that Alex Rodriguez ran away from have a score to settle with his club, mainly because of the post-season history between Texas and New York.  A footnote for the Yankees, it’s a big deal here.

When we get back to the playoffs, whenever that is, I want the Yankees.  Round One.

The Wild Card standings, up to the minute:

Boston        —
Chicago    1.5 GB
Minnesota    1.5
New York    2.5
Texas        5.0

After finally reaching that elusive five-games-over-.500 mark, and finally beating the Yankees at home (breaking a 10-game skid), in one crazy night the Rangers registered their biggest win of the year and made this thrilling season just a little bit more interesting.

And regardless of where this thing is headed, wins like tonight’s, in that sort of atmosphere and in the season’s final third, are really good for Chris Davis and Brandon Boggs and Travis Metcalf and Luis Mendoza and Eric Hurley and Matt Harrison and Tommy Hunter and Warner Madrigal to experience.

But there’s a pretty cool opportunity these next three days, and next two weeks, to make this more than just about the development of a team preparing to win in 2009 or 2010.

A callback to May 17:

It’s not about this year.  

But it is about tonight.

And it may be about this year.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.



1 Comment

It is also pretty cool when ESPN starts tossing in a lot of highlights of your ‘4th outfielder’ on baseball tonight and sportscenter.

As well as highlights of Hamilton, Byrd, Young, Kinsler, et al.

Perhaps someday (soon) they will focus more on these ballplayers than the opposing pitcher having a sore shoulder.

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