Cruz missile.

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C.J. Wilson’s short night led Texas to use a franchise-record
11 pitchers, who combined to allow one run (on Pedro Strop’s bases loaded walk
in the sixth) over 10 innings.


Ron Washington summoned Matt Harrison, Strop, Alexi Ogando,
Michael Kirkman, Dustin Nippert, Clay Rapada, Neftali Feliz, Darren O’Day,
Darren Oliver, and Scott Feldman, and he might have even slipped Gary Mielke,
Rosman Garcia, Mike Bacsik Sr., Mike Bacsik Jr., DeWayne Vaughn, and the feared
combination of Dale Mohorcic and Cecilio Guante in there at some point.


If Tommy Hunter doesn’t go deep tonight, maybe we’ll see Duff
Brumley, Eric Moody, Danilo Leon, and Tanyon Sturtze come to the rescue.


If those guys aren’t available, Texas could summon Guillermo
Moscoso and Zach Phillips from Oklahoma City, whose season and 28-year run as the
Rangers’ AAA affiliate came to an end last night.  (More on that in Scott Lucas’s report later
today.)  Doug Mathis is on the 40-man
roster, too, but he started last night’s playoff loss to Memphis.


Chris Davis is heavily rumored to be on his way back to
Arlington as well.  He pitched a bit at
Navarro College, you know.


But really, only Strop and Oliver and Feldman and O’Day are probably
in need of a night off. 


If the audio file attachment of Eric Nadel’s walkoff call
didn’t work for you last night, you can click the “Media/Audio” link on the
Newberg Report website and listen to it – and also to Cruz’s extra-inning, walkoff
blast against Boston on August 13 and a couple other things. 


You can also click this
for a TV spot that my voice did on SportsNet New York yesterday, helping
host Ted Berg preview this series.


The Rangers probably won’t catch Minnesota for home field,
and the A’s probably won’t catch Texas for a post-season berth, but one thing
that got lost a bit in last night’s awesome awesomeness was that, with New York
losing and Tampa Bay winning its own game in the ninth, the Rays have pulled to
within a game and a half of the Yankees as those two clubs battle for home
field and Wild Card, with the loser in that race likely hosting Texas when the
playoffs get underway. 


Hunter’s job tonight is to eat innings.  His teammates’ job is to continue punishing
A.J. Burnett, whose ERA is 8.10 in his last four starts. 


Six Rangers have homered off of Burnett, though that
includes Josh Hamilton, who’s out indefinitely but was right in the middle of
the home plate scrum last night, awaiting Cruz, whose three-run bomb off
Burnett on June 2 last year was all that Texas could muster in what was a 12-3
loss to the Yankees.


Burnett may not end up in New York’s playoff rotation, and
tomorrow’s starter Dustin Moseley won’t either, and as we’ve discussed this
series in many ways shouldn’t really be thought of as a playoff preview. 


But there’s a playoff atmosphere in Arlington this weekend,
and if the Yankees can hold off the Rays over these next three weeks – and maybe
even if they can’t – tonight and tomorrow won’t be the last time these two
teams tee it up in Texas this year. 


One thing that last night reinforced: I’m not going to sit
here and predict we might have a new Senor Octubre, but Nelson Cruz sure likes
bringing the Boomstick out when the moment is big.


Yes.  I screwed up this morning and wrote that the
loser of the battle between the Yankees and Rays for the AL East crown will
host Texas in Game One of round one of the playoffs.  That’s 100 percent wrong.  The winner of that race hosts Texas, and the
loser goes to Minnesota.  (There’s still
a small chance that the loser will travel to Texas, if the Rangers manage to catch
the Twins in win-loss record, but there’s no chance that the Wild Card would
host Texas.)


Sorry for the
mistake.  I was probably still
intoxicated by my outstanding Cecilio Guante reference.




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(c) Jamey Newberg


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