ALDS Game One, Tampa Bay 9, Texas 0

Eleven things:

1.         New York 3, Texas 2.

New York 6, Texas 4.

New York 4, Texas 0.

New York 3, Texas 0.

Tampa Bay 6, Texas 3.

Tampa Bay 5, Texas 2.

Tampa Bay 9, Texas 0.

The Rangers have never won an ALDS game in Rangers Ballpark.

They’re going to have to win one this year, or there won’t be an invitation to the ALCS.

2.         Texas Rangers hitting leaders, ALDS, 2011:

Josh Hamilton             .500

Nine others tied           .000

3.         The Rangers have played 26 playoff games in franchise history.  They’ve been shut out seven times.

Orlando Hernandez.  Roger Clemens.  David Wells.  David Cone.  Matt Cain.  Madison Bumgarner.

Matt Moore.

As Ron Washington said more than once in his postgame comments, Moore was special.  Texas may not see him again until late April – though depending on what happens today, Joe Maddon will have an interesting decision to make if there’s a Game Five, as he’s already said that assignment would go to James Shields – but he’s going to be an AL East factor for a long time.

4.         ESPN’s Jim Bowden on Moore, before yesterday’s game: “He has an edge because the Rangers have never seen him.  If the southpaw can get through the lineup once using primarily his fastball, he will be in great shape, since Texas won’t get a look at his off-speed stuff until the second time through.  Keep an eye on his pitch sequencing the first time through the order. If he has to resort to a lot of breaking stuff, he could be in trouble.”

First time through the Rangers lineup yesterday: 27 four-seam fastballs, two sliders, three changeups.

5.         Give me the choice to sit in a room and listen to any two managers talk baseball, and it would be easy for me.  Washington and Maddon couldn’t be any more different, but those are my two guys.  They each have a way about them that makes you understand almost immediately why their players would run through walls for their teammates and their manager.

6.         I know there’s talk that Boston might consider asking Seattle for permission to talk to manager Eric Wedge, who is under contract with the Mariners through 2013.  If I were a Red Sox fan, I’d hope for a call to the Rays for permission to talk to Maddon, who is locked up through 2012.

There’s no way Tampa Bay would greenlight it, of course.

7.         A couple things I didn’t really understand:

(a) Josh Hamilton’s decision to bunt with an 8-0 deficit in the sixth, a man on base with no outs, and two very good at-bats against Moore.  The decision was bad, the execution worse (you don’t square up like that when you’re trying to bunt for a hit; see Ben Zobrist’s technique ahead of Kelly Shoppach’s third-inning home run), and it seemed to drain whatever life remained in the 50,000+ on hand.

At that point in that game, the only thing that matters is making the 12 remaining outs as infrequently as possible.  A Craig Gentry bunt in that situation would have been bad baseball.  A Hamilton bunt was just crazy.

(b) The decision to give Matt Harrison 15 pitches in the ninth.  I know it was his day to throw a side and I understand the benefit of getting him past any potential post-season jitters, since he wasn’t part of the 2010 playoff rosters.  But Sean Rodriguez, B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, and Ben Zobrist – the first four hitters in the Rays order against left-handed pitchers – have now gotten a look at him before his Game 3 or Game 4 start in Tampa Bay, a game in which the Rangers’ season could conceivably be on the line, and I guess you have to weigh one potential consequence against the other.

The Rays had seen Harrison only once in 2011, a two-inning scoreless relief appearance (Zobrist, Casey Kotchman, Upton, Matt Joyce, John Jaso, Rodriguez) on August 31.  Now they’ve seen him again.  I suppose the fact that he allowed a run on a hit, a walk, and a wild pitch while getting two outs is better survived in a 9-0 loss than at the outset of a critical start, but I still thought it was a curious decision.

8.         C.J. Wilson in Game 2 against the Rays last year: 6.2-2-0-0-2-7.  Fanned Kelly Shoppach twice (and walked him once) in four trips.

03302 is the ZIP Code for Concord, New Hampshire, and also what the scoreboard read during Wilson’s five innings of work yesterday.  There’s a bad Bret and Jemaine joke in there somewhere, but I’m going to reward you by not resorting to one.

Sure hope that wasn’t Wilson’s final game as a Ranger.

9.         Speaking of ALDS Game 2 last year, James Shields went 4.1-4-4-4-0-2 in that one.

10.       And speaking of 2010 post-season memories to erase – or to use as motivation – Shields and Derek Holland both have them.  They’ve done lots of very good things in the intervening year, and both said things before yesterday’s games that would tend to make you think they’re a lot less concerned about last October than fans of their teams might be.

My 11-year-old daughter asked me this morning who was pitching for Texas tonight.  I told her.  “Oh good!” Erica said.  I asked why she said that, figuring on one of two or three answers that might have involved a Dutchstache or his goofy interviews.

She said: “Because he’s the one we score all those runs for all the time!”  (She might have said “points.”)

And she’s right.  She’s right about the run support Holland gets (a staggering Major League-leading 9.23 runs in 2011).

But she’s also right about looking forward and not moping about what’s over and done.  The Rangers team is good about that.  I try to be.  I’m not always very good about it.

But Erica’s got me thinking straight again.  Holland has been pitching well, this team tends to score when he’s pitching for whatever reason, and Moore proved yesterday that there’s more to this than track record.

Holland has come up big many times.  His next opportunity is in seven hours.

11.       As Bob Sturm likes to remind us:  A slam dunk still counts as only two points.

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