Two pitching lines for your consideration:
- Six innings, no runs, four hits, two walks, three strikeouts. Twelve groundballs, three fly balls. Eleven swing-and-miss strikes (almost two per inning). Win.
- Nine innings, six runs, nine hits, no walks, two strikeouts. Eleven groundballs, 14 fly balls (three of which left the park). Seven swing-and-miss strikes (fewer than one per inning). Loss.
Just about the only thing that Matt Harrison’s gem last night had in common with Cliff Lee’s debut as a Ranger on July 10, 2010 was that Mark Wegner was calling balls and strikes.
If Yu Darvish replicates Harrison’s line tonight, there might be some folks disappointed that he wasn’t more dominating. Expectations can be crazy things.
At the same time, if the Mariners do to Darvish what the sad-sack Orioles did to Lee, well, you might do well to call Baltimore 6, Texas 1 to mind and stave off the temptation to pour the Kool-Aid out on the curb.
Texas drew only 41,000 fans for Lee’s debut, and in fact (to my surprise) sold the place out only twice in his eight home starts: on August 11 against the Yankees (who over the years have typically filled the Ballpark regardless of who was pitching) and in Game Five of the World Series. There was another Lee start against the Yankees that didn’t sell out, and two Angels games that fell short.
It shocks me that tonight’s game against Seattle isn’t sold out, but maybe it shouldn’t. It’s a Monday, it’s a school night, lots of folks shelled out to get to the Ballpark in the last three days. All that.
It also wouldn’t shock me to see the 8,500 available tickets that the club announced last night end up at half that number.
Or better. When Lee debuted, the Rangers sold more than 14,000 tickets on the day of that Saturday game.
Of course, a big reason for that is that the Lee trade came down just the day before. We’ve known for a couple weeks that Darvish would pitch tonight.
There will be a couple reminders this series of the Cliff Lee trade, as Justin Smoak (who went 5 for 11 with home runs in all three games when he first visited Arlington as the opponent in 2010) will be at first base for Seattle and Blake Beavan will make his first appearance at Rangers Ballpark tomorrow night.
None of us expects Darvish’s performance tonight to remind us of Lee’s debut as a Ranger, but if you’re anticipating something more along the lines of what Harrison did last night, whether you’re at the Ballpark or back at home, well, that’s cool.
But the Yankees and Red Sox have yet to win, the Orioles and Mets have yet to lose, Zack Cozart is hitting .545/.583/1.182, and Alex Gordon, Kevin Youkilis, and Jayson Werth have a combined zero hits this season.
And Cliff Lee gave up home runs in three straight innings of his Texas unveiling.
I don’t really care how the Rangers win tonight. I’d rather see Darvish put up a Lee-like clunker line in a Texas victory than see him deal like Harrison in a loss.
But I feel comfortable in predicting that if Darvish comes out of the gate tonight firing the club’s fourth quality start out of four, maybe putting up strikeout numbers at something approaching his spring rate or doing something else super-memorable, there will be 51,703,411 folks claiming they were in the building that Monday night in April, on their feet and using up whatever’s left of their voices at the moment Ron Washington took the ball from Darvish, or as Mike Napoli handed it to him.