Some quick thoughts, in roughly sequential order:
- I've been one of the people helming the let's-be-skittish-about-Colby-Lewis's-hip bandwagon, but there was no indication of imminent trouble on the horizon this afternoon, as Lewis tossed six frames of two-run, nine-strikeout, one-walk baseball, and amassed a whopping 18 swinging strikes with just 100 pitches -- his second-best single-game swinging strikes total since returning to Texas before the 2010 season, a mark bested only by his 19 swinging strikes against the Angels on September 21st, 2010.
It wasn't Lewis's most efficient performance by any means, given the quantity of pitch count-spiking strikeouts and hits (seven), but it was a strong command-based performance, and if he can effectively manage the pain stemming from his degenerative hip condition, he should, at the very least, be able to function as a league-average innings-eater, with a legitimate shot at being somebody who can provide 3-4 wins above replacement during the regular season and be an asset during the playoffs.
- David Murphy raked an opposite-field hit off John Danks, and that's good. Let's be emphatically clear about that. It's good for the Rangers when Murphy plays well. Don't conflate the highlighting of his baseball shortcomings with dislike or hatred for the man himself. I mention that because Murphy was shown up by Alex Rios in the sixth inning when, on a two-out pitch with Rios running from first base, Alexei Ramirez slapped a single to short left-center field that left Murphy paralyzed for a split-second (the liner had already cleared the infield and was nearing the outfield grass by the time Murphy began his break), followed by Murphy pumping the ball into the cutoff man with no real sense of urgency.
- Rios scored all the way from first on a shallow single, the game was knotted at 2-2, and though all turned out well in the end, that's the kind of non-heads-up play that, if committed by Julio Borbon, would have led to him being skewered by his manager and quite possibly the Metroplex baseball media contingent. We know Murphy is capable of better, so this isn't a concern so much as it is an idle observation, but hey, there you go. As for the bunts ... I'm going to let those go, for now. It's a beautiful day, the Rangers won, and there will assuredly be other opportunities to obsess over such minutia.
- Alexi Ogando was, in a word, disgusting, as he required just 14 pitches to strike out the side in the top of the seventh inning. Mike Adams and Joe Nathan were somewhat less memorable, but that's actually more of a virtue than a flaw -- if your late-inning relievers have a memorable performance in a given game, it's probably for all the wrong reasons. And while I tend to concur with the saber-leaning set that believes throwing $14 million guaranteed at Nathan was a less-than-ideal use of finite resources, the Rangers clearly wanted to block off any temptation of reverting Neftali Feliz back to his familiar ninth-inning post. They accomplished that first step, but there was also a definite expectation that Nathan would be good, and he did nothing today that would undermine that expectation.