These bullet-pointed game recaps are beginning to feel a little, I don't know, lazy. If anyone else is picking up on that, let me know. Then again, they're also far less aggrieving to write than a fully-formed 1,000-word narrative ... but, at the same time, they don't seem to have the same memorable kick to them. Or maybe I'm just vastly overrating my actual writing ability. I guess what I'm trying to ask is whether the BBTiA readership has any kind of preference on how these things should be written, or if you're all just here for the entrancing .gifs and Eric Nadel audio clips and criticism of terrible covers of R&B songs:
● I should have another post coming out tomorrow (or the next day) expounding upon one of the most overlooked issues with Yu Darvish right now, an issue that was especially prominent during his frustrating five-inning effort on Sunday ... but for right now, let's talk a little about preconceived notions, or prematurely jumping to conclusions, or whatever you choose to call it. Sunday, on the whole, was not an enjoyable experience for Darvish. He lasted only five innings, he recorded only three strikeouts, and he permitted the Blue Jays to reach base at a rate of twice per inning. He was picked up by some tremendous work on the part of the offense, and he was the pitcher of record in a 12-6 win, but it was the kind of performance that will leave your team at a disadvantage more often than not.
Once things began to go south, the speculation on (and pseudo-sniping at) Darvish began in earnest within the Twittersphere. There were sarcasm-laced rhetorical questions about whether Darvish realized he had to go five innings to get the win, and a few references to THE HEAT possibly dragging him down (though the groundwork for that meme was already laid before the events of the afternoon), and other such suppositions. In the post-game press sessions, though, it was revealed that Darvish was battling both back stiffness and the same stomach illness that had afflicted Mike Napoli of late, all while attempting to apply mechanical tweaks stemming from his failure against the Mariners. I know that we're conditioned to grasp for every conceivable answer when things go awry, but sometimes the underlying problem is a lot less sinister and a lot more temporary than we're inclined to think.
● While still on that same subject of guys picking other guys up, the offense as a whole picked up Josh Hamilton, who went 0-for-4 before finally being lifted for Craig Gentry in the late innings; the rest of the lineup went 12-for-32 with three walks, four doubles, and three home runs, and effectively sealed the deal by the end of the third inning, as Texas boasted a 9-1 lead and a win expectancy approaching 98 percent by that point. One statistical oddity: yesterday was just the third time in franchise history that the Rangers scored at least 12 runs while amassing 15 or fewer baserunners, and the first time since Texas beat the White Sox on June 20th, 1994 by a score of ... yep ... 12-6.
● Something that caught my eye on Twitter yesterday afternoon, courtesy of Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus:
The Rangers have the best pythagorean record since the 1939 Yankees— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP) May 27, 2012
I'm pretty sure that calculation was rendered before the Blue Jays piled on three more runs in the eighth and ninth innings (which may or may not have altered its significance within an historical context), but this is one of those moments where we really do feel like we need to stop down and try to wrap our heads around just how ridiculous this truly is. Based off their present totals of 276 runs scored against only 179 runs allowed, the Pythagorean record of this 2012 Rangers team is now 33-15, which extrapolates to a 111- to 112-win pace over the duration of the entire season. For whatever reason, ESPN's updated standings have the Rangers' current Pythagorean record set at 34-14; the next-closest American League team is the White Sox, at 27-21, with the Cardinals (31-17) and Dodgers (30-18) representing the cream of the Senior Circuit crop.
If I may be bluntly honest for a second, that impressive collection of numbers scares me. It scares the hell out of me, actually. It scares me that a team can so thoroughly dominate its competition over 48 games, or possibly even 162 games, and then fall short of the ultimate prize because of the vagaries of a post-season tournament that will, at most, span 20 games for the champion, and far fewer games for the vanquished. Knowing that this Rangers team could win 100 games in the regular season, slip momentarily in October, and yet again fail to claim the hardware which it so greatly desires is sickening, to say the least. I know this isn't the upbeat ending note you're looking for after a big home sweep and with the festivities of Memorial Day at your doorstep, but it's what you're going to get right now.
Going into the last couple of post-seasons, I had been able to achieve a certain tranquil state of mind where I knew I would be at peace with whatever ended up happening, and where I knew it wasn't the end of the world if the Rangers didn't go as far as they possibly could. Maybe I'll be able to get to that same place yet again this year, provided that the Rangers continue to do what they've been doing up to this point -- but it sure as hell will be harder to do this time around, if it can be done at all.