I don't have the will -- or the #want -- to launch into any kind of worthy lead-in paragraph, so let's just dive right into what went so terribly wrong during last night's series finale:
● There's something strange happening with Scott Feldman right now, and I can't quite decide when the last time was that we saw it happen with any Rangers starting pitcher. I don't mean the whole 'giving up an unsatisfactory number of runs' thing, here; in actuality, Feldman wasn't good last night, but he wasn't completely abhorrent either, as he did muster six punchouts against no walks, and was betrayed in part by his defense, as Mitch Moreland's failure to secure what should have been the third out of the third inning allowed Miguel Montero to reach safely, and opened the door for Lyle Overbay to smash a two-out, two-run double off an elevated Feldman sinker that put the Diamondbacks ahead 4-1. Any buzz that still remained in the crowd began to leak after that, and was fully drained after the disastrous sixth inning.
Again, though, the strange thing about Feldman isn't so much that he has struggled; we've seen enough starting pitchers struggle in a Rangers uniform to last us several lifetimes. No, the strange thing is how the team, as a whole, seems to respond so negatively once things begin to go even slightly awry with Feldman on the bump. It isn't that they stop trying, per se; it's more like they seem to lose sight of the basics of winning baseball, which is a roundabout way of saying that the team appears to lose any rhythm it might have going once Feldman encounters any sort of adversity. You don't see that with the other guys on this staff. It might just be a perception vs. reality thing, but you do sort of get the impression that Feldman's teammates just don't have any confidence in him or his ability to win a game for the Rangers on his own merits.
If there's even a minute kernel of truth to that notion, then they need to just go ahead and swap out Scott Feldman out of the starting rotation for Robbie Ross immediately. It may just be that he needs a change of scenery at this point more than anything else, although the problem there is that with the pitching depth situation going to hell in a handbasket, the Rangers can hardly afford to just outright cut bait with Feldman right now, or even deal him for salary relief and a low-level prospect ... if such a deal even presented itself.
● Building upon the above point, the Rangers' offense mustered a grand total of one baserunner between the first and seventh innings (a harmless two-out Elvis Andrus single that went nowhere), and by the time the lineup actually punched a couple of additional runs across, the Rangers were still mired in a deep 9-3 hole. It is strange that the offense clicked at least a little bit in punching across a first-inning run, then watched Feldman go out in the next half-inning and put Texas behind 2-1 on a two-run homer, and then basically folded up like a lawn chair after that. With that in mind, though, the offense also did the bare minimum amount of work during Wednesday's 1-0 win, so I won't make this out to sound like Feldman was solely responsible for his own lack of run support.
● I keep waiting for the day when a Josh Hamilton bat toss results in something of a more serious nature than the entire ballpark exclaiming "oooooh!" as his lumber goes hurtling towards the crowd at high velocity. That day has, thankfully, not arrived yet, but it feels like it's only a matter of time until that day does arrive, and I wonder how people will treat his insistence that he can't control the bat flying out of his hands if/when somebody is finally injured. I'm going to go ahead and guess 'not very well.'
● Here's a still frame of Kinsler's parting shot to home plate umpire Eric Cooper following his ejection in the bottom of the sixth inning, which stemmed from a borderline strike three call that Kinsler took exception to, and then seemingly barked at Cooper about from the dugout, all of which precipitated a hasty end to his night:
For those who are curious about what Kinsler said to get himself ejected, I isolated the crowd audio on MLB.tv, and there's a very clear and discernible "you f---ing suck" emanating from Kinsler right before Cooper calls for time out and yells "you're done" at Kinsler. For those who are curious about what Kinsler barked at Cooper as he came back up the dugout steps and shot this delightful thumbs-up at Cooper, it was "you still suck." I've included the raw audio on the post that includes the .gifs of Kinsler's ejection, although it's unedited and, as such, should be played with discretion. For what it's worth, the called strike three seemed to nick the corner of the zone.
So, yeah, um, good going Kinsler, I guess?
● A few of you will likely perceive this as piling on Tom Grieve and Dave Barnett after yesterday afternoon's pot-stirring post on the broadcast booth, and you may be right in that regard, and barring something else of real note happening in the booth, I now intend to lay off the subject for at least a little while -- but there was another somewhat glaring mistake last night that was pointed out in the comments, when Barnett seemingly forgot that Kinsler had been ejected and replaced with Alberto Gonzalez, and remarked that Kinsler had just grounded out to first base as the Venezuelan tracked down the first base line with the name "GONZALEZ" prominently plastered on the back of his jersey:
The mistakes usually aren't killers, and I don't expect perfection from any broadcaster, but, yeah, it's not a good look. On the bright side, though, that was easily the most entertaining moment to come out of the last couple of innings, so you got some bang for the buck out of it at least.