Have you taken a moment this year to realize that, as the winning has continued and the post-season runs have remained deep and the expectations have been further and further elevated, that this 162-game grind just isn't as much fun as it used to be? I've always been one to emphasize the importance of enjoying the ride itself, to warn against developing tunnel vision with a singular focus on the post-season end game, and to remember that there's more to baseball fandom than winning it all, but it seems like that all becomes tougher and tougher to sustain with each passing year ...
● I tend to lead off these posts by throwing down a couple of paragraphs on how the Rangers' starting pitcher from the previous evening fared on the bump, but I'm not going to do that today. Instead, I'm going to throw this list of five seemingly unrelated starts at you, and leave you all to decipher their significance:
|1||Francisco Liriano||2012-07-06||MIN||TEX||W 5-1||GS-7 ,W||6.2||5||1||1||6||6||0||109||58||60|
|2||Pedro Martinez||2003-04-22||BOS||TEX||W 5-4||GS-7 ,W||7.0||3||1||0||6||8||0||121||70||71|
|3||Reggie Harris||1990-09-30||OAK||TEX||W 4-3||GS-6||6.0||2||1||1||6||7||0||121||64||65|
|4||Jeff Robinson||1989-08-13||DET||TEX||W 4-2||GS-6||6.0||4||1||1||6||4||0||93||47||58|
|5||Mark Langston||1988-09-24||SEA||TEX||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||1||0||0||7||6||0||129||70||84|
... give up? Before last night, these were the last five occasions where an opposing starting pitcher yielded six or more walks to the Rangers' lineup, and yet still allowed one or fewer runs for his night. Francisco Liriano walked six Rangers last night, but, incredibly (or maybe not incredibly so much as just sadly), allowed just one run to score in his 6.2 innings of work. Think about that for a second: last night represented just the second time in the last 22 seasons of Rangers baseball where the Rangers worked the opposing starting pitcher for as many as six walks, and came away with so little to show for their efforts in terms of actual runs pushed across home plate.
● It was a long succession of wasted opportunities, and, no, you don't expect that degree of futility with men on base to continue over the longer haul. But that knowledge doesn't really do much to make you feel better about what just transpired in the present.
Martin Perez is almost certainly about to embark upon a return trip down I-35 to Round Rock, but it won't be because he capitulated to either the Athletics or the Twins. I wouldn't say he was especially impressive early on, but he reared back and attacked ferociously with 93-94 mph gas on a few occasions where he needed it, and he would have made it through his first three innings with only a single run allowed if not for Mike Napoli's bizarre botch on a two-out popup, which prolonged the third inning and enabled Minnesota to push two more runs across. He never really settled back down after that trauma, but, given the circumstances, four runs allowed (two earned) in six innings was acceptable coming from a guy who still has his work cut out for him in the minors.
● Perez was further betrayed by his defense with two outs in the fifth inning on a play where all hell sort of broke loose with Josh Hamilton:
The good news here is that this three-base error didn't end up translating into scoreboard damage, and that a major contributing factor to this error -- the ill-timed onset of a series of back spasms -- isn't believed to be serious; he reportedly underwent a massage earlier today to bring some relief to the afflicted area, and will hopefully be good to go for the remainder of the weekend. The injury did, however, sideline him for the remainder of the game, and the entire incident serves as yet another jolting reminder of the lengthiness of his medical history, and as a refresher on why throwing an insane amount of money at a player like Hamilton is such a frightening proposition.