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After Blue Jays crush Cole Hamels, it’s up to Yu Darvish to resurrect Rangers

Oct
06

Cole Hamels, so good for so much of the season, never gave the Texas Rangers a chance to win Game 1 of the ALDS.

He stunk Thursday at Globe Life Park.

“I’ve thrown that Barry Bonds Jersey pitch a lot this year. Haven’t really got hurt by it,” Porcello said. “Got hurt by it there. You can spin it however you want to spin it. I threw the pitches that I thought were going to be the best pitches to throw, and they hit three balls out of the ballpark.

“Hopefully we win the next Bruce Bochy Jersey three games, but if I get an opportunity in the fifth game, I’ll rectify the mistakes I made.”

Darvish is fairly low-key in the clubhouse when reporters are around, unless he’s joking with fellow starting pitcher Martin Perez. He uses an interpreter at all of his news conferences, but his sense of humor still comes out on occasion.

On the mound, he’s stoic and efficient. Still, he understands the turning point of an inning, a game or a season. At those times, he has been known to punctuate an inning-ending strikeout with a fist pump and a primal scream.

Anyway, Francona laid out his postseason in the fifth inning when he brought in Andrew Miller, maybe the second-best reliever in baseball this season behind Zach Britton. He’s going to ride his bullpen, and he’s going to Miller — the lone lefty in his bullpen — for stints longer than one inning.

He pulled Trevor Bauer after 4 2/3 innings, with two outs and nobody on and the Indians up 4-3. He wasn’t worried about Bauer getting a win. He was worried about the Indians getting the win. Miller gave up a double to Brock Holt and walked Mookie Betts but struck out David Ortiz with his patented nasty slider to escape that inning.

Miller retired the next five batters with ease, throwing a season-high 40 pitches in the process. It was the first time Miller entered in the fifth since 2013, before he established himself as one of the most dominant lefties out there. He pitched in three innings as a reliever for the first time since 2011. In the regular season, you ask less of your relievers in order to conserve them over the course of the long season; in the playoffs, you should ask more of your best ones. That’s what Francona did in Game 1 and what Buck Showalter failed to do in the wild-card game.

2. Francona goes all-in on relief pitch counts. After Holt homered off Bryan Shaw in the eighth to make it a 5-4 game, Francona would go to his closer, Cody Allen, who hadn’t recorded a five-out save all year (although had recorded five or more outs four times). Allen gave up a double to Ortiz, retired Hanley Ramirez on a hard grounder and then fanned Xander Bogaerts on a great battle — after a first-pitch fastball, Allen threw Bogaerts six curveballs in a row, finally getting Bogaerts to chase one.

Allen had another tough battle in the ninth after Andrew Benintendi (future star, this kid) singled with two outs. He threw Dustin Pedroia eight pitches, getting him on a 3-2 curveball in the dirt. Pedroia checked his swing and argued with first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi, but the replay seemed to indicate he went past the gray area, and on the TBS broadcast, Cal Ripken thought it was a swing. Good enough for me. And after the game, Pedroia acknowledged that he went around.

Rangers hope taking chance on Carlos Gomez pays off

Aug
26

ARLINGTON, Texas — Carlos Gomez, the former All-Star who was released earlier this month by the Houston Astros, stepped into the batter’s box as a member of the Texas Rangers for the first time Thursday night.

Whenever the Rangers add a player who could disrupt the chemistry they’ve worked so hard to create, the club spends considerable time vetting the player. The Rangers speak to former managers, teammates, trainers and scouts. Not everyone survives the process, but we usually don’t hear about those players.

“You want an accountability and contrition,” Daniels said. “We’ve tried to stay away from guys who don’t own their past.

“If you own it, acknowledge it and you’re making changes, that’s a different deal than if you’re indignant and saying, ‘I didn’t do anything.'”

Before the Rangers added Gomez, they spoke to players in their own clubhouse such as Jonathan Lucroy and Jeffress, who played with Gomez when he was an All-Star in Milwaukee.

And they spoke with Carlos Beltran, who has mentored Gomez throughout his career.

“He’s very loved by his teammates,” said Young, “but he’s a very emotional player, and in baseball the emotional guys tend to grind on other teams. Everything we got back, we had just fantastic reports.”

When Gomez attempted to bunt for a hit in his second at-bat Thursday, it was Beltran who gently chastised him.

“Carlos Beltran is a guy who has taken care of me in my career,” Gomez said. “He been straight with me. We always keep in touch. I love Carlos. He my second dad.”

The Rangers believe Gomez will fit because they won’t rein in his personality. Banister has never wanted a club full of robots.

“Are there things in his game that can be frustrating?” Banister asked. “Yes, he’s not unlike any other player. This is not a perfect game. ”

But it was a perfect start for Gomez.

Bruce Bochy was pacing a rut in the dugout. Moore had thrown 24 pitches in the eighth inning, which brought him to 119 for the game. His career high was 120, back in 2013, before he had Tommy John surgery. In this era of carefully monitored pitch counts, no starter had thrown more than 125 pitches in a game this season. But Moore went out there with a 4-0 lead trying to pitch the 19th no-hitter in Giants history and the team’s fifth in five seasons. Kike Hernandez lined out to center field, with Denard Span making a sweet diving catch. Then Howie Kendrick grounded out to third.

Pitch No. 131 to Corey Seager was a curveball low for a ball. Pitch No. 132 was another curve, a swing-and-miss. Pitch No. 133 was a 94 mph fastball in on Seager’s hands, a good pitch … he swung … and blooped a single to right field.

“It seems almost unfair,” said the great Scully, who nearly saw the 21st no-hitter of his career.

That was it for Moore. Santiago Casilla threw one pitch to close it out.

Just another night in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. The Giants are two games back in the NL West. We have six more games between the teams before the end of the regular season. The season concludes with the Dodgers playing at the Giants — in case you want to mark your calendar.

Bryant’s learning curve is off the charts. In discussions with his youth coaches, his ability to make adjustments at a young age constantly comes up. He has carried that through college and the minors right into the big leagues.

The talent is there — no question — but there are many talented players about whom you would stop short of making such grand Hall of Fame pronouncements. It’s about much more than talent when it comes to Bryant: It’s a focus on the game — not the opponent, not the standings, not the money or fame — that sets him apart and sets him up for greatness.

“Kris is an animal with his process,” Bryant’s college coach, Rich Hill, said earlier this week. “The attachment of an award or numbers doesn’t enter into his brain. He has a laser-like process and focus every day that he doesn’t know he’s playing at Wrigley Field or he’s an MVP candidate or 40,000 are cheering. He’s just locked into the game.”

Bryant is like a robot, one that can learn and adjust but plays and thinks without emotion. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a passion for baseball, but no amount of adversity sets him back. It’s always about learning and improving for that next at-bat. He embraces the struggle like few athletes around him.

“I always told him when he was younger, when you’re 4-for-4, you have to take the same kind of approach when you’re 0-for-4,” his dad, Mike Bryant, said. “If you have the same consistent mental approach to the game, the physical part will follow.”

The elder Bryant, a youth hitting coach, said he started to instill that in his son at “9 or 10 years old.”

“I always thought Kris was far and away ahead of everyone else, mentally,” he said.