Before launching into a tirade on familiarity, and failure in the face of perceived predictability (“They are who we thought they were!), he delivered a simple and sage piece of wisdom: “You play to win the game.”
It’s true, and that’s why this piece will come as little consolation for Rangers fans who watched the team being beaten last night at the Ballpark. But as far as ‘good losses’ go, if such a beast truly exists, last night was a powerful bit of encouragement for the thinking fan.
Scott Feldman did not have his best stuff last night; really, he didn’t have close to his best stuff and therein lies the beauty of a Monday night loss.
Feldman is quickly emerging as an upper-echelon starter in the league despite his uncharacteristic lack of command, his relatively flat sinker and everything else. Still, he managed to get through six innings while surrendering only four runs to the best hitting team in baseball.
Texas could have won the game had they gotten a break or two. First, Vernon Wells stole second just before Adam Lind hit his second home run of the night off Feldman in the fourth. Only trouble is, Wells was out. Andrus applied the tag beautifully and replays showed that the call was missed.
Even if Lind did go ya-ya on the next pitch, as he did, Texas is looking at a 3-3 game going into the ninth.
Had Elvis Andrus been able to lay down the bunt on a semi-controversial squeeze play, Texas would have tied the game at four an inning later.
Of course, he didn’t.
Marlon Byrd was caught at third (though it is questionable whether or not the tag was actually applied) and the inning ended with Texas down a run.
I know, I know; If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts… so forth.
This piece is not an apology for Texas failing to do the job on Monday night, nor is it an indictment of the men in blue. Rather, it is aimed directly at illustrating where we’ve been, and where we are now.
In years past, bereft of their best stuff, Texas pitchers would be ripped into oblivion and the home run porch transmogrified into a war zone of sorts with baseballs peppering the seats incessantly.
Feldman’s start on Monday, despite the “L” in the box score, is an image of a maturing pitching staff. On Monday night, the 26-year-old had no business beating the best offensive team in the league -- not with that stuff.
And yet, he almost did.
Breaks come and go, but mentally tough starting pitching is an invaluable, crucial facet of a good baseball team.