Texas Rangers: A Debut, a Hot Bat, and a Brand New Contract
Image: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
By Todd Kaufmann
Yu Darvish made his debut on Monday night and, from the very first inning, things weren’t going exactly the way the Texas Rangers had planned. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that it didn’t go the way anyone thought it would.
After the first inning came to a close, Darvish had thrown 42 pitches and had given up four runs. Things were ugly to say the least.
But over the next four and two-third innings, Darvish would give up just one run and started to look like the guy most of us thought would show up when the game began.
Better late than never, as some would say.
Darvish showed what can happen when your adrenaline takes over and your body doesn’t know how to react. His pitches were wild, one even flying right by catcher Mike Napoli and hitting one of the ads that sits against the backstop. Arguably one of the ugliest pitches any of the Texas Ranger fans had seen at their own ballpark.
But something happened that allowed Darvish to calm himself down. Something took place that gave the right-hander a little bit of a different mindset.
As he sat on the bench after a rough first inning, he watched his offense begin to get themselves back into the game. He had seen it a few days prior to that but he wasn’t the guy on the mound. He wasn’t the guy who had just put his team in an early hole, one most teams wouldn’t be able to climb out of.
Watching his offense chip away at Seattle’s early lead, which was capped off by a three-run home run from right fielder Nelson Cruz, gave Darvish a little extra boost to allow himself to get deeper into the game, saving their bullpen from having to pitch more innings than manager Ron Washington would have liked.
While there were some who didn’t like the fans giving Darvish a standing ovation after Washington ended his night, I understand it completely. Fans appreciate when a player doesn’t quit when they’re having a tough game. They like to see a player battle through obstacles and that’s exactly what Darvish did on Monday night.
He battled and continued to get better through the rest of his outing. When he was done, the crowd let him know that they appreciated the effort he put forward.
I see nothing wrong with that.
Neftali Feliz Dazzles
If there was a debut no one saw coming, it was a seven inning scoreless night from first time starter, Neftali Feliz.
On Tuesday night, Feliz made his very first Major League start and while his first inning was shakey, the rest of the night was anything but. He had problems spotting his fastball at times but the one thing everyone was talking about after the game was how much he trusted his breaking pitches.
Not only did he have the slider working but his changeup became his most effective pitch as the night went on. The more his confidence grew, the stronger he became.
The Seattle Mariners could find no answer or him at all.
Feliz turned the game over to the bullpen and, when the dust settled, he would pick up a very impressive victory. One that will get more discussion around the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex than that of Yu Darvish just one night prior.
David Murphy Comes Through
When we talk about the Texas Rangers, there are certain players people will mention and they are the same names on just about everyone’s lips. Players like Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and of course the big bat of Nelson Cruz.
But, on Tuesday night, there was one player who everyone couldn’t stop talking about.
In three at bats, Murphy would have two doubles and an RBI single. A RBI that turned out to be the game winner in what was a very close 1-0 victory for the Rangers over the Seattle Mariners.
Why was Murphy’s performance such a big deal, you ask? Because of the rest of the team had just four hits in 28 combined at bats and had left eight runners on base, four of them in scoring position.
Murphy is your prototypical role player. He isn’t going to launch a 500 foot home run nor is he going to hit 25 to 30 home runs every season. What he will do is exactly what you ask him to do in certain situations. He can play average to above average defense in the outfield, he’ll hustle on every play, he can lay down a bunt, and he can come off the bench with a big hit when the team needs it.
During spring training, the Rangers had received calls from other teams asking about Murphy’s availability in a trade. It would have been easy to part with a guy who isn’t an every day superstar. But Texas has never asked Murphy to be that guy. But when they do ask him to take his game to another level, he always seems to answer the call.
Through five games is hitting a very quiet .533 (5/18). Sure it’s early in the season, but Murphy is stepping up and showing why the Rangers opted to keep him.
Ian Kinsler the Next to Sign
After Monday night’s game against Seattle, the Texas Rangers announced they had come to an agreement on a five-year contract extension with second baseman, Ian Kinsler.
The new deal will pay Kinsler $75 million over the length of the contract and includes a $10 million club option for the sixth season.
Kinsler becomes the third player the Rangers have given extensions to, the other two being shortstop Elvis Andrus and left-hander Derek Holland.
The only name not on the aforementioned list is All-Star outfielder, Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have said numerous times they would not negotiate contracts during the season but it took a few games in to the 2012 season to lock in Ian Kinsler. The question becomes, will there be conversations between Texas and Josh Hamilton or are they willing to watch their star outfielder have a career year and then walk away from the Rangers.
If they wait that long, his worth could be right out of their price range. It’s hard to replace a player like that, but you never know if general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan are ready to go in another direction.