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10. Still scratching my baseball noggin’ over manager Ron Washington’s decision to yank Yu Darvish in the 7th inning of a 2-1 game. He was only at 91 pitches and was still dazzling, if not dominant. And to face lefty Nate McLouth, Wash summoned lefty Derek Holland. Tons of better options, led by Robbie Ross.
9. Josh Hamilton’s night: 4 at-bats. 8 pitches. 5 outs. 2 strikeouts. 0 balls out of the infield. Like his team – which scored only 1 run in its final 15 innings – Josh ended with barely a whimper.
8. When pouring over the Rangers’ autopsy, don‘t minimize the crowd. Yes, in fact, that was former Tom Hicks sitting behind home plate.
7. I Tweeted “prepare to cringe” when Washington announced Michael Young was starting at 1st base. Took 1 batter to prove me right. Trying to backhand a grounder Young turned into a human skateboard ramp, propelling the ball 15 feet into the air as it rolled up his awkward arm for an error.
6. The Rangers were 5 games up on Oakland with 9 to play after beating the A’s on Sept. 24. Offered David Murphy, who flew out to left with the bases loaded to end the season: “At some point we just ran out of gas.”
5. As the tying run in the 8th, Hamilton looked haplessly silly against Brian Matusz and deserved the rain of boos. He put up less resistance than milktoast moderator Jim Lehrer. But just as confounding was his at-bat in the 1st. After watching Ian Kinsler draw a 6-pitch walk and Elvis Andrus singling to end a patient 6-pitch at-bat, Hamilton promptly and inexplicably swung at the 1st pitch he saw and bounced into a double play. In the clubhouse afterward, Hamilton smiled and paraphrased some Bible verse: “If they don’t receive you in a town, shake the dust off your feet and move to the next.” Good riddance. I say the likelihood Hamilton is a Ranger in 2013 is about 10%.
4. The Rangers, who led baseball with 808 runs, somewhere along the line stopped scrapping on offense. No moving runners over. No getting runners home from 3rd with less than 2 outs. It was a 1-1 game in the 4th and Texas had 1st and 3rd and 1 out. Mike Napoli struck out on 3 pitches. In the end, the Rangers couldn’t hit Joe Saunders. Joe. Friggin’. Saunders.
3. In 2006 the Mavericks choked away a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals. In 2007 they were one of the best teams in the regular season, only to lose to an underdog opponent in the 1st round of the playoffs. In 2011 the Rangers choked away 2 2-run leads in Game 6 of the World Series. In 2012 they were one of the best teams in the regular season, only to lose to an underdog opponent in the 1st round of the playoffs. Eerie. If the parallels continue, the Rangers will win their first championship in 2016.
2. Wonder how all those boisterous Hamilton supporters feel this morning? You remember, the ones who showed up at Rangers Ballpark in May with signs that read: “Pay Jo$h Now!” Josh Shamilton.
1. In the post-game clubhouse Washington admitted he “never saw this coming.” But he also remained defiantly and stubbornly positive, maintaining that “We are winners. And I’m a winner.” Nope. Sorry. You and your team are the authors of 2 of the worst meltdowns in baseball history in consecutive seasons. Bottom line: The greatest era in Rangers’ history is a failure.
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