Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Opinion: Rangers must show resiliency in Game 2

ARLINGTON, Texas — The first playoff game was decided in a hurry, long before the shadows crawled across the ballpark, as the left-handed ace got roughed up for six earned runs while the Rangers bats fell silent.

And the Rangers would go all the way to Game 7 of the World Series in 2011 after that 9-0 loss to the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS. If you're a big believer in history repeating itself, then what transpired Thursday at Globe Life Park wasn't so bad. In fact, it was eerily familiar.

On the other hand ...

Cole Hamels was supposed to be better than this, way better than what we saw in a 10-1 loss to Toronto. In his last five playoff starts — three with Philadelphia going back to 2010 plus two against these same Blue Jays in 2015 as a Ranger — he had five quality starts and most of them were beyond quality. They were brilliant. That's what this team was counting on his delivering in Game 1. That's why manager Jeff Banister had Yu Darvish and Hamels exchange places in the rotation four weeks ago.

Instead, the Rangers got more of what they saw from him in a puzzling September in which Hamels earned run average fell off the wagon. A man who was in contention for the Cy Young Award, Hamels' 5.86 ERA in five September starts was a sign of trouble that continued right into the playoffs Thursday afternoon.

He threw 42 pitches in a five-run third inning, surrendering cheap hits before Troy Tulowitzki's three-run double put the game and command of this series in Toronto's grasp.

"Ten runs isn't pretty," Hamels said. "Thank God this isn't a wild-card game."

How does someone so gifted in postseasons past come up this short on the biggest stage?

"We're all human," he said. "It's the game of baseball. When the ball leaves my hand and the hitter decides what to do, it's out of my jurisdiction."

Thursday's game wasn't do-or-die, but I don't think it can be labeled an ordinary defeat, either. First of all, a Game 1 loss is obviously a much more serious thing in a best-of-five series than in the best-of-sevens that follow. Beyond that, as good as this Rangers team is, it relies heavily on what it considers its two aces.

The Rangers could march home with their first World Series trophy by winning all of Darvish's and Hamels' playoff starts. We know this series shifts into the Blue Jays' favor when the series moves north Sunday. American League ERA leader Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, who gave a strong performance in Tuesday's wild-card triumph over Baltimore, get the edge — at least on paper — over Colby Lewis and Martin Perez.

Now, by throwing just 82 pitches in fewer than four innings Thursday, Hamels could return for Game 4. The prospect of being able to recall an ace on short rest is diminished for the obvious reason. Toronto won't exactly lack confidence after producing six hits in 31/3 innings against Hamels in Game 1. And Thursday's game marked the fifth time in seven starts he has allowed at least six runs.

Banister said the struggles Hamels endured in the season's final month were not apparent in this abbreviated playoff start.

"To say that they're comparable, I'm not sure I'm going to go that far," Banister said. "The challenge for me is the first two innings he was in control. And then it did seem to get away from him. But he was still one pitch away from being out of that inning."

Tortured Rangers fans know all about "one pitch away" moments and their minuscule value. Their team is in deep trouble against a lineup that may be emerging from its own September slumber.

Josh Donaldson went 4 for 4 and, yes, Jose Bautista was hardly rattled by the boos that washed down from the crowd of 47,434. He produced his second playoff home run, having opened Tuesday's wild-card scoring with one, and drove in four runs.

Bautista's three-run homer late in the game was the only knockout punch this crowd got to witness.

The other one was drawn out over four innings as Hamels unraveled and the Blue Jays took charge of a series that will teach us much about the resiliency of these Rangers.

Opinion: Rangers must show resiliency in Game 2 10/07/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2016 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  2. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.