In our preview of the Game 1 matchup, we highlighted Hamels’ weak finish to the 2016 regular season and his lack of command that plagued his last several starts. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t able to correct the issue prior to his start Thursday afternoon, and the Rangers were pummeled in a 10-1 rout.
It was a tough game to watch, as Hamels struggled hitting his targets repeatedly. He walked 3 in only 3.1 innings of work, allowing 6 hits and 7 runs, a combination that equates to a 16.20 ERA. Things could have faired a little better for Hamels if Adrian Beltre could’ve snagged a third inning rocket by Josh Donaldson that glanced off the tip of his glove, or if Ian Desmond could’ve caught up to the deep fly ball by Tulowitzki that dropped in with the bases loaded. But regardless if they had, Hamels simply wasn’t himself on Thursday afternoon and hasn’t looked like himself for over a month. Jeff Banister may ultimately regret not starting Yu Darvish in game 1 so he would have the possibility of starting Game 5 (if even necessary). Maybe Hamels will have a shot at redeeming himself if the series extends to 5 games, albeit on a very short leash if he does.
On the other side of the plate, things weren’t any better. Also in our game 1 preview, we discussed how the Blue Jays’ Marco Estrada was a momentum pitcher, and how he could get hot or cold depending on how the Rangers swung the bats early on. As it turns out, our scouting was accurate. The Rangers couldn’t get anything going, and finished with only 4 hits. Estrada fed off that momentum and had a shutout going into the 9th inning before Andrus tripled to Center Field and ultimately scored. Estrada looked very impressive, finishing with a 1.08 ERA and only 4 hits allowed.
The Rangers will look to redeem themselves when Yu Darvish takes the mound at 12:00pm on Friday. Darvish will be ready for the spotlight – Hopefully the bats will be ready too, or this could be a very forgettable series for Ranger fans.
Well folks, that’s it… The 2016 MLB regular season is officially in the books, and for the second straight year the Texas Rangers will face off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series (ALDS). For those of you that somehow aren’t aware of the hostile, often violent relationship between the two clubs, you have a lot of catching up to do.
The Blue Jays advanced by defeating the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wildcard game on Tuesday night, and if the rowdy crowd in attendance at the Rogers Centre was any indication of the type of theatrics to expect in the ALDS – get your popcorn ready. But before you bust out the Orville Redenbacher, let’s examine the pitching matchups and the keys to a Rangers’ victory in Game 1.
Thursday, 10/6, 3:38 PM – Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX – Television: TBS
Cole Hamels gets the nod for the Rangers on Thursday afternoon, facing off against the Jays for the first time in 2016. Hamels has been shaky over his last 6 appearances, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA – Not exactly the kind of momentum you’d like your ace to have heading into the post-season. However, Hamels touts a .267 opponent batting average when facing the Blue Jays current lineup and was strong against the Jays last year in the ALDS, with a 2.70 ERA. In the 2015 ALDS, Hamels led the Rangers to a game 1 victory, allowing only 2 earned runs. He would’ve also won game 5, but a string of errors by Elvis Andrus botched the game for the Rangers and ended the 2015 campaign.
For the Jays, the right-handed Marco Estrada will take the mound. Estrada had two no-decisions against the Rangers back in May, allowing 5 earned runs over 12 total innings pitched, but the Jays did pull out the win in each of his appearances. Similar to Hamels, Estrada didn’t exactly close out the 2016 regular season strong, going 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA over his last 6 appearences. However, in the 2015 ALDS, Estrada did pitch well against the Rangers, winning Game 3 by allowing only 1 earned run and 5 hits over 6.1 innings of work.
The Rangers need to focus on the ultimate goal, and not get caught up with in-game dramatics . With the media hype surrounding this ALDS matchup, game one will surely bring heightened emotions for both teams. There may be some bat flips or other old-world-baseball faux pas, but Odor has already granted vindication for the entire organization with one right hook that Jose Bautista will certainly never forget. The Rangers need to focus on the game, or even doing some bat flips themselves… Let the fans focus on the drama.
And on that note, I’ll leave you with this gem… GO RANGERS!