Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Game of the Day (4/1/14)

Rangers 3, Phillies 2.

Opening Day between these two teams brought a football score, 14-10. So with the best starters out of the way, they naturally settled in for a pitcher's duel.

Texas's Martin Perez worked a perfect first, while Philadelphia's AJ Burnett allowed a leadoff hit to Shin-Soo Choo, who would make it to third on a groundout and a wild pitch before being stranded there by an Alexis Rios flyout. Perez and Burnett each worked around one baserunner in the second; Perez allowed two singles in the third, but Jayson Nix was caught stealing before Cesar Hernandez reached, ending the rally before it could really start.

Choo reached again in the bottom of the inning, this time getting hit by a pitch, again advanced to third, this time on an Elvis Andrus single and a forceout, and was left on by Rios again, keeping the game scoreless. Perez threw a perfect fourth and worked around a rare Adrian Beltre error in the fifth; Burnett allowed a hit to David Murphy in the fourth and a Prince Fielder double an inning later, but kept the scoreboard clear as well.

The Phils finally broke through in the sixth, as Hernandez doubled, Ben Revere bunted him to third (and reached when Perez tried to throw out the lead runner), and Jimmy Rollins singled him home. One out later, Revere was picked off of second, seemingly defusing the rally - but Marlon Byrd singled and Ryan Howard doubled, scoring the second run of the inning and chasing Perez. Jason Frasor entered and left a pair of runners in scoring position to keep the lead manageable.

Texas cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a Rios double and a Mitch Moreland RBI single. Moreland was doubled off on a Donnie Murphy lineout, which made Leonys Martin's subsequent single less productive than it might have been and allowed Burnett to preserve his lead. Frasor threw a perfect seventh, and Burnett gave way to Jake Diekman, who allowed a Choo single to put the tying run on, a bunt and a grounder that moved it to third, and a Beltre double that scored it.

Neal Cotts worked around an Utley single and a wild pitch to throw a scoreless eighth, while Antonio Bastardo managed a baserunner-free bottom of the inning. Joakim Soria threw a 1-2-3 ninth, bringing the top of the Ranger lineup to the plate against Mario Hollands. Choo drew a four-pitch walk, Andrus bunted him to second, and Fielder walked as well. BJ Rosenberg replaced Hollands, and Beltre hit his first pitch into right field for a tiebreaking walkoff single. (Some Phillies fans, I'm sure, will complain vociferously about the fact that highly-paid closer Jonathan Papelbon went unused in this inning.)

Shin-Soo Choo accumulated five plate appearances in this game - and led off an inning in every one. He reached base four times, made it at least as far as third base in all four of those instances, and scored twice - the tying run in the seventh, and the winning run in the ninth. That's a pretty nice second game of the season for Texas's new highly-paid leadoff hitter.

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