Well, so much for having two aces in the first two games of a short series.
Cole Hamels in Game 1. Yu Darvish in Game 2. How could the Texas Rangers possibly go wrong?
The Toronto Blue Jays are headed home with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 American League Division Series and have a chance Sunday to send the Rangers into vacation mode.
Colby Lewis, passed over for an ALDS start last year, gets a chance to extended the Rangers’ season as the Game 3 starter against the Blue Jays’ power-hungry lineup.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a deep hole following a 5-3 Game 2 loss.
1. The Rangers were built in July 2015 for the past two days. They traded for Cole Hamels at the trade deadline with 2016 on the mind. That’s when Darvish would come back from Tommy John surgery and give the Rangers a two-headed rotation monster.
In July and August, it looked like the plan would plan out. Now, it’s back to the drawing board.
Hamels surrendered seven runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings Thursday. Darvish was better Friday, allowing a mere five runs (all earned) in five innings.
Take a bow, Mr. Darvish.
The good news — yes, this is good news — is that Hamels and Darvish will be back in 2017. That might be the last hurrah for them pitching together, with Darvish a free agent after next season at age 31 and likely to command a boatload of money.
Darvish’s problem Friday was the long ball, a career-high four of them. Three of those came in the fifth inning alone.
Darvish allowed 12 homers in 100 1/3 innings during the regular season.
It looks entirely possible that Hamels and Darvish won’t start again until the 2017 regular season. If the Rangers can avoid being swept, Hamels would be a candidate to start Game 4.
Then, we can have this discussion all over again.
2. The Rangers’ offense wasn’t remotely as stagnant in Game 2 as it was in the opener, collecting 13 hits. The problem was that the first nine were singles, and only two of them came in 18 tries with runners in scoring position.
Granted, three of the first four scoring chances came with two outs. Many chances came with two outs. The two-out RBI hit is widely regarded as the toughest to come by. The Blue Jays didn’t have any problem with them Thursday, though.
Those two-out hits were what keyed the Rangers’ success in June and so often in their 36 one-run wins and 49 comeback victories.
If the offense is looking for something to prop them up, at least they gave themselves chances to score. They believe the timely hits will come, too.
3. Lest anyone forget that the 2015 ALDS opened at Rogers Centre, where the Rangers won the first two games and came home with a 2-0 lead. Toronto won the next three to win the series and advance.
So, the Rangers have recent history on their side.
Lewis is also the Rangers’ all-time leader in postseason victories and ERA. He has onions. The Rangers need onions.
They also need the luck that so many are saying they used up during the regular season with the miniscule plus-8 run differential and all those one-run and come-from-behind wins.
So far, the Blue Jays have had all the good luck.
Good luck with that, Rangers.