There are a lot of dimensions on a baseball field. Ninety feet between the bases. Sixty feet, six inches from the mound to home. 330 feet to the fences.
Those are all important.
But none more so than the tiny little 408-square foot area, roughly three square feet, that constitutes a major league strike zone.
It’s seventeen inches wide and around twenty-four inches high. Not a whole lot bigger than the average doggie door.
Yet the entire game of baseball revolves around that imaginary piece of real estate suspended in mid-air.
The Rangers aren’t separated from first place by seven games. They are separated by three square feet.
The strike zone is beating the Rangers.
Rangers hitters seem totally befuddled by what the strike zone is, as if it’s some ancient hieroglyphics. And Rangers pitchers treat it as if they have a permanent restraining order against it and must avoid it at all costs.
Rangers pitchers have less control than an incontinent homeless man. After issuing ten walks yesterday to the Astros, and desperately trying to hand Houston a sweep, Texas pitching now leads major league baseball with 119 free passes. Nine of those walks came from the Rangers highly inflammable bullpen.
Rangers hitters matched their pitching brethren’s ten walks with ten strikeouts of their own, their fifth straight game of ten or more strikeouts. They struck out fifty-one times in the four games against Houston, and have struck out sixty-six times in the last five games.
That translates to forty-nine percent of their outs coming from striking out. Basically, half of their outs.
It’s pretty hard to call a hit and run, move a runner over, manufacture a run, or get anything going with futility like that.
Pitchers who issue free passes. Hitters who cannot make contact with the ball. That is the ideal formula for a 12-17 record.
Until the Rangers learn to master that three-square-foot area above home plate, they will never see any real estate north of last place.
Yu Darvish (3-2, 3.03) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-3, 5.08)
Game time: 9:10