Other than the poor pitching, the poor defense, and the poor hitting, yesterday’s playoff game went pretty well.
There was enough bad baseball to last a lifetime in Game 1.
Bad defense and bad pitching feed off themselves. If only Beltre snags that line drive. If only Odor gets that glove down. If only Desmond catches that ball. Hamels would have been out of that third inning with only one-run worth of damage. Or two. If only his defense didn’t let him down.
But the defense wouldn’t have had the chance to let him down if only Hamels could have found pitches that could get anybody out.
This one was not on the defense. It certainly wasn’t the crisp glove work that would make anyone’s highlight reel, but this one was squarely on the left shoulder of Cole Hamels.
He melted down. As he did in so many of his last starts: six earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched, seven earned runs in 1.2 innings pitched, six earned runs in 6.0 inning pitched.
Yesterday, in Game 1 of the Division Series, he continued that disturbing trend: six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched.
Something is wrong with Cole. And the team that went into the playoffs with only two quality starting pitchers suddenly has only one.
Toronto hitters see more pitches per at-bat than any other team in the American League. Which is why they led the A.L. in walks in 2016, some 74 more free passes than the next team.
Their hitters are patient.
Throw into that mix the fact that Cole Hamels doled out the third-most walks in the American League, and it was a recipe for the disaster that yesterday was.
Hamels couldn’t get anybody out.
The story of the game came with the second batter of the game, Josh Donaldson. Hamels couldn’t find an out pitch. He had two strikes on him, and Donaldson fouled off pitch after pitch waiting for Hamels to throw him ball four. Which came after nine pitches.
You knew then and there that Hamels was going to have problems getting outs.
Even though he hadn’t given up a hit yet by the third inning, he was laboring. A one-out walk and a two-out wild pitch early in the third were harbingers that disaster was just around the corner. The third base corner. Donaldson smoked a line drive that Beltre couldn’t handle and the five-run floodgates were opened. And Game 1 was over in the third inning.
You want hope?
Last season, three of the four Game 1 winners in the Division Series went on to lose the series.
So there is that.
Last night, one of two twenty-game winner in the American League, Boston’s Rick Porcello, lost. The Rangers face the other one today.
So there’s that.
And there is the fact that the Rangers could not possibly play worse than they did yesterday.
TODAY’S GAME 2:
J. A. Happ (20-4, 3.18) vs. Yu Darvish (7-5, 3.41)
Game time: 12:08