Rangers top Red Sox in extra-innings thriller

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If this week is any indication, the Rangers will be very exciting to watch in the postseason.

They played in yet another thriller on Friday night, this time against the Red Sox, winning 10-9 on a walkoff solo blast by Nelson Cruz in the 11th inning.

The Rangers actually trailed in this one 8-2 when they came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning. You’ve probably seen by now how they won it, but the most exciting play of the game was how they tied it in the eighth.

Josh Hamilton, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and four runs scored, led off the bottom of the eighth with a double. Vladimir Guerrero followed, hitting a slow-rolling ground ball up the middle. Jed Lowrie was able to snag it, throwing across his body to first base. It was almost double-take worthy, but Vlad dove headfirst into first base and beat it out. Yes, that really happened.

That’s not all. Hamilton never broke stride on the play, scoring all the way from second base.

Rangers manager Ron Washington told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he feels pretty fortunate to have Hamilton on his squad.

“That’s what he does: a five-tool guy,” Washington said. “A five-tool
guy — run, throw, field, hit and hit with power — that’s what Josh
does. He can do it all.”

I’ll say. In addition to leading the American League with a .362 batting average and .633 slugging percentage, Hamilton is second in OPS (1.044), third in on-base percentage (.411), fourth in runs scored (79), sixth in homers (25) and eighth in RBI (79). An individual performance like Friday night’s only bolsters his case for the American League MVP.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”