Bill Baer

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:  Cole Hamels (C) #35 of the Texas Rangers walks back to the dugout after being relieved during the fourth inning in game one of the American League Divison Series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Park in Arlington on October 6, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Rangers’ miscues to blame for ALDS Game 1 loss to the Blue Jays


Though it’s no surprise to see double digit runs next to the Blue Jays’ logo in the score bug of any TV broadcast, it was rather interesting how the Jays came about those runs as the Rangers lost 10-1 on Thursday evening in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Jays registered third in the AL in home runs for the 2016 regular season, but truly didn’t need that power to beat the Rangers.

If the Jays are looking for someone or something to thank for Thursday’s win, it’s the Rangers’ sloppy defense and mental miscues. It began in the third inning. Facing Josh Donaldson with Ezequiel Carrera on first base, starter Cole Hamels uncorked a wild pitch, moving Carrera to second. Then the normally sure-handed Adrian Beltre couldn’t snag a Donaldson line drive for the final out of the frame. Instead, it caromed off of his glove into left field, allowing the Jays’ first run to score. The next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, hit a weak liner back to Hamels but the lefty couldn’t snag that one either as the ball instead dribbled out to Elvis Andrus at shortstop. Jose Bautista promptly brought another run home with a single.

After Hamels walked Russell Martin, the Rangers’ biggest miscue happened. With the bases loaded, Troy Tulowitzki slammed a 92 MPH fastball out to right-center field. It appeared that center fielder Ian Desmond had a beat on it, but as he approached the wall, he slowed up and the ball dropped in for a bases-clearing triple. Desmond is a shortstop by trade, but he played the entire regular season in center for the Rangers. It’s a play he has to make, especially in the postseason. Hamels finally got Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

The beatdown continued in the fourth inning as Melvin Upton, Jr. led off with a solo homer to right field. After Carrera flied out, Devon Travis hit a grounder to shortstop that appeared to be a routine 6-3 out, but Andrus threw wide of first base, pulling Mitch Moreland off the bag. Facing Donaldson, Hamels threw a fastball that catcher Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle and that moved Travis to second base. Donaldson then sent a soft liner to right field to bring Travis home.

Along with the handful of defensive miscues, Hamels’ mental unraveling was a big factor in the Rangers’ loss. As a Phillies fan, I had the pleasure of watching Hamels pitch in Philadelphia from 2006-15. For as good as he was, Hamels was prone to getting tilted. “Tilted,” for those not familiar, is a poker term that means letting unfortunate results affect your mentality, making you play worse from that point forward. If an umpire’s strike zone was too small, if a Phillies defender made a bad play, if Hamels couldn’t hit his spots… he would devolve, becoming increasingly stubborn as if he needed to fit a square peg into a round hole. Longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz and/or the pitching coach would have to come out to the mound to get Hamels back on track but it rarely ever worked. Hamels’ biggest enemy is himself and that was on display for everyone to see on Thursday.

As the Blue Jays showed last year, losing the first game of a best-of-five series isn’t necessarily a death knell for a team’s playoff hopes. But it’s just one more hurdle that the Rangers need to clear if they are to advance to the ALCS. They certainly can’t afford to have any more sloppy games like Thursday’s.

Blue Jays open up ALDS with 10-1 win against the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with his teammates after scoring a run off of Troy Tulowitzki #2 RBI triple to right field against Cole Hamels #35 of the Texas Rangers during the third inning in game one of the American League Divison Series at Globe Life Park in Arlington on October 6, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After two nailbiters in both leagues’ Wild Card games, we finally have a blowout. The Blue Jays had no trouble taking care of the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS with a 10-1 victory on Thursday afternoon.

Rangers starter Cole Hamels unraveled in the third inning as the Blue Jays scored five runs. Ezequiel Carrera drew a one-out walk to kick things off. Hamels got Devon Travis to pop up, appearing to see his way out of danger. However, he uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Carrera to move to second. Josh Donaldson then smoked a line drive that glanced off of the glove of third baseman Adrian Beltre. Carrera scored easily for the first run of the game and Donaldson hustled into second base. The tag play at the second base bag was reviewed but the initial ruling — that Donaldson was safe — was upheld.

Hamels couldn’t regain his composure. Edwin Encarnacion hit a line drive back to Hamels but the lefty couldn’t snare it. Instead, it rolled to Elvis Andrus at shortstop, moving Donaldson to third. Jose Bautista then singled to center field, bringing Donaldson home for the Jays’ second run. Russell Martin walked to load the bases. Troy Tulowitzki unloaded the bases with a triple to right-center, pushing the Jays’ lead to 5-0. The ball appeared to be catchable, but center fielder Ian Desmond slowed up approaching the wall, allowing the ball to drop.

In the next inning, Melvin Upton, Jr. led off with a solo home run. Shortly thereafter, with one out, Elvis Andrus made a throwing error on what should have been an easy 6-3 ground out by Devon Travis. Hamels threw a fastball that catcher Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t corral, so Travis advanced to second base. Donaldson dunked a single to right field, bringing Travis home to make it a 7-0 game.

Alex Claudio and Tony Barnette threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Hamels. However, Bautista made it a laugher in the top of the ninth, sending a no-doubt three-run home run to left field off of lefty reliever Jake Diekman. That pushed the score to 10-0.

All the while, Jays starter Marco Estrada was pitching a fantastic game. The Rangers mustered very little offense against him over the first eight innings — just three singles. In the top of the ninth, Andrus led off with a triple to deep left-center. He would score on a ground out by Shin-Soo Choo. Estrada gave way to Ryan Tepera, who got Carlos Gomez to ground out and Desmond to fly out to end the game. Estrada’s final line: 8 1/3 innings, four hits, one earned run, no walks, six strikeouts on 98 pitches.

Estrada has quietly established quite the postseason resume. Now with four starts (all with the Jays) and relief appearances (all with the Brewers) under his belt, the right-hander has a career 2.67 ERA with a 30/3 K/BB ratio in 33 2/3 innings in the playoffs.

Game 2 of the ALDS will continue on Friday at 1:00 PM EDT as the Rangers host the Jays again. J.A. Happ will take on Yu Darvish.

Kim Ng among candidates for Diamondbacks’ vacant GM position

diamondbacks logo alternate

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that Kim Ng is one of five candidates currently in consideration for the vacant general manager position in the Diamondbacks’ front office. Former GM Dave Stewart was fired earlier this week along with manager Chip Hale.

Ng has been considered as GM on several occasions in the past. In 2005, she interviewed with the Dodgers but the organization chose to go with Ned Colletti instead. She has also been considered by the Mariners, Padres, and Angels.

Ng is currently the senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball. Her resume is quite impressive even leading up to her current position. She started as an intern with the White Sox, then was hired full-time to serve as the assistant director of baseball operations under Ron Schueler who was the club’s GM in 1995. She moved on to work for the American League as the director of waivers and records. GM Brian Cashman brought her to the Yankees in 1998 as the assistant GM. Three years later, she moved to the Dodgers as vice president and assistant GM.

Cafardo notes that Bryan Minniti (D-Backs’ assistant GM), Mike Bell (D-Backs’ director of player development), Ray Montgomery (Brewers scouting director), and Peter Woodfork (senior VP of baseball operations for MLB) are other candidates in consideration.