Only four remain. On one side, we have the lone remaining underdog: the 26th-ranked 2008 team, the Vicente-Padilla-led bad boys of the tournament who have knocked off the 13th-ranked 2015 team and the 4th-ranked 1977 team to get here. They’ll be taking on the “Cluster Luck” 2016 team, full of Odor punches and walk-off magic; the most fun team in recent memory.
On the other side, the only two World Series teams in franchise history will go head-to-head as the Cliff Lee 2010 squad faces off against the inaugural year of Adrian Beltre, Texas Ranger.
It’s the Tournament of Rangers, and it’s on right now.
DETAILS: I’m giving the teams a day off between their 2-3-2 schedule. Mostly, this is because of the bullpens. I can’t make the SIM stop using a relief pitcher that has pitched three days in a row or thrown 40 pitches the night before. So I’m giving them more rest. But I’m still going to use the 1-5 pitchers in the rotation. It’s just healthy.
MARK HOLTZ MEMORIAL SEMIFINAL SERIES ONE: #26 2008 vs. #3 2016
WP: Cole Hamels (7ip, 4H, 1H, 1ER, 3BB, 4K)
LP: Vicente Padilla (8ip, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K)
S: Sam Dyson (4)
HR: Michael Young (2), Shin-Soo-Choo (2), Adrian Beltre (2)
2016 leads series:1-0
No worries about the bullpen in this one, as Padilla goes eight, but loses. All the runs in the game came on home runs, proving that this is, in fact, a Rangers tournament. Choo’s third-inning blast was the only one that wasn’t a solo shot.
WP: Jake Diekman (0.2ip)
LP: C.J. Wilson (0.0 ip, 1H, 1R, 1ER)
HR: Ian Kinsler (2), Josh Hamilton 3 (5), David Murphy (3), Adrian Beltre 2 (4), Jonathan Lucroy 2 (4), Rougned Odor (4) Nomar Mazara (6)
2016 leads series: 2-0
Okay, we’ll take that day off. With the score 16-16 in the bottom of the ninth, Adrian Beltre walked up to the plate and swung so hard at the first pitch that he ended up on a knee. The ball was foul. On the next pitch, it was nearly a mirror image of the first swing, except this time the ball sailed 434 feet away, over the left-field wall and put a merciful end to Game Two.
Sixteen pitchers combined to throw 331 pitches. I mean, just look at that scoreboard up there. Look at these box scores (ignore the batting averages, those are just for this game)
You know who feels terrible after a game like that? Milton Bradley and Chris Davis, who somehow combined to go 0-for-8 in a 17-16 baseball game. Also, everyone.
WP: Martin Perez (7.2ip, 8H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB 3K)
LP: Kason Gabbard (5ip, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K)
S: Matt Bush (1)
HR: Shin-Soo Choo (3), Milton Bradley (1)
2016 leads series 3-0
Baseball is weird, even in a computer. Matt Bush got a save by throwing 11 pitches in a 10-3 game, since the ’16 squad put up a six-spot in the top of the ninth. Cluster luck, man.
WP: Tony Barnette (1.1ip, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 1K)
LP: Scott Feldman (3ip, 7H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, 2K)
HR: Shin-Soo Choo (4), Adrian Beltre (5), Mitch Moreland (3), Nomar Mazara (7), Ian Kinsler (3), Chris Davis 2 (4)
It’s always a little bit of a bummer when an underdog’s run finally crashes and burns. Colby Lewis was sharp until he wasn’t, giving way to Barnette in the fifth inning. By then, the 2016 Rangers had already scored 12 runs, however. The bullpen appeared to be maybe trying some new things out with the big lead(?) as the 08 squad scored in the final five innings, but the ’16ers just kept pouring it on, capping an 8-run seventh inning with a Shin-Soo Choo grand slam off Luis Mendoza.
2016 advances to the Championship Round.
TOM VANDERGRIFF MEMORIAL SEMIFINAL SERIES TWO: #8 2010 vs. #1 2011
WP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 10H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 9K)
LP: Cliff Lee (6ip, 9H, 6R, 5ER, 1BB, 6K)
S: Mark Lowe (1)
HR: 11Nelson Cruz (3), 11Michael Young (2)
2011 leads series: 1-0
Cliff Lee had an uncharacteristically difficult day, and Nelson Cruz’ two-run home run capped a four-run first inning to give the favorites a 1-0 lead.
WP: Matt Harrison (6ip, 4H, 0R, 1BB, 3K)
LP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 4K)
S: Neftali Feliz (3)
HR: ’10Mitch Moreland (1), ’11Nelson Cruz (4)
2011 leads series: 2-0
2010 very nearly completed the comeback in the ninth inning. With two outs, after a Nelson Cruz single and a David Murphy walk, Neftali Feliz entered the game, and Mitch Moreland crushed a no-doubt home run on a 2-1 fastball. But it wasn’t enough: Bengie Molina grounded out to third base, and the 2011 team took a 2-0 series lead.
WP: Darren O’Day (1ip)
LP: Darren Oliver (0.2, 2H, 1R, 1ER)
S: Neftali Feliz (3)
HR: ’10 Kinsler (4), ’10 Josh Hamilton (3), ’10 Mitch Moreland (2)
2011 leads series: 2-1
Inning after inning, Colby Lewis nodded and tipped his cap to Colby Lewis as one left the mound and one strolled up to it. Inning after inning, they silently battled, each one removed after six innings, having given up seven hits and five runs. By night’s end, neither one had received a decision, and the Colbys sat in adjacent ice baths, sipping Budweiser and wordlessly nodding at each other, flipping through truck magazines. “You see this one yet,” Colby muttered. “Yeah, it’s nice,” Colby affirmed. “525 hp (391 kW; 532 PS) and 510 lb⋅ft (691 N⋅m) torque,” Colby said, eyebrows raised. “I’m only a year younger than you,” Colby responded. “Don’t act like I don’t know that just means it’s a Hemi.”
WP: Tommy Hunter 8ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 2K)
LP: Yoshinori Tateyama (0.2ip, 1H, 1R, 1ER)
S: Neftali Feliz (4)
HR: ’10 Mitch Moreland (3)
2010 went into the bottom of the eighth inning trailing 3-0. Alexi Ogando and Darren Oliver had combined for seven shutout innings. But Mark Lowe loaded the bases, and retired just one of the three hitters he faced. Yoshinori Tateyama entered, and didn’t have much more luck; he gave up a three-run home run to 2010 Mitch Moreland—his third of the series—and that was the difference in the game.
WP: Frank Francisco (1ip, 1BB, 1K)
LP: Mark Lowe (0.1 1H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K)
HR: 10 Vladimir Guerrero (3), 10 Michael Young (1), 10 David Murphy (2), 10 Mitch Moreland (4)
Ohhhhhhhh snap. After falling behind 2-0 (both in the series and in this game), the 2010 team now stands on the brink of knocking off the #1 seed. Mark Lowe wasted another good start, this one by Derek Holland, who went six innings. This one—like the game before it—was also decided by a four-run eighth inning. This time, it was back-to-back home runs from Michael Young and David Murphy that did the damage.
WP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 7K)
LP: Cliff Lee (3.2ip, 10H, 8R, 8ER, 2BB, 6K)
HR: 11 Josh Hamilton (3), 11 Adrian Beltre (2)
It’s the first Game Six we’ve had in this tournament, and it looks like someone is out for revenge. Cliff Lee was even worse the second time around than he was the first, and it took Dustin Nippert 93 pitches to get through the last three innings of mop-up work. Adrian Beltre went 3-for-3 with 2 walks and 5 RBI. Josh Hamilton was 3-for-4 with 2 walks and scored five times. To Game Seven we go!
WP: C.J. Wilson (8ip, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 6K)
LP: Matt Harrison (3.2ip, 8H, 5R, 2ER, 7BB, 3K)
HR: 10 Kinsler (5), 10 Cruz (3), 10 Young (2),
Matt Harrison walked seven batters—including three in a row with the bases loaded in the second inning—and the 2011 AL Champions marched nine pitchers to the mound. All nine of them gave up runs. Somehow, in spite of getting two losses from Cliff Lee, the 2010 Rangers have defeated the 2011 team. They’ll take on the 2016 Cluster Luck team in the finals.