(The real-life Rangers signed Jonathon Niese to a minor-league deal today. He’ll get an invite to Spring Training, joining 61 others in the big-league locker room as the race to 25 begins. Niese pitched for the Mets from 2008-2015, then was traded to the Pirates for Neil Walker before the 2016 season. By August 1st, he was a Met again, traded for Antonio Bastardo and cash. Niese pitched in the Yankees minor league system in 2017. Okay, back to Fake Baseball! If you’re just starting, you can see the Round One results here and here.)
For reasons we’ll get into on Thursday morning, we are going to put the gas pedal down and start cranking through this tournament. With 16 teams eliminated in the play-in round, we’re down to 32 teams, including the 16 winningest teams in Rangers history, all of whom got a first-round bye. The second round will be best-of-three, and for the sake of days-of-rest conversations, we’ll say there was an off-day between rounds one and two. Since Globe Life and Arlington Stadium are a stone’s throw from one another, there are no off-days between Round Two games.
Also, even though we’re spreading Round Two out over a few posts, let’s establish a timeline: all Game Ones are played on the same day. We’ll say that games start at 6am and go til they finish, I guess? Okay, we’re overthinking it at this point.
Here are the results of the first eight series in Round Two!
SERIES ONE: #20 1995 (74-70) vs. #16 1986 (87-75)
WP: Roger Pavlik (8ip, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 9K)
LP: Charlie Hough (8ip, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 6K)
S: Jeff Russell (1)
HR: Pete Incaviglia (1)
WP: Bob Tewksbury (6.1ip, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0K)
LP: Edwin Correa (8ip, 9H, 4R, 2ER, 4BB, 9K)
S: Jeff Russell (2)
HR: 86Ruben Sierra (1), 95Rusty Greer (1)
We have our first sweep, and our first upset of the second round! The ’95 squad pulled off the home-and-away, taking Game One at Arlington Stadium and Game Two at The Ballpark in Arlington. The ’86 squad got eight innings each from their starters, but the offense couldn’t find any spark against the unstoppable duo of, uh, Roger Pavlik and …Bob Tewksbury?
SERIES TWO: #21 1979 (83-79) vs. #15 2009 (87-75)
WP: Fergie Jenkins (7.2ip, 11H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 6K)
LP: Scott Feldman (7ip, 1H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K)
S: Jim Kern (1)
HR: Bump Wills (1), Pat Putnam (1), Richie Zisk (1)
WP: Kevin Millwood (8ip, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 3K)
LP: Doc Medich (5.1ip, 2H, 4R, 4ER, 5BB, 8K)
S: Frank Francisco (1)
HR: John Ellis (1)
WP: Danny Darwin (2.2ip, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K)
LP: Tommy Hunter (5ip, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K)
HR: John Ellis 2 (3)
Not that home-field advantage means much in this series, but the “road” team won all three games in this one. John Ellis, who had just 12 home runs in 1979, blasted three in this series, including two in the finale. The last game got out of hand early, but errors late by Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus allowed the score to get very lopsided as the underdog ’79ers marched on to round three.
SERIES THREE: #24 2006 (80-82) vs. #14 1978 (87-75)
WP: Fergie Jenkins (9ip, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K)
LP: Vicente Padilla (8ip, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 6K)
HR: Richie Zisk (1)
WP: Jon Matlack (8ip, 0R, 2BB, 4K)
LP: John Koronka (4.2ip, 10H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 1K)
Back-to-back complete games from Fergie Jenkins and Jon Matlack sealed the fate of the hapless 2006 squad. Mark DeRosa’s 3-for-4 performance in the second game wasn’t enough to get the ’06ers on the board, and 1978 moves on to Round Three.
SERIES FOUR: #26 2008 (79-83) vs. #13 2015 (88-74)
WP: C.J. Wilson (1ip, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 1K)
LP: Chi Chi Gonzalez (0.1ip, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 0K)
S: Warner Madrigal (1)
HR: Chris Davis (1)
WP: Eddie Guardado (1.1ip, 1H, 1K)
LP: Tanner Scheppers (0.1ip, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0K)
HR: Ramon Vazquez (1), Shin-Soo Choo (1), Adrian Beltre (1)
No word on whether or not Ramon Vazquez bat-flipped his home run, but the SIM machine got one thing right about the 2015 squad…
SERIES FIVE: #27 2017 (78-84) vs. #12 1981 (57-48)
WP: Doc Medich (9ip, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 3K)
LP: Yu Darvish (6.1ip, 8H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K)
WP: Tony Barnette (0.1ip)
LP: Rick Honeycutt (7.2ip, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 1BB, 6K)
S: Alex Claudio (1)
HR: Leon Roberts (1), Pat Putnam (1), Carlos Gomez 2 (3)
WP: Danny Darwin (8ip, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 8BB, 8K)
LP: Martin Perez (5.2ip, 9H, 7R, 6ER, 3BB, 4K)
Here, I suppose, is the biggest flaw in a simulation: There’s no chance Jeff Banister would have left Martin Perez out there after a four-spot in the third inning of an elimination game. Someday it may be possible to teach computers urgency, but for today, robo-Jeff shrugged it off and the 2017 team was eliminated at the hands of the 1981 squad.
SERIES SIX #28 1983 (77-85) vs. #11 1998 (88-74)
WP: Alan Levine (1.1ip, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K)
LP: Rick Honeycutt (2ip, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 2K)
HR: Pete O’Brien (1, GS), Will Clark (1), Lee Stevens (1)
WP: Aaron Sele (6.2ip, 6H 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 5K)
LP: Frank Tanana (5.2ip, 13H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K)
HR: Juan Gonzalez (1)
I didn’t expect this one to be close, and it wasn’t. The only surprise is that there weren’t more home runs hit. 1998 advances to round three, where they’ll face 14th-ranked 1978.
SERIES SEVEN: #30 1992 (77-85) vs. #10 1975 (89-73)
WP: Nolan Ryan (7ip, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 8K)
LP: Fergie Jenkins (9ip, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 5K)
S: Jeff Russell (2)
HR: Rafael Palmeiro (2), Kevin Reimer (1)
WP: Jose Guzman (8.1ip, 9H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 7K)
LP: Gaylord Perry (7ip, 9H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 5K)
S: Jeff Russell (3)
Well, well, well… what have we here? A 30th-ranked team into the round of sixteen, that’s what! It’s hard to count out any team that has Nolan Ryan in a short series, but Jose Guzman’s masterful performance in Game Two can’t be overlooked. In Game two, a two-out error by Lenny Randle allowed the ’92 team on the board, but it was a Jeff Huson bloop double in the sixth that scored Kevin Reimer for the game-winner.
SERIES EIGHT #31 1980 (70-92) vs. #9 2004 (89-73)
WP: Kenny Rogers (7.2ip, 10H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K)
LP: Doc Medich (3ip, 9H, 6R, 6R, 2BB, 2K)
S: Ron Mahay (1)
HR: L. Nix (1)
G2:WP: Fergie Jenkins (8ip, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 1BB, 6K)
LP: Ryan Drese (4ip, 9H, 6R, 5ER, 0BB, 2K)
S: Sparky Lyle (1)
HR: Kevin Mench (1), Buddy Bell (1), Richie Zisk (2)
G3:WP: Danny Darwin (1.2ip, 1H, 3K)
LP: Carlos Almanzar (0.2, 3H 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 0K)
S: Sparky Lyle (2)
HR: Al Oliver (1), Rod Barajas (1)
And here I was, thinking a #30 over a #10 would be the biggest upset of the night. The final game featured Gaylord Perry for the visiting 1980 squad, and it took me longer than it should have to decide to start Chan Ho Park over R.A. Dickey for the 2004 team. Park wasn’t sharp, but a three-run first gave him a lead that he still held when he left after five innings. It was the bullpen and defense that tanked the ’04 squad’s hope for glory, as a Michael Young error started a four-run rally in the 8th.
That will take care of the first half of the second round. We’ll be back tomorrow with the remaining eight series in Round Two, featuring the #1-8-ranked teams in Rangers’ history trying to hold off any major upsets en route to the Sundberg Sixteen.