If you’re just hearing about this, it’s probably best to go back to the intro (here) and get the ground rules. If you’re all caught up, let’s get started with part one of the first round of this tournament! In this entry, we’ll look at the first eight games of the first round. We’re only doing eight games per day, because we don’t want to wear you (or me) out.
Once the first-round games are complete, we’ll place the top 16 teams—all of whom were given a bye—into the bracket, based on the seeding of the remaining teams. With no further adieu, let’s see some results!
GAME ONE: #48 1972 (54-100) vs. #17 1993 (86-76)
WP: Dick Bosman (7ip, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2K)
LP: Kevin Brown (5.2ip, 9 H, 7R, 7ER, 4BB, 4K)
HR: Manuel Lee (1)
WELL THEN, this is fitting for a website called The Upset. Fun fact: the 1972 Rangers did not have a single pitcher with a winning record. But in perhaps the most Texas Rangers manner possible, the top (non-bye) ranked team in the first round broke their fans’ hearts by fumbling away a can’t-lose game. Everything went south in the sixth for Kevin Brown, and by the time Jeff Bronkey got in for mop-up duty, it didn’t matter that he pitched like a drunken muppet. The ’72 squad got multiple hits from six different players, and the first team to play in Arlington Stadium beat the last team to play there by a convincing 13-2 score. They’ll move on to face the #1-ranked 2011 Rangers in Round Two. Good luck!
GAME TWO: #47 1973 (57-105) vs. #18 1974 (84-76)
WP: Jim Bibby (8ip, 9H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 6K)
LP: Fergie Jenkins (9ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 9K)
S: Bill Gogolewski (1)
Fergie Jenkins finished with the complete-game, nine-strikeout, no-walk loss for the home team, who couldn’t overcome a two-run first inning by their previous-year underdogs.
GAME THREE: #46 1985 (62-99) vs. #19 1991 (85-77)
WP: Charlie Hough (8.2ip, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 3BB, 3K)
LP: Kevin Brown (4.2ip, 11H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 4K)
HR: Juan Gonzalez (1), Kevin Reimer (1)
Okay, I promise this is not a The Upset branding stunt. These are the real results of the SIM machine. This is the most Texas Rangers tournament of all time, and we’re not even 25% of the way through the first round. Kevin Brown has already taken two losses. What is happening.
GAME FOUR: #45 1982 (64-98) vs. #20 1995 (74-70)WP: Kenny Rogers (9ip, 5H, 0R, 2BB, 5K)
LP: Charlie Hough (7ip, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 6K)
HR: Juan Gonzalez 2 (2)
Finally. I was starting to worry that the machine was broken. Juan Gonzalez hit two home runs, and Kenny Rogers pitched a complete-game shutout to take 1995 into the second round. Charlie Hough takes the loss, and the 1982 team bites the dust.
GAME FIVE: #44 1971 WAS (63-96) vs. #21 1979 TEX (83-79)
WP: Danny Darwin (3.0ip, 1H, 1BB)
LP: Jim Shellenback (0.1ip, 3H 1R, 1ER)
Good. We can’t have a Washington Senators team taking this tournament by storm. Fortunately, both 1970 and 1971 weren’t great years for the Senators, though ’71 did put up a fight, taking the 1979 Rangers to 15 innings before a one-out single from Richie Zisk scored Pat Putnam from third base to walk it off. If you’re curious what runs scored in the first five innings of the game, it went like this: Frank Howard gave the Senators a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the top of the 4th, then Texas got two in the bottom half of the inning when Bump Wills scored on a groundout and Billy Sample scored on a Putnam sac fly.
GAME SIX (PHRASING!): #43 2014 (67-95) vs. #22 1989 (83-79)
WP: Yu Darvish (6.1ip, 9H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 8K)
LP: Nolan Ryan (9ip, 9H 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 13K)
S: Roman Mendez (1)
Tim Bogar must have been managing this one? Perhaps the most unrealistic part of this is that there were no injuries, which leads me to this, my first prediction of the tournament: I believe that the 2014 team, despite their awful record, is going to make some waves, simply because—had they not been the most injured team in the history of baseball—they might have won the division. It’s sad to see the 1989 squad ousted so early, though. That was the first full year that I was a baseball fan,. Fare thee well, old friends.
GAME SEVEN: #23 1990 TEX (83-79) vs. #42 1970 WAS (70-92)
WP: Dick Bosman (8ip, 9H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 6K)
LP: Nolan Ryan (8ip, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 14K)
S: Darold Knowles (1)
HR: Frank Howard (1), Mike Epstein (1)
Okay, I didn’t expect to get mad at fake baseball, but the 1970 Senators knocking off the 1990 Rangers is perturbing. Nolan Ryan has now pitched two games for a combined 27 strikeouts in 17 innings, and has two losses to show for his efforts. The 90s did make it interesting: Rafael Palmeiro came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with one out and two on, but he grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.
GAME EIGHT: #41 1988 (70-91) vs. #24 2006 (80-82)
WP: Kevin Millwood (6.1ip, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 5BB, 5K)
LP: Charlie Hough (8ip, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 6BB, 4K)
S: Akinori Otsuka (1)
It says something that an 80-82 team is in the winner’s half of the tournament. We’ve gotten spoiled lately: the Rangers were very bad for a long time. A Rod Barajas sac fly in the 6th gave the home side a 3-1 lead in this one, and the insurance run was needed; Scott Fletcher’s 7th-inning single scored Curtis Wilkerson from third to pull the 1988ers to within a run. But in the ninth, after a one-out triple by Cecil Espy, Akinori Otsuka struck out Oddibe McDowell looking, and—after an intentional walk to Scott Fletcher—got Pete Incaviglia to ground to Hank Blalock at third to end the inning.
Alright! That’s a lot of fake baseball for one day! Here are your matchups for tomorrow’s games:
GAME NINE: #40 2003 (71-91) vs. #25 2005 (79-83)
GAME TEN: #39 2000 (71-91) vs. #26 2008 (79-83)
GAME ELEVEN: #38 2002 (72-90) vs. #27 2017 (78-84)
GAME TWELVE: #37 2001 (73-89) vs #28 1983 (77-85)
GAME THIRTEEN: #36 1994 (52-62) vs. #29 1997 (77-85)
GAME FOURTEEN: #35 1984 (74-87) vs. #30 1992 (77-85)
GAME FIFTEEN: #34 2007 (75-87) vs. #31 1980 (76-85)
GAME SIXTEEN: #33 1987 (75-87) vs. #32 1976 (76-86)