Good morning to each and every fan of fake baseball! Welcome back to the remaining eight best-of-three series in the Tournament of Rangers. Today, we’ll see the eight winningest teams in Rangers in franchise history take on a group of eight underdog hopefuls who won their first-round play-in game. Let’s get started!
SERIES NINE: #32 1976 (76-86) vs. #8 2010 (90-72)
WP: Cliff Lee (7ip, 8H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 4K)
LP: Jim Umbarger (7ip, 10H, 4R, 2ER, 4BB, 2K)
WP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 7H 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 3K)
LP: Gaylord Perry (6ip, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 1BB, 3K)
S: Neftali Feliz (1)
HR: Ian Kinsler (1)
Yeah, that went pretty much as expected. The first-ever Rangers team to advance to the World Series will also advance to Round Three of this tournament, where they’ll face the 20th-ranked 1995 squad.
SERIES TEN: #36 1994 (52-62) vs. #7 1996 (90-72)
WP: Ken Hill (9ip, 4H 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 5K)
LP: Kevin Brown (3ip, 9H 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K)
HR: ’96Kevin Elster 2 (2)
WP: Jeff Russell (1ip, 1BB)
LP: Darren Oliver (1.1ip, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K)
S: Matt Whiteside (1)
HR: ’96Juan Gonzalez 2 (2), ’96Dean Palmer (1), ’96Mickey Tettleton (1)
The first Rangers team to make the playoffs knocks off the team that might have laid claim to that title had the strike not cut the season short. The second game was a battle of the bullpens, but the ’96 crew eked out the victory, thanks in part to back-to-back home runs from Juan Gonzalez and Dean Palmer in the 8th inning.
SERIES ELEVEN: #40 2003 (71-91) vs. #6 2013 (93-69)
WP: Yu Darvish (8ip, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 9K)
LP: Colby Lewis (3.1ip, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 1K)
S: J. Nathan (1)
HR: Michael Young (1), Alex Rodriguez (2), Rafael Palmeiro (2)
WP: Derek Holland (6ip, 5H 2R, 2ER, 3BB 8K)
LP: Ismael Valdez (3ip, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 0K)
HR: Mitch Moreland (1), A.J. Pierzynski (1)
The one-decade-laters made quick work against a 2003 team that had some truly awful pitching performances—a pretty accurate representation of the real-life ’03 team, if we’re being honest. 2013 will advance to face the 21st-ranked 1979 squad.
SERIES TWELVE: #42 1970 (70-92) vs. #5 2012 (93-69)
WP: Joe Coleman (7.1ip, 7H 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 7K)
LP: Matt Harrison (4.2ip, 10H 7R, 6ER, 2BB, 6K)
S: Darold Knowles (2)
HR: Mike Epstein (2) Paul Casanova (1), Nelson Cruz (1)
WP: Yu Darvish (7ip, 3H 1R, 1ER, 6BB, 6K)
LP: George Brunet (5ip, 7H 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 4K)
S: Joe Nathan (1)
HR: Mitch Moreland (1)
WP: Joe Grzenda (1ip, 3H 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0K)
LP: Joe Nathan (.2ip, 3H, 3R, 3ER)
S: Darold Knowles (3)
HR: Frank Howard 2 (3), Aurilio Rodriguez (1), David Murphy (1), Mike Napoli (1)
I promise I did not tamper with these results at all; this is what the machine spit out. The 2012 team that—in real life—saw Yu Darvish lose to Joe Saunders in a play-in game has now also lost to the #42-ranked team in this tournament. Ironically, Darvish got the lone win in this one, taking the second game of the series, but after Dick Bosman (on short rest) and Derek Holland both struggled early in Game Three, the Washington bullpen outlasted the 2012ers when Joe Nathan blew the save in the ninth, allowing home runs to Frank Howard and Aurilio Rodriguez. Amazing how a SIM machine can replicate even shock and heartbreak.
SERIES THIRTEEN #43 2014 (67-95) vs. #4 1977 (94-78)
WP: Bert Blyleven (9ip, 5H, 1R, 1Er, 4BB, 10K)
LP: Colby Lewis (3.1ip, 6H 5R, 5Er, 5BB, 3K)
HR: Adrian Beltre (1),
WP: Dock Ellis (7ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K)
LP: Nick Martinez (5.2ip, 6H 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K)
S: Adrian Devine (1)
I really thought a healthy 2014 squad might do some damage. I even made an official prediction about it! But—having burned Darvish in the play-in game—there really wasn’t much shot for Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez to overcome the Blyleven/Ellis combo, and had the series gone to a third game, it was going to be Nick Tepesch vs. Gaylord Perry, a grim matchup for the 2014 squad by any measure. The 1977 rotation runs deep, featuring a #4 starter (Doyle Alexander) who went 17-11 with a 3.65 ERA that season. They’ll be the favorites when th take on 26th-ranked 2008 in the next round.
SERIES FOURTEEN: #46 1985 (62-99) vs. #3 2016 (95-67)
WP: Cesar Ramos (0.1ip)
LP: Dave Stewart (2.1ip, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K)
HR: Gary Ward (1), Pete O’Brien (1), Mitch Moreland (1)
Hamels imploded, allowing 7 runs, but after a 2-run top of the 10th (both runs off Nick Martinez) the “Cluster Luck” 2016 Rangers battled back for three in the bottom of the inning, capped by a walk-off Adrian Beltre double. Color me impressed by the all-knowing SIM orb.
WP: Yu Darvish (6ip, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 4K)
LP: Burt Hooton (5ip, 9H 4R. 4ER, 0BB, 4K)
S: Sam Dyson (1)
HR: Elvis Andrus (1), Gary Ward (2)
Wow, two straight one-run games for the 2016 Rangers, who could have ever guessed? The 1985 squad put up a good fight after their unlikely first-round upset over the #19-ranked 1992 squad; they made both games close, but after Wayne Tolleson’s single pulled them to within a run in the final, the overachievers tried a little too hard: He was promptly caught stealing to end the game.
SERIES 15: #47 1973 (57-105) vs. #2 1999 (95-67)
WP: Rick Helling (7ip, 8H 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 2K)
LP: Mike Paul (0.1ip, 3H, 3R, 3ER)
S: John Wetteland (1)
HR: Jeff Burroughs (1) Bill Sudakis 2 (2), Ivan Rodriguez (1)
WP: Aaron Sele (6.2ip, 9H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 6K)
LP: Jim Merritt (3ip, 11H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 1K)
S: John Wetteland (2)
Not exactly the wipeout we were all expecting, but the 1999 crew takes care of business and avoids an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the hapless 1973 squad. One oddity: the DH rule began in 1973, but for whatever reason, when I set the ’73 team as the home squad, the simulator took away the DH. So Aaron Sele went a needless 1-for-3.
Alright! We’re down to one final series: the best team in Rangers history (2011) vs. the worst team in Rangers history, the inaugural 1972 team. 1972 is only here because they managed to upset the 17th-ranked 1993 team in the one-game play-in round. Let’s see how it goes:
SERIES SIXTEEN #48 1972 (54-100) vs. #1 2011 (96-66)
WP: C.J. Wilson (7ip, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 7K)
LP: Rich Hand (4.2ip, 11H, 9R, 9ER, 4BB, 4K)
HR: David Murphy (1)
I apologize to the families of the men who were so brutally owned by this simulation. Adrian Beltre went 6-for-6 with 7 RBI in this game. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus each went 4-for-5 at the top of the lineup. Everyone but Mitch Moreland got at least one hit.
WP: Pete Broberg (8ip, 5H 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 3K)
LP: Matt Harrison (6ip, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 3K)
S: Horacio Pina (1)
HR: Michael Young (1)
Game One Hero Adrian Beltre committed an error that led to the run in the third inning, and after a Dick Billings triple in the sixth, Joe Lovitto singled home what would be the game-winning run. The 2011 team rallied for a run in the ninth when—after a Toby Harrah error—Michael Young’s bloop single scored Elvis Andrus. But with runners at first and third, Mike Napoli grounded out to third base to put the wraps on Game Two.
WP: Derek Holland (7ip, 7H, 0R, 2BB, 6K)
LP: Don Stanhouse (6ip, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 4K)
S: Neftali Feliz (1)
HR: Nelson Cruz (1), Mike Napoli (1)
WHEW. A three-run fourth inning, capped by a 2-run Nelson Cruz home run, was the difference for the #1 seed in the rubber match of the three-game series. They’ll move on now to face the 7th-seeded 1996 team.
That caps Round Two. We’ll be back this evening with the entirety of the “Sundberg Sixteen”, but for those of you just skimming: The #1 seed is still alive, and the biggest underdog is the 42nd-ranked 1970 Washington Senators.
(also I didn’t get that typo fixed in time, so the #19 team that lost in the first round is still mistakenly listed as being from 1992 when in fact they were from 1991)