McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers' aggressiveness evens it up

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McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers' aggressiveness evens it up

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sitting out this postseason, the Texas Rangers, who replaced them as American League West champions, are taking their place in another way.

Like the Angels, the Rangers are hyper-aggressive. And like the Angels, the Rangers are finding that carries with it some risk.

Sometimes it pays big dividends, as it did in Game Five of the ALDS against Tampa Bay. The Rangers managed to score the first two runs of that series-deciding game by sending baserunners from second base on infield groundouts.

So it was in the first inning Saturday when the Rangers evened the ALCS with a 7-2 stomping of the New York Yankees.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus reached on an infield single, took second on a wild pitch, swiped third and then, in tandem with Josh Hamilton (walk), executed a double-steal, giving the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead.

That sort of aggressiveness was critical for the home team, which had a crushing loss the night before. It made a statement that they wouldn't retreat from their trademark style, even after Ian Kinsler has been picked off first in the ninth inning Friday night, representing the potential tying run against Mariano Rivera.

There's a double-edge that comes with playing that gambling, occasionally reckless style. On occasion, it can backfire. The Angels discovered that in the 2008 ALDS against the Red Sox when a botched squeeze at Fenway ran them right out of the postseason.

But the Rangers made a conscious effort to continue playing the way they had all year, when they finished fifth in the league in steals and finished first in the American League in going from first-to-third.

"It's a big part of our game,'' said veteran infielder Michael Young. "We're going to find a way to push the envelope.''

They had won their division, beaten the A.L. team with the best record in the first round and led the defending world champs for seven innings Friday night.

They weren't going to change. In fact, they found it odd that anyone believed they might scale back their aggressiveness.

"That's the way we've played all year,'' said Andrus. "We know what we need to do on the bases. If you put extra pressure on the pitcher, extra pressure on the catcher and the defense, it can be hard (on them). That's what we're doing and it did a lot of good for us.''

Andrus was tipped by third-base coach Dave Anderson that Hamilton was looking to run. When the shortstop saw Jorge Posada throw down to second to nab Hamilton, he broke for the plate.

It was the only run of the inning, but it set the tone for the game. The Rangers would not back down, even after Kinsler was caught Friday night, even after a demoralizing, late-inning setback.

If a single play leading to a single run could make a statement, this was it.

"It's just a play that adds energy and gets us off on the right foot,'' said David Murphy, the former Red Sox outfielder who later contributed a solo homer and a run-scoring double.

"That's the kind of game we play,'' shrugged manager Ron Washington, who seemed surprised that anyone might be surprised the Rangers maintained their aggressiveness.

More than establishing their game, the double steal helped put the disappointment of Friday behind them. Even with the short turnaround time, the Rangers indicated they were not suffering from any short of day-after hangover.

"That's just the way we play,'' said Kinsler. "Honestly, no one said a word about being aggressive. We're all just aggressive. If we're going to make an error, or we're going to make a mistake, it's going to be on the aggressive side. We're not going to be timid. We're not going to be afraid.''

It helped that Texas later showed some thump, with six extra-base hits from the second through the fifth, leading to six more runs.

But the biggest run of all came in the first, when the Rangers ran like they were trying to leave Friday night behind, like they had someplace else to go.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.

 

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada once ate 85 Twinkies in a week

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada once ate 85 Twinkies in a week

This isn’t your average young and hungry player on the brink of the big leagues.

Yoan Moncada, the ex-Red Sox prospect who was one of the principal pieces in the trade for Chris Sale, ate 85 Twinkies in a week, his agent told ESPN The Magazine

David Hastings, Moncada's agent, clarified to CSNNE that this was a one-time thing when Moncada first arrived in the U.S. Moncada had never had Twinkies before, Hastings said, so he was like "a kid in a candy store."

He's still in great shape. Moncada had a huge spring training with the White Sox after a disappointing major-league debut with Boston in September. 

The 21-year-old third baseman has been optioned out of big-league camp, so he’s slated to start the year in Triple-A. But he hit .317 with a .391 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage and 3 home runs in 41 at-bats — some of the best numbers anywhere.

Moncada took a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, money that the Sox turned into Sale. Moncada, meanwhile, didn’t exactly invest every cent.

Twinkies weren’t his only indulgence. 

More from the story: 

Moncada had money to spend on drones, video games, toys and clothes. He sometimes spent $1,500 or more during nights out, David says. After he purchased the second $200,000 car, Josefa [Hastings, David’s wife] tried to talk some sense into him.

David Hastings reinforced to CSNNE that the message to Moncada was to invest in things that appreciate in value.