Even before the game started, I knew this was a bad match up for the rookie Brandon McCarthy. After just a few pitches, I was sure it was going to be a long night. McCarthy had already seen this Texas team twice. The first time he allowed just one hit in four innings pitched, but recorded only two strike outs and had far from dominant stuff. The second time, he got rocked. His curveball wasn't biting, and he struggled with his control.
It seemed to me that McCarthy had that second outing in Arizona on his mind in the early innings at Arlington. The first three pitches to David Dellucci were all up in the zone, and I immediately said to my dad "he better get that ball down or there's going to be a lot of balls in the seats." -- That turned out to be very prophetic. -- Even though Dellucci struck out looking at a 3-2 curveball, you could tell that McCarthy didn't have it.
He looked like he was afraid to throw a first pitch fastball for a strike. That was probably a good idea, as Texas has a lot of guys who love the straigtball, and are looking for it pitch #1. (Jose Contreras could have earned a victory last night had he realized Dallas McPherson's tendencies) If your afraid to throw fastball first pitch, and you can't grab first pitch strike with your curve, what's left? The Change. But McCarthy has hardly used his change at all in his two games at the big league level. This is probably by design. He probably doesn't have the confidence in it to throw it to Major League hitters.
I seem to recall (and I could be wrong here) reading that his changeup was his second best pitch while he was tearing up A-ball. I remember that the knock on his curve was that he had a tendency to hang it occasionally. He could get away with that at the lower levels, but not as he climbed the chain. It appears that his curveball is his best pitch now, but he has no confidence in the change up.
Without that change, hitters can sit on his fastball, especially if he's leaving it up in the zone.
It's no secret that the team is struggling offensively right now. They're not doing anything right. Thankfully they didn't give away any outs on the basepaths tonight, but you have to be on base to give 'em away. Usually Ozzie does a very good job of puting the line up together. Tonight was a notable exception. Juan Uribe is the hitter who may be struggling the most right now(.206/.229/.397over the last 20 games), yet Ozzie saw fit to pretty much guarantee he was going to get an extra plate appearance tonight by batting him second. Carl Everett, who Ozzie decided to bat third, is making Uribe look like Babe Ruth, batting .167/.262/.296 over the last 20.
With the offense struggling as much as it has lately, (13 runs in the last 6 games) putting guys who are struggling at the top of the order is not something we can overcome. Ozzie needs to make sure he's putting the best possible line up out there every night. He said after last Sunday's game that he wanted to do everything he could to get McCarthy his first win. The line up he put together on Friday said otherwise.
After the game was out of reach, and McCarthy was on his way to the showers, Ozzie turned to Luis Vizcaino, Shingo Takatsu and Kevin Walker for an inning each. They all held Texas off of the scoreboard, but none of them looked good doing it. Vizcaino was hanging sliders and walking guys. What else is new? Shingo struggled with his control, and worked behind in the count. What else is new? Kevin Walker, aw heck, he's Kevin' fricken' Walker. He's got the most unimpressive 0.00 ERA in baseball.
The Sox finally started to mount some semblance of a rally late in the game -- some would call it garbage time. I like to call it Timo! Time! -- Willie Harris lined a single to the opposite field with runners on 1st and 2nd to cut the lead to 4, with 2 outs in the 9th. Buck Showalter made the call to the pen for Rangers closer Francisco Cordero. Since the Sox had 2 runners on, the tying run was in the on deck circle, making this a save opportunity in a 4-run game. Cordero only needed to record one out to get credit with the save. So who does Ozzie send to the plate to face Cordero? TIMO! Needless to say, Cordero was able to get Timo to fly out to left field on the first pitch. That's right Cordero got credit for a save for throwing one pitch in a 4-run game where he didn't even have to face the tying run. Cheapest.Save.Ever.