BY: Richard W. Humphrey
It’s been 10 days since Mike Olt was called up to the Rangers from AA Frisco, and Saturday night in Arlington, he had his most impactful at bat of his very young career. He stroked a two out ninth inning single that drove home Nelson Cruz with the final run in a 2-1 Ranger win over Detroit. It was just his 10th at bat in the Majors and second pinch hit at bat in his professional career; and long after he retires from baseball, Saturday’s game will be a vivid memory.
Prior to the series, the Rangers’ best chance to win a game was Friday night when Scott Feldman faced Max Scherzer. Feldman was the Rangers’ hottest pitcher coming into the game with a six-game winning streak. The Tigers’ best chance for a win was Saturday’s game started by Justin Verlander. The Rangers’ 6-2 loss on Friday night raised the spector of a Tigers’ sweep in this series, which added even more to the import of a Texas win on Saturday.
Verlander was magnificent. Ranger starter Derek Holland has struggled most of the season, and this game started like most of his games. Austin Jackson led off with a home run. Omar Infante followed with a single. The game could have gotten away from the Rangers right there. Holland however, pulled it together to strike out two batters and coax a ground out to quell the threat. From there Holland was magnificent, lasting until there were two outs in the eighth, while giving up just one more hit. He ended the night with nine strikeouts and one walk. He essentially matched Verlander pitch for pitch to keep the Rangers in the game and set up Olt’s ninth inning heroics.
Olt has started just four games since he arrived. Counting Saturday’s pinch hit, he has 10 official at-bats, two sacrifice flies, and three walks for a total of 15 plate appearances. So far, he is being utilized in much the same role as Brandon Snyder. It is surprising that the Rangers aren’t playing him more. There are certainly benefits for Olt’s baseball education in his being in the Major Leagues. However, it is surprising that Texas saw fit to promote Olt and demote Snyder if they did not plan on more playing time for Olt. A top prospect such as Olt needs to play.
It was thought that Michael Young might be the one losing playing time in favor of Olt. So far that hasn’t happened. Young has played every game since Olt arrived. Saturday night, Young was 0-3 ending a 10-game hitting streak. During the streak, Young hit .357 with 15 hits in 42 at bats. That’s for sure a good way to stay in the lineup. Young’s season batting average is now up to .273.
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