SURPRISE, Ariz. – It was “just a game,” Ron Washington said this morning. Just a Cactus League game at that.
But the World Series rematch between the Giants and Rangers certainly caught the attention of the fans. There were 12,014 of them in attendance for the Rangers’ 11-8 loss Sunday, setting a new record at Surprise Stadium.
The previous attendance record for the stadium was set on March 21, 2008, when a crowd of 11,725 watched a Rangers-Angels game. This was the 14th sellout in Surprise Stadium history.
Some notes from the game:
*Here’s something you won’t see often: Shortstop Elvis Andrus had a five-RBI game. Andrus, who went 2-for-4 with a double, has never had more than three RBI in a major league game. He has 75 RBI in two seasons, although it’s reasonable to expect his RBI total to increase this season with him moving from leadoff to the No. 2 spot in the order.
*Josh Hamilton, a guy you do expect to drive in runs, is coming up small in that department so far this spring. Hamilton has only two RBI in 10 Cactus League games and twice failed in run-producing situations Sunday. The reigning American League MVP had a broken-bat groundout with the bases loaded to end the third inning and struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth.
*Julio Borbon made a costly defensive gaffe, losing a fly ball in the sun with the bases loaded, but he had a terrific offensive day. Borbon went 3-for-3 to bump his spring average up to .387, stole a base, scored two runs and drove in one. His first hit was an absolutely beautiful bunt that rolled inches away from the third-base line. His other two hits were line-drive singles up the middle.
*Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe rebounded well from a rough outing the other day. He had a 1-2-3 frame against the middle of the San Francisco lineup in the fifth inning, striking out one. Lowe is a candidate to replace Frankie Francisco as a right-handed set-up man or be the closer in the unlikely event that Neftali Feliz becomes a starter this season.
*It wasn’t a good afternoon for left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes. He gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in the sixth. After Rhodes walked Aaron Rowand to lead off the inning, he gave up a homer to lefty Nate Schierholtz on his next pitch. Schierholtz turned on an 89-mph fastball, driving it over the Rangers’ bullpen behind the right-field fence.