April 2010

Why We Can Beat Cliff Lee

Ian Kinsler’s first game back for the Rangers is also going to be Cliff Lee’s season debut for the Seattle Mariners.

Lee is one of the premier pitchers in baseball and certainly one of the best lefties around. The Rangers, as we all know, struggle against southpaws.

But I think the Rangers will take Game 1 on Friday.

For all his success, Lee just does not pitch well against the Rangers. He has a winning record against us at 5-3 for his career, but he has not had one good solid year against the Rangers in his career.

The career line? 45 2/3 IP 36ER 7.09 ERA

Lee has given up 60 hits in those 45 2/3 innings. His best game against Texas was 2006, when he gave up 2 earned runs in 7 innings. Even that is deceiving, as he gave up 4 runs total in that game.

Combine this with the fact that it’s his first game back after an injury and I like our chances.

Kinsler’s Here. Who Goes?

Ian Kinsler will be activated for the Rangers game against the Mariners on Friday. The question is, who’s going to go?

The three candidates appear to be Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco and Ryan Garko.

If Garko goes, the Rangers won’t have a legitimate back-up at 1st base. If Blanco goes, they don’t seem to have a real back-up at short or third base.

The logical choice seems to be Joaquin Arias, despite having a .300+ BA. Arias is pretty much limited to 2nd base and doesn’t have the defensive skills of Blanco, who can play three infield positions.

There’s been speculation in the Dallas media that it could be Garko on the way out. While he started out slow, Garko now has two hits in his last two at bats and, again, is the only legit 1st base back-up. Max Ramirez played some first in Spring Training, but would probably be a liability there defensively.

I’ll stick with Arias as my pick. He’s out of options so they’ll have to put him on waivers and, given his April hitting, I expect another team will claim him (unless Jon Daniels has a trade lined up to pull out of his hat). If Arias goes, I say good luck and thanks for giving the Rangers some quality at bats this year.

Oops! I Did It Again: White Sox 7, Rangers 5

Justin Smoak should be having a happy night. After all, he hit his first big league home run and added a double for a 2 RBI day against the White Sox.

Knowing the pro athlete, however, Smoak is probably feeling a bit glum tonight, knowing his error opened the gates for the White Sox to come from behind in the 7th to beat the Rangers.

I felt especially bad for Scott Feldman, who pitched his best game of the season and had a 3-1 lead going into the 7th.

Some might argue that Ron Washington shouldn’t have put Feldman out there for the 7th when he struggled to get out of the 6th. Maybe so, but my guess is he wanted to try to get at least another couple of outs to keep from taxing the bullpen too much.

I do have one issue with Washington, though. Once the Rangers were down 5-3, he decided to send Craig Gentry to the plate to pinch-hit for Julio Borbon, who had tripled earlier in the game. To me, that said Wash had already given up on this game, so let’s give Julio a little more rest before flying off to Seattle.

So instead of the sweep, we have to settle for winning the series 2-1 and having a winning record on the home stand at 4-3.

Depressing Stat Tidbit: The Rangers have now been outscored in the 9th inning, 16-5. The Rangers’ best innings this season so far are the 2nd and the 7th, outscoring the opposition 15-5 in both of those innings.

Depressing Stat Tidbit 2: According to Eric Nadel on the radio broadcast, this is the second time this season that a team scored two runs against the Rangers on one wild pitch.

Ian Kinsler returns to the line-up tomorrow. With all due respect to Andres Blanco and Joaquin Arias, HALLELUJAH!

Get Down Tonight: Rangers 6, White Sox 5

This is a game to feel good about, right?

We won! We scored five runs in the first! That’s the most we’ve scored in an inning all season! Josh hit his third home run and second in three games! Rich Harden got a quality start and his first win!

And yet…

Just like there are losses that you can feel good about because there were so many positives, this was a win not to feel good about because of all the negatives.

Sure Rich Harden had a quality start BY DEFINITION. But I defy any one to put forth a cogent argument as to why it should be truly considered a quality start. Five walks and only 2 K’s, two hit batters, only one swing and a miss strike all night. Once again it was painful to watch. In his early years, Bobby Witt sometimes lucked into wins with performances like that, but it sure was ugly to watch.

Neftali Feliz won the battle but may be losing the war. He got the save, but his hold on the closer’s job is getting more tenuous by the day. Three bad performances in four outings will do that to you.

This is supposed to be a team that plays good defense, yet we can’t go more than three games straight without an error.

And has anyone else noticed that the Rangers offense of the past two seasons have a tendency to do really well for an inning or two and then just fall asleep for awhile? They did it again last night, scoring five runs in the first frame, then going down in order, what, 14 in a row?

Granted Jake Peavy is a quality pitcher who can settle down, but this has happened several times this season against lesser pitchers as well. It’s like we take our foot off the gas and put it on cruise control until all of a sudden, uh oh, they’ve caught up (or gone ahead), we need to do something!

On the good side, we get to go for a sweep this afternoon with Scott Feldman on the mound. You always want the sweep, but especially now. We need the momentum with the next six coming against the Mariners and A’s on the road.

Hey, we got the win. I should be happy. I mean, it’s not like being a Washington Capitols fan, watching your team be the best in the NHL all season only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the numbner 8 seed. Oh, wait…

Rangers Personal Treanor: Rangers 4, White Sox 2

The news happened fast in the hours leading up to Tuesday night’s game.

First, Nelson Cruz was placed on the 15-day DL, with Craig Gentry brought up from OkC to replace him. Then came the announcement that not only had Taylor Teagarden been optioned to OkC, Jarrod Saltalamacchia had been activated from the DL and optioned to OkC, while Max Ramirez got the call to join the big club. In essence, Matt Treanor was told he was now the first-string catcher for the Rangers.

The decision paid big dividends. Treanor got the first hit off Mark Buehrle, a solo homer in the 2nd inning, then added a two-run double in leading the good guys past the Pale Hose 4-2.

So much good to see in this one (or in my case heard, as the game wasn’t on TV here). Justin Smoak got his first RBI on a sac fly. CJ Wilson got his second win and 4th straight quality start. Frank Francisco got the save and maybe his closer job back. Josh Hamilton had two hits and Vlad Guerrero played the outfield without a hitch.

For all the grief that Ron Washington gets on message boards from Rangers fans, he made one very good decision. Not only did he send Frankie Francisco out to try to get the save, he had Darren Oliver all set to go in case Frankie faltered from the get go. As it stood, Oliver wasn’t needed, but it was smart to have the back-up plan.

From pitcher’s duel to possible slugfest. Wednesday’s game features two struggling pitchers, Rich Harden and Jake Peavy. First time the Rangers have ever faced Peavy. Should be interesting.

Cruz Out, Gentry In

I was afraid of this. Nelson Cruz, who’s been hampered by a sore hammy for the last week, has been placed on the 15-day DL. The Ranger’s (and the AL’s) leading home run hitter and RBI man gone for two weeks.

Gentry’s got speed and some power. Look for him to be the 4th outfielder while David Murphy gets most of the AB’s while Cruz is gone.

If there’s any bright spot in this, it’s that Cruz is a streaky hitter and he’s been on a cold streak the past week. Of course, the hamstring could have something to do with it.

That’s now four Rangers starters on our all-DL team (2B Kinsler, C, Saltalamacchia SP Hunter, RF Cruz). Just five more to field a full team of non-players!

Time To Think About Scheppers

Tanner Scheppers has made five appearances this year for AA Frisco. Here is his line:

10 IP

3 Hits

1 Earned Run

0 Walks

18 Strikeouts

Scheppers has not pitched back to back days at all and has pitched exactly two innings in each appearance. Regardless, when you have a pitcher that batters are hitting less than .100 against, even if it’s in AA, there has to be some discussion on when he’s going to be brought up to the bigs.

The guess here is that the Rangers start increasing Scheppers’ appearance frequency in May with thoughts of having him ready to join the big club no later than the All-Star break.

Of course, with the Rangers inconcistency in relief in the early going, that timetable could get pushed up.

Monday, Monday, Can’t Trust That Day: Tigers 8, Rangers 6

Maybe Joel Zumaya’s performance should have been a clue.

 

The cooler temperatures in Arlington last night seemed to have an effect on Zumaya’s speed, helping the Rangers tie the game up at 6 in the late innings. The Rangers didn’t pick up on that clue. In the 9th, Neftali Feliz was sent out in a tie game and, wouldn’t you know it, the speed on his pitches was down as well. The result- back to back homers in the top of the 9th, an 8-6 Tigers win and a split in the 4-game series.

 

There were bright spots, even though the Rangers never led this one. David Murphy made a great catch to end the top of the 8th inning, his second big catch in two days. Elvis Andrus’ D was (and is) phenomenal. Frank Francisco enjoyed his third consecutive solid scoreless outing. The Rangers hit double figures in hits for the third straight game (exactly 11 hits in all three games), including Justin Smoak’s first big league hit and Josh Hamilton’s second home run. Smoak also finagled his fifth walk in four games, so even though he’s hitting .091, his OBP is a lofty .375.

 

Now it’s the White Sox for three. Tonight’s game should be a pitcher’s duel, with CJ Wilson going up against Mark Buehrle. Obviously, I want a sweep or at least two out of three, but there’s something I want more. I want Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel to go hitless and/or make a mistake that gives the Rangers a win.

 

Jones was abysmal and, in fact, was a liability over the last two months of the ’09 season for us, so I don’t want to see a “new improved” Andruw Jones this week.

 

Vizquel is a player I’ve always liked and a sure Hall of Famer, but I don’t wish him well because of his disrespect when signing with the White Sox, saying he wanted to play in a market with “more exposure” than the Rangers. Yeah, who cares about helping a team win a pennant when you can have more exposure? I expect to hear some hearty boos from the faithful tonight.

Monday Musings: 4/26/10

1) Who’d a thunk it? Who’d a thunk at the 18-game point of the season, Rangers catchers would have more RBI’s (4) than Rangers 1st basemen (1)? For that matter, with no Ian Kinsler, who’d a thunk Rangers 2nd basemen would have more RBI’s (2) than the 1st basemen (1)?

 

2) Are Clint Hurdle’s messages starting to sink in? The sample is small, but check it out: In the first 12 games of the season, opposing pitchers were averaging 15.36 pitches per inning and walked only 30 Rangers. In the last six games, the pitch count is 17.34 per inning and the Rangers have 33 walks. Strikeouts per game are about one more in the last six games compared to the first 12 (8.3 to 7.25), which isn’t good. But the last six games have seen walks up three per game compared to the previous 12 games (5.5 to 2.5). See more pitches, get more walks. That’s one thing Hurdle’s been preaching. I hope it keeps up.

 

3) Pet peeve time. I watched Sunday’s game on Fox Sports Southwest and, as expected, they ran a couple different “It’s Time” campaign spots rotated throughout the game. Problem is, one of the spots has Chris Davis prominently saying “It’s Time”. Now, I can understand if, say, Ian Kinsler or Jarrod Saltalamachhia are seen on the spots. They’re in the minors on rehab assignments and are expected back with the big club any time. Davis, on the other hand, has been sent back to the minors and there is no guarantee he will ever be back in a Rangers uniform (though I suspect he will). The point is, the spot with Davis either should have been pulled once he was sent down, or the people at Fox (or whoever it was that produced the spot) should have worked a little OT to revise the spot with another player replacing Davis on it. As it is, the commercial looks out of place now.

Working For The Weekend: Rangers 4-8, Tigers 8-4

Two games in one post.

I missed most of Saturday’s game and I’m glad I did. With all three AL West teams losing Saturday and a favorable match-up with Scott Feldman against a journeyman with a career .312 BA against and 25 walks to just 10 K’s, it should’ve been in the bag. Instead, Feldman has his second straight bad start and the Tigers came back from down 4-0 to win 8-4.

I hope Feldman’s start was due to the after-effects of the stomach virus he had. Otherwise, I’d be a little concerned.

Hey, Taylor Teagarden got his first hit Saturday. I need to curb my enthusiasm…

Needless to say, Sunday’s game was not only critical to getting an outright series win, it was also crucial for Colby Lewis to put in some strong innings to keep from overtaxing the bullpen. It did not look good at first. Lewis gave up a lead-off homer and threw over 30 pitches in the first inning, giving up three runs. Another 20 some pitches in the second and another run. Thanks to David Murphy’s first dinger of the year it was only 4-2 at that point.

But oh, after that… We scored the last six runs of the game and Lewis was phenomenal the rest of the way, retiring 15 of the last 16 he  faced, ending with his second 10-strikeout performance of the year. So far this year, this guy:

 

Colby-Lewis.jpgis reminding me of this guy:

 

catfish_hunter_autograph.jpgCatfish Hunter was another pitcher that would always be rocky at first, but if you didn’t get him in the first two innings, you weren’t going to get him. Lewis has had three starts already where he’s gone over 30 pitches in the first inning, but he’s settled down in all but one start this year.

Two bases-loaded hits for Michael Young and 5 RBI’s on the day. Gotta love it.

We gained a game on Seattle but the Angels and A’s both won so no gain there. Josh Lewin said the Rangers have been exactly three games behind the A’s for 9 straight games now. That’s an interesting streak.

Matt Harrison goes in the finale Monday, amidst speculation in the Metroplex that he might be slid into the bullpen and Derek Holland brought back up from OkC. Harrison is two for three in quality starts. Here’s hoping for 3 out of four and a 3-1 series victory Monday!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 219 other followers

%d bloggers like this: