The Royal Shut-Out: Rangers 3, Royals 0
I should be feeling better about this opening win on a ten game road trip. CJ Wilson was outstanding once again in winning his 7th in a row and 14th on the season. Andres Blanco had another spectacular game as the fill-in second baseman. Michael Young actually played an outstanding third base last night. Nelson Cruz is back and scored the first run of the game.
Yet there was something unsettling about last night’s win. I think it’s because this offense still worries me. Eleven hits but only three runs does not fill me with confidence. Vlad Guerrero going 0-4 and seeing a grand total of 5 pitches the whole night upsets me. Despite having a good defensive game and driving in a run, Michael Young striking out regularly on low and away pitches has become unsettling. Neftali Feliz allowing a hit to the first batter he faces in the 9th has me on edge. Josh Hamilton being pulled from the field to be the DH at the last minute because of his balky knee is concerning.
All of the above I mention because they could all come into play in a playoff series. When even I can see what’s working on a batter like I’ve been seeing with Young, you know that’s all he’s going to see in the playoffs. With Young we’re already seeing teams working his side of the field defensively. If they can negate him offensively as well, he will not have a good time in the post-season. Feliz is still effective but he hasn’t been throwing a lot of 1-2-3 innings lately. Allowing an early runner in the 9th with a title on the line will only add pressure to the youngster. Vladdy is Vladdy, but I’ve seen him be slightly more selective at the plate. He certainly needs to be against the best of the best. Last but certainly not least, we can’t afford Hamilton to be down in October at all. Josh alone has been almost 30% of the rangers total offense the past three months.
So yes, I enjoyed the win. It was sorely needed after the last two games against the A’s. I just wish the wins were a little more convincing, at least from an offensive standpoint.
Cliff Lee tries to break out of his slump tonight in Game 2. This is also the last game the Rangers (and all the other teams) will have a 25-man roster.
Expect Taylor Teagarden, Pedro Strop, Craig Gentry (currently on the DL) and Chris Davis to be back up for September. I don’t see the Rangers bringing up much more than that, at least not until the division is clinched. Keep in mind Ian Kinsler, Dustin Nippert and Cristian Guzman will all be coming off the DL very soon as well.
To close out, I will say the best thing I got out of Monday’s win: Andres Blanco has pretty much solidified his spot for the post-season. Since the Rangers finally decided it was time to part ways with Joaquin Arias, Blanco has been on a tear, not only hitting well, but giving quality at-bats even when they result in outs. He’s hustled on defense as well. And CJ? He’s very much the Rangers best pitcher right now, and that includes the guy that pitches tonight.