Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

What If Koji Uehara…?

In 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles, Koji Uehara threw 47 innings, allowing only 25 hits, walked a mere 8 batters and struck out 62. He allowed only 9 earned runs and had a 1.72 ERA.

In 2012 with the Texas Rangers, Uehara threw 36 innings, allowing only 20 hits, 3 walks, 43 strikeouts, only 7 earned runs and a 1.75 ERA.

In 2013 with the Boston Red Sox, Koji tossed 74.1 innings, allowing only 33 hits, 9 earned runs, 9 walks and 101 strikeouts with a 1.09 ERA and 21 saves.

In two post-season series in 2013, the amazing Koji has pitched nine innings, allowing one run on only 5 hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts, compiling a win, a loss and 5 saves. He was the Most Valuable Player in the ALCS series against the Detroit Tigers and is now headed to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

By all accounts, Koji Uehara has had a pretty amazing last three years of baseball. And that really irritates me.

Why?

Koji Uehara with the Rangers

Koji Uehara with the Rangers

Because between his 2011 season with the Baltimore Orioles and his 2012 season with the Texas Rangers came the 2011 trade that brought him to the Texas Rangers in the first place. Orioles fans sure remember that trade. They got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter out of it. Texas got what they were sure was going to be their 7th inning set-up guy to steamroll their way to the 2011 World Series Championship. They were willing to pay a steep price for it.

Nobody knows what happened. We do know Koji really loved being in Baltimore and was maybe a little stunned with the trade. If it was missing Baltimore or a physical issue, nobody knows for sure. What we do know is the Koji Uehara described above was not the Koji Uehara the 2011 Rangers got. His numbers for Texas in 2011? 18 innings pitched, 13 hits, 1 walk and 23 strikeouts. So far so good. Unfortunately, 5 of the 13 hits were home runs, accounting for most of the eight earned runs charged to him. Uehara compiled a 4.00 ERA with Texas. It got worse. He appeared in three post-season games in 2011, once against Tampa Bay and twice against Detroit. In the ALDS vs. the Rays, Uehara allowed 3 runs on a walk and two hits, one a home run. He failed to get an out. His two games against Detroit resulted in two runs allowed, both on home runs. Uehara did manage to retire four Detroit batters. Koji was so bad for the Rangers that when it came time to set the World Series roster to face the Cardinals, his name was not found, replaced by Mark Lowe.

The name of this blog is “One Strike Away…Twice!” It describes how close the Texas Rangers came to winning the 2011 World Series in Game 6 against St. Louis. After Neftali Feliz blew the save in the 9th inning (with the help of a horribly played fly ball to Nelson Cruz), the Rangers took the lead on a Josh Hamilton home run in the 10th. The Cards tied it back up in the bottom of the 10th and won it on a home run leading off the bottom of the 11th. The Rangers pitchers who faced the Cardinals in the 10th and 11th were Darren Oliver, Scott Feldman and Mark Lowe.

If the Koji Uehara at the end of 2011 was the same Koji Uehara that started 2011 in Baltimore and the same Koji Uehara that major league baseball has seen in 2012 and 2013 with the Rangers and the Red Sox, I can’t help but think the Texas Rangers would have been the World Series Champions.

If the Red Sox go on to beat the Cardinals in the 2013 World Series, Koji Uehara may very well haunt the rest of my days as a Texas Rangers fan.

The Only Faced The Rangers All-Stars 2013

all-star_game-primary-2013

Anyone can vote for the All-Star team. It’s a pretty easy process. Most fans stuff the ballot boxes at their home ballparks and online with votes only for players on their favorite team. Others, like me, vote for who we feel are the most deserving, despite our fanhood. Before going further, here are my picks for this year’s AL All-Star team:

1B: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (and former Texas Ranger)

2B: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (sorry, Ian)

SS: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles (sorry, Elvis)

3B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (VERY sorry, Adrian)

C: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

LF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

CF: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

RF: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (FINALLY!)

DH: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

See? That was pretty easy. And most of the picks would get little argument, except from die-hard fans of other teams.

What I love to do here every year is pick a different kind of All-Star team. This is a team picked strictly on the basis of how they’ve done this year against the Texas Rangers. No Rangers allowed on this team. This year, no Baltimore Orioles player stands a chance either, as the Rangers have yet to play the Birds in 2013. The fun part of this exercise is at times seeing the most unexpected names that just happened to have had inordinate success against the Rangers. Against everyone else, they settle back down to the mediocrity we’ve come to expect from them.

MLB_All_Star_Game_2013-300x237

Herewith is the AL All-Star team, based only on their 2013 results against the Rangers:

1B: Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays  

Lind’s been injured this season and many have labelled him as one of those players who’s never going to consistently play up to his potential. You could have fooled Texas with that assessment. Lind has blistered the Rangers to the tune of a.433 BA with 3 HR and 10 RBI , 1.188 OPS.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels  

Kipnis has done well in limited AB’s vs. Texas, but Kendrick, who has been a pest against Texas for a few years now, in more AB’s has 2 HR, 6 RBI and a 1.052 OPS.

SS: Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros  

This position was pretty equal top to bottom. The now minor-leaguer Gonzalez gets extra points for the 9th inning single that broke up Yu Darvish‘s perfect game bid. Over a .400 hitter vs. Texas in 10 AB’s.

3B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers  

No doubt about this one matching up with reality. Cabrera has torched Texas pitching for a .563 BA with 3 HR, 6 RBI and an astronomical 1.861 OPS.

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox  

Former Ranger Salty is hitting .294 against his former team with a home run. The likely true AL All-Star, Joe Mauer, is 0-15 this year against Texas.

LF: Seth Smith, Oakland A’s  

Smith has been a thorn in the Rangers’ side in 2013, blistering Texas pitching for a .368 BA with four doubles, a home run and 5 RBI.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox  

Nope, not Mike Trout, who has mostly played CF against the Rangers. He’s hitting a meager .130 against Texas in 2013. Ellsbury, on the other hand, is at .421 with a couple of doubles and a stolen base.

RF: Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees  

Believe it or not, Josh Hamilton had this one locked down with a .360 mark against Texas (albeit with 0 HR and 0 RBI) until the Rangers visited New York this week. Ichiro looked like the All-Star of old, going .462 with two home runs and 3 RBI in 3 games against Texas.

DH: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

Travis Hafner had the better batting average at .375, but Ortiz gets the nod at just .250 because it came with power: 2 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs, along with 8 RBI. Ortiz made every hit count against Texas: 5 of his 6 hits were for extra bases.

There you have it. Only two of nine positions are players that are likely to represent the AL this year in the All-Star game. Of the other seven, probably only two of them will even make the All-Star team as a substitute. That’s two at best. Thanks to ESPN for providing the splits to compile these stats.

Win Or Go Home

 

Everything about tonight’s game screams mismatch.

 

Start with the pitching match-up: Yu Darvish, 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA, but 3-0 with a 2.21 in the month of September, going up against Joe Saunders, 9-13 with a 4.07 ERA but a career 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

 

A battle-hardened Rangers roster vs. an Orioles team whose roster is 20% composed of players who logged time with the Rangers’ AAA affiliate Round Rock a year ago (Chris Davis, Taylor Teagarden, Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day). In other words, Rangers light.

 

Texas finished second in hitting, the Orioles 10th. Texas was first in runs scored, the Orioles 9th.

 

Texas is playing at home. Texas was 5-2 against the Orioles in 2012.

 

Yep, everything is pointing to a Rangers win tonight.

 

Hogwash.

 

Home Plate Entrance of Rangers Ballpark in Arl...

Home Plate Entrance of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington,site of the AL Wild Card Playoff (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (Photo credit: Wikipedi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Rangers fan, tried and true. This game scares me. The Rangers should win this game, but their own manager preaches it like a mantra: It’s the team that plays the best baseball, not the best team, that wins the game. Over the last 13 games, the Rangers have not been playing good baseball. They stumbled home to a 4-9 conclusion to the season, which cost them the AL West Championship and put them into this one or done situation.

 

The Orioles have gone 12-5 over the last 17 games. Say what you will about the competition they’ve faced in that span (Boston, Toronto, Seattle and Tampa Bay), they did what they had to do to get to this point. The Rangers are at this point because they didn’t do what they had to do.

 

I’m supporting my team. There’s no doubt they have the talent to win this game and even to go far in the playoffs and I’ll be yelling and cajoling them from my seat in the living room tonight. But they could also have me muttering “I can’t @&%$# believe it”  if they continue to play the game the way they’ve played it lately. Don’t tell me this one’s in the bag. Tonight, I’m Yogi Berra. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

 

The Ups & Downs Of Colby Lewis

Colby Lewis today turned in one of the truly weird pitching performances I’ve ever heard (hey, it was a workday with no cable in my office). Here’s what Lewis did in the Rangers Game 1 6-5 loss to the Orioles:

1st Inning: HR, HR, HR, Out, K, K.

2nd Inning: K, K, K.

3rd Inning: K, Out, K.

4th Inning: Out, K, K.

5th Inning: K, Out, Out.

6th Inning: K, Out, Out.

7th Inning: HR, W, HR, HBP, Out, Error, K.

So that’s back-to-back-to-back home runs to start the game, followed by 18 in a row retired, followed by two more homers, a walk and a hit batter.

In the end, Lewis gave up a career-high 5 home runs in the game. He also recorded a career high 12 strikeouts in the game. He’s the first Rangers pitcher since Charlie Hough in 1989 to have a start giving up only five hits, but all of them home runs. A truly weird game.

Also weird: The Rangers came into the doubleheader second in the AL in fielding. The Orioles scored all three of their runs in the second game in the second inning, due to three Texas errors in the inning. Fortunately, Derek Holland threw goose eggs the rest of the way, the offense picked it up in the late innings and Texas came out on top 7-3.

The Rangers ended this 10-game road trip at 5-5, pretty good considering they started it 2-4.

The bullpen was only needed for four innings tonight. That helps heading into the Angels series.

New Ranger Yu Darvish vs. former Ranger CJ Wilson tomorrow night. What a match-up, and I won’t be able to see it. Friday games are only available on local TV in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so I’ll have to be content with the radio feed. Big weekend coming up. More important for the Angels than the Rangers, but you can bet Texas will come out like they’re the ones with something to prove.

Implications Of A Rain-Out

The havoc one night of rain can cause. No, it’s not havoc in terms of property destruction. This time, the havoc is how Wednesday’s rained out game between the Rangers and Orioles will affect Wash’s Boys over the next five days.

Because of the rain-out, combined with this being the Rangers’ only trip to Baltimore in 2012, the game will be made up today as part of a day-night doubleheader. With no off day tomorrow, this puts the Rangers in the position of playing four games over a 48 hour time span.

Texas will play two today in Baltimore. Following Game 2, they’ll board a plane to take them home to Arlington. Tomorrow night will be Game 1 between the Rangers and the Angels, followed by a nationally televised game Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, strong performances from Colby Lewis and Derek Holland would be much appreciated by the bullpen today. If the bullpen is taxed in the two games today, it could cause the Rangers to do something they haven’t had to do all season: make a roster move. Texas is the only team in the majors yet to make a roster move in 2012.

The turn of events from this rain-out has to have the Rangers happy they carry the lead they currently do over the Angels. The first showdown between the two pre-season AL West favorites takes place tomorrow through Sunday at sold-out Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and already, the Angels will have two distinct advantages. First, they have an off day today, which they’ll spend in the Dallas area while their foes play two games half a continent away, making the visitors the fresher team going into the series. Then, while the Rangers are throwing their 3, 4 and 5 starters at the Angels, the Los Angelenos get to counter with their 4, 5 and 1 starters.

This isn’t to say the Rangers can’t win the series against the Angels. I still think they can. They will, however, have to overcome a couple of disadvantages to make it happen.

As Wash would say, though, no sense worrying about it now. There are two games to play today first. Let’s worry about them.

A Second AAA Club For The Rangers?

 Tommy Hunter

Darren O’Day

Pedro Strop

Taylor Teagardan

Chris Davis

Endy Chavez

Clay Rapada

All seven of these players spent some time with the Texas Rangers in 2010 and/or 2011. All seven are now with the Baltimore Orioles.

As of 12/21/11, the 40-man roster of the Orioles is 17.5% comprised of former Texas Rangers. If Mike Gonzales were to sign with the Orioles and the Rangers were to trade Koji Uehara back to Baltimore, as has been rumored, that figure would jump to 22.5%.

I’m beginning to think either I need to add news of Baltimore to this blog, start a petition drive to rename them the Baltimore Rangers (or maybe the Junior Rangers) or ask MLB to consider them a second Rangers farm team.

 

Remain Calm

I’m as reactionary a fan as there is. When my Texas Rangers lose a game, I can get downright surly along the lines of the famous George Carlin joke, “Behind every silver cloud, there’s a dark lining.”

It would be easy, therefore, to imagine my having bitten my fingernails all the way PAST the bone when, following the Rangers’ series-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, combined with the Angels come from behind 3-1 win over the Mariners, the Rangers’ AL West lead over the Angels had shrunk to a mere 2 1/2 games.

In this case, however, you would be wrong. Your less-than-humble scribe is surprisingly calm on this, the next to the last off day of the regular season for Texas. In fact, the current small gap in the standings was anticipated.

It is true that, with a mere 18 games remaining on the schedule, I would have preferred a bit more than a 2 1/2 game lead over my closest rivals. For that, the Rangers have no one to blame but themselves. The talent is there to have put at least three more wins on the board by this time, but the fact is they didn’t, so 2 1/2 games is where they’re at.

The reason for my sedateness is this: The Rangers have just completed a 16-game stretch, 1/10th of the season, where they’ve played nobody but the 2nd place Angels, the AL East leading Red Sox and the best team not going to the playoffs this year, the Tampa Bay Rays. Texas got through this grueling stretch with a respectable 8-8 record. The Angels in this same time span, got to play the White Sox, Mariners and the Twins in addition to their 3-game set in Arlington. They went 9-6 in the same stretch against obviously lesser competition and they only managed to gain 1 1/2 games on the Rangers.

 Now the tide begins to turn. Of their remaining 18 games, the Rangers have 12 against the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners, with three more games at home against the fading Cleveland Indians and, of course, the season-ending series at Los Angeles against the Angels. The Halos, meanwhile, have 19 games remaining, and while it includes six games against the A’s and three against the Baltimore Orioles, they also have three games with the Yankees, four on the road in Toronto and the three-game set with Texas. Take out the commonalities and Texas has Seattle and Cleveland while Anaheim gets New York and Toronto.

That’s why the word “panic” is not in my vocabulary right now.

Does Mitch Moreland Need Chris Davis?

Mitch Moreland has been struggling lately for the Texas Rangers. His batting average looks not too bad, currently sitting in the .260-.270 range. Yet Moreland has had his struggles and has been striking out with increasing frequency.

Maybe the sample size is too small, but maybe, just maybe, having Chris Davis breathing behind his back helped spur Moreland on and now, with Davis gone to the Baltimore Orioles, Mitch doesn’t have the same sense of urgency with each at bat that he once did.

Going to Baseball-Reference.com, I took a basic look at Moreland’s stats in 2011 when Davis was also on the roster and those when Davis wasn’t, be it being at AAA Round Rock or, more recently, after leaving the Rangers organization.

Here’s Moreland with Davis on the roster:

147 AB 19 Runs 41 hits 9 Doubles 6 Home Runs 18 RBI .278 AVG

With Davis not on the roster:

286 AB 40 Runs 74 Hits 10 Doubles 1 Triple 10 Home Runs 30 RBI .258 AVG

Without Chris Davis to worry about, Moreland’s batting average is 20 points lower, his home run rate is once every 28.6 at bats compared to once every 24.5 at bats with Davis there. Meanwhile, Moreland has been striking out over 20% of his at bats when Davis hasn’t been there. With Davis on the roster, he was striking out only 18.3% of the time.

 I’m no mathematician so I don’t know what is considered a good sample size or what amount of deviation is acceptable before a trend can be determined. It does appear, however, that maybe having someone like a Chris Davis wanting to take a job away from him makes Mitch Moreland a better player.

The Days The Music, The Oriole & The Rangers Died

What the hell is going on?

First I read that Jerry Leiber died- the writer behind such songs as “Hound Dog”, “Kansas City”, “Yakety Yak” and “Love Potion #9″, a veritable treasure trove of 50′s and 60′s hits.

The same day came word that Nick Ashford had passed away, one of the prolific songwriters from the mid-60′s to the 80′s, whose hits included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “You’re All I Need To Get By”, “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”, “I’m Every Woman” and “Solid”.

Two days later comes word of the apparently self-inflicted death of former Baltimore Orioles left-hander Mike Flanagan, a pitcher I saw many a time at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium during my college years. Flanagan was a worthy successor to the Orioles pitching-rich history of the late 60′s and 70′s, picking up the mantel from the likes of Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar. Flanagan had one of the best breaking balls in baseball during his prime.

All of these bits of bad news sandwiched around the worst run the Texas Rangers have been on all season as they’ve now lost successive games to the Boston Red Sox by counts of 11-5 and 13-2. One week ago today, the Rangers were within three outs of a 4-game sweep and an 8 game lead on the Angels. A walk-off homer by LA made it a 6-game lead instead and now, a mere seven days later, Texas finds themselves only 2 1/2 games up on the Halos, who have won another five games in a row since their dramatic comeback in the series finale with the Rangers.

Tuesday’s loss hurt, as the Rangers were facing John Lackey, who has pitched worse against the Rangers than any team he’s faced in his career and even worse when it’s been in Arlington. I saw Lackey in person in the 2nd game of the season, one which saw Texas whack five home runs en route to a 12-5 win. This time, again Lackey wasn’t great, but Colby Lewis was terrible. Lewis is starting to resemble Derek Holland. They both have had great versions and horrible versions with very few average performances in between. The Bosox scored two runs in each of the first three innings and never looked back.

Wednesday was more of the same. This time Boston jumped on Matt Harrison for a 4 spot in the first and Josh Beckett was well on his way to his 11th win. Darren O’Day was called up from AAA Round Rock to help spell the bullpen and had a truly odd line score: 2 innings, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts and 2 home runs resulting in four runs.

Now it’s up to Alexi Ogando to stop the bleeding in the series finale. He won’t be opposed by Tim Wakefield looking for career win #200. Why? Because as bad as Lackey has performed in his career against the Rangers, Wakefield has been even worse. Nelson Cruz, in particular, has a great line against Wakefield: 6 for 6 with two doubles and two home runs.

The Angels have tonight off so the lead at the end of the night will be either two games or three with the Angels coming to town for a three-game set starting tomorrow.

Much as we’d love to, we can’t bring back Jerry Leiber, Nick Ashford or Mike Flanagan. It would be nice, though, to see the Rangers pitching come back to life. Preferably tonight against the Red Sox.

Just When The Dam Stops Leaking In One Place…

Read the words of all the scribes and pundits. Listen to the talking heads on your favorite sports network, radio or TV. The overwhelming majority of them will say this: the Texas Rangers made the best trade deadline maneuvers of any team in baseball. In one fell swoop, they turned the biggest problem area of the team, the bullpen, and not only made it stronger, but maybe made it the best one in the game.

So leave it to the team to make the fans excited about these developments become squirming nervous pieces of vegetation (I know, it makes no sense, but it sounds good) by going 0-2 in the first two games since the trades were made. The #1 and #2 starters both had games to forget, except for two things: 1) The #1 starter has now had two putrid starts in a row; and 2) the #2 starter has been this inconsistent with his command all year long. And oh yeah the #2 starter now leads the league in home runs given up by a wide margin (6 more than the next guy, I believe). Classic “BOY PUTS FINGER IN DIKE! NEW LEAK DEVELOPS!” story.

Making matters worse, the Rangers came back from Colby Lewis‘ miserable start and tied a game they were well on their way to losing, only to see the Tigers get a home run in the bottom of the 8th to regain the lead and win the game. The home run was off the newest bullpen piece, Mike Adams, one of the guys hailed as among the best in the game. It was the first home run he’d given up to a left-handed hitter in a year and a half. On a change-up, a pitch he hardly ever throws.

It could be worse and, in fact, was a year ago. As Jamey Newburg painfully reminded me in his column today, Cliff Lee‘s first Rangers start was a shelling at home to the worst team in the AL at the time, the Baltimore Orioles. Lee gave up three homers in that game and was gone by the 6th. That trade still ended up working out pretty darn good, so I’ll forgive Adams for this debut, especially since it occurred during a rainstorm.

With the Angels winning and cutting the Rangers West lead to a single game, now is not the time to be seeing problems in the starting rotation. Matt Harrison gets the job of plugging the new leak tonight as he takes on the Tigers’ new acquisition Doug Fister. It’s getting a little too uncomfortable right now.

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