Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

Texas Rangers Stars Of The Week: 6/2-6/8

Star of the WeekEvery Monday, this space names the Texas Rangers Stars of the Week. These are the guys who went above and beyond during the previous week. Each week two position players and one pitcher get special mentions. For position players, there’s a Star of the Week for a full week’s performance and one recognizing an outstanding single game. The pitching Star of the Week could be either.

Star of the WeekPosition Player Star of the Week (Single Game and Full Week):

Nobody in the Rangers line-up is more necessary offensively these days more than Adrian Beltre. The Rangers must rely on the unquestioned leader of the clubhouse and team now that most of the potential power in the line-up has been lost to injuries. Over the past week, Beltre has not disappointed. Adrian gets the Star of the Week for the full week on the basis of a 6-game split of .478/.458/.957. Beltre scored six of the Rangers 27 runs for the week and claimed responsibility for 8 of Texas’ RBI for the week. Adrian also gets the Star of the Week for a single game for his exploits during the Rangers 6-5 loss to the Orioles. Beltre accounted for all 5 Texas runs on two home runs, a 3-run shot off the Orioles’ Bud Norris in the first inning, followed by a 2-run poke in the 5th off Norris again. If anyone keeps the Rangers contending over the long hot summer to come, Beltre’s your guy. Here are Beltre’s two bombs from Wednesday’s game:

 

Star of the WeekPitching Star of the Week: 

The week turned out miserably for the Rangers pitching staff. Joe Saunders led the starters in ERA at 3.18 but also gave up 17 hits in only 11 1/3 innings. Yu Darvish had a gritty performance on a night when his stuff wasn’t great but still allowed a 3-run home run for the first time in his MLB career. Even the bullpen had it rough. Tanner Scheppers returned from the DL and gave up home runs in each of his first two appearances. Robbie Ross Jr. had one great relief appearance against the Orioles but then had a rough outing against the Indians. Through all this, there was one picture of steadiness on the Texas pitching staff: the old veteran Jason Frasor. The former Blue Jay appeared in four games over the past week and the 38-year-old allowed only a single hit and no runs in four innings of work. For the year, Frasor has the lowest ERA on the pitching staff at 1.64 over 22 innings and 25 appearances. He hasn’t given up a run since May 17th and hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 14th.

The Week That Was & The Week That Will Be

Another week, another injury or two, another way to look at this team and say, “Is this REALLY the Texas Rangers? Come on, Donnie Murphy is your starting first baseman? And Joe Saunders is your #2 pitcher? This is a joke, right?”

Rangers fans wish it was a joke. But this is what the Rangers are going to look like pretty much the rest of the year, so we might as well get used to it. The players on the DL are better than the players actually participating in the games. Here’s your DL line-up now:

1B  Prince Fielder

2B  Jurickson Profar

3B  Kevin Kouzmanoff

C   Geovany Soto

DH  Mitch Moreland

OF  Jim Adduci

OF  Engel Beltre

SP  Derek Holland

SP Matt Harrison

SP  Martin Perez

OK, we’re missing a shortstop, an outfielder and an entire bullpen but you get the picture. The 2014 Texas Rangers are going nowhere fast and, seeing that the Houston Astros are starting to make a little noise, it’s now totally conceivable for the Rangers to finish in LAST place in the AL West. Let that sink in. LAST PLACE. The last time the Rangers were cellar dwellers was 2007, the first year of the Ron Washington era. I know, I know. The Rangers are a respectable 31-32, only a couple of games out of the Wild Card berth. True, but you can see the train wreck coming from a mile away. Wash is a great motivator of talent. He’ll get them to play at a very high level but eventually, the talent level shows. It happened a year ago when Nelson Cruz got suspended for the last 50 games. Texas came out like gangbusters at first but whimpered through September and were lucky to force a one game added regular season playoff with Tampa Bay for the right to play in the Wild Card game. This team is considerably worse than that team, talent-wise. The starting pitching is Yu Darvish and 4 guys who are, at best, #4 in the rotation pitchers. And that’s being kind. Derek Holland will return after the All-Star break but there’s no guarantee he’ll look like a #3 from the first start.

With the latest injury, Mitch Moreland’s ankle, Texas truly has no options at first base. There are a couple of guys at AAA being worked out at first base but none with regular experience there: Brad Snyder, Jim Adduci and J.P. Arencibia. Adduci just jammed the finger he broke and was rehabbing from so he’s not available right away. Arencibia had a very offensively unproductive month and a half with the Rangers and Snyder, while a power hitter, is also a strikeout machine. On the big league level, Murphy played the corner Sunday, while catchers Chris Giminez and Robinson Chirinos have both played first in the minors. None of these are very good options. I’m reasonably sure Jon Daniels is going to have to work out a trade with someone and he’s going to give up more than they should because the other GM’s know they’ve got him over a barrel. I suppose longtime fans could hold out hope for Michael Young to come out of retirement and man first base the rest of the year. Even if that were to occur, Young would need to ramp up and wouldn’t be available until the All-Star break at the earliest. Even then, as inconsistent as the offense has been, I honestly think Texas needs starting pitching help even more. You can’t have any hope of winning when four of your five starting pitchers are giving you only a hair more than 5 innings per start.

So, the Rangers got through the last week at 2-4, dropping two of three to the Orioles followed by winning only Yu Darvish’s start in three weekend games with the Indians, all at home. This week isn’t any better. After closing the 4-game set with Cleveland on Monday, Texas closes out the homestand with two against the surprising Miami Marlins. Then it’s on the road again for the West Coast swing that likely will seal the fate of the Rangers for 2014. It starts with three in Seattle against the third place Mariners, followed by three in Oakland against the first place A’s and ending with three in Anaheim with the second place Angels. Meanwhile, the resurgent Astros have their next two weeks filled with the Arizona Diamondbacks (last in the NL West), the Washington Nationals (3rd in the AL East) and 7 games with the Tampa Bay Rays (last in the AL East, worst record in the AL). It’s not a far out thought that the Rangers could be in the AL West cellar two weeks from today.

Scoreboard watching has definitely lost its flavor to me this season.

Final Reminder: A Father’s Day Gift Idea

Back in my college days as a Radio/TV major, I had the pleasure of knowing a classmate who went on to portray a character who, while only spending  a few short minutes on the screen at the end of the movie, left an indelible mark with many baseball fans. His name is Dwier Brown and he portrayed Kevin Costner’s father at the end of the classic “Field of Dreams.” I recently discovered Dwier has published a book called “If You Build It- A Book About Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams”. He is now on a Midwest book tour, appearing a minor league stadiums and the like. It’s both memoir and stories people have told him through the years about what the movie meant to them and their own relationships with their fathers. One of my fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members, The Hall of Very Good, has done a 2-part interview with Dwier about the movie and the book. You can read both parts of the interview here:

http://hallofverygood.com/2014-articles/talkin-baseball-with-dwier-brown-part-one.html

http://hallofverygood.com/2014-articles/talkin-baseball-with-dwier-brown-part-two.html

The book sounds like a great Father’s Day gift as well. You can order it at his website, dwierbrown.com.

Texas Rangers Stars Of The Week: 5/26-6/1

Star of the WeekEvery Monday, this space names the Texas Rangers Stars of the Week. These are the guys who went above and beyond during the previous week. Each week two position players and one pitcher get special mentions. For position players, there’s a Star of the Week for a full week’s performance and one recognizing an outstanding single game. The pitching Star of the Week could be either.

Star of the WeekPosition Player Star of the Week (Single Game):

These days, when Texas gets some offense it’s coming from all sources. Thus it’s hard to come up with a single game Star of the Week at times. The biggest RBI day came from Shin-Soo Choo, who knocked in the first three runs of one game against the Twins with a second inning bases loaded double. While impressive on the face, I’m giving this week’s award to a guy who knocked in only one run and qualifies as another of those unlikely stars we’ll see from the Rangers this year. Donnie Murphy started the season as part of the second base platoon with Josh Wilson. Then in one fell swoop, Murphy went on the DL, Wilson got demoted to Round Rock and they got replaced by Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. Murphy got activated from the DL when Prince Fielder was lost for the season and Sunday, he had to do something he’s never done before: play first base on the major league level. Murphy not only played the position flawlessly, he had three hits batting behind Adrian Beltre at 5th in the order (!) and knocked in the key insurance run in the 8th that gave Yu Darvish a little more of a cushion to work with. The three hits brought his season average up to .238.

Star of the WeekPosition Player Star of the Week (Full Week): 

Overall, the Rangers bats have been a bit warmer of late, with the exception being the power numbers that remain better than the Kansas City Royals but hardly anyone else. Sunday’s Leonys Martin homer over the right field wall in Washington was the Rangers first in seven games. In other words, it was the only round tripper the Rangers hit ALL WEEK! Still, there were no fewer than six Texas players who batted .300 or better over the week. The overall Star of the Week goes to catcher Chris Giminez, a player who only joined the Rangers organization at the end of Spring Training, so close to the start of the regular season that Texas had to place him on the Opening Day roster without ever appearing in a Rangers uniform during the exhibition season. Giminez got sent to AAA Round Rock in short order and didn’t appear in a game for the Rangers until his recall two weeks ago to replace a completely ineffectual J.P. Arencibia. Over the past week, Giminez has garnered seven hits in four games, which is one less hit than Arencibia managed in 20 games with Texas. Overall, the stat line for Giminez was .438/.438/.625 with three doubles and 3 RBI. Giminez has also become the personal catcher when Yu Darvish is on the mound and it’s pretty clear Yu doesn’t have any problems with that arrangement. The proof is coming next.

Star of the WeekPitching Star of the Week: 

If there’s a Rangers fan who doesn’t love Yu Darvish, then they are a fan of the New York Rangers hockey team. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers fan love Yu just fine, thank you very much. Sure, there’s the occasional debate of whether he’s earned “Ace” status yet and we sure don’t like the number of times he has a stiff neck and gets scratched from a start. When he takes the mound, though, any start begins with the possibility of magic happening. He’s flirted with no-hitters on several occasions and he leads the majors in double-digit strikeout games over the past three seasons. Sunday, Yu’s assignment was to slow down a Nationals offense that had battered Rangers pitching for 19 runs in the first two games of the series. Darvish was more than up to the task, going eight strong innings on only 102 pitches, giving up only five hits and two walks while striking out a dozen Nationals. Had the game not been played in Washington, where the pitchers come to bat, Darvish likely would have gone out for the 9th and attempted to finish off his first complete game and first career shutout. But, since Texas only had two runs on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth, Ron Washington decided to send up a pinch hitter for Darvish to try to score an insurance run. Joakim Soria secured the save and Darvish had his fifth win of the season.

The Week That Was & The Week That Will Be

Until Darvish spun his gem on Sunday, the weekend got off to a miserable start when the Nationals won Friday’s game 9-2 and added a 10-2 thumping on Saturday. Still, there’s nothing for Rangers fans to complain about. They finished the week 4-3 and they finished their longest road trip of the season going a combined 7-4 against the Tigers, the Twins and the Nationals. Yeah they’re still only a game above .500 and as close to last place as they are to first in the AL West (5 1/2 games), but they’re only a game out of the Wild Card at this point so there’s plenty to hope for.

This is a team with a lot of deficiencies: outside of Darvish, the four other starters are as likely to give you less than 5 innings as they are to even get to 6, the defense is still not anything close to what Rangers fans are used to seeing and the always aggressive running game has resulted in way too many caught stealings. A great case in point is right fielder Alex Rios. By all accounts, Rios is having a good season, hitting .320 and leading the Rangers in RBI with 29. Still, while Rios has 11 steals to his credit, he’s been caught an ugly seven times already. He may own the Rangers RBI lead but he’s also MLB’s leader for grounding into double plays with 15 at just the 1/3 mark of the season. And though he’s a far better right fielder defensively than his predecessor Nelson Cruz, he has three errors on the season and should have had a fourth on the missed pop-up that got changed to a David Ortiz hit that broke up a Yu Darvish no-hitter.

After 11 games on the road, the Rangers get a day off Monday, then spend the week at home against the Baltimore orioles and the Cleveland Indians. That has more than passing interest to Rangers fans, since the Orioles boast ex-Rangers Cruz, Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter (not to mention ex-manager Buck Showalter), followed by an Indians team whose uniform is worn by ex-Ranger David Murphy. Cruz would have been more than happy to stay a Ranger but Jon Daniels wasn’t willing to pony up the money to make it happen. Too bad because Cruz is having a career season for the Birds so far this year. Even Murphy has more RBI than Rangers team leader Alex Rios. Record-wise, all three teams are bunched together. The Rangers are 29-28, the Orioles 28-27 and the Indians 27-30. The Orioles get the benefit of not having to face Darvish. With no help coming to the roster via trade in the foreseeable future, a 3-3 record on the week is about what we might expect from a team that has played at about a .500 level all season.

A Father’s Day Gift Idea

Back in my college days as a Radio/TV major, I had the pleasure of knowing a classmate who went on to portray a character who, while only spending  a few short minutes on the screen at the end of the movie, left an indelible mark with many baseball fans. His name is Dwier Brown and he portrayed Kevin Costner’s father at the end of the classic “Field of Dreams.” I recently discovered Dwier has published a book called “If You Build It- A Book About Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams”. He is now on a Midwest book tour, appearing a minor league stadiums and the like. It’s both memoir and stories people have told him through the years about what the movie meant to them and their own relationships with their fathers. One of my fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members, The Hall of Very Good, has done a 2-part interview with Dwier about the movie and the book. You can read both parts of the interview here:

http://hallofverygood.com/2014-articles/talkin-baseball-with-dwier-brown-part-one.html

http://hallofverygood.com/2014-articles/talkin-baseball-with-dwier-brown-part-two.html

The book sounds like a great Father’s Day gift as well. You can order it at his website, dwierbrown.com.

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.

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