Apr 302012
 

Rangers lose first series of season; Holland and Hamilton roughed up

Monday Morning FastballsIt couldn’t have set up any better last night for Ian Kinsler and all Rangers fans.  Down by 3, bases loaded with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, Kinsler approached the plate after being at the center of manager Ron Washington’s ejection from the game in the 7th inning.  As a Rangers fan, this is what you wanted…a chance at redemption…and a chance to get a win on Wash’s birthday for the first time since he took the reins.

But as the great and hated former MLB Commissioner, Bart Giamatti, once said “it breaks your heart…it is designed to break your heart.”  Maybe that’s a bit overly dramatic, given that we’re still in late April, but the ESPN guys last night said it best, “you’d think it was mid-October by the way these Texas fans are cheering”.  The Rangers lost 2 of 3 to a good team…a team that they have eliminated from the postseason in each of the past two years.

“At least the cake tasted pretty good,” Washington said. “That’s all right … we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Monday Morning Fastballs

Some video of Wash’s ejection.

Derek Holland’s record fell to 2-2 after taking the loss last night, with a 5.13 ERA over his first five starts.  He pitched 7 complete, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8.  Holland’s worst stretch last night came in the 2nd inning when gave up 3 runs to the Rays, which if you were watching seemed like limited damage given the way they were hitting the ball.  Mark Lowe and Scooter Feldman wrapped it up with a scoreless 8th and 9th.

“During the second inning, he misplaced some fastballs,” Washington said. “After that, he got a grip on that and had great secondary stuff. Just in that second inning, he got his fastball up. He’ll have to make an adjustment and we believe he will.”

“He’s going to be fine,” catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. “He’s getting behind in the count and his fastball command wasn’t there, especially tonight. His offspeed pitches were good. I’m not worried about it. He had some rough outings. He’s probably been the best pitcher we’ve had lately. He’ll be able to make adjustments.”

While Holland’s outing wasn’t inspiring, it wasn’t the biggest concern of the evening, as Josh Hamilton left the game after the 2nd inning with back stiffness.  He is currently listed as day-to-day, and expects to play tonight in Toronto.

Monday Morning Fastballs“I made contact and I hit the ball, and about the third or fourth step out of the box, I felt my mid-back spasm up on me,” Hamilton said. “I got to first and tried to stretch it out a little bit and it wouldn’t release. I came back in and stretched my back underneath, and then I went out there and realized I couldn’t really rotate like I wanted to. And I told Skip I couldn’t go.”

“I’m not worried about it because I didn’t feel anything alarming or anything like that,” Hamilton said. “It was just a little tight this morning, but nothing out of the ordinary. I just came in and got loosened up and it felt great.”

Hamilton may get a start at DH during the series with the Blue Jays, and then will benefit from a day off on Thursday before the team heads to Cleveland for three with the Indians.

Quick hits:

  • Yu Darvish (3-0, 2.42 ERA) takes the mound tonight against Doug Drabek’s son (2-1, 2.25 ERA) in Toronto.  Remember, it was the Blue Jays who were rumored to have won the negotiating rights with Yu in the days leading up to the announcement that the Rangers were the high bidder.

“It depends on the team,” Darvish said of his game-to-game adjustments. “Every team is different. The umpires are different, and the strike zone is different. It also depends on the ballpark. Every ballpark right now is a first time for me. I have to experience everything. I’m not just learning the players. I’m understanding the atmosphere and I’m able to control my emotions.”

  • Toronto is the first of three stops along a 10 game road trip that will also include Cleveland and Baltimore.
  • Josh Hamilton has a chance to take full claim of the club’s record for home runs in April tonight.  He is currently tied with four other players with 9 – one of which is Ian Kinsler who his 9 in April of 2007.
  • According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), over the past 20 years, the Rangers have not gone through an entire April without calling up at least one player from the Minor Leagues.

Happy Belated Birthday to Wash (yesterday – 60) & Happy Birthday to Willie Nelson (today – 79)

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Apr 262012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsRobbie Ross leads the Major Leagues in wins…

The Rangers have won 6 straight series to open a season for the first time in franchise history…

The Rangers haven’t lost a 3 game series in Arlington since July1st-3rd of 2011 against the Marlins…

“We’re doing everything well,” Washington said. “We’re swinging the bats, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, pitching well, running the bases, playing defense. We’re playing a complete game. We’re just playing the best game we can possibly play that night. If you do that you’ll have fun, and we’re having a lot of fun right now.”

The Rangers beat the Yankees last night 7-3, in a game in which Ron Washington elected to utilize his bullpen from beginning to end by giving the spot start to Scott Feldman who was followed by Robbie Ross, Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.  All pitched relatively effectively with Feldman giving up 2 runs and Feliz giving up a solo shot Raul Ibanez in the 7th.  Whether you are a fan of the approach or not…it worked.

“We didn’t look at it as a bullpen game,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “Scott Feldman is a legitimate big league starter and a huge part of our team.”

The Rangers bullpen, continuing to exert it’s dominance early in the season, has a 2.03 ERA through the club’s first 19 games.

  • Joe Nathan – 3.72 ERA & 1.14 WHIP over 9.2 IP w/ 5 saves
  • Mike Adams – 1.00 ERA & 0.78 WHIP over 9 IP w/ 1 save
  • Alexi Ogando – 1.00 ERA & 0.44 WHIP over 9 IP w/ 1 save
  • Robbie Ross – 2.25 ERA & 0.88 WHIP over 8 IP w/ 4 wins
  • Mark Lowe – 0.00 ERA & 0.50 WHIP over 4 IP
  • Koji Uehara – 3.60 ERA & 0.80 WHIP over 5 IP
“We have a very good bullpen,” Washington said. “Ross has been tremendous, and tonight he did exactly what we needed done — he set it up for the rest of the guys.”

Just another strength of this team…the best team in MLB.

Quick hits:

  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsNeftali Feliz got an inning of work last night, but should benefit from the added rest as it was his spot in the rotation that was skipped.  His next start will come Tuesday against Toronto.  Looking back to 2011, Alexi Ogando never got a similar early season rest, and his mid-season fade is a big part of the change in approach with Feliz.

“We really didn’t have a plan for Ogando, we just let him fly,” Washington said. “We learned from that.”

“Of course having the extra day is going to help me,” Feliz said. “You never know. It’s a long season. You never know how hard I’m going to be throwing and how many innings I’m going to work. I think it’s going to help me out in the end.”

  • Harrison, Lewis & Holland will get the starts against the Rays this weekend.
  • Speaking of the Rays…anyone go into this week more concerned with the three games with them than the three games with the Yanks?  I did.  Rangers fans need to be just as loud, rowdy and supportive for these three games as they were for the hated Yanks…

“Obviously we have a ton of respect for them,” Rangers infielder Michael Young said. “This is the American League, every team is going to be tough. We just have to focus on keep getting better every day. Right now our pitching is what’s gotten us off to such a good start. They just keep us in the game every night.”

  • The Elvis Andrus errorless streak is at 50 now, which is the third longest in club history for a shortstop.  The franchise record is 60, held by Wayne Tolleson who did it in a back-up role during the mid-80′s.

Thursday Morning Changeups“I haven’t said a word to Elvis since Spring Training,” Washington said. “If I haven’t said a word to him, that means he’s doing OK. He’s doing the same things, he’s just doing it with maturity and experience. That breeds consistency.”

  • Interesting tidbit from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Yu Darvish’s 8 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday was the longest scoreless start by a Rangers pitcher against the Yankees since Bob Tewksbury threw six against them on July 7, 1995, in Arlington.

Enjoy the day off…

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Apr 252012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“Awesome,” manager Ron Washington said.

“Very impressive,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

David Murphy said, “Tonight was about as good as you could do.”

8 1/3 IP, 0 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, with 10 strikeouts…against the Yankees.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsThis was a major step.  Yu has improved each time he has taken the mound for the Rangers this season, and last night was no different as he dazzled the Ranger faithful (sellout crowd of 47k+) and fooled Yankee hitters…and for the first time, truly lived up to the hype.

Darvish attacked the strike zone with a multitude of pitches often times putting the patient Yankee hitters behind in the count early.  His command of all of his pitches was outstanding and his control kept the Yanks off balance all night.

“We had a game plan to make him throw strikes,” said Mark Teixeira.  ”He definitely did that. If you tried to be patient, you’re down 0-1, 0-2. If you tried to be aggressive, every pitch seemed like it started around the zone and moved out of the zone.”

“We all ask each other, ‘What was that pitch?”, said Yankee cather Russell Martin (a Ray Liotta doppelganger) ‘ ‘How is his ball moving?’ ‘What is his fastball doing?’ When guys are executing pitches and not really giving you anything to drive, there’s not much you can do.”

Wednesday Morning CurveballsYu wasn’t perfect, but like so many big game pitchers with that undefinable intangible, he was able to get out of jams and keep the opposing team’s offense off the board completely.  This was on showcase in the 3rd inning, when the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs, and Darvish was able to strike out the dangerous Curtis Granderson and get A-Rod to ground into a double play.

“I had to get Granderson out,” Darvish said in a post game interview. “In that situation, I wanted to give up only one or two runs. That would have been OK.”

Two amazing stats:

  • Opponents are 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position against Darvish in his last three starts.
  • Per Jamey Newberg, since his first inning as a big leaguer, Yu has a 1.08 ERA.
ESPN’s stats guys summed up how Darvish baffled the Yanks with 7 bullets.  Pretty interesting…

The fever is setting in…

Joe Nathan came in and closed the door in the ninth, getting a 1 pitch save (266th of his career) when Raul Ibanez hit the first pitch he saw into a double play to end the game and secure the “W” for Darvish.

“You’re always thinking in those situations to try to get a ground ball,” Nathan said. “Really, just make a pitch and hopefully keep it on the ground. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Obviously I’m not thinking, let’s get one on the first pitch. I’m just trying to make a pitch and hopefully get a ground ball.”

Quick hits:

  • Beltre was back in the lineup last night after missing three-plus games with a strained left hamstring.  He was held hitless, but was able to turn the key double play in the third inning.
  • Per T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Elvis Andrus went into Tuesday’s game without having made an error in his last 49 games at shortstop, dating back to last season. That’s the longest streak by a Rangers shortstop in club history. Michael Young held the previous mark with 43 straight back in 2008.
  • Wash received the C.I. Taylor Legacy Award (Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s Manager of the Year Award) before yesterday’s game.

“It means a ton to me because the award is from a guy who was versatile like I was — manager, player coach,” Washington said. “He made a difference in many people’s lives. That’s what you’re in this game for, to be able to make a difference.”

  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsScooter Feldman takes the mound tonight in the rubber match against the Yankees.  Feldman getting the spot start to provide a little extra rest to the rotation and remain stretched out if his presence in the rotation was needed on a more permanent basis at any point during the season – a luxury.  The Rangers bats will try to beat up on Phil Hughes (1-2, 6.75 ERA)
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Apr 242012
 

Tuesday Morning Sliders

On a night when the Rangers were on the national stage against the biggest empire in Major League Baseball, they fell short of victory.
On a night when many Rangers fans were fighting back tears of joy as one of the greatest Rangers of all-time announced his retirement, the evening didn’t end with victorious fireworks.

On a night when our starting pitching wasn’t dominant, and our hitting couldn’t rescue it….we still went to bed with the best record in the American League.

The Rangers fell 7-4 to the hated Yankees last night, on a night that will be remembered for the end and new beginning of Pudge Rodriguez more so than what happened on the field.  Derek Holland (2-1, 4.78 ERA) took the loss, giving up all 7 runs over 6 innings of work.  Josh hit his league leading 8th home run (solo shot) and my second favorite Craig got 2 RBI, but it wasn’t enough.

“I’m pretty upset with myself,” said Holland. “I didn’t battle as well as I usually have been before. The walks really killed me. I didn’t give my defense anything to play with.”

“It was poor execution,” Holland said. “I was trying to overthrow a little bit. It was a mental thing. I didn’t hit my spots. It was just one of those nights, I guess.”

  • The vote of confidence from Face:

“The thing with Derek is, one, he knows he’s really good, which is a great thing to have if you want to be an impact big leaguer,” Young said. “When you’re talking about him, knowing him, he’s already chomping at the bit for his next start. When he looks at this start, he’ll look at things he wants to get better at. He’ll make his really good adjustments, and he’ll be ready to roll in five days. We look forward to playing behind him.”

Pudge hits:

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersT.R. Sullivan recaps the Pudge retirement ceremony here with a short video clip of Pudge firing down to second base for the last time.
  • The ceremony was very well done…kudos to the Rangers organization for making this happen.
  • While it was a great opportunity to look back on one of the all-time great careers, one of the more exciting moments came when Nolan said said the Rangers are working on an agreement with Pudge to have him work with the organization in an undetermined capacity.
  • More to come on Pudge…

Quick hits:

  • Adrian Beltre may return to the lineup tonight after his MRI returned normal results yesterday.  Beltre has some mild inflammation of his hamstring and is currently listed as day-to-day.
  • Two former Nippon greats will face off tonight when Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.57 ERA) takes the mound against Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 5.00 ERA).  More details on the match-up here.
  • Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) wrote a good column on the progress that Darvish is making both on and off the field.

First pitch is 7:05 tonight.  Hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) if you wanna chat during the game.  We are postponing this week’s podcast due to conflicts with our schedules.  We’ll get one up as quickly as possible.

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Apr 232012
 

When I was a 10 year old playing 3rd base in Little League, the last out of a big game came down to me beating a runner to the bag.  The runner didn’t tag up, on a soft line drive hit right to me, and it was a race.  I dove head and glove first for the bag, and the timing of our arrivals couldn’t have been more in sync.  The umpire emphatically called the runner out and the game was over…we won…even though I never touched the base.  Even worse, this happened right in front of the opposing team’s dugout and the opposing team’s 3rd base coach, who got into a heated argument with the umpire as I darted back to my dugout.

Monday Morning FastballsSo there…Alberto Gonzalez and myself are very similar…or at least have something quite minuscule in common.

It’s part of the game.  It’s the human element, and while the play that scored the winning run for Texas yesterday has once again brought the argument for instant reply back to the forefront of the sports talk universe, it’s a beautiful thing when it works out in your favor.

For a breakdown of the play, with slow motion reply, check out Jason Beck’s article.  Lot’s of good reaction from both sides:

Monday Morning Fastballs“I’m not going to get upset, if that’s what you’re trying to do, get me upset at the umpires,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. “You all saw it. You don’t need a quote from me. You all saw it. I’m not going to sit here and blast the umpires. I’m not going to do that.  You asked the question originally, what I saw: The ball hit him in the back knee. There’s no question about that.”

“I saw it go down, and I heard a thud,” Inge said. “And I know the difference between a thud and [hitting] the ground. And it kicked off different. My first reaction was, yeah, it hit. I thought it hit his foot. I knew it hit something, because I was close.”

“As soon as I hit it, I just kept running,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not going to stay and see what [the umpire] says. I was going to run and see if the umpire called it.”

“I couldn’t tell,” Avila said. “I was trying to catch the ball and get in a position to get the guy out at the plate. I couldn’t tell right away, which is probably why the home umpire couldn’t tell, because at that point he’s trying to watch the pitch and stuff like that. At the same time, that’s what the other umpires were for. I haven’t seen the replays or anything, though.”

Home plate umpire Tim Welke said “We called what we saw, and we didn’t see him get hit.”

“This is a pretty good crew,” Inge said. “The thing is, it’s hard doing what they do. I’m not going to say it’s easy. And I understand they were going with inconclusive evidence.”

“I think you can open up a can of worms with too much replay,” Leyland said when asked about instant reply in baseball. “I mean, where do you stop it? … To be honest with you, normally somebody sees that [live]. One of the umpires sees that normally, in fairness to them. For whatever reason, they just didn’t see it.”

“I probably would have lost my mind,” Washington said when asked for his reaction if they play had been overturned. “I would have sprinted out of the dugout and lost my mind, then called and apologized if the replay showed it hit him.”

Monday Morning FastballsWith the win, the Rangers closed out a 9 game road trip with a record of 8-1, and have the best record in baseball.  Colby Lewis put forth a good effort to limit a potent Tigers lineup to only 2 runs, and Josh Hamilton hit a first inning line drive home run to right.

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are back in Texas for 6-game home stand, which will include a day off between New York and Tampa Bay.
  • Derek Holland (2-0, 3.10 ERA) faces off with C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.59 ERA) tonight..and Michael Young thinks the Yanks are a good team…not tremendous, but good.

“They’re a good team,” Texas’ Michael Young said of the Yankees. “We’ve played a lot of good teams lately. The Tigers are a tremendous team. Now we’re playing the Yankees, and they’re a good team. They’re playing well. It will be a challenge. We’re looking forward to it.”

  • Tonight will also mark the retirement of Pudge Rodriguez from baseball.  There will be a ceremony at the ballpark prior to the start of the game, and Pudge will throw out the first pitch to Michael Young.

“I’m happy to do it,” Young said. “I was here during part of his first stint with the team and he was a great teammate and a great player. It should be a big day for him.”

  • Jim Reeves (ESPNDallas) argues Pudge as the best ever all-around Ranger.
  • Overview of his statistical accomplishments.
  • Monday April, 23, 2012 – vs. New York Yankees – 6:05 p.m. – ESPN nationally; FSSW-HD locally
    * Ivan Rodriguez Retirement Ceremony
    * Ceremonial first pitch by Ivan Rodriguez
    * Game ball delivery by John Burkett
  • Adrian Beltre will undergo a MRI today and will more than likely be out tonight against the Yankees and possibly miss the entire series.  Beltre strained his left hamstring on Saturday (hence Alberto Gonzalez’s presence in the lineup), but hopes to avoid the DL.

“But I don’t think it will be a big deal,” Beltre said. “It will be a couple of days. I’ll get an MRI tomorrow and go from there.”

  • Michael Young is batting .30456, which is now the highest batting average in Rangers history for a player with at least 3,000 plate appearances.  He has surpassed Ranger great Rusty Greer…for now.

We’ll be recording our weekly podcast tonight after the Pudge retirement ceremony and during the game.  We’ll get it up on the site as quickly as possible, so give it a listen – Jasen intends to “shock everyone’s pants off” with a prediction.  His words, not mine…

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Apr 202012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsIt’s starting to sink in.  At first, during the off-season following the club first World Series appearance, it seemed like a temporary strength of this team that would flee to Philadelphia with Cliff Lee.  Then, throughout 2011, it seemed like the timing was just right and everyone was clicking at the same time.  Now, it’s sinking it.  Starting pitching is a true strength for this team, and will be for the foreseeable future based on the makeup of the current staff and the pipeline, both on the current roster (Ogando, Feldman, Ross) and in the minors (Perez, Ramirez, Buckel, Mendez, etc.).

“Starting pitching is, for sure,” Kinsler said when asked what was most gratifying about the Rangers current stretch. “The way they have been throwing has been outstanding. They have been keeping us in the game, 1-5, and the bullpen has been lights out.”

To put some numbers behind Kinsler’s statement, Rangers starters are now 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA over the first 13 games of the season.  According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), “That’s the longest winning streak by an American League rotation to start the season since the Yankees’ starters won 16 straight decisions to open 2003.”

Friday Morning KnuckleballsYu Darvish took a big step last night in his performance on the road against a top tier offense, quieting the bats of the Detroit Tigers to the tune of 1 run on 2 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 5 over 6 1/3.

“He made another step forward,” Manager Ron Washington said. “It’s been that process since he got here and he did a great job tonight using all his pitches. He used his fastball well and threw his breaking ball in every count. I wish he had gotten through seven, but he did a great job. He really did.”

“He’s very good,” Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera said. “He mixed his pitches very good — fastball, breaking ball, slider. I think he threw a couple changeups today. He did a very good job to stop our offense today. Today, he was very good. I think he’s only going to get better.”

“I know that if I battle and keep the team close in the game, the offense is going to come through for me,” Darvish said. “The biggest improvement was the consistency of my command. I feel close to where I want to be. I think I threw more quality strikes tonight.”

The Rangers provided run support for Darvish right off the bat, jumping to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and adding support in the 2nd, 5th and 6th, before putting the game away with a 5 run 8th.

“Well, sometimes it just isn’t your day,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That pretty much sums it up. We just couldn’t stop them. When they hit it hard, it was a hit, when they didn’t hit it hard, it was a hit. It’s one of those nights. We just got beat up.”

3 more games to go in this series, so it’s far from over, but last night was a big step in more ways than one.

Oh yeah, the offense was once again ridiculous with Napoli hitting another bomb and Kinsler, Cruz and Young all accumulating 3 hits apiece.  Let’s not take it for granted.

Quick hits:

  •  Matt Harrison takes the mound tonight, looking to continue his hot start to the season (2-0, 0.64 ERA).  He’ll face off with another young talented pitcher in Rick Porcello who has started strong (1-0, 1.84 ERA).  First pitch – 6:05 Texas Time.
  • Harrison  has not faired well so far in his career against the Tigers, posting a 1-4 record with a 6+ ERA.  This shouldn’t be too big of a concern considering that Harrison has matured into the pitcher that he is only recently.
  • Moreland and Murphy will both be back in the line-up tonight against the right-handed Porcello.  Murphy is 7-for-9 in his career with a home run against Porcello.
  • Per Sullivan (MLB.com), “With two more wins this series, the Rangers would win their fifth straight series to start the season for just the second time in team history. The 1989 club — also the only other Rangers squad to start 11-2 — did so as well.”
  • Pudge retires at the Ballpark on Monday before the game against the Yankees.  We’ll have more on that over the weekend, and we’ll be recording our podcast immediately following the ceremony with lots of good discussion about one of the greatest Rangers ever.

Have a good weekend!

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Apr 192012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsSWEEP SWEEP SWEEP!

The Rangers finished off the sweep of the Boston Red Sox on the road last night with a 6-3 win.  Derek Holland pitched through a two run homer in the second inning and blanked the Red Sox the rest of the way. The Rangers offense continued to rake as it seems that Mike Napoli is getting his timing back as he hit his fourth home run in three games. Youk is feeling Nap’s presence.

“The guy seems like he hits .700 against us lifetime,” Youkilis said.

Ron Washington was impressed with the Rangers starters.

“They’ve been outstanding, They worked hard in spring training to do what they’re doing. We’re playing good baseball and we’re doing it in different ways.”

Quick Hits

  • The Rangers start a four game series with a tough Detroit team tonight on the road. It will be Yu Darvish vs Adam Wilk
  • Sources are indicating that Pudge Rodriguez will retire as a Texas Ranger on Monday at the Ballpark in Arlington. More on this because Pudge is worth way more than a quick hit.
  • Michael Young sat out yesterdays game again with a stiff back. Ron Washington says it’s no big deal and he should be in the lineup tonight.
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Apr 182012
 
<b>Things you didn’t know about Koji Uehara, plus poor poetry</b>

Koji Uehara and his balls

Last night’s drubbing of the helpless Boston Red Sox by a score of 18-2 (Uehara homers happen too frequently to count anymore…) was a thing of absolute beauty!

Well, except for that little appearance by the batting machine with sideburns with his infamous splitter that doesn’t split and world famous hanging fastball.

When Koji pitches, it’s like the first time you got dumped. Sure, in a few hours you won’t care anymore, but at that moment you’re moved enough to write some epically bad poetry.

Here are three episodic Haikus followed by some things that you didn’t know about Mr. Uehara. Enjoy.

Koji Uehara

Enables opposition

Four-hundred foot blasts

*****

Koji Uehara

Needs to take his uncanny suck

To another team

*****

Anaheim Angels:

Koji Uehara might be

A great fit for you

*****

1. According to Elias Sports Bureau, when facing Koji, it is three times more difficult to NOT hit a home run than it is to take him downtown—or, as they say: “deep into the heart of Dong City.” Okay, only I say that.

2. Fellow Japanese import, Yoshinori Tateyama, was a High School teammate of Koji. Back then, Koji was an outfielder. Now, if you’re HS coach won’t let you pitch…Just sayin’.

3. During last year’s ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, Koji pitched 1 1/3 innings while surrendering 3 home runs…HE ONLY GAVE UP ONE FEWER HRs THAN OUTS RECORDED.

4. The whole “it ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings” thing is tired and cliché. A better rested, new cliché should be: “It ain’t over until Koji Uehara gets an out.”

5. Forget number four. Realistically, if Koji is in there, the ******* thing is already over.

6. In Japan, a popular pitch is named “shuuto.” When Koji throws it, it is referred to as “shit throw.”

7. Throughout his Major League Baseball career (2009-Present), Koji has had an excellent walk rate. This is not due to his outstanding location or control. This is due to a basic baseball philosophy: Why walk when you can hit a home run?

8. Koji’s English translator isn’t even bilingual. Hell, he’s not even “bi.” He’s simply a tape recorder with a pre-recorded message that says: “I am sorry. I did not have my good stuff today. I wish to go back to Baltimore where the team is bad and expectations are low. Thank you.”

9. Fellow Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish and Yoshi Tateyama actually speak in English anytime Koji is near.

10. Balls thrown by Koji Uehara accumulated 3,000,000 frequent flyer miles last year. Koji’s balls cashed in the miles and, like, totally vacationed in Puerto Rico—where they were held, but not for ransom. Booya!

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Apr 182012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“The ball was carrying pretty good tonight.” – Josh Hamilton

At some point last night, I just laughed.  I wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox, but rather it was a joyful laugh…an emotion that could only come from pride in just how good this team is.  I just laughed….at how ridiculously talented this line-up is from top to bottom, even with it’s interchangeable parts.  I just laughed…as Colby settled in after giving up a first inning 2-run shot to Dustin Pedroia.  I just laughed…as Ranger Nation was in full force on Twitter, watching an offensive explosion in fellowship and celebrating with each run.  I couldn’t help myself…I just laughed.

If your reading this, more than likely you were watching that.  If not, just know that in game 11 of 162 in 2012, the Rangers looked like an All-Star team…on the road…against at quality opponent.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn our last podcast, Jasen and I talked about the depth of this team, and how you can have players like Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli slumping and it’s offset by players like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler surging (insert any of the core names in this scenario).  Last night, everyone was surging, and hopefully the surge will carry over through the remainder of this road trip (next stop Motown after wrapping short series with BoSox tonight) and beyond.

18 runs on 21 hits with 3 doubles and 6 home runs.  Every Rangers player that got an AB, got a hit with the exception of Alberto Gonzalez who came into the game for Kinsler, after Kins had gotten 5 ABs.  Boston Ace Jon Lester gave up 7 over 2 IP.  New acquired Red Sox relieve Mark Melancon gave up 6 without recording an out (an ERA killer!!).  Meanwhile, Colby Lewis gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 IP, while striking out 7 batters and making the Red Sox lineup look foolish on many occasions.   It was a slaughter.

It’s fun to watch and fun to rehash, but today is a new day, and the Rangers have to take care of business again tonight against that same Red Sox team they embarrassed last night.

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“I’m just finding holes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I’m getting there. My timing is still early. I’m getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.”

“I’m getting close,” Cruz said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and my timing is there.”

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Napoli said. “I have been in the cage trying to iron it out. It feels good to put some swings into it and barrel up the ball. I just want to do it for a full game.”

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are officially splitting up Holland and Harrison in the rotation.  The day off on Monday afforded them the opportunity to flip-flop Harrison and Darvish in the rotation and they are taking advantage of it.  According to Wash, it has more to do with Yu then splitting the lefties.

“We wanted to keep Darvish pitching on four days’ rest,” Washington said. “He pitched, what, once a week in Japan? We want him to get used to four days down and then pitching on the fifth day. It just so happens to split the left-handers.”

  • Moreland returned to the team last night in Boston after battling oral issues.

“I’m so much better. It was a rough few days,” Moreland said. “I probably got five hours sleep total in two days, but I feel 100 percent better. I slept great last night.”

  • The Rangers will have 3 of the first 53 picks in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.  The Rangers will have the 29th overall pick in the first round. They will also have two picks in the compensation round, including the 39th overall pick as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels and the 53rd pick for Darren Oliver signing with the Blue Jays.
  • Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) covers the draft order in more depth.
  • Michael Young left in the 8th inning last night with back stiffness.  It’s not expected to be serious.

“He’ll be fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was just a little stiff so we got him out of there. We had the lead there. He’ll be in there Wednesday.”

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Apr 172012
 

Podcast Episode 14: Rangers start strong & early season surprises!

The Rangers are 8 – 2…if you want to know why…listen to this podcast.

  • Early season observations
  • Top surprises from the first 10 games
  • Jasen’s day job…
  • Paying Josh

Jasen also threw down the gauntlet…let us hear from you!

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