Apr 172012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersWe made it Ranger fans. We made it through the torture of an early season off-day. Let’s take a short look at how the Rangers made news yesterday.

- The first week of MLB Power Rankings came out in the last couple of days. As expected the Rangers are at the top of most of those lists including the ESPN Power Rankings where they are 1st in baseball.  In SI.com’s new WAR rankings the Rangers are 2nd behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

- Jeff Wilson has a very good article over at the Fort Worth Star Telegram about the tough stretch that awaits the Rangers. When talking about the fact that these types of games coming up used to be a measuring stick, Ian Kinsler had this to say:

“They’re chasing us,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “The AL championship goes through us. I think everyone understands that.
“You expect the best from your opponent every day. When you have a target on your back, when you’re the two-time defending AL champions, the focus of the other team might be raised. It just makes it harder for us.”

Ron Washington chimed in as well:

“Our game plan is not going to change,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to pitch; we’re going to play defense, and we’re going to see what happens after nine innings.”

The Rangers start with an annoying two game series with the Red Sox followed by a tough four game series against an improved Detroit Tigers team.

- In the Sporting News there is a quick comparison about how the Rangers should be able to maintain a successful season easier than the Dodgers can. Part of that is a note about what could slow the Rangers down.

The schedule gets plenty tougher through the rest of the month. The general consensus is that there are six very good teams in the AL, including the Rangers, and over their next four series they’ll play three of them—on the road starting Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers before returning home to host the New York Yankees. They’ll finish the month against an improved Toronto Blue Jays team, then play Cleveland after that.
 
GO RANGERS!
 
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Apr 162012
 

Some Thoughts on Yu Darvish and Joe NathanThe Texas Rangers are 8-2 (on pace for 129 wins!) and have earned a much-deserved day off. Still, especially with their red-hot start, a day without Texas Rangers baseball is rough.

It’s similar to the delight of consuming a delicious chocolate shake—loving it all the way—even down to the torturous final sip, when you know it’s almost gone.

Some might say that Joe Nathan has slipped some form of anti-goodness into our shakes, making that final sip—the ninth inning—bitter; even disgusting at times.

The side effects to Yu Darvish’s two rough starts have been astutely diagnosed as follows: dizziness, then drowsiness, followed by acute nausea and, finally, a full-on, wig-splitting headache.

But hell, he’s only partly to blame, after all he didn’t force me to drink beer by the gallon during his starts…or did he?

Well, just like that syrupy filth that your Mom used to give you when you had a cough, sometimes you’ve got to put up with the bad in order to get to the good.

Rest assured, for the Texas Rangers it’s mainly all good, but let’s shed some light on the bad.

Joe “XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXX” Nathan (nickname withheld…hint: rhymes with ‘cod slam smother tucking’)
0-2, 6.00 ERA, 3 Saves, 1 BS, 8 Ks, 0 BBs, 7 hits, 6 IP

We’ve already established that the Rangers are an impressive 8-2. They could have been 9-1 (maybe even 10-0) had it not been for Mr. Two First Names, and his “amazing” slider that seems to break right into the fat part of the opposition’s bats.

Granted, the one or two-win differential doesn’t matter a whole lot, at least not right now. Besides, if the Angels continue to play as they have, we might not have as close a stretch run as originally thought.

Regardless, Nathan has been pretty bad. It’s especially difficult to witness since his stuff seems to be fine, and he ‘s not walking anybody. Literally, he has yet to surrender a free pass.

Here’s hoping last night’s save in Minnesota is a sign of what is to come. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve already come to grips with Wednesday’s blown-save shellacking. As long as Nathan can stay in a groove, and miss some more bats, he should be fine.

Watching Joe Nathan close games gives me a whole new perspective on former closer, Neftali Feliz. It’s similar to watching Michael Young toil around third base when you’re used to watching Adrian Beltre.

Yu Darvish
1-0, 4.76 ERA, IP: 11.1, Hits: 17, BBs: 8, Ks: 9

Sure, I knew (as we all did) that Darvish wasn’t going to be as good as Justin Verlander immediately. Hell, Justin Verlander wasn’t even Justin Verlander until he had a few starts under his belt.

But, Darvish, in his first two starts has looked more like a young A.J. Burnett.

Ouch. But it’s far too early to close the book on Darvish. Remember, he’s only had two starts, and his second one was much better than his first. He’s also routinely praised for his work ethic, is only 25-years-old and teachable.

And, let’s not forget, that during his most recent start against the Twins, he had to deal with Michael Young playing third base. A folding chair with a Rangers hat would stop more ground balls.

Check out this quote from an unnamed scout on Darvish that appeared in one of Ken Rosenthal’s articles today:

“He’s going to give up a ton of hits,” the scout said. “A lot of his fastballs are very straight. The guy is supposed to throw hard. But he basically pitched at 89 to 92, touching 93-94. That’s pretty good in Japan. It’s not very good here.”
“He has a good cutter, a good curveball. But when he gets in trouble, he turns into a breaking-ball guy – nibble, nibble, he won’t let it go. He reminded me of Dice-K.”

I’m not even a big sabermetrics guy, and this idiotic quote makes me want to agree with the notion that scouts are a bunch of numbskulls.

To me the most angering thing about this quote is that it agrees with so much of the other negative crap that seems to assume that Darvish is a finished product, incapable of adjustment.

Dude, it’s not like we bought a Betamax cassette and we only have a VHS player to watch it on.

Darvish is going to be fine. He’s already good enough to be the Rangers’ number four starter, and he’ll only get better.

Now, as for Joe Nathan…well, the Rangers have plenty of other ninth-inning options should the bed-wetting continue

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Apr 162012
 

Monday Morning FastballsThe price tag keeps going up…

Trailing by one run in the 8th after an RBI triple by Elvis Andrus had plated Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton hit a no-doubter to the upper deck in right field that silenced the hometown Twins once and for all and wrapped up the opening road series sweep.

  • It’s the first time that the Rangers have swept the Twins in Minnesota since 1999.
  • Prior to the sweep, the Rangers had lost 20 of their last 26 in Minnesota, including 9 of 10 at Target Field.

“You know I don’t watch them,” Hamilton said regarding the distance of his home run. “I know it feels good and sounds good and Ron yells, ‘Yes!’ pretty loud. That’s about it. But that one felt pretty good.”

“That was awesome,” outfielder David Murphy said. “We didn’t get our offense going, but with this offense, we’re never out of it. Huge shot by Josh. As long as we have outs, we’re never out of it.”

“We played good baseball,” Washington said. “We pitched, we played defense, we ran the bases, we delivered the big hit when we needed them. Everything fell into place.”

  • Joe Nathan closed the door, working a perfect 9th against the middle of the Twins order and earning his 3rd save on the season.

“It’s nice to come in here and sweep these guys,” Nathan said. “I know the Twins have done pretty well against this club at this park. Today was a good win, come-from-behind win, and to hold down a one-run lead, it was nice.”

  • Monday Morning FastballsNeftali Feliz (5 IP, 3 ER on 5 hits and 2 BB, 3 K) pitched well early in the game but ran into some trouble in the 6th and was relieved by rookie Robbie Ross, who earned the win and pitched two brilliant innings.

“It was a pretty fun weekend,” Ross said. “I enjoyed it. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, just relax and try to get guys out.”

  • This was a big one, as the Rangers were able to put the final nail in the coffin and get a series sweep…on the road no less.  There was much to be impressed with in this game, including the clutch hitting of Josh and Elvis, the plate discipline of Kins, the first four innings from Nefti, the dominance of the rookie Robbie Ross…but the moment that put the biggest grin on my face was Joe Nathan closing the door on his former teammates.  Once we can trust in Joe (which he has to earn through consistent dominant pitching), this thing is unstoppable.

Quick hits:

  • Rangers are off today…what the hell are we supposed to do now!
  • Colby Lewis will pitch in game one of the two game series in Boston.  He’ll face off with Boston ace Jon Lester.  Lewis has not had much success against Boston in his career (.329/.388/.685 in 80 PAs).  Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in particular have hammered the Colbra in the past (Gonzalez: 6 for 7 with 2 HRs and a double; Ortiz: 5 for 15 with 3 HRs)
  • Derek Holland vs. Josh Beckett on Wednesday to wrap the short series, then it’s on to Motown for a four game set with the Tigers and home to face the hated Yankees…who, while they’ll always be hated by Rangers fans, are no longer public enemy #1.

“They’re chasing us,” echoed second baseman Ian Kinsler. “It shouldn’t matter to us. We’re not chasing them. Obviously, they are some of the best teams in the American League, but we feel like it’s got to come through us. We just have to play good baseball.”

  • Mitch Moreland missed his second straight game Sunday due to a painful abscessed tooth. He flew back to Dallas last night and is scheduled to undergo oral surgery today.  The plan is for him to rejoin the club tomorrow in Boston.
  • In an effort to split up the lefties in the rotation, Wash said he was considering switching Darvish and Harrison during the series with the Tigers, but no official decision has been made yet.
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Apr 142012
 

Defense helps Harrison improves to 2 0; Darvish faces first road testOn a night when Matt Harrison would probably have rather been snuggled up in front of a fire place reading the Hunger Games, he was tasked with getting the Rangers started off on their first road trip of the young 2012 season.  The book can wait…

At first pitch, the conditions were 49 degrees with 20-30 MPH winds…and wet due to a pregame rain, which would return in lighter form in the late innings of this game.  Harrison held the Twinkies to 1 run on 7 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 4.  Throughout the night there were several key defensive plays made by David Murphy, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus just to name a few.  It was a total team effort, which is exactly what you want to see in the team’s first game on the road.

Defense helps Harrison improves to 2 0; Darvish faces first road test“Oh man, it was outstanding,” said Harrison. “Whatever ball was put in play, they made the plays behind me.”

“He was throwing strikes, 1-2-3 … that’s always good for your defense,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “You have to be on your toes. He got a lot of ground balls and we stayed ready. When he needed the double play, he got it. He pitched great tonight.”

  • Alexi Ogando got the call to close out the game and earned his first save of the season…I’ll put the over/under on saves for Alexi for 2012 at 6.  Take a side and comment below.
  • Wash commented on using Ogando as opposed to Nathan saying that he wanted to give Joe an extra day of rest.

Quick hits:

  • Yu Darvish Take 2

“The only thing he needs to do different is throw strikes early,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “That’s it. I think he’ll take care of that part. Eliminate all those free passes early and he’ll be fine.”

“Got all the pitches, very athletic, great stuff, great changeup,” Gardenhire said. “I saw his changeup just falling off the table. They said he was a little excited in his first start, and we know this guy’s a very good pitcher.”

  • Joe Nathan Returns

“Definitely felt weird walking into the stadium. Felt like I was walking in the wrong doors,” Nathan said prior to Friday’s game. “It’s part of the game. It’s not my first time switching teams. But after being with this club, Minnesota, for so long, to come over here for the first time was awkward for sure.”

  • Michael Young set another franchise record last night, passing up Juan Gonzalez for most total bases in Rangers history.
  • Rangers face Nick Blackburn tonight, who they have hit very well historically.

 

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Apr 132012
 

There’s nothing like a Dutch Oven in the middle of the day!

Friday Morning Dutch Ovens

Derek Holland and Michael Young led the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners yesterday.  Holland pitched 7 1/3 innings (115 pitches), giving up 2 earned on 5 hits and no walks, while striking out 8.  Young accounted for 80% of the clubs RBI’s with 4, increasing his batting average on the young season to .321.

  • Young hit from the 2 hole, as Manager Ron Washington gave Elvis Andrus the day off.  Lot’s of banter on Twitter concerning Young’s position in the batting order, with the majority wanting to see MY10 permanently moved to the 2 hole.  I’m personally a fan of the lineup with Young batting 5th and Andrus batting 2nd.  This may be one where Jasen and I are split in our opinions, so instead of diving into here, we’ll save this topic for a podcast or future article.
  • Rangers starters now have a 2.42 ERA on the season, which is impressive, but keep in mind that 4 of the 7 games have been against the Mariners and all 7 games have been at home.  First road test kicks off today, and I’m hoping to see the strong performance continue.

“They are throwing early strikes, which is something that’s preached around here, and they aren’t giving in,” cather Mike Napoli said. “But more than that, the young guys are growing up. They’re not throwing out there. They’re pitching.”

“I wanted to stay consistent with both my fastball and off-speed pitches,” Holland said. “The big thing that Mike Maddux pitches to us is first-pitch strikes. If we go out there and throw our first-pitch strikes, go after hitters right away, it makes it a lot tougher for those hitters to react.”

“We’re trying to motivate each other,” Holland said. “We’re very happy with the way things have taken off. We’ve been doing our jobs. That’s to go out there and make sure we give our team a chance to win.”

  • Box Score Note – both Napoli & Cruz were hitless in the game, continuing their slow starts.  One of the beauties of this team is the depth across all facets of the roster.  They’ll come around eventually and when they do, more than likely someone else will slump a little.  The points is, one way or another, the Rangers are going to score runs because there are NO holes in their lineup.

Quick hits:

  • Friday Morning Dutch OvensMatt Harrison takes the mound tonight in Minnesota looking for win number 2.  The Twins will send Anthony Swarzak to the hill…who?
  • Harrison attributes his strong opener and recent success to working inside:

“Once you have some success against some guys in, it shows that you’re able to pitch inside,” Harrison said. “Whenever that happens you’re willing to do it more often. Once you start getting strikes in there, you start to open up the inner half. It’s a lot better for you when command both sides of the plate and keep the hitters more uncomfortable.”

  • Adams got the save in yesterday’s game, after Nathan pitched in back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Wash is sticking by closer Joe Nathan after lots of knee-jerk reactions from fans and media after Wednesday night’s blown save and loss.

“Two things can happen: You get off good, you get off bad,” Washington said. “We’re going to support Joe Nathan 100 percent. Once he recovers from workload last night, he’ll close. If he’s in position to close a second night, we’ll give him the ball.”

Looking for feedback:

We are contemplating kicking off the Baseball Do Forums in the next week or so and trying to gauge what the participation would be like.  Let us know what you think.  You can comment here on the site or hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (Baseball Do Facebook Page).

Not signed up for the Baseball Do Field Trip yet?  What’s the hold up?  Gonna be a great time of Rangers Fan Fellowship, great food & drink and Reckless Kelly!

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Apr 122012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsWell…That sucked.

As I woke up from a restful nights sleep, the first thing to enter my brain was “Dang, they lost last night”.  I’m going to do my best to give you an even, non knee-jerking reaction to what happened last night.

The Rangers were three outs away from win number five in six games this season. With a two run lead, Ron Washington calls for his closer Joe Nathan. Nathan pitched very well the night before to secure the win for the Rangers and other than one bad pitch that was responsible for the lone loss in the Chicago White Sox series, he has pitches pretty well. It was very clear early on when Nathan took the mound last night that he didn’t have “it”. He wasn’t locating his pitches and when he was missing it was up in the zone. After it was all said and done, the Rangers couldn’t rally back in the bottom half of the 9th and fell to 4-2 on the season.

This one was tough. It was tough because Colby Lewis deserved much better after a masterful 6 2/3 inning 6 SO no ER performance. It was tough because the Rangers are clearly a Championship contender and a Championship contender MUST have a reliable closer. It was tough because losses like that linger. With all that being said, it’s not time to jump ship. The Rangers will stick by Joe Nathan, Wash will most certainly stick by his veteran closer.

Joe Nathan didn’t seem too concerned after the game.

“The only thing that I could see is they hit a lot of sliders, not terrible sliders. I think they’re looking for that pitch and waiting for it,” Nathan said. “A lot of those pitches were sliders down that they served into right and found outfield turf. Credit to them putting good swings on.”

That’s what you want your closer to say after blowing a save.

His teammates were equally unfazed like Colby Lewis

“He’s 30-something saves away from 300 saves,” Lewis said. “It’s nothing he can’t bounce back from, nothing we can’t bounce back from.”

Michael Young:

“He’ll be fine, We have all the confidence in the world in Joe. We look forward to getting another lead and getting him back out there.”

Wash:

“I thought he was throwing the ball well,” Washington said. “Once again, maybe location just had something to do with it. I thought he was throwing the ball well. It was 93, 94 mph. It’s a big league club over there. I don’t know how many innings we had them shut down, but right there in the ninth inning they put some runs on the board.”

So step off the ledge for a second, it isn’t time to panic and move Joe Nathan out of the closer role but its ok to be a little nervous. If it makes you feel any better, the Rangers aren’t nervous.

Quick Hits:

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Apr 112012
 

Wednesday Morning CurvesLast night felt good.  There wasn’t a player on this team I wanted to see succeed more than Neftali Feliz, and not just because of the bold prediction that I made in my preseason article about him, “The Other New Guy”.   Last night Neftali Feliz put together the best performance of any starting pitcher on this rotation the first time through.  The 7 inning gem was also his longest performance in his professional career (including in the Minors where max was 6 1/3).

Believe me, I know the season is still very young, and he’s got a long way to go to get to my prediction of 16 wins…but you have to be excited about what you saw last night.  Feliz proved that he is more than just a flame-throwing closer and that he does indeed have an effective changeup and a pretty salty slider that compliment his fastball – which really never reached the velocity that we’re used to seeing from Feliz, whether by design or simply because his arm strength is still ramping up.

Feliz gave up only four hits and two walks over 7 innings while striking out four – all on 108 pitches…and all in a game that seemed to be over in the blink of an eye due to his rapid pace and control.  He is only the third Rangers pitcher to ever throw at least seven scoreless innings in his first big league start.

“I was trying to throw all my pitches and keep them low and I did that,” Feliz said. “There is a big difference between being a closer and being a starter. As a starter you have to think and be calm and execute. The first inning I had to make a little adjustment. I had a little pressure on me and I had to work out of it and make my pitches.”

“Awesome,” catcher Mike Napoli said. “He did a great job. We kind of noticed his changeup was on and we were going with it and it was good pitch for him tonight. That can change from night to night. He had that going and we used it a lot. That’s what you’ve got to do as a starter. You can’t go out there and throw fastballs every single time through the lineup. You’ve got to be able mix it up and he did that.”

“Everybody knows he can throw 100, but he was mixing in a lot of pitches tonight,” Mariners DH Jesus Montero said. “He struck me out on an off-speed pitch the first time, so I kind of forgot about the fastball for a little bit. Then I got base hits on a slider and changeup. He was unbelievable tonight. Amazing.”

“He just did a really good job of pitching,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “What’s impressive is that wasn’t his routine as a closer. As a closer he would come in the ninth and throw bullets. Tonight was all pitching.”

Neftali’s next start will come this Sunday at 1:05 in Minnesota against the Twins.

Quick Hits:

  • Wednesday Morning CurvesDavid Murphy continues to perform at the plate, as he was 3-3 with two doubles and the games lone RBI last night.

“I want to stay the course,” Murphy said. “I feel like in the past if I had a start like this, I might start swinging hard and thinking in my mind that I’m playing with house money and getting outside myself. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s just five games and there’s a lot of baseball to be played.”

  • Neftali was amazing last night, and the opposing pitcher, former Rangers 1st round pick Blake Beavan was pretty salty as well.
  • Gotta love the smart base running by Adrian Beltre last night to keep a rundown going long enough for Michael Young to advance to second base.  If you missed it, T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) broke it down and there is video.

“That’s baserunning 101 right there,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You get caught in a rundown, you have to stay alive as long as you can to let the guy get the extra base. That’s exactly what he did.”

  • The Ian Kinsler extension is expected to be made official later today, after Kinsler completed the physical yesterday.  The Rangers fully expect the young second baseman to be declared “healthy” later today and will announce the contract shortly thereafter.

“Well deserved,” outfielder David Murphy said. “He is as complete of a player as you’ll see in the big leagues and has the best instincts of any player I’ve ever played with. He loves the game. He’s the ultimate competitor.”

Washington on Ian Kinsler as a clubhouse leader: “He’s matured into a lieutenant. We have a couple of generals and a couple of captains, he was a sergeant, now he’s a lieutenant. Kinsler has gained his respect every year, not only in our clubhouse but around the league.”

  • Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Opening Day starter Colby Lewis are among the players who could still become free agents after the 2012 season.  Kinsler told Napoli that he was next yesterday in the locker room, and while I know it would be nice to get both Napoli and Hamilton locked up during the season, the lpossibility of a deal with Napoli in the near future seems more likely.

“I guess we’ll see,” Napoli said. “I don’t know, but I hope we can get something done. The bottom line is I want to be here, but I really don’t know how it is going to work out.”

  • Utility infielder Albert Gonzalez got into the game in the 9th inning last night, meaning that Brandon Snyder is the last man to get on the field.
  • The Rangers face off with former Ranger Kevin Millwood tonight, first pitch 7:05pm.  Colby Lewis will take the mound for Texas.
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Apr 102012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersYesterday marked a potentially huge day in Texas Rangers history.

The evening started off with the first Major League start for the Rangers prized off-season acquisition Yu Darvish. There was a massive amount of anticipation from both the media and the Rangers fans. The stadium was buzzing as Yu ran from the dugout to the mound in the first inning to a rousing standing ovation, something I’ve never seen before in my many years of Rangers fandom. There were Darvish jerseys scattered all over the crowd of 42,003.  Believe it or not, the actual pitching wasn’t nearly important. Darvish would get off to a very rough start fueled by a combination of nerves and adrenaline and then settle down for a respectable 5 2/3 inning outing. He did what every Ranger pitcher is expected to do, he kept his team in the game long enough to let the offense do what it does. Last night was the beginning of what could be a very long and special career for the talented righty. He struggled, he battled, he got the support he needed from his teammates. It was a special atmosphere last night and Scott and I were pumped to be there.

The Rangers didn’t let the buzz of a Yu Darvish start linger long as they replaced it with the excitement of the news of an Ian Kinsler extension. The details of the deal as reported by several Dallas/Fort Worth newspaper writers are five years and 75 million with a club option.  We’ve been teased with the possibility of an extension for the past couple of weeks and it looked like hope was lost when opening day arrived with no deal.  The Rangers front office continued to work with Kinsler’s agent while the season began and got it done. The deal is a rare example of where it’s really good for both sides and I think that will be even more evident when the Yankees finalize and announce the extension for their second baseman Robinson Cano who I would imagine will sign a deal worth 18-20 million dollars a year.  Kinsler is truly a commodity as a 30-year-old (he turns 30 in June) with the potential to have a 30 home run and 30 stolen base season every year. Even more than home runs or stolen bases, Kinsler has become a team leader and that was never more evident than last night. After his young pitcher struggled through a 42 pitch first inning he came in as the leadoff hitter. Instead of swinging at a very hittable 2-0 pitch straight down the middle, he took. He knew that he had to give his pitcher a chance to catch his breath, a chance to decompress. Kinsler took and worked a walk that would start a bounce back inning for the Rangers cutting the lead in half. That is baseball IQ.

Congrats Ian, well deserved. Can I borrow some money?

Quick Hits:

  • The offense appears to be clicking. Josh Hamilton hit his second home run of the season last night and brought his average to .500
  • Kinsler hit another home run. Ho hum.
  • Nelly Cruz seems to be getting his timing back. He looked lost at the plate at time during the first three games but last night looked like the Nelly of old. Even making a nice defensive play in right field. Wish he could have done that in game 6 last year. Sorry…still bitter.
  • Fun game tonight as Neftali Feliz starts his career as a starting pitcher against former Rangers prospect Blake Beavan.
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Apr 092012
 

Monday Morning FastballsA couple of months ago when the Rangers were rumored to be interested in free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt, he was the guy who was thought to lose his spot in the rotation.

For the last 2-3 years when writers/fans praise Jon Daniels for the quality bounty he got in return for Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves, he isn’t mentioned first…or even second.

When (most of) you think of the breakout left-handed starter on the Texas Rangers, he’s not the first name that comes to mind.

Last night…he was brilliant, and we all took notice.

Matt Harrison was dominant throughout Spring Training, and he brought that same command and presence into the regular season last night in front of 45,368 cheering Rangers fans and possibly more importantly, in front of baseball fans worldwide on the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game.  Harrison pitched six scoreless frames against the Chicago White Sox to give the Rangers the 2-1 series win.

“I was able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes early in the game,” Harrison said. “It gave them something to swing at besides my fastball. They fouled a lot of pitches off early, but I just kept pounding the strike zone and making them put the ball in play.”

“Harrison pitched great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is one of those where you tip your hat to him.”

“Outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “Harrison had a good sinker working, he was moving the ball up and down, in and out, good breaking ball. Early in the game they fouled off so many pitches it put him in a bad way at the end, but he gave us what we needed tonight.”

  • Harrison gave up 4 hits and allowed 2 walks while striking out 3 across his six innings of work.
  • Hamilton, Beltre & Murph all went yard in this game, with Hamilton’s being a ridiculous 441 foot blast that initially looked like it was going to exit the stadium.
  • Hamilton also made two nice snags in center field.

Quick Hits:

  • Tonight is the debut of Yu.  Tickets are still available from the Rangers and on StubHub.  Why aren’t you going?
  • Robbie Ross was impressive last night in his Major League debut, working a scoreless 8th inning, striking out Paul Konerko and walking one.
  • Jasen and I will be at the game tonight, so hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo).
  • We will be recording this weeks podcast tomorrow night.  If you’d like to submit a question or topic, please comment on this post or sent it via the Contact Us page.
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Apr 072012
 

Texas Rangers Wielded Huge Wieners, Shafting ChiSox 3 2Ah, opening day. You’ve got to love it. The 2012 Texas Rangers are undefeated thus far, thanks to a clutch, 3-2 victory. This season might just be even better than last year’s…plus gigantic wieners!!!

Now that baseball—real baseball! Not that fake spring training drivel—is finally here, it’s time to put to bed some questions the Rangers had heading into Friday’s season opener against the Chicago White Sox.

To heck with his demons, can Josh Hamilton squelch his own personal kryptonite and be able to best his ultimate foe—the Sun?

You better believe it. Josh Hamilton bested his oldest nemesis— in-game nemesis, that is—the Sun, to the tune of a 2-3 day with an RBI and a run scored, to boot. Take that you spherical mass consisting of plasma and magnetic fields! Booya!

Can Colby Lewis keep the ball in the yard, and pitch effectively?

Colby Lewis did surrender a fifth inning home run to Adam Dunn. Hey, that’s really no big deal, if Dunn was going to hit one out at all, it was going to be off of the homer-prone Lewis, at the homer-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Other than that, Lewis was dynamite—putting in a performance easily worthy of opening-day starter status.

Can Michael Young segue his torrid spring into the regular season, even though he didn’t ask for a trade?

Well, the funny thing about a tradition is that it’s not always a good thing. And, hell, sometimes it wasn’t even your intention to start it in the first place.

For example, running out Captain Noodle Arm—Julio Borbon—to start in center field in ’10 & ‘11. And in MY’s case, demanding a trade in spring training (circa 2009-2011).

Young hit well over .400 all spring, and managed to drive in the eventual winning run in the season opener. Looks like MY’s excellence at the dish is a trend that will continue.

Meanwhile, Borbon was somewhere in the minors with his arm stuck to a centerfield wall (or bench)—yep, that means the “noodle” is done.

Will Joe Nathan be able to return to his old self?

Well, to paraphrase Sheriff Ed Tom Bell from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men: “If that wasn’t the old Joe Nathan, it’ll do until the other one gets here.”

One-inning, no hits, one strikeout, and, most importantly: one save. Works for me.

Can Alexi Ogando continue his dominance from the bullpen?

Alexi Ogando was a filthy animal hell-bent on unleashing his right arm’s fury upon the White Sox. He struck out the side in the seventh, using his 97 MPH fastball, and devastating slider. Stuff like this, coupled with his first-half success as a starter from a year ago, might not be hidden in any other team’s bullpen.

Yup, yup. Rangers got crazy depth, yo!

Will David Murphy earn a starting spot in the outfield?

He earned the start in the 2012 opener. Extremely small sample size, but hey, he deserves a legitimate stretch to prove that he can hit left-handers with regularity. I think he can. Getting a hit off of the White Sox’s John Danks, a southpaw, is a great start to proving his case.

How many gigantic wieners will be consumed?

The gargantuan—even by Texas standards—hot dog, which measures two-feet in length, and consists of one pound of beef and over 4,000 calories was unleashed unto the masses at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for the first (and definitely not the last) time, on opening day.

Obesity epidemic…Take that!

Humongous wieners were consumed, no doubt. One estimate had the Rangers selling $5,000 worth of the artery-clogging monstrosity.

My advice to you: skip the two-foot wiener, unless, of course, it happens to be two-dollar, two-foot wiener night.

Personally, I’d rather consume three beers with my $26, than one gigantic wiener. But, hey, that’s just me.

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