May 252012
 

Breaking Down Brandon Morrow and Derek Holland: A Blue Jays PreviewOne week ago, the Texas Rangers (27-18) readied themselves for the Lone Star Series against pseudo-major league team, the Houston Astros.

Tonight the Texas Rangers prepare for battle with their long-time nemesis; that cold weather clan of Canadians, the Toronto Blue Jays (24-21).

From “Battle of the Silver Boot” to “Fracas with the ‘OOTs.’” This weekend’s series is less about “a boot” than it is about “aboot.”

You’ve got to love regional dialects, ay?

One thing not to love is the uncanny success the Blue Jays have had against the Rangers over the last several seasons.

The Rangers haven’t posted a winning season against the Jays since 2006, when they were 4-2.

Last year the Rangers went 4-6 against Toronto and a woeful 3-7 in 2010. The Rangers’ two AL Championship teams were 7-13 against a team that hasn’t made the postseason since their World Series Championship back in 1993.

This year hasn’t been much better for Texas, as the Jays took two of three in Toronto. In that series the Rangers were outscored 20-16.

Tonight it’s a battle between two top young hurlers and fellow 2006 MLB Draft picks.

For the Rangers it’s 2011 World Series Game Four hero, left-hander Derek Holland (26th Round) locking horns with Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow (1st Round, 5th pick).

Here’s a look at how these two electric arms stack up against each other:

Derek Holland (3-3, 4.27 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.9 K/9) vs. Brandon Morrow(5-2, 2.63 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.9 K/9)

Holland

Dutch is coming off a rough outing against the aforementioned Houston Astros. In that start, he surrendered five earned runs on five hits with the majority of the damage coming from three home runs hit in three-straight innings.

Against the Blue Jays in his career, Holland has struggled. He’s 2-1 with a 5.55 ERA and just 18 strikeouts. However, the current group of Jays has batted just .226 against the left-hander.

Jose Bautista has had the most success against Dutch, with a .273 batting average and 2 RBI. Rajai Davis has touched him up with a .273 BA as well.

Holland has never faced fiery third baseman Brett Lawrie or second baseman Kelly Johnson.

Morrow

Whereas Dutch was poor in his last start against Houston, Morrow was on the opposite end of the performance spectrum.

The 6’ 3” Morrow was lights-out against the New York Mets, tossing his second shutout of the season, while limiting the Mets to just three hits while striking out 8 and walking just one.

Against the Rangers in his career, Morrow is 4-4 with a 4.01 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
Michael Young doesn’t mind Morrow too much as is indicative of his .400 BA and team-leading 5 RBI. MY has taken him deep once as well.

Mike Napoli has been given the night off tonight, and it’s just as well as he has struggled of late and has a paltry .143 BA against Morrow. David Murphy—who is in the starting lineup tonight—has hit .365 in his career against the former University of California hurler. Josh Hamilton, in a 11-game homerless streak, is hitting a pedestrian .222 against the big Toronto right-hander.

Morrow has never faced tonight’s starting catcher, Yorvit Torrealba.

At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Morrow didn’t earn a decision last season but posted a solid 3.00 ERA and didn’t surrender a home run.

At home this year, Holland has gone 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA and has relinquished two long balls.

The Rangers and Dutch can win tonight if:

They hit like the Tampa Bay Rays do against him. If you take away the 11 innings Morrow’s thrown against the Rays and the 12 earned runs he allowed in those two ill-fated starts, Morrow’s ERA is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 1.07.

The Rangers have been scuffling at the plate for awhile now. Over their last 10 games they’ve gone just 4-6 with an offense that has been plating a mere 3.5 runs per game. Against a tough right-hander, the Rangers have their work cut out for them, and hopefully can rise from their offensive funk.

Of chief importance for Dutch will be to keep Bautista in the yard. After a tepid start to the season, the right-handed slugger has hit 7 home runs in his last 13 games.

Prediction Time

I look for Dutch to go six strong innings tonight, striking out 6 and minimizing the damage dealt by the Jays’ formidable offense. The Texas Rangers win tonight 6-2—now I could be wrong, but I’m sure that score sounds aboot right.

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May 252012
 

Rest

Friday Morning KnuckleballsThe Rangers got some much needed rest yesterday after a “20 games in 20 days” stretch that they finished with a .500 record.  With a record on the season of 27-18, Rangers fans are facing mixed emotions – optimism based on the make-up of this team and maybe a tinge of skepticism based on this most recent performance.

Regardless of where you stand on the ledge…don’t jump.  For fans, rest isn’t needed in the same way that it’s needed for players, but this short break can provide us with an opportunity to refill the tank as well.  To take a moment to step back and look at the big picture.

We live in a time of immediate judgement though the likes of Twitter, Facebook and blogs like the one you are reading right now.  Take some time today before this series with Toronto starts to really look at how good this team is.  Look at how well  they are positioned to play deep into October again this year.  Look at the front office and management of the team and how they have a unified approach.  Hell, even take a quick look at how bright the future is with a farm system stocked full of talent.

This is fun…

Joey Bats and the Jays are coming to town

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

Did you enjoy your rest?  Did you appreciate that moment to soak it all in and be an eternal optimist…now snap back to reality.  The Rangers have to bust out of this mini-slump NOW!

The Jays come to Arlington after a day off on their current road trip.  They lost 2 of 3 to Tamp Bay earlier in the week.

Derek Holland (3-3, 4.27 ERA) will face a Toronto offense tonight that is currently below the league average in battering average and on-base percentage, but boasts a respectable (not spectacular) .408 slugging percentage (a stat in which the Rangers lead the American League at .463).

Holland is looking to rebound from a disappointing start last weekend against the lowly Astros in which he gave up 5 runs over 5 innings of work.

“I’m looking forward to bouncing back,” Holland said. “I’ve been working in the bullpen on keeping the ball down. There were some mechanical adjustments, I was looking down rather than looking at my target. I’m looking forward to this start, I’m well-prepared for it and ready.”

On the whole, May hasn’t been too bad to Holland (1-1, 2.79 ERA), but he hasn’t fared well when pitching at home so far this season (1-2, 5.60 ERA). The Dutch Oven has taken the mound five times in his career against the Jays, and  2-1 with a 5.55 ERA.

The Blue Jays will counter with Brandon Morrow (5-2, 2.63 ERA) who was nothing short of exceptional in his last outing, shutting out the Mets while striking out 8.

Quick Hits

  •  Shifting back to the optimistic future…thinking long-term.  Good article by Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com) about Rangers teenage prospects Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara.
  • Kevin Matthews was promoted to Class A from the Arizona League yesterday.  Matthews was the Rangers’ first-round pick in last year’s First-Year Player Draft. In seven appearances (3 of which were starts) with the Arizona League Rangers, Matthews went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
  • We are opening up the Forums this weekend, so check back and get into some heated discussions with Jasen about Robbie Ross and Cheese Fries vs. Garlic Fries.
  • Jasen and I went to Patty Shack yesterday for lunch…if you haven’t been there, what are you waiting for.  Burgers and atmosphere are great.  We’re planning to have a game watching get-together at Patty Shack sometime before the Field Trip, so stay tuned.

Take me to the Card Shop

Keeping with the tribute to Baseball cards that I started a month ago,  promised to fulfill every Friday, then promptly skipped for 3 weeks…

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

This 1980 Future Stars card is another reminder of how the future is bright in Texas.  It may not have been so bright back in 1980, but when you got one of these types of cards for your team in a pack back in the day, it didn’t matter how bad you were at the time, because you knew it was just a matter of time before Brian Allard, Jerry Don Gleaton and Greg Mahlberg showed up to save the day!

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May 242012
 

Thursday Morning Changeups

In my personal experience, doing anything 20 times in 20 days is a tough task.

The Rangers finished a 20 games in 20 days stretch by going 10-10 with a loss to the Mariners. Doesn’t sound great for a team that started the season winning 17 of 23 games.

There is no doubt the Rangers are going through a streak of bad baseball. Allow me to be that guy that gives you some “glass half full” information.

  • Other than the L.A. Dodgers, the Rangers have the largest lead in their division over the second place team which is 5 games over the Oakland A’s
  • Even as we watch this offense flounder, the Rangers own the largest run differential in all of baseball at +79. The closest team is the St. Louis Cardinals at +65.
  • The team that a large group of experts picked to win the AL West is sitting 7 games back with a fair amount of problems themselves.
  • The Rangers offense, even after a very rough streak, is 1st in Runs scored, Batting average, and Slugging PCT.
  • The Rangers bullpen has been DOMINANT.

What they were saying after yesterdays loss to the Mariners:

Feldman:

“Walking that many guys, I was kind of dodging bullets the whole day,” Feldman said. “Finally, they got me in the fifth. But it’s been like that the last couple times I’ve gotten the ball, just bad command. I’ve got to get back where I was at the end of camp — confident in all my pitches and throwing strikes.”

Wash on Feldman:

“He’s a sinker pitcher, and it was a situation where we just needed him to get the ball down,” manager Ron Washington said. “He ended up getting it up, and Liddi took advantage of it.”

“I don’t think you can put that on Scotty like that,” Washington said. “There are decisions to be made, and we’ll make those decisions.”

As I tweeted yesterday, I’m getting the feeling that the Roy Oswalt signing is near. The Rangers feel like with the potential loss of Feliz until after the all-star break they need to bolster the starting pitching depth. It makes total sense at the right price and could provide a great veteran presence in the young rotation.

No game tonight…and that sucks.

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May 232012
 

Harrison, Adams and Nathan secure Rangers win despite lack of offense

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn a night when the Rangers offense could only muster four hits, the pitching came up big.  Matt Harrison pitched 7 strong, giving up a single run on 7 hits and 2 walks.

“My defense was making play after play behind me tonight,” Harrison said. “It definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to start the first inning. I felt good going into the game. My arm felt the best it has felt all season. I may have been overthrowing. I needed to settle down and pound the strike zone.”

The run was surrendered in a 35 pitch first inning after which Harrison was in command of the game…until the 8th inning…enter Mike Adams.  Harrison gave up hits to the first two batters he faced in the 8th inning, and the two run lead looked vulnerable.  Adams came in to face the heart of the Mariners order, and got Jesus Montero to fly out harmlessly before striking Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager out.

“Mike has been big for us since the day we traded for him,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “The eighth inning is important and we’ve got one of the best in the business handling it. He did a great job tonight.”

Joe Nathan came on in the 9th to get his 10th save of the season.  He struck out two as well after getting the lead off hitter to ground out weakly.

Nathan was impressive and I know the definition of a save…that said, when the game was on the line, Mike Adams saved the Rangers.

“I don’t keep track of my stats,” Adams said. “I go by how I’ve been throwing, and the last few outings I feel I’ve been throwing the ball well.”

Great pitching all around, which was needed as the Rangers were only able to muster up four hits, a season low.  Mariners started Hector Noesi pitched well, and really only gave the Rangers one opportunity to put runs on the board, and they seized that opportunity with a 3-run 3rd inning.  Noesi walked Cruz and Moreland, whom were driven in by an Elvis Andrus triple.  Andrus came in to score on a Josh Hamilton ground-rule double.

T.R. Sullivan summed it up well here:

The Rangers were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position while the Mariners were 1-for-9. That was a testament to both Adams and Harrison, who survived a 35-pitch first inning to make it into the eighth.

Quick Hits

  • When Pudge retired, we all heard that he was going to take on a role with the Rangers, and it looks like he’s received his first assignment, as he’ll serve as the Rangers representative at the First Year Player Draft in June (4th through 6th, with the 1st Round live on MLB TV).  The Rangers hold the 29th pick in the first round, along with two picks in the compensation round they received for losing C.J. Wilson and Darren Oliver in free agency.
  •  Ian Kinsler and Scooter Feldman are both being recruited to play for Israel in the World Baseball Classic.  Both players have Jewish heritage, which makes them eligible to play for Israel if they so choose.

“I would definitely like to play for Team USA if that’s possible,” Kinsler said. “If not, I will consider whatever else comes up.”

“I don’t know if it’s the greatest idea for a pitcher to play in that,” Feldman said. “If I got asked, I would think about it. I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Pitchers can get hurt anytime. It would stink getting hurt doing something like that. We’ll see how many innings I pitch this year and how my arm feels and if I get asked.”

  • The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday but will not use it to give anyone extra rest or change up their rotation. Feldman pitches tonight, followed by Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish this weekend against the Blue Jays.
  • Former Ranger Kevin Millwood (2-4, 4.17 ERA) will take the mound tonight against Scooter (0-1, 3.00 ERA).  Millwood’s splits show that he pitches much better on the road than he does at Safeco, evidenced most recently by a dominating outing in Colorado last week, so here’s hoping the Rangers get to him early and see plenty of the Mariners bullpen.
  • Feldman, who has moved to the rotation after Neftali Feliz was put on the DL, is hoping to throw 100 pitches tonight, something he hasn’t done since June of 2010.

“Let’s see how he gets through it,” manager Ron Washington said. “It depends on the stress he has. If he’s able to get through some innings early without stress, that may lead to some leeway late in the game.”

  • Prediction for tonight: Rangers 6, Mariners 3 with Yoshinori Tateyama working an instrumental 7th inning to stave off a Mariners rally and Mitch Moreland doing some damage with the bat…
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May 222012
 

Tuesday Morning Sliders

Superman has his Kryptonite, Achilles has his heel, Darvish has the Mariners???

In Yu’s first start of the year he faced the bottom feeders of the AL West and got ROUGHED up in a forgettable introduction to American baseball. After that start, Yu has rolled through baseball with a 1.94 ERA and was ready to redeem himself against those same Mariners. The first hitter of the game, a NASTY strikeout on three pitches. Oh yeah baby! this is going to be an awesome game to see! Next batter…four pitch walk. Oh dear. Unfortunately the rest of his start went more like the second batter than the first.

As if it wasn’t bad enough the Rangers were facing a motivated Felix Hernandez who had two un-Felix type starts leading up to this game. The Rangers offense (who still look a little lost) couldn’t muster any runs until the 8th inning when Mitch Moreland continued his hot hitting with a solo home run.

What they were saying after the game:

Darvish:

“I was apologetic because I wasn’t able to go deep in the game as a starter should,” Darvish said. “Overall the approach and the substance of the game … it wasn’t that good.”

“The early part of the game I was OK with my command,” Darvish said. “But somewhere in the middle when I really needed to throw a strike, I struggled to get a strike.”

On Ichiro

“He’s a good hitter,” Darvish said. “The first triple, the ball was down and he did a good job getting the bat on the ball. The second hit was a bad pitch, the ball was right down the middle.”

Ron Washington:

“I told him it’s part of the game,” said Washington, who was more concerned that Darvish understand why he was pulled from the game so early. “I told him we’re not out to try and kill him. That was a lot of pitches in a short period of time. We need him for the rest of the year, not just one night.”

on Felix

“We’ve seen that before, he’s capable of doing that,” Washington said. “Tonight was his night and not Darvish’s.”

Eric Wedge:

On Yu

“It had been awhile and the first time was different because it was his first time,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But obviously he’d been having a lot of success, and our guys did a great job against him tonight. Obviously, he has a good arm, keeps the ball down for the most part, but again, you’ve really got to tip your hat to our guys. Offensively, our guys went up there and made him come into the zone, and when he didn’t, we took the passes when we could.”

As if a loss wasn’t enough, The Rangers found out yesterday that first year starter Neftali Feliz will be placed on the 15 day DL

Scott Feldman will take his spot in the rotation but there has been discussion about signing former Astro Roy Oswalt who recently threw a bullpen session for several teams. More to come!

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May 212012
 

King Felix vs. The Yu: A Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners PreviewTonight, the Texas Rangers will look to dispatch yet another potential AL West contender not named the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

And, as if fueled by the overpriced coffee that Seattle is famous for, there is quite a buzz surrounding tonight’s series opening starters.

This is what happens when The Yu comes to town. And when you pit Yu Darvish against Felix Hernandez, you’re looking at two of the most exciting right-handers in the American League if not the planet.

The King vs. The Yu is intriguing too given it’s not a particularly good matchup for either pitcher.

King Felix has struggled against the Rangers, and this is the first time Yu will have faced a team twice, and the initial visit didn’t go so well.

Normally, during a series preview, it’s extremely pertinent to, well, preview the series.

Much like a photo of Katy Perry in a bikini, with King Felix, you’re already looking at the best part of the team, so why bother going further?

King Felix vs. The Yu: A Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners Preview

On team Katy Perry, I'd gladly be the designated hitter.

The Seattle Mariners minus Hernandez are basically Katy Perry in a parka. I’m sure there are many other wonderful things about the two, but who gives a shit?

Yu Darvish vs. Seattle

In his well-chronicled debut, Darvish needed 42 pitches to get out of the first inning, and was particularly susceptible to fellow Japanese-born bats. Munenori Kawasaki (Kagoshima) was 1-3 off of Yu with an RBI, and Ichiro Suzuki (Kasugai) went a very Ichiro-like 3-4 with a double.

Hell, the Mariners lit up Darvish so well that even castaway Ranger Justin Smoak got a hit. Kyle Seagar will be the biggest out for Darvish to establish dominance tonight; the diminutive infielder went 2-3 with 3 RBI during Yu’s outing back in April.

The Seattle Mariners are batting .318 off of Darvish with 4 RBI, 4 BBs and 4 Ks.

King Felix vs.Texas

Obviously, the sample size for King Felix against the Rangers is much larger than Yu’s versus the Mariners. It’s also the only thing that Felix can claim to be bigger than anything Yu possesses.

Since Felix’s debut back in ’05, the Rangers have hit .258 with 12 homers and 45 RBI off of Seattle’s ace.

Elvis Andrus has hit him to the tune of a .349 BA with 8 RBI. David Murphy has mashed against the King, with a team-leading 10 RBI and 2 home runs, while hitting at a .310 clip.

Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler have combined for 6 home runs off of him with 10 RBI, but have also struck out 18 times against the King. Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and the aforementioned Kinsler have batted below .200 with 31 combined strikeouts against his highness, the Mariner’s Majesty.

Of Rangers regulars, Adrian Beltre has seen Felix the fewest times. He’s batting a pedestrian .222 off of him, but has a home run and 2 RBI over his 10 plate appearances.

Prediction time:

I can guarantee that Yu Darvish will throw fewer than 42 pitches in the first inning of tonight’s game. Munenori Kawasaki had his best game of the season thus far in Yu’s first start; since then he hasn’t even been an everyday player.

Ichiro is Ichiro, so if he gets his knocks in against Darvish it should surprise no one. I’m taking Darvish to win this game, but it’s going to be a low scoring affair—mainly because the Mariners can’t hit— and the Rangers have been in a tad of a power surge. Plus, Safeco is the American League’s Petco Park in terms of being pitcher-friendly.

Here’s my imaginary line, straight-up from the fake future fool!:

Yu: 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 Ks, 2 BBs
Felix: 5 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 5 Ks, 1 BB

The Rangers will win 5-2. And even if I’m wrong and the Rangers lose, I’ve still got a sweet bikini pic of Katy Perry to (ahem) pick me up when I’m feeling down.

Go Rangers!

King Felix vs. The Yu: A Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners Preview

No dude, it's cool. Her eyes are down there too.

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May 212012
 

Happy Birthday Josh Hamilton

Monday Fastballs

Happy Birthday to the Rangers version of Superman…

Rangers take 2 of 3 in weekend series with Astros

  • Friday – Rangers win 4-1 even with Feliz giving up 5 hits and 3 walks over 4 2/3.  Beltre, Young and Cruz all drive in runs.
  • Saturday – Rangers fall 5-6 despite a strong effort to recover from 5 runs given up by the Dutch Oven.  David Murphy hit an inside-the-park home run.
  • Sunday – Rangers win 6-1 on an impressive performance from the Colbra, who carried a shutout into the 9th inning before giving up the Astros lone run (Jed Lowrie home run).  David Murphy hits an outside-the-park home run.

“Having things not go my way my last few times out, I wanted to bounce back and go deep in the game,” Lewis said. “Jumping out to a lead like that, my job was to throw strikes and force the issue. It made it a lot easier.”

Looking back on all three games, a series sweep would have been nice and would have been attainable.  The Astros are not good…but that said, the Rangers don’t seem to be clicking on all cylinders right now and winning the series can’t be taken for granted.

After a tremendous start, the Rangers have fallen into a bit of a slump, going just 5-5 over their last 10 games.  As Jasen pointed out on Twitter, the slumps for this team still seem to be hovering around .500, rather than falling much lower.  The key is for all pistons to start firing at the same time, and it’s a long season, so I’m perfectly content with them working through the rough patches in mid-May.

Yu (6-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. King Felix (3-3, 3.02 ERA) tonight!

Monday FastballsFor all the let-down that the Yu vs. C.J. match-up brought (due to weather), tonight’s match-up between Darvish and Felix Hernandez is very tasty.

“He just needs to get ahead of hitters,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “That ballpark will work in his favor, so it’s important to let the hitters put the ball in play. You’ve got to be a mighty mite to hit the ball out of that ballpark. Or Josh Hamilton. If he’s throwing strikes, making them hit the ball and not put them on the bags, I expect him to have a good outing.”

Offensively, the Mariners are really the only team that has made Yu look bad on the mound this season, and you could narrow that view down even more to say that it was only in the first two innings that he looked like anything short of an Ace.  Match-up wise, Felix Hernandez represents the cream of the crop in terms of American League starting pitching.  He’s not perfect by any means, and he rarely gets much run support from a rebuilding Mariners offense, but when he’s on…he’s what I believe to be one of the most dominant pitchers in major league baseball.

Historically, the Rangers have faired well against Felix who has posted a 10-16 record in 32 starts against Texas with an ERA of 4.03.  This is by far his worst record by opponent for any team he has faced more than once.  Looking at the splits by year, you would find that Felix has actually progressively gotten worse against the Rangers over the last few years, with 2011 being the worst at 0-4, with a 5.04 ERA in the 4 starts.

My prediction – the recent trend for Felix against the Rangers will continue and Darvish will maintain his dominant form, giving the Mariners a more accurate view of what he really is.

Rangers 7, Mariners 1

Quick Hits

  • We are less the 5 weeks away from the First Annual Baseball Do Field Trip.  We still have some spots available, but we are going to have to limit them to 50 in total due to ticket demand.  What are you waiting for?  Get signed up today!
  • In preparation for the Field Trip, we are going to have a game watching gathering very soon.  More details to come, but we are hoping to join forces with the Stalkers and just meet up at a bar to watch the game and have a good time.
  • We are also planning on launching the Baseball Do Forums very soon, so stay tuned for more on that.  Should be a good cyber-spot to celebrate, congratulate, speculate, bitch and moan about everything Rangers and more…
Baseball Do is going to be adding Forums to the site in the near future. Let us know if you plan to participate...
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May 182012
 

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?A popular Nancy Sinatra song from 1966 speaks of the wonders of boots that are made for walking. After broaching her brogan’s business it’s a letdown to learn that walking—rather than knocking—was all those bad boys were up to way back when.

The Silver Boot is far less ambiguous. It’s the annual award handed out to the winner of the interleague series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers.

This boot exists for one reason, and one reason only:

For kicking the shi@ out of the Houston Astros.
Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

The Texas Rangers travel to Houston today to start a three-game series. Normally, I’d breakdown how each team matches up against the other. However, I’m going to skip that because I couldn’t find any information on the Astros. Turns out MLB.com only lists statistics for major leaguer ball players Bing!

Aw hell, it’s pretty much just Bud Norris, and then the rest will bore us. You can use that if you want to.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the Lone Star Series:

• Despite having 12 opportunities to pitch against the Rangers during his two seasons in Houston, Roger Clemens was always too frightened to toe the rubber against Texas.
• The future demise of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim occurred the very moment that Gary Matthews Jr. made his circus grab against the Astros on July 1, 2006. Had it not been for that spectacular catch, the Halos wouldn’t have started their string of cash whipping outfielders past their prime. See: Wells, Vernon (yes it was a trade but they’re stuck with that contract). Abreu, Bobby. Hunter, Torii. Etc, ad infinitum.
• The Lone Star Series started in 2001, but the Rangers and Astros first played each other in 1997, one year after both the Astros and Rangers retired Nolan Ryan’s number 34.
• The Texas Rangers and Astros have split three Lone Star Series. The Rangers won all three as they outscored the Astros overall.
• The Rangers have won the boot 73% of the time, including the last five years straight.
• The Silver Boot was originally made out of 14-karat solid gold, but Tom Hicks pawned it in 2009.

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Yep, Tom Hicks pawned the Gold Boot here in 2009. What a jerk.

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM, Houston time, which is exactly like DFW time yet smoggier and infinitely more humid.

Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32 ERA) will oppose Wandy Rodriguez (3-1, 1.99 ERA).

Go Rangers!

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Walking Boots? No thanks. Knocking Boots? Yes, please.

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May 162012
 

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Nelson vs. Yoenis Cespedes: The battle for AL West eyebrow supremacy has commenced!


The Kansas Royals series? Never happened. I’ve erased all memories of that highly forgettable series
Total Recall
-style.

And I needed no help from Kuato. Just the aid of 12-15 ice-cold beers. There’s no way in hell I’d grab that circus freak’s grubby carnie hands anyways…but if Sharon Stone—circa 1990—cares to come along for the ride, that’s cool by me.

So, the aspirin has kicked-in, the hangover meal’s fully munched and all Royals feats have been forgotten. It’s now time to create some new and improved memories, and we have the Oakland Athletics (19-18) with which to start…

Here’s a look at some points of interest as the first-place Rangers play host to the second-place Athletics (yeah, it’s weird.)

The Oakland Athletics are in 2nd place

Yeah, I had to say it twice just to make it seem more real. It’s the truth, the A’s are four games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West as of today. Sure, it’s early, and yeah this two-gamer doesn’t really matter that much, but it sure would be nice to get a quick sweep and push our lead to six.

Conversely, if the A’s stay hot and the Rangers remain tepid, we could be looking at a mere two game lead in the West. And that’s messed up.

Yoenis Cespedes

Remember him from the offseason? Yeah he was that other foreign-born badass free agent not named Yu Darvish.

Cespedes isn’t exactly on a Hamiltonian tear, but he’s not crapping the bed a la Pujols, either. His slash line sits at: .245/.319/.434.

He has managed five home runs, and leads the A’s in RBI with 21. I’m curious to see how the Cuban slugger fares in the offensive friendly confines of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Yu Darvish

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Jeez, lucky guy scored both of his cards in the same pack!

Anytime Darvish’s name is penciled in to start, the game becomes must-see TV. Through the first 37 games, Darvish has been the Rangers’ most consistent starter.

I look forward to all of Darvish’s starts, but in this one it will be fun to watch him battle Cespedes as well as the entire A’s team. Hard to believe, but it could be Oakland and not the lowly Angels that are knocking on the Texas Rangers’ first place door in the upcoming months.

Josh Reddick

When I see his name two things pop into my mind. The first has little to with baseball, and is simply just an overwhelming temptation to place a hyphen between the two d’s in “Reddick.”

Secondly, I think of a young outfielder that is finally starting to fulfill his power potential. He’s the A’s team leader in home runs, with 9 and is just one click away from Cespedes in the RBI department with 20.

Reddick hasn’t fared well in Arlington over his career, as is indicated by his .118 BA with one double and nothing else of note offensively. Add in the fact that he’s never seen The Yu before, and those numbers might drop further.

Also, if inflicted with a Red-dick, don’t expect any sympathy from me; it’s your own damn fault—you’re supposed to test the hot tub’s temp with your finger dude! C’mon!

Tom Milone, Bartolo Colon, and a possible attack from the “B-Mac”

Tom Milone and Bartolo Colon rhyme, and journalistically that makes me happy. Tom Milone is off to a strong start this season. He’s 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA overall. At home he’s been near unhittable, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA while surrendering no home runs.

That would be irksome if not for the fact that Arlington is most certainly not his home.

On the road, Milone has pitched to the tune of a 2-2 record, with a 7.84 ERA while allowing five dingers…if he leaves his pitches up in the zone tonight, his home run total could double.

Bartolo Colon pitched in last night’s series ender against the Angels, so we probably won’t see the paunchy pitcher with the solid numbers.

We are in line to see Oakland’s “ace” Brand McCarthy for tomorrow afternoon’s series finale.

Remember him? Yeah, he cost us John Danks in a trade with the White Sox back in 2006. We lost our first “d” in the whole D-V-D acronym on that one-sided deal. Truth be told, I was pleased when the news came down. B-mac projected as a front-of-the-rotation starter that was more major league-ready than Danks at the time.

He did become our number one starter; too bad it was while on the disabled list. Hey the DL needs pitching too…Anyways, his fractured potential is becoming a reality as he has pitched well since Oakland acquired him via free agency in 2010.

So far this year, he’s 3-3 with a team-leading 2.56 ERA. At the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, he’s surrendered more home runs (17) than anywhere else over his career.

So kick back, relax, and tell Kuato to stop salivating on your sofa, it’s time to enjoy a potential Oakland Athletics beat-down!

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Grab your hand? Hell no!!!

Go Rangers!

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May 162012
 

Wednesday Morning Curves

Ugh…

I was going to start this post off complaining about the over-managment of the lineup during this two game sweep by the Royals. I was going to point out how guys like Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto haven’t had a day off yet this year and they are hitting over .300 and leading their teams while being 5 and 6 years older than Elvis Andrus. I was going to show how there is no statistical correlation between days off early in the season and better performance late in the season. I was even going to show how time off can actually disrupt a hot hitters timing thus taking him “out of the zone”

But alas…I won’t do any of that. I’ll just focus on what happened yesterday.

In all fairness the Rangers probably didn’t lose because Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz weren’t in the lineup. Colby Lewis imploded in the first inning for the second game in a row and didn’t really give his team a chance to win. After his last start when Colby gave up back to back to back home runs he actually got worse against the Royals. Thanks to his throwing error to first on a routine grounder back to the pitcher, Colby gave up four runs (all unearned).

The bright spot for me yesterday was the home run by Brandon Snyder. In a very small sample size, Snyder has shown me enough to be intrigued. The guy has sneaky power and plays with the enthusiasm of a player trying to break into regular playing time.

What they were saying after the game courtesy of ESPNDALLAS:

Colby on his performance

“They did a good job of hitting them where we weren’t,” Lewis said, apparently referring to hard-to-reach spots like the outfield walls.

Wash on Colby

“He hit a bad stretch and we’re going to fight through it,” Washington said after being pressed on the issue of Lewis being hit hard after the errors. “We’re not going to get concerned about anything. We’re going to do what we always do — go to work and try to correct things. It’s a long season.

“Next time he goes out there, you never know, it might be the beginning of him rattling off three or four (great starts). That’s the way we think.”

Ned Yost

“To come in here and win two games is big for us,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “Our pitching has been pretty good. That shows you how good.”

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