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)
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.
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.
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.