So far so good for the Rangers against the NL West, as they are fresh off a series sealing win over the second place San Francisco Giants.
Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:
Texas Rangers (35-26)
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre (.333 BA against IPK)
DH Michael Young
RF David Murphy
C Yorvit Torrealba (.000 BA)
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry*
RH Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.5 K/9)
Lewis has never faced the Arizona Diamondbacks before. Current members of the D-Backs that have faced Lewis before are batting just .138 with 11 strikeouts.
“Colbyashi” is currently mired in a tough-luck two game losing streak. Over those two games, his ERA was 2.45 and he struck out a combined 8 batters. His last start, against the Oakland Athletics, was especially frustrating. He pitched 8 innings, surrendered no walks, struck out three, and took the loss as the Rangers fell to Bartolo Colon, 2-0.
This season, right-handed batters are hitting just .233 off of him, whereas lefties are hitting him at a .261 clip. Even though Lewis can be home run prone, he has given up just 4 of his 14 homers at home this season—he’s 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA and 9.1 K/9 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
* Nelson Cruz was scratched from tonight’s starting lineup due to illness. This moved Craig Gentry into the starting lineup and shifted Hamilton to left field and Murphy to right field.
Arizona Diamondbacks (30-30)
LF Gerardo Parra
SS Willie Bloomquist (.333 BA against Lewis)
RF Justin Upton
DH Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State University)
C Miguel Montero
CF Chris Young
2B Aaron Hill (0-for-9, 5 Ks)
3B Josh Bell
RH Ian Kennedy (5-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.4 K/9)
This will be Kennedy’s first time to pitch in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has never faced the Texas Rangers, but current members of the team are batting .286 against him.
Kennedy is coming off of a breakthrough 2011 campaign where he went 21-4 and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.
Over his career, left-handed batter have hit just .235 off of him but so far this year they are hitting .279. Right-handed batters are hitting .258 off of Kennedy in 2012.
Kennedy has a better won/loss record at home (3-2) than on the road (2-3). However, his road ERA (3.13) is far superior to his home ERA (4.70)—this of course could change if the Rangers are able to elevate some of his offerings into the Ballpark’s world famous “jet stream.”
Kennedy is coming off of his best start of the season, as he beat Colorado on June 5th with a masterful 12-strikeout performance over six innings of five-hit ball.
Keys to a Rangers win:
Keep Paul Goldschmidt in the park. After hitting just four home runs during the first two months of the season, “Goldy” has hit four in his last eight games. Goldschmidt is the team’s leader in home runs, with 8.
The Diamondbacks are 18th in the league with 53 home runs so they might not have what it takes to take advantage of homer-friendly RBIA as well as Colby Lewis.
If Lewis can continue to pitch as effectively as he has in his last two starts while keeping the ball in the yard—and the offense can solve Ian Kennedy—the Rangers should be able to win tonight.
On the downside, Ian Kennedy is a far better pitcher than Ryan Vogelsong of San Francisco, who shut down the Rangers’ offense last Saturday. If Kennedy is on his game, it might not matter how well Lewis pitches.
I look for the Rangers’ bats to heat up thanks to a much-needed return home. There’s nothing like playing in front of a sold-out home crowd…Rangers knock Kennedy around and win 6-2.
Battle of the “pitch face”
Who has the best “pitch face?” Is it Colby Lewis or Ian Kennedy? Feel free to post your answer and why in the forum, or just drop it down in the comments section.