Sep 112012
 
HarriUbaldo

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians PreviewAfter a series such as the one that took place over the weekend in Tampa Bay, an off-day is always welcome.

In case you were fortunate enough to miss the aforementioned three game series—that saw the Texas Rangers score just five runs over thirty innings against the Tampa Bay Rays—here’s a quick recap:

Derek Holland was great. Yu Darvish was terrific. Roy Oswalt was absolutely horrific, and B.J. Upton is an a-hole.

Tonight the Texas Rangers return home for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, while the Tampa Bay Rays take off for Baltimore to battle the Orioles. With the Orioles just one game out of the A.L. East’s top spot, and the Cleveland Indians a mere five games from elimination…well…take that, Tampa!

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Cleveland Indians (59-82, L10: 4-6)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Since being moved to the leadoff spot, the Tribe’s Shin-Soo Choo has really taken off at the plate.


RF Shin-Soo Choo
2B Jason Kipnis
C Carlos Santana
1B Russ Canzler
DH Matt LaPorta
SS Brent Lillibridge
3B Jason Donald
LF Thomas Neal
CF Ezequiel Carrera

VS

LHP Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Texas Rangers’ left-hander, Matt Harrison will be pitching tonight on two extra days of rest. The Durham, North Carolina native is coming off of back-to-back losses against Tampa Bay and the Royals that saw him average just five innings in each start.

Prior to his two-game skid, Harrison had been masterful as he picked up consecutive wins against Toronto and Minnesota, averaging eight innings pitched in each start.

Over his four-year career, Harrison has been great when working on six-plus days of rest. All told, he’s 8-3 with a 3.56 ERA.

Harrison has gone 1-2 against the Cleveland Indians since 2008, while posting a 5.17 ERA with ten strikeouts. Cleveland’s leadoff batter, Shin-Soo Choo is 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and 3 RBI off of Harri. Catcher/DH Carlos Santana has also had success against Harrison, as he is 2-for-3 with a double and home run as well. All told, the Indians versus Harrison have produced a slash-line of: .277/.333/.489.

Texas Rangers (83-57, L10: 6-4)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Martin gets the start tonight to rest Nelson Cruz.

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF David Murphy
DH Michael Young
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
CF Leonys Martin

• Nelson Cruz get the night off to rest his presumably aching legs. Hamilton slides to the less labor-intensive side of the outfield and top prospect Leonys Martin gets the rare start in center field.

VS

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-15, 5.58 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 4.7 BB/9)

As mentioned earlier, Rangers’ lefty Matt Harrison has been less effective over his last two starts. Ubaldo Jimenez, on the other hand, hasn’t been nearly as sharp since, well, the second half of 2010.

The 6’5″ native of Nagua, Dominican Republic, has clearly lost some velocity in the last two years. However, Jimenez still possesses swing-and-miss stuff, which is evidenced by his above average strikeout per-nine rate of 7.5.

What has gotten Jimenez into trouble this season is his propensity to surrender the free pass. His walks per-nine rate of 4.7 is his highest since his first full season in the big leagues with Colorado back in 2008.

Against the Rangers over his career he has is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, but tends to get shelled mightily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At RBIA, he has surrendered seven home runs, and Texas has teed-off to the tune of: .318/.400/.591.

The annoying Angels and those pesky Athletics:

• In a rematch from last week—that saw the Angels sweep the Athletics—the A’s held on for a 3-1 win last night. Oakland is now just a mere three games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West race.

• Even though they lost their series-opener to the Athletics last night, the Angels are still the hottest team in the American League. They’ve won eight of their last ten games, and now are just 3 1/2 games out of the A.L. Wild Card race, and just 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 062012
 
greatthursday copy

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Adrian Beltre continues his offensive assault, as he swatted home run number 29 last night.

If you are a resident of the greater DFW Metroplex, undoubtedly, today you had a pretty solid day. That’s just the way it is in the DF-dub when both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys win on the same night.

The Cowboys, as you may recall, defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants a night ago, much like the Rangers nipped the 1985 World Series Champion KC Royals.

It’s the kind of day that your coffee costs $4.14, and the dude at Starbucks waves you on as you plummet into your pockets unsuccessfully searching for the 14 cents.

A mockingbird might just land on your shoulder, and that good-looking person you’ve been oggling at the office actually laughs with you rather than at you.

On a day like today, your skinny pants actually make you feel skinny.

All told, it’s a red-letter, 22-font, all CAPS kind of Thursday.

How could this day get any better? Well, that’s easy, friends. A win tonight for the Texas Rangers would not only get Scooter back on track, but would also claim the season series against the increasingly pesky KC Royals.

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals (61-75)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Butler went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored an an RBI in last night’s game.


CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Tony Abreu

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9)

How many pitchers can you recall have had two six-game losing streaks in the same season? Yeah, I’m stumped too. Well, a loss tonight and Scooter Feldman will hold that ignominious distinction. It’s hard to believe that sandwiched in between his two aforementioned skids, he had a six-game winning streak, too.

Truth be told, over his current five-game skid, Feldman truly hasn’t been that bad; he’s just fallen prey to one really bad inning in each of those losses. Feldman is definitely the type of pitcher that keeps you on your toes, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Ironically, during Scooter’s six-game winning streak, it was these same KC Royals that he defeated 4-2 on August 4. The 6’6″ Hawaiian-born righty has not recorded a win since…so, beating the Royals tonight would just make a strange kind of cosmic sense, right?

Right.

Texas Rangers (81-55)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Michael Young hit his sixth home run of the season, and his second of the series in last night’s 7-6 Rangers win.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
DH Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry

VS

RHP Luke Hochevar (7-13, 5.34 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9)

Hochevar, a former number on pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, has occasionally shown flashes of greatness over his career. For example, on June 25 of this year, Hochevar pitched a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays while collecting eight strikeouts and surrendering just seven hits.

Then, of course, you have the 2 1/3 inning outing against the Yankees on May 6 where Hochevar was undressed to the tune of seven earned runs on seven hits. He didn’t strike out anyone and surrendered two long balls.

The 6’5″, 220-pound Denver, Colorado, native’s career arc is somewhere in between those two vastly different starts. In other words, Hochevar is a solid back-of-the-rotation type of starter.

The Texas Rangers have produced the triple-slash line of: .247/.309/.447 against Hochevar. Michael Young, who is batting second tonight and starting at shortstop, is the only Ranger (aside from catcher Geovany Soto) to have hit a home run off of Hochevar.

News around the A.L. West

• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace, Jered Weaver, has been scratched from his next start due to right biceps tendinitis. Although this might not have any long-term implications, it’s never a good thing for your ace to be dealing with any kind of injury issue.

• The Oakland Athletics, currently five games behind Texas, travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners tomorrow, while the Los Angeles Angels welcome the Detroit Tigers to the “Big A.” The Angels are 2 1/2 games behind the A’s and 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 012012
 
JuricksonProfarcopy_display_image

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Dempster was one cool customer last night, as he held the Tribe to just two hits over his six innings of work.

Fresh off of a 5-3 win at Cleveland’s Progressive Field last night, it’s hard to believe that the Texas Rangers lost two-of-three to these same Indians back in May—while outscored 19-13.

The two-run advantage really isn’t indicative of the dominant effort that the Rangers put forth a night ago, it’s just a sign of how bad Koji Uehara continues to be…even with the rosters expanding to 40 today, you have to wonder why Uehara continues to occupy one of those spots.

That being said here’s a look at some Rangers of note as well as some roster information as the light at the end of the regular season tunnel begins to burn ever brighter…

Ryan Dempster Continues to Cruise

• I wish I could claim to have never felt the pangs of panic concerning Ryan Dempster. But, like most of us, the second time Demples was shellacked for eight runs, I was wiping the sweat from my brow while clenching my fist in anticipation of smashing the proverbial panic button.

However, all anxiety surrounding the right-hander has been subdued by his recent excellence. Over his last three starts, Dempster has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and has notched 20 strikeouts and only seven walks. In short, Dempster has looked like the ace the Rangers have so desperately sought since Cliff Lee’s departure via free agency.

Trade Deadline Comes to a Close as Rosters Expand

• Even after news came of the Mariners’ King Felix being claimed on waivers, it became apparent that he most likely will be staying put in Seattle.

• However, the Texas Rangers did announce that the much-anticipated debut of Jurickson Profar will occur today. Highly regarded pitching prospect Miguel De Los Santos was designated for assignment and it looks like Tanner Scheppers as well as Brandon Snyder will be returning to the big league club for the September stretch run.

• It is uncertain how much playing time the aforementioned Profar will command in the final weeks of the season, but he will be a true utility infielder expected to backup shortstop Elvis Andrus and possibly Ian Kinsler at second base.

Koji Uehara…yeah, you know

• As I’m sure most of you are well aware, I’m not a Koji Uehara fan. It’s nothing personal, he seems like a nice dude and I admire his enthusiasm. But, the guy is just an awful pitcher. Occasionally people point to his statistics to quiet my rage, but with Koji, you have to consider the situations he’s used in. He rarely pitches in a close game that the Rangers are winning and if you’ve ever wondered why, just look at his outing against Minnesota last week and last night’s thunder-shot home run off the bat of the excruitiatingly-average Casey Kotchman…and there you have it.

Personally, I’d leave Koji off of my roster even if it expanded to a 60-man…I just don’t see why he’s ever allowed to pitch.

Adrian Beltre—not of this Earth

• Beltre, last week’s A.L. Player of the Week, is continuing to sizzle at the dish. Last night he was 4-for-5, raising his batting average five points to .316 on the season. Over his last 10 games, Beltre has hit .475 with six home runs and 14 RBI. It appears that the sure-handed third baseman is getting hot at the best possible time…

A.L. West Continues to Sizzle

• As great as the Rangers have played over the last several weeks, it’s hard to believe that they have been the A.L. West’s third hottest team over their last ten games.

• The second-place Oakland Athletics have won nine-of-ten and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak; the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have started to show signs of life, winning seven-of-ten while feeling the flow of a four-game winning streak.

Robbie Ross Injured

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Fan favorite and outstanding lefty reliever, Robbie Ross, is headed to the DL with tightness in his left forearm.

• Word came down late last night that left-handed reliever-extraordinnaire Robbie Ross will be placed on the disabled list due to left-forearm stiffness. The diagnosis is particularly disparaging as tightness in the forearm is often a precursor to elbow ligament damage—see Lewis, Colby.

Up Next:

RHP Scott Feldman (6-10, 4.95 ERA) will look to tap into some of his six-game winning streak magic in hopes of staving off his current four-game skid. Scooter will oppose the Indians’ Jeanmar Gomez (4-7, 5.11 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 (CST).

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences
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It’s Profar time, and I’m stoked!

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Aug 272012
 
Craig Gentry, rocketman.

Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series

Craig Gentry, rocketman.

The Minnesota Twins are gone, but they won’t be forgotten. And for the most part, their four game stay at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will be remembered fondly.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from that four-game set…

Adrian Beltre can carry a team

• Adrian Beltre was 7-for-9 (.777) in the first two games of the Twins series. He went 3-for-5 with one homer in game 1 (not a bad encore after the previous night’s three home run effort against Baltimore.) Game 2 saw Beltre notch the second cycle of his career, as he went 4-for-4 with three RBI.

• When Beltre heats up he’s more than capable of setting the tone for the Rangers’ offense or carrying the team on his own.

• It will be fun to see how Beltre handles the Tampa Bay Rays this week. Beltre hit three home runs in game 4 of the 2011 ALDS against the Rays.

Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series

Beltre gets a well-deserved hug from Mike Napoli.


Throwing at Josh Hamilton’s Cabeza is highly frowned upon…

• Yep, we learned this in the series’ opening game. Starting pitcher Scott Diamond retaliated for a Roy Oswalt beanball by letting one loose in the general vicinity of Hambone’s head.

• Even though Oswalt had not been warned, and no brawl ensued, Diamond was treated to a six-game suspension courtesy of Major League Baseball.

• Head-hunting aside, Hamilton had one heck of a series against the Twins. All told, he hit .438 with 9 RBI and hit his 35th home run of the year during yesterday’s finale.

White Men can jump, and Craig Gentry is proof

• With one out and one on in the top of the ninth inning, Craig Gentry perfectly played a deep blast off of the bat of Joe Mauer. #KittenFace deftly judged the arc of the ball before cat-apulting over the centerfield wall, landing on top of the Captain Morgan Club’s roof, robbing Mauer of what would have been the first ball ever hit onto Randol Mill Road. All in all, it was pretty sweet.

Koji Uehara still sucks

• Sunday’s finale saw the return of right-handed relief specialist Koji Uehara—whose true specialty is serving up the long ball. It’s good to see that after a two month layoff, Uehara can still get rocked with the best of them.

• Had it not been for the aforementioned trampoline-like leap of Craig Gentry, Uehara would have served up a two-run bomb to Minnesota’s Joe Mauer. This, of course, would have surprised absolutely no one.

• Can we please get Tanner Scheppers back up here to replace Koji? Sure I know he’s susceptible to the long ball as well, but at least his heater can actually break a pane of glass.

Mitch Moreland, one strong son of a gun
Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series
• In the second inning of the third game of the Minnesota series, Mitch Moreland crushed a Brian Duensing pitch into the right field upper deck. The three-run shot was measured at 463 feet, making it the third-longest bomb ever hit in the 19-year history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

• Not only was the bomb historic in length, it is also notable in that it came off of a left-handed pitcher, only the third time this season and the fourth time in his career that Moreland has gone deep off of a port-sider.

Up Next:

The Tampa Bay Rays, currently in second place in the A.L. East, come to Arlington for a three-game series.

On the hill for the Rangers will be LHP Derek Holland (8-6, 4.92 ERA). Left-handed ace, David Price (16-4, 2.28 ERA), is on the bump for Tampa Bay. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 (CST).

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Aug 102012
 
Feldmania copy copy

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?Although the thermometer hasn’t gotten much relief, August has been much kinder to the Texas Rangers than July. So far, Texas is 6-2—just three wins shy of last month’s total—and they have been averaging the most runs scored in the American League (tied with the San Francisco Giants for most in Major League Baseball with 59).

And as the calendar pushes closer to the end of the regular season, the Rangers’ bats have been heating up at the best possible time.

What better way to gear up for the stretch-run, and its inherent playoff-implications, than in a rematch of last year’s American League Championship Series?

Tonight’s Lineups:

Detroit Tigers (60-52) L10: 6-4

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?

Prince Fielder has never faced Scott Feldman before.


CF Austin Jackson
LF Andy Dirks
3B Miguel Cabrera*
1B Prince Fielder
RF Brennan Boesch
DH Delmon Young
C Alex Avila
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Omar Infante

*Over the last five years, Cabrera is batting .700 with two home runs off of Feldman.

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9)

Since the All-Star Break, Feldman has easily been the Rangers’ best starter, going 3-0 with a remarkable 1.19 earned run average. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, the Hawaiian-born righty was 0-6 with an ERA north of seven less than two months ago.

Consider this: Feldman’s three wins during the dreadful month of July were 33% of the team’s total wins. Whoa boy.

Over his last five years, Feldman is 0-2 with a god-awful 8.68 ERA and equally unsightly 2.42 WHIP. However, those numbers exclude the postseason, and Feldman was the Game 2 winner of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. He pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief while striking out 5 and walking none.

At home, Scooter is at his best as he is 4-3 with a sparkling 2.81 ERA. Right-handed batters are batting .287 with 4 homers off of him, while lefties are hitting .252 with 5 long balls.

Texas Rangers (65-45) L10: 6-4

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?

Hamilton has been showing signs of life lately. Over his last two games, he’s gone 5-for-9 with 5 RBI.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland

VS

RHP Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72, 1.41 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)

It truly isn’t a stretch to state that Scherzer might just have better pure “stuff” than his fellow teammate and last year’s A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander.

Like the Rangers’ Yu Darvish, what’s keeping Scherzer from being an elite TORP (top of the rotation pitcher), is his lack of command.

All you need to know about Scherzer’s arsenal can be gleaned from taking a peek at his strikeout per nine innings rate. 11.3! That’s absolutely ludicrous. That would be high for an elite closer. Again, like Darvish, sometimes the sheer electricity of his offerings makes them hard to control, and his walk totals reflect that…the end result of that is he’s behind in the count and forces a pitch into the zone for a strike, and then gets thwacked. In that aforementioned scenario, Scherzer is like Holland minus the ADD.

In his career against Texas, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. This does not take into consideration his 0-1 record and 9.27 ERA after his ALCS Game 2 thrashing that came largely at the hands of Nelson Cruz.

Scherzer has been slightly better at home (4-2, 4.42) than on the road (6-4, 4.94) and has gone 2-1 with a 4.75 ERA since the All-Star Break of a month ago. Scherzer is susceptible to the long ball from both right-handers and left-handers, as each side has 10 against him in 2012. Righties (.219) fair far worse overall than lefties (.307) against his excellent stuff that features a mid-to-high 90s heater.

As we all know, the Rangers are a fastball-hitting team that sometimes struggles with junk-ballers. Scherzer is certainly a hard-thrower and should he struggle with his control, Texas might just jump on him early.

Go Rangers!


Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?
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Jul 062012
 
perez

Martin Perez vs. Francisco Liriano—A Rangers/Twins PreviewThe Texas Rangers dropped their fourth-straight game yesterday, as they fell to the Chicago White Sox, 2-1. Chicago’s sweep was the first time the Rangers had failed to win at least one game in a series of three games or more in 2012.

The Rangers’ four game skid is tied for their longest of the year, and the first time they’ve dropped that many in a row since early last month.

For the final home stand before the MLB All-Star break, the Rangers welcome the A.L. Central bottom-dwellers, the Minnesota Twins. In their last meeting, in April, the Texas Rangers were on the right side of a sweep, as they took all three games from Minnesota at Target Field.

Here’s hoping the Rangers can head into the break on a high note.

A look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Minnesota Twins (35-47, L 10: 5-5)

Martin Perez vs. Francisco Liriano—A Rangers/Twins Preview

Mauer has hit .300 against left-handed pitchers over his career. He’s gone: .283/.353/.413 versus the Texas Rangers.


CF Ben Revere
RF Darin Mastroianni
DH Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
1B Justin Morneau
3B Trevor Plouffe
SS Brain Dozier
C Drew Butera
2B Alexi Castilla

VS

LHP Martin Perez (1-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 9 K/9)

Making just the second major league start of his young career tonight, 21-year-old Martin Perez made good in his initial outing last Saturday. He earned the win against the Oakland Athletics.

However, the Texas Rangers haven’t won a game since.

Texas Rangers (50-33, L 10: 5-5)

Martin Perez vs. Francisco Liriano—A Rangers/Twins Preview

Napoli is 1-for-3 against Liriano. His one hit? A three-run bomb.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

VS

LHP Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 8.9 K/9)

Liriano, who has a no-hitter on his resume, first came into the league in 2005. A converted outfielder, Liriano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2006, as he went 12-3, with a terrific 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts over just 122 innings pitched.

After his breakout 2006 campaign, Liriano had to undergo Tommy John surgery due to a torn elbow ligament. It really wasn’t until 2010 that it looked like he might be back to his old dominant self. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts while finishing eleventh in the Cy Young Award voting.

The 6′ 2″ Dominican struggled in 2011, as he posted a 9-10 record and a robust 5.09 ERA.

Whether Liriano is on or not, he is not susceptible to the long ball. Over his career, he has allowed just 0.8 HR/9 rate. According to FanGraph’s PitchFX, Liriano’s fastball is averaging 93.3 MPH, his highest average velocity since 2010.

This season Liriano is has been lights-out against lefties: .161/.260/.194. Right-handers have fared much better: .268/.368/.432. Liriano has yet to win a game on the road in 2012, he’s 0-5 with a 5.41 ERA away from the friendly confines of Target Field.

Notes:

• Liriano is 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA over his career at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Over the last month, Liriano has pitched far better than his overall numbers indicate. The 28-year-old Dominican is 1-1 with a 3.88 over that span.

• Martin Perez’s current ERA (9.00) is skewed greatly by his first appearance, a relief outing against Detroit where he allowed four earned runs over just 2/3 of an inning. In his lone start last Saturday against Oakland, Perez’s ERA for the game was 3.38. Even with his relief appearance taken into consideration, Perez’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a much more palatable 4.24.

• Mike Napoli, the starting catcher for next week’s MLB All-Star Game, is currently in an 11-for-69 slump (.159). Napoli’s tough season can be attributed to his inability to hit left-handed pitching. He’s currently batting a paltry .160 against southpaws after posting a robust .320 last season, and a .274 BA over his career.

Go Rangers!

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Jul 042012
 
FeldmanFreeze

Roy Oswalt...Ah, forget about it—Feldman Looks to Stop Rangers SkidOkay, so Roy Oswalt was simply awful last night—he’s now averaging 18.7 hits per nine innings.

Ugh.

And yes, Ian Kinsler’s error did, indeed, lead to seven unearned runs—and at the mathematical halfway point of the season, Kinsler does have as many errors as he did all of last year.

Yikes.

Am I worried about Kinsler? Nope. Concerned about Oswalt? Well, let’s just say I’m less optimistic now than I was a day ago.

It’s one thing to give up 13 hits and set your career high in a game. It’s an entirely different matter to equal that career high in your very next start.

Again it’s too early for concern, but now even the most outlandish of knee jerk reactions bears enough weight to prevent an immediate dismissal.

Regardless, last night’s atrocity was just one game. It’s always troubling to get absolutely boat-raced, but hey, if a win is a win, then the same should be said for a loss.

Speaking of losses, tonight it’s Scott Feldman looking to stop the Rangers’ not-as-bad-as-it-seems losing streak. Feldman, all kidding aside, has won his last two starts after dropping six straight prior.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Chicago White Sox (43-37, L 10: 7-3)

Roy Oswalt...Ah, forget about it—Feldman Looks to Stop Rangers Skid

Beckham was the only ChiSox starter that didn’t record a hit last night.


CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Adam Dunn
1B Paul Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexi Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (2-6, 6.13 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)

Feldman hasn’t pitched too well at U.S. Cellular Field over his career. He’s surrendered a .304 BA, and aside from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, there are only two other stadiums where he has surrendered at least five home runs—Oakland Coliseum, and Rogers Centre (five HR in each.)

This season, RHB have hit him hard: .314/.341/.477 and LHB have gone: .268/.331/.429. Both lefties and righties have taken Scooter deep on four occasions thus far.

As a team, the White Sox bat .267 against the Hawaiian-born right-hander, and Paul Konerko (.353, 2 HRs, 6 RBI) as well as Alex Rios (.304, 2 HRs, 5 RBI) have had particular success against him.

During his current two-game winning streak, Feldman has posted a 4.91 ERA.

Texas Rangers (50-31, L 10: 6-4)

Roy Oswalt...Ah, forget about it—Feldman Looks to Stop Rangers Skid

Elvis knocked in the Rangers’ only runs last night with a two-run double.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
DH Nelson Cruz
RF David Murphy
C Mike Napoli
CF Leonys Martin*

*Craig Gentry gets the night off tonight.

VS

RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Axelrod has never pitched against the Texas Rangers and has yet to win his first game of the season.

The 26-year-old Santa Barbara, California native was originally a 30th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2007.

Tonight will mark just the tenth major league appearance for Axelrod, and just his seventh start.

Notes:

• During his six game losing streak, Feldman surrendered 29 hits over 25 2/3 innings. Oswalt has now given up 35 hits over 17 innings spanning just three games.

* Andrus’ two-run double last night not only kept the Rangers from being shutout for just the second time all season, but it also stretched his hitting streak t0 10 games.

• Since 1970, only five pitchers have allowed 13 hits in consecutive starts, with Livan Hernandez being the most recent in 2008, and HOF Bob Gibson being the most famous; he achieved this dubious distinction in 1970.

Go Rangers!

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Jul 032012
 
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Chris Sale vs. Roy Oswalt, a Rangers/White Sox PreviewAfter winning 7-of-10 during their recent home stand, the A.L. West-leading Texas Rangers arrived in the Windy City yesterday for a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the first-place club of the A.L. Central.

Unlike the Rangers, the White Sox have been quite a surprise this season. Less than a month ago, they lost their erstwhile ace—and former top Rangers’ prospect—John Danks, for the season due to a shoulder injury.

The A.L. Central is a weak division, but the ChiSox have taken advantage of said disparities thanks to a balanced team that is currently ranked eighth in the A.L. in batting average (.256), and sixth in team ERA (3.96).

The White Sox hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the resurgent Cleveland Indians and a 3 1/2 game lead over the severely underachieving Detroit Tigers.

Although coming off of a disappointing 3-1 loss last Sunday, the Rangers find themselves at 20 games over .500, good enough for the best record in Major League Baseball.

Roy Oswalt makes his third start for the Rangers and his first on the road this year. The White Sox counter with 23-year-old Chris Sale, a left-hander that has blossomed into one of the finest southpaws in the league.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Chicago White Sox (42-37, L 10: 6-4)

CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Adam Dunn
1B Paul Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexi Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

VS

RHP Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 8.5 K/9…15.6 H/9)

Oswalt most definitely loves pitching for the Texas Rangers. After giving up 22 hits over his first two starts—a career-high 13 last Wednesday against Detroit—Oswalt is 2-0 thanks to the potent Rangers offense.

I’m not concerned about The Wizard of Os, however. After all, without the benefit of Spring Training, we can’t reasonably expect Oswalt to be in top form any sooner than August at the earliest. Oswalt’s true value will be predicated by his potential impact come the postseason, should the Rangers make it into October for a third-straight season.

Regardless, like all Rangers’ fans, I want to watch him win now—and so far, so good on that front.

Over his 11-year career, Oswalt has gone 73-55 with a 3.45 ERA on the road. At Chicago’s US Cellular Field, the Os has a 2.57 ERA over his seven innings of work there.

Since his hits surrendered thus far are unbelievably high, and two starts is a teeny sample size, there’s no need to mention that right-handers are batting .414 off of him, and left-handers .370. Whoops

Let’s go with his career platoon splits, which are much less terrifying—LHB: .263/.309/.387, and .248/.296/.386 against RHB.

Texas Rangers (50-30, L 10: 7-3)

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mitch Moreland
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

VS

LHP Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.9 K/9)

Sale, a former 2010 first-round pick by the White Sox made his big league debut just two months after Chicago selected him with the thirteenth overall pick.

Used exclusively as a reliever prior to this season, Sale has been outstanding as a starter for the ChiSox over his 15 starts.

Sale’s home/road splits are equally intimidating. Sale is undefeated on the road (5-0, 2.85 ERA) and while his two losses on the year have come at US Cellular Field, his 1.69 ERA their is one of the finest in the league.

So sound has Sale been during the first half, that both left-handed and right-handed batters tend to return to their dugouts after uttering an ample amount of curse words to themselves.

Southpaws produce the slash line of: .184/.229/.255 with zero home runs. Right-handed hitters go: .204/.264/.318 with just five home runs.

As a team, the Texas Rangers are batting just .182 against him, but this will mark the first time they have faced him as a starter.

Notes:

• Way back in April, the Texas Rangers took two-of-three from the White Sox, with Joe Nathan blowing a lead and taking the “L” during their only loss. It will be interesting to see how Nathan handles Alex Rios this go-round—should the two faceoff once again.

• Chicago acquired third baseman Kevin Youkilis late last week from the Boston Red Sox. “The Youk” has never faced Roy Oswalt, but has a career slash line of: .319/.407/.524 against the Rangers over his career…

• White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, more famous for being a loudmouthed a-hole than for anything he’s ever done on the field, has a chance to apologize to Rangers skipper Ron Washington face-to-face, starting tonight.

Pierzynski made incredibly short-sided and overtly ignorant statements regarding his All-Star “snubbing” by Wash, the A.L.’s skipper for the second-straight season…I’m willing to bet Pierzynski will do nothing of the sort.

Go Rangers!

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