Aug 292012
 
Harri

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of RaysNot that the Texas Rangers are taking tonight’s series-ender lightly, but it is easy to look ahead to their upcoming road trip to Cleveland after Yu Darvish’s dominating performance last night. Nothing like a thrilling, 1-0 win against a very good A.L. East team to get the confidence levels soaring…

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineup, as the Rangers bid adieu to their postseason rivals.

Tampa Bay Rays (70-59)

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of Rays

Wait a minute, that’s not my cap…Longoria has raked against Harri over his career, with 7 RBI.


LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
SS Ben Zobrist
DH Evan Longoria
1B Jeff Keppinger
2B Ryan Roberts
3B Elliot Johnson
C Jose Molina
RF Sam Fuld

VS.

LHP Matt Harrison (15-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9)

Harrison has quietly and efficiently been the Rangers’ most reliable starter all season long. Simply put, the 6’4″ left-hander has continued to build on his success from a season ago and is paving the way to true “ace-dom.”

At home this season, Harrison has been sharp. He’s 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA. Although right-handers have touched him up with 11 home runs and a slash line of: .269/.328/.417, left-handers are practically out before they ever step into the batter’s box: .186/.216/.261 with just two long balls.

Harrison will be looking for a measure of atonement tonight as the Rays roughed him up in his only start against them this season. It was back on April 27, and Harri lasted just five innings and was blasted for 14 hits while surrendering six earned runs.

Texas Rangers (77-52)

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of Rays

Kinsler provided all of the offense the Rangers would need last night, thanks to his fourth inning solo home run.


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

VS.

RHP Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Cobb, a Boston, Massachusetts native, is coming off of the best start of his young career. Last week in Oakland, he pitched the first complete game as he blanked the Athletics with eight strikeouts while allowing just two hits and two walks over nine innings.

The 6′ 2″ right-hander was bombed in his previous start against the Angels, surrendering eight earned runs on a whopping 14 hits.

Tonight will be the first time that Cobb has faced the Rangers since last season. He’s 4-3 with a 5.26 ERA on the road and has held the Rangers to a triple-slash line of: .176/.263/.176 in his career.

Right-handers hit him to the tune of: .295/.337/.410 with three home runs, and left-handers go: .253/.319/.371, also with three home runs.

Ian Kinsler and the red-hot Adrian Beltre have had the most success against Cobb, as they have driven in two and have a combined batting average of .333.

Notes:

• This is the second straight start that Matt Harrison will throw to Luis Martinez. Ron Washington has shown a lot of faith in Martinez’s ability to call a quality game.

• Michael Young gets the start at second base for the first time since August 2, against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

• The A.L. West is currently the only division in Major League Baseball where all teams have a positive run differential. Thus, the argument can be made that it is the strongest division in baseball. This is just another way to celebrate the greatness that is the Texas Rangers.

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Aug 282012
 
Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...So, Roy Oswalt has cleared waivers. Did he pass like a ship in the night, or did he fall like a tree in an abandoned forest?

Does anyone care? Should we care?

You’d think the feeling of his passing would be a relief since his stay here in Arlington has been a tumultuous one, about as comfortable as a kidney stone.

There are some teams rumored to be interested in a trade for ‘ole Roy. Naturally, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the mix.

The Dodgers have become the MLB equivalent of your crazy grandmother. Yeah, the one with the $15K credit card limit that orders every magazine known to man, only to let each issue stack up throughout her house. Eventually, the unread magazines form false walls constructed from Cat Fancy and Redbook rather than plywood and drywall as Gam Gam’s house becomes a labyrinthine layer not even David Bowie would dare enter.

The Roy Oswalt saga can continue until this Friday at 11:00 PM (ET), when the trade deadline comes to an absolute close…in the meantime, on to more important matters.

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

Tampa Bay Rays (70-58)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

Jennings was 2-for-4 in last night’s game.


LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
RF Matt Joyce
3B Evan Longoria
SS Ben Zobrist
DH Luke Scott
1B Carlos Pena
2B Ryan Roberts
C Jose Lobaton

VS

RHP Yu Darvish (12-9, 4.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 4.9 BB/9)

Tonight marks the return of The Yu. Darvish is making his first start since August 17, as he was scratched from his last start due to a tight quad…or, perhaps, just because he felt sorry for Roy Oswalt and decided to let him start to boost his spirits.

In Darvish’s last start, he took the loss despite allowing just three hits, one walk, and three earned runs. He finished up striking out 10 over his seven innings of work.

The Tampa Bay Rays will pose a unique challenge for Darvish, as the Rays lead the American League in walks, with 451, trailing only the Atlanta Braves (454) for the major league lead.

Clearly, Darvish’s success is often predicated by how much he can control the strike zone (or find it with consistency.) If he walks too many Rays, it could be a long night and a short outing for The Yu.

However, on the flip side, the Rays tend to walk due to dire necessity. In other words, they take the free pass because they can do little else with a pitched ball. As a team, they are batting just .236. If Darvish’s stuff is present—as it usually is, he might be able to get the Rays to swing at offerings off of the plate. The key for him will be to attack the zone early and often.

This will be the first time that Darvish has faced the Tampa Bay Rays. At home this season, Darvish is 8-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Texas Rangers (76-52)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

Elvis has destroyed Shields in his career, posting a triple-slash line of: .571/.609/.857.


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

VS

RHP James Shields (12-7, 4.01 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9)

On the hill for the Rays tonight, it’s “Big Game James,” a nickname I’m fairly certain James Shields made up for himself. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but it’s just that most of Shields’ “big games” have come against the Texas Rangers, and they haven’t gone so well for him. Unless of course, his moniker means “Big Game” for the Texas Rangers’ bats…

Against Texas during the 2010 and 2011 American League Division, Shields is 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA with eight strikeouts. But, hey, in those two starts he didn’t walk anybody!

The Rangers have hit .257 against Shields over his career with eight home runs—six of which were hit by Kinsler, Young and Hamilton. Over his career, Shields is 3-2 with a 4.11 ERA at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (during the regular season.)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

“You have thirteen hours to solve the labyrinth…in the meantime, can you pass me that copy of Cat Fancy?”

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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 212012
 
Feldy!

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris TillmanLast night’s 5-1 Rangers’ win certainly felt far more comfortable than the four-run advantage would indicate.

Against quality right-hander Miguel Gonzalez—who pitched quite well save for the fourth inning—the offense did a great job of working the count and seeing their fair share of pitches.

And if Gonzalez was good, then Ryan Dempster was great. Heck even if Gonzalez was terrible, Dempster was still great.

It was easily his best performance as a Texas Ranger. Dempster, simply put, looked like an ace last night, and the type of pitcher that can fill-in for the injured Colby Lewis, and maybe, just maybe, take the ball in game one of a playoff series and shut the opposition down.

In other words, be the anti-C.J. Wilson.

Hey if two extra days off and a no-call, no-show to Toronto is what it takes for this version of Dempster to show up consistently, then see ya in seven days Dempy and please continue to curtail Canada…

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

Baltimore Orioles (66-56)

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris Tillman

Although he doesn’t “make it rain,” this Adam Jones doesn’t suck either. He went 2-for-4 last night, driving in the O’s only run.


RF Nick Markakis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam “Not Pacman” Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Chris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Omar Quintanilla
3B Manny Machado

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 6.2 K/9)

Over his last two starts, Feldman has somewhat returned to Earth. Prior to those back-to-back losses, Scooter was rolling on a six-game winning streak, and over the month of July was the Rangers’ best starter.

Seriously.

Think about it. If I had told you four months ago that the Rangers would sign Roy Oswalt, you might not believe me. And you would send me off to the nuthouse straightaway if I told you that Oswalt would not only be signed by Texas, but would be relegated to the bullpen because Scott Feldman swiped the starting spot right out from under him…

Over his last two games, Feldman has been victimized by one poor inning, or, in the case of his start against Detroit, one bad pitch. Still, though he hasn’t been that bad even in losing efforts. Over his last 10 games, the Hawaiian-born hurler has gone 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA, with 41 strikeouts up against just 8 walks—four of which he allowed in last week’s loss to the New York Yankees.

Texas Rangers (71-50)

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris Tillman

Murphy was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI in last night’s 5-1 win.


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

VS

RHP Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, K/9: 7.1)

Tilllman was a second round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2006 MLB amateur draft. He’s pitched in parts of the last four seasons after making his big league debut in 2009.

He’s having a fine season thus far, and at just 24 years of age, he could be a bright spot for the Orioles for years to come.

Tillman came over in the Erik Bedard trade with Adam “Not Pacman” Jones in what is beginning to look like an extremely Orioles-friendly—if not completely lopsided—trade.

The 6′ 5″ righty from Fountain Valley, California is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA on the road thus far in 2012. He’s tough on both right-handed batters (.239/.364/.457, 2 HR) as well as lefties (.250/.281/.398, 3 HR).

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Aug 202012
 
passport

Ryan Dempster vs. Miguel Gonzalez, a Rangers/Orioles Game 1 Preview
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After last week’s four-game set with the New York Yankees, the Rangers were in danger of losing ground to the second place Oakland Athletics. It didn’t look good heading into Canada, as the the Toronto Blue Jays had historically given Texas fits.

However, rather than punching the panic button (as fans tend to do), the Rangers returned triumphantly to Texas on the heels of an impressive series win against the always-a-pain-in-the-arse Blue Jays.

Tonight, recently un-restricted list luminary, Ryan Dempster, will make his first start since his most recent shellacking, last Monday in New York. I, for one, have never been too pumped about Dempster’s acquisition, but I’m glad it happened, and I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s shown.

Dempster’s bizarre no-show in Toronto has never really been explained, so it seems pretty obvious that Roy Oswalt pulled a few strings with the Canadian Mounties to bar Dempster’s arrival. C’mon, ‘ole Roy, that’s no way to treat your bestie.

Regardless, there’s nothing like another Melky Cabrera scandal to make Rangers’ rumors disappear.

I had no idea Cabrera was also a web design guru. His unique website—MelkyNoTakeNoPEDs.com—is not only a marvel of my own invention, it’s also still available for purchase.

Tonight’s Lineups:

Baltimore Orioles (66-55) L10: 6-4

Ryan Dempster vs. Miguel Gonzalez, a Rangers/Orioles Game 1 Preview

Chris Davis has a career-high 60 RBI (and counting). He’s also contributed 20 home runs to the potent Orioles lineup.


RF Nick Markakis
2B Robert Andino
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Weiters
DH Chris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
SS Omar Quintanilla
3B Manny Machado

VS

RHP Ryan Dempster (6-6, 3.12 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.3 K/9)

The mystery man himself, the “Canadian who no-showed in Canada,” takes the hill tonight with an extra few days of rest.

At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Dempster is 0-0 with a 15.45 ERA. It really can’t get much worse so I feel it will certainly get better. On the year, Dempster has surrendered 14 home runs, and right-handed batters go: .250/.298/.411, with 8 homers, whereas lefties look like this: .210/.266/.352 with 6 tickets taken to downtown dong city.

Texas Rangers (70-50) L10: 5-5

Ryan Dempster vs. Miguel Gonzalez, a Rangers/Orioles Game 1 Preview

Was yesterday’s 3-for-5 performance a harbinger for things to come for MY? Let’s hope so.


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

VS

RHP Miguel Gonzalez 5-2, 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 6.9 K/9)

Gonzalez, one of just 30 active big leaguers born in Mexico, is having a fine season, especially considering he had been released by both the Angels and Red Sox and had never pitched above Double-A prior to this season.

Away from Baltimore, Gonzalez has yet to lose. He’s 3-0 with a 2.34 ERA. It’s definitely worth noting that the 28-year-old Guadalajara native has never faced the Texas Rangers nor toed the rubber at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. RBIA is an extremely difficult place to pitch in, just ask Ryan Dempster.

Gonzalez has been somewhat prone to the long ball. He’s surrendered 10 total homers, five to left-handed batters and five to right-handers. Overall, he’s tough to hit for righties: .191/.269/.404, and is considerably more hittable against southpaws: .267/.345/.427.

Saving Face?

• Michael Young’s home run, his fourth on the year, was the first time he had gone deep in 89 games. That was way back on May 7, and is best remembered as the “Brandon Snyder 6 RBI game.” For what it’s worth, that game—an eventual 14-3 Rangers win—came against the Baltimore Orioles.

• Young’s 5 RBI were the most he’d had since April 25, 2010.

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