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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Jul 012012
 
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Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of OaklandAs those in attendance of Baseball Do’s inaugural field trip witnessed first-hand, the Texas Rangers ripped the Oakland Athletics last night, 7-2, to secure their seventh-straight series win.

Tonight, the Rangers wrap up their four game series against Oakland with a chance to sweep while simultaneously pushing their current five-game winning streak to six.

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

Oakland Athletics (37-42)

Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of Oakland

Perhaps powered by his ridiculously thick eyebrows, Cespedes continues to rake against Texas.


DH Coco Crisp
2B Jemile Weeks
RF Josh Red-Dick
CF Yoenis Cespedes
LF Seth Smith
C Derek Norris
1B Brandon Moss
3B Brandon Inge
SS Cliff Pennington

VS

RHP Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 10 K/9)

Currently, the Texas Rangers have seven players going to Kansas City next week to participate in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Darvish, regardless of his utterings to the contrary, has put up numbers that are All-Star worthy.

In his last start, he reached a milestone of sorts, as he issued the fewest walks (1) that he has ever surrendered over his 15 big league starts. That solitary free pass, coupled with his 10 strikeouts over seven innings of work were enough for the 6’5” Osaka, Japan native to record his tenth win of the year.

A win tonight against Oakland and The Yu would be tied with All-Star bound Matt Harrison for the team lead with 11.

For Darvish, the Athletics are a team he is quite familiar with. For the first time in his young career, Darvish will challenge a team for the third time. The Yu’ s results have been mixed as he won at home against Oakland in May, going 7 2/3 innings and striking out 7, and took the loss against the A’s early last month.

That loss was the worst start of Darvish’s brief major league career.

He lasted just 5 1/3 innings, put up the rather devilish line of 6 hits, 6 earned runs and 6 walks, and only managed four strikeouts.

Perhaps a tad of revenge—coupled with his success at home—will be the recipe Darvish needs to win his fourth-straight start.

Undefeated in Arlington (7-0, 3.45 ERA), and extremely tough on right-handed hitters (.187/.317/.328),The Yu is certainly capable of subduing an Oakland offense that has already been considerably cooled during the series’ first three games.

Overall, the Athletics are batting .296, with 7 RBI against The Yu. Coco Crisp has been particularly effective against Darvish, batting .667 with one homer and four RBI.

Texas Rangers (50-29)

Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of Oakland

After going 0-for-7 during the first two games of the A’s series, Beltre ripped a game-tying homer during last night’s 7-2 win.


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

VS
LHP Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5.7 K/9

Australian-born Travis Blackley, sadly, doesn’t pitch submarine-style, so there is no point in my stating that he comes from Down Under, just like his fastball.

You can’t win ‘em all.

Tonight will mark the second time this season that Blackley has dared oppose the mighty Texas Rangers. In his last start, in Oakland, Blackley was Oakland’s lone loser of that three-game stand. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering seven hits, five earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts.

Blackley has yet to record a win away from Oakland this year, and over his last 10 starts he’s factored in to only three decisions, two of which he lost.

His platoon splits are quite similar, as left-handed batters produce a slash line of: .229/.224/.282 with zero home runs. Right-handed batters go: .238/.299/.361 with just one big fly off of the left-hander.

Ian Kinsler and Michael Young have had a good deal of success against Blackley, with Kinsler batting .333 with 2 RBI, and Young notching a triple and a double off the Melbourne, Australia native.

It’s worth noting that Blackley’s pick-off move is one of the finest in the American League, as he has successfully picked off four base runners, to tie him with Toronto’s Ricky Romero for the A.L. lead.

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Jun 252012
 

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

The Rangers are now finished with their summer fling—aka the N.L. West.

Much like that wonderful summer camp fling, interleague play has come to a close.

Yes, the National League—as well as that young lady that believed you were “All-State in two different states”—will be greatly missed.

The Texas Rangers went 14-4 against the National League this year—a success rate (77%) that wouldn’t be believed even during beer-fueled boasts around the campfire.

Granted, the N.L.—especially the N.L. West—didn’t present the toughest of challenges, but hey, for every girl that gives you the cold shoulder, there’s always that naïve new girl—usually from Beaumont—that buys your BS.

So let’s not denigrate the Rangers’ accomplishments against inferior foes. Hey, they’ve won 12 of 15 as well as 8 of their last 10—so who cares if the contestants speak with a stammer or make their own clothes?

You’ve still got to win, baby.

Tonight the Rangers will have to raise their game—having a car isn’t enough to make the ladies swoon anymore, and plating four runs won’t do it against the A.L.—with the Detroit Tigers landing in Arlington for a three-game series.

Regardless of their standings (third in the A.L. Central), the Tigers represent the toughest lineup the Rangers have faced in quite some time. It will be fun to see if the team with the best record in the bigs—the Rangers!—can continue their dominance against non-N.L. foes.

Tonight’s Lineup:

Detroit Tigers (35-37)

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

Miggy mashes Texas: .379/.415/.568 with 8 HRs.


CF Austin Jackson
LF Quintin Berry
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
DH Delmon Young
RF Brennan Boesch
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Ramon Santiago
C Gerald Laird

VS

RHP Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.5 K/9)

Grimm made his major league debut in his last start, and pitched well despite getting into trouble almost immediately, surrendering a first inning home run to Houston’s shortstop, Jed Lawrie.

Grimm ducked and dodged danger effectively, allowing three runs on six hits with zero walks and seven strikeouts over his six innings of work.

A very solid debut, no doubt.

Tonight he’ll have his work cutout for him as he looks to subdue a Tigers offense that is MUCH stronger than the Houston Astros’. Detroit has the seventh-best offense in MLB: .262/.327/.408.

Grimm—in the ultimate example of a small sample, one game—dominated right-handed batters: .167/.167/.333. On the flip-side, southpaws mauled him: .364/.364/..727 with one home run (Lawrie).

This will be the first time Grimm will face an American League team during his brief big league career.

Texas Rangers (45-28)

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

Murphy has been stellar against Detroit: .310/.347/.483 with 3 HRs over his career.


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

VS

RHP Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 5.9 K/9)

Porcello has had a rough go of it since finishing third in the Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2009. Since that promising rookie campaign that saw Porcello go 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA, he’s gone 24-21 with a 4.83 ERA (excluding his 2012 numbers).

It’s safe to say that the opposition has figured him out.

And if any team has mastered Porcello, it is the Texas Rangers. On April 21, of this year, the Rangers absolutely crushed the 6’5” right-hander.

How bad was it?

Well, let’s just say he wasn’t just manhandled, he was “Feld-manhandled
Porcello lasted one inning, surrendering nine runs (eight earned) while allowing 10 hits and one home run. He did, somehow, manage one strikeout with one free pass sprinkled in for good measure.

The Texas Rangers own a .377 batting average against Porcello. In terms of splits this year, Porcello has been remarkably mediocre whether it be at home (2-3, 4.70 ERA), on the road (2-2, 5.29 ERA); against left-handed batters (.330/.375/.511, 5 HRs) or right-handed batters (.308/.349/.442, 3 HRs).

David Murphy (.800, 2 RBI), Ian Kinsler (.667, 5 RBI) and Michael Young (.500, 6 RBI) will be particularly pleased to see Porcello this evening.

Prediction time:

I think the Rangers will pound on Porcello once again. As is usually the case with my predictions, I could be as wrong as skinny pants and hipsters, so I offer no guarantees on my often misguided attempts at clairvoyance.

Regardless:

Rangers roll 9-3 as Grimm picks up his second win in as many chances and Josh Hamilton goes yard for the first time since June 8, and not one damn summer camp ex-girlfriend follows me back on Twitter.

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