Jul 052012
 
Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox

Rangers Bats Fall Silent as White Sox Complete Windy City Sweep

Yu Darvish became the eighth member of the Texas Rangers to be included in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

The Texas Rangers succumbed to their first sweep of the season as they fell to the Chicago White Sox, 2-1 today.

It had been over a year since an opponent had busted out the brooms on the Rangers. The Windy City White Sox hadn’t swept Texas since 2001.

After combining for 21 runs during the initial game, the two teams combined for just 12 over the final two. With the White Sox outscoring the Rangers during those two contests 7-5.

Losing the opening game of a three game series by 17 runs probably didn’t set the best precedent. Much like Scott Feldman probably wasn’t Ranger Nation’s first choice to right the game one wrong.

The Rangers’ skid has now hit four games—a tie for the longest losing streak of the season. If ever there was a time to feel good about coming home, it’s now. Starting tomorrow—in the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington—Texas exchanges the A.L. Central’s top team (White Sox) for the Central’s bottom-dwellers (Twins).

Bring ‘em on.

Thoughts from the White Sox series:

You killed us, Youk

• As the Rangers’ new color commentator, Matt Hicks, astutely noted during today’s 2-1 loss: “Kevin Youkilis has only played three home games in Chicago, and the fans are ready to give him the keys to the city.”

Well, that’s what happens when you play like Youkilis did during that three game set at U.S. Cellular Field. Youk hit .462 with 2 HRs, 6 RBI and posted a .923 slugging percentage…over his career, the certifiable “Rangers killer” is batting .328 with 7 HRs, and 35 RBI.

Jose Quintana and Chris Sale

• 23-year-old left-handers appear to have the Texas Rangers’ number. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana combined for 15 1/3 innings of seven-hit baseball, with 12 punchouts and just two walks. The young southpaws surrendered two earned runs between them and only two free passes.

• Quintana, who lacks Sale’s plus-fastball, was particularly nasty against the Rangers. He used excellent command and nasty off-speed offerings to produce plenty of swings-and-misses. The young Colombian struck out 8 over his 8 innings of work.

Mike Napoli’s continued struggles

• Batting well against left-handed pitching was Napoli’s calling card prior to this season—his splits against lefties over his career (.276/.386/.534) is still solid, but Naps has struggled against southpaws so far in 2012: .160/.274/.321.

During his breakthrough 2011 campaign, Napoli was a left-hander’s worst nightmare, as he went: .319/.430/.619.

After getting banged-up by a home plate collision with the White Sox’s A.J. Pierzynski yesterday, it wasn’t a surprise that Washington elected to sit Napoli in favor of Brandon Snyder today.

Snyder, coming into today’s game, had hit left-handers extremely well: .364/..402/.667. Perhaps as a testament to just how outstanding Quintana was today, Snyder went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

The Yu is in!

• Earlier today it was announced that rookie right-hander, Yu Darvish, would be the eighth member of the Texas Rangers to land in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

The 83rd Annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium next Tuesday.

Up Next:

The Texas Rangers will host the Minnesota Twins for the final home stand before the All-Star Break.

Minnesota is currently in last place of the A.L. Central, 10 games behind the front-running Chicago White Sox. During their last matchup, the Rangers swept the Twins 3-0 in Minnesota’s Target Field.

LHP Martin Perez (1-0, 9.00 ERA) is set to make the second major league start of his career. Perez will oppose Minnesota’s LHP Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.40 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 (CT).

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Jul 042012
 
Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox

Hamilton Hits 26th, But Rangers Get Youked As They Fall to ChiSox 5 4 in 10

Ah whatever, he’s still regressing.

If there’s anything worse than getting curb-stomped, 19-2, it’s losing the next game 5-4, via an extra-inning walk-off.

Texas Rangers’ starter Scott Feldman survived a sordid second inning and kept the Rangers within striking distance Chicago over his six innings of work. Alas, Scooter was stuck with the no-decision as the Rangers’ bats became quiet after the third inning.

Cheer up, Rangers fans. It’s going to be all right.

Tomorrow is another day, America is still the best country in the world and losing streaks—especially meager three gamers—are always just one win away from extinction.

And, oh yes, the “Loss” (ha) Angeles Angels of Anaheim fell to the Tribe 12-3…that should rub some neosporin onto that extra-inning sting.

Thoughts on the 5-4 loss:

Rangers blew their Axelrod

• Yeah it’s not as sexual or horrifying—nor horrifyingly sexual—as it sounds. The Rangers had White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod on the brink of combustion after a three-run first inning. Yet they could muster just one more run off of him—Hamilton’s third-inning solo shot—and zero off of the ChiSox bevy of relievers.

From seeking an eighth to hoping for one

• The loss stops the Rangers’ bid for an eighth-straight series win. Now they’ll just try to get out of Chicago without getting swept.

3-2, 9-9

• Texas is now 3-2 in extra inning games this year, and is playing .500 ball during one run games.

The Face can now regain eye contact

• Mired in an 0-for-13 slump, Michael Young had a big night last night, as he went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI.

His biggest hit came in the first inning off of Axelrod, with two outs. It was a vintage MY rifle shot into the left-field gap. Certainly a good sign for a man having a rough go of 2012.

3-4-5 doing it right

• The Rangers’ 3-4-5 hitters—Hamilton, Beltre, and Young—were 6-for-14 (.429) with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored.

Mini-streak has left the building…

• After, quite literally, supplying ALL of the offense during that 19-2 shellacking, Elvis Andrus’ modest 10-game hitting streak came to a close as the All-Star shortstop finished 0-for-5.

Less than the loneliest number

• Robbie Ross was once again fantastic in relief. Called on in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out and the go-ahead run aboard, the 23-year-old left-hander induced a groundout from Alejandro De Aza for the second out. After an intentional walk of Kevin Youkilis, Ross squelched the White Sox rally as he retired slugger Adam Dunn with a strikeout looking.

Then in the eighth inning it was business as usual for Ross, as he sent the heart of the White Sox order down 1-2-3. Ross’ ERA is now less than one on the season (0.99).

The best and worst of Mike Adams

• Mike Adams came on in the ninth inning and made quick work of the White Sox, producing a very Robbie Ross-like 1-2-3 inning.

• The tenth inning didn’t go so well for the eighth inning specialist from Sinton, Texas. After getting ahead in the count against Alejandro De Aza—and apparently almost killing him as he fouled a pitch off of his leg—Adams walked him on a full count.

De Aza quickly stole second base—thanks to Adams’ blink-and-you-won’t-miss-it delivery—enabling Youkilis to record a walk-off win via a single.

Vote for the Yu! And then, vote for anyone besides David Freese

• As of this writing, Yu Darvish leads the balloting for the final American League All-Star spot. Also, David “it’ll always be too soon to talk about” Freese is leading the N.L. ballot…Let’s get Yu in and keep Freese out? What do you say?

Up Next:

LHP Matt Harrison (11-3, 3.17 ERA) will try to become just the second Texas Ranger to record his twelfth win before the All-Star Break. Fellow LHP Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19 ERA) toes the rubber for the ChiSox. The first pitch of the final game of this three game set is scheduled for 1:05 (CT).

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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
 
Oswalt-sharp-in-first-start-of-the-season-GQ1NTKTC-x-large

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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