May 112012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsThe Colbra gives up 5 jacks…but strikes out 12!?!?

“When I came out of the game, I didn’t even feel like I had thrown,” Lewis said. “I felt like I had some of my best stuff all year. It was just a weird game. I don’t know how to justify that game.”

In one of the more puzzling starts of the 2012 season, by any Rangers starter for that matter, Colby Lewis was both dominant and weak, both baffling and predictable, both great and below average.  As he said, “It was just a weird game.”

Lewis got the loss in yesterday’s game, giving up 6 runs on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 12 over 7 innings of work.  The 12 strikeouts is a new career high for Lewis…as is the 5 home runs that he surrendered.   Colby gave up 3 consecutive home runs in the 1st inning, and 2 in the 7th…in between he managed to retire all 18 batters he faced.

“The first inning, you still have to keep your team in the game,” Lewis said. “Of course you want a clean inning, but if it doesn’t you still try to go as long as you can and keep your team in the game. You keep making pitches and not worry, eventually somebody was going to get out.”

We are all used to the mandatory home run that Colby gives up in each start, and while it can be frustrating from the fan’s perspective, we put up with it because he often allows that home run in the middle of a above average performance.  However, you could see the patience of the Rangers fan wearing very thin on Twitter during yesterday’s start.  With such a heralded group of pitching prospects and Feldman and Ogando looming in the bullpen just waiting for their opportunity to move back into the rotation, it’s easy to quickly call for a change…but Colby’s not going anywhere.

“He still kept us in the ballgame,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Five home runs, usually a lot of damage is done and you can’t come back from that. But we almost did.”

The Rangers bats gave it valiant effort in the 9th, down 6-2, when David Murphy hit a 3 run bomb off of O’s closer Jim Johnson, but couldn’t muster another run and fell just short.

Luckily, this was just the first game of a double header (due to Wednesday’s rain out) and the Rangers would have a chance for redemption in the night cap.

Baltimore glad to see Josh go…

Friday Morning KnuckleballsJosh got the tweeters tweeting early last night with a first inning 2-run shot off of Tommy Hunter, as many wondered if we might be in store for another historic night.  But that was all Josh had to offer, and it was all that was needed as the Rangers took the final game of the series in Baltimore, 7-3.  This gave the Rangers a series win after three consecutive series losses.

“I’m tired … hungry … it will be nice to get home,” Hamilton said. “You never know what will happen in this game, that’s why you play the games. I’m excited I had a good series, but the series is over. We can go back home and get ready for Anaheim. We’re ready to get home.”

Tommy “Big Game” Hunter may have summed it  up best…

“He hit a baseball,” Hunter said. “The dude is on fire. What do you want me to say? He is, he’s a freak.”

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

Hamilton’s home run was a big moment, but Mike Napoli’s first triple in over 2 years was key in the win, as was a very productive night at the plate by Elvis Andrus (2-3, 2 RBI, 2 R).  Beltre and Young also both contributed with a RBI a piece.

All  the offense was nice, given the defensive woes from the night, as the Rangers committed three errors…but hey, it’s the 10th game on the road.

The Dutch Oven  gave up three unearned runs in the 2nd inning, but bounced back and got the win. Holland pitched six innings, giving up the 3 unearned on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out five, moving his record to 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

It’s time…

The series we have all been waiting for…the game of the season…Yu Darvish (4-1, 2.54 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (4-1, 2.61 ERA).

For those of you going to the game, C.J. is prepared for boos:

“I think the biggest thing will just be that we’ll be playing in front of a huge crowd in a stadium that’s relatively hostile to our team — and I’m sure will be fairly hostile to me,” he said. “I think a lot of people will boo me and stuff.  The main objective is just focusing on the baseball aspect of it and preparing to get their guys out.”

Ian is downplaying it here, and you can’t blame him.  This is the perspective that players have to have.

“It will be fun, a chance to face somebody you know, but other than that it’s just another game,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

But fans don’t have to have that same perspective…to us, this is BIG.  I’ve heard the plan is to give him the silent treatment when he is announced.  I’ve also read plenty of tweets from fans that will be at the game saying they are going to boo the hell out of him.  Regardless what you do, make sure you put far more effort into cheering for Yu and chanting “NA-PO-LI” every time Nap comes to the plate.

The ESPN Baseball Tonight guys give a preview of the series here.

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

“It’s fun to play in front of packed houses and we’ve had that almost every game,” Michael Young said. “When our park gets going, it’s the loudest ballpark in the big leagues. I’ve played in the World Series twice and played in other parks. It’s the loudest. The Cardinals said the same thing to us last year in those games in Arlington. Lots of parks don’t seat 40,000 and we’ve got close to 50,000 and the just the way the ballpark is structured, it makes for a very loud place. We’ve been spoiled this year. We’ve had big crowds nearly every night. We feed off of it. We love it.”

I’m so pumped for this series.  I can honestly say that this feels like playoff baseball…

Quick Hits

  • One of the more bizarre story lines from yesterday’s double-header came in the second game when Robbie Ross was warming up in the bullpen…in the wrong colored uniform.  The Rangers were wearing their blue uniforms, but Robbie had on the road grays.
  • Angels catcher Chris Ianetta will be out tonight as he will undergo surgery on his right wrist today that will keep him out of action an estimated 6-8 weeks.  Everytime I hear or read the words “Angels” and “catcher” together I snicker and chant “NA-PO-LI” under my breath and give a silent shout-out to Frankie Francisco and the Blue Jays…
  • If you missed it last night, we are doing a Twitter Ticket Giveaway.  Be sure to check it out, follow us on Twitter and retweet one of our tweets about the giveaway and you’ll  be eligible…easy as that.  4 front row Lexus Club level seats for next Tuesday’s game!

Enough said…GAME ON!

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May 022012
 
The Texas Rangers Have Lost Consecutive Series—No need to panic

Sure, he gave up the game winner on Monday to Brett Lawrie, but hey, it's not like that was our finest game of the year or anything.

Last night, for what seemed like the first time in a decade, the Texas Rangers lost a baseball game on the very same day that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won.

Okay, technically, the Angels won during the wee hours of today. But hey, they won, and I’m sure they’re thrilled—it hasn’t happened that often this year.

Sure, we’re 0-2 after our first two Mayday May games. But not to worry, historically the Blue Jays have always been a tough matchup—we were 4-6 against them last year and 3-7 in 2010.

Plus, we knew Jose Bautista would heat up eventually. A-hole that he is.

It’s not all doom and gloom, Rangers fans—there are plenty of positives to be taken from the Rays/Jays-our-first-consecutive-series-losses-of-2012-thing.

Here are some thoughts from the last few games:

Craig Gentry has morphed into Josh Hamilton…

Craig Gentry is an absolute mad man. He’s faster than the mortgage bill when you’re broke and is only slowed by immovable cement structures.

He also has some pop.

That was a pretty sweet moment Monday night when Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry went back-to-back. But, for the love of God, Gentry, take it easy in the outfield man! It’s not spring training, you’re on the big league roster for crying out loud!

Seriously dude, the freaking outfield wall had to be taken out of the game…that’s how hard you hit it! Had Hamilton hit the wall that hard, we’d still be super-gluing the pieces back together (of both the wall and Hami)!

Ron Washington gets no respect, not even on his birthday

Okay, this one was messed up. On Sunday, Ron Washington celebrated his 60th birthday. There is no better way to celebrate getting a year older than at a Texas Rangers game.

Yes, even if they lose.

I’m sure Washington wasn’t expecting a gift from anyone. He definitely wasn’t expecting Old Dutch to wrap up the game with a pretty ribbon and hand it to the Rays.

But as is a theme for the Rangers this year, even during their losses they’re still just a break or two from winning. In the 5-2 loss, the Rangers left the bases loaded after a hard lineout from Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the ninth.

The Texas Rangers are 0-5 on Wash’s birthday—with a rainout—in his six seasons with the club.

At least Washington was able to enjoy his birthday cake a little early…he was ejected in the seventh inning by home plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing balls and strikes—replays showed that Wash was in the right.

The word “gay” used to mean happy

Yeah. Now “gay” is just a word that rhymes with teams we seem to have trouble with. What gives?

Are the Texas Rangers “homophonic?”

Yu Darvish is getting better while Albert Pujols continues to suck

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, so I’ll just make them up: Albert Pujols hasn’t hit a home run since he really was 32-years-old…in 2001…Craig Gentry has more homers than “The Poo”!

And Yu Darvish. Whoa boy! Don’t worry, I’ll speak of his greatness plenty in the future, but for now, let’s just enjoy the ride.

He’s gotten better every start—especially the last three—and the crazy thing is, the team’s he’s beaten have actually improved too! Sure, the Blue Jays aren’t quite as potent as the Tigers or Yankees, but if you need proof of how viable the crazy Canadians can be, just take a look at how our other starters fared against them this series…

Upcoming goodness to look forward to:

Koji versus old team

Here’s hoping that Koji can continue his recent string of not sucking too bad. Even better, maybe he’s turned the corner and is back to his pre-trade level, which was awesome.

Worst-case scenario, maybe we can swap him for Chris Davis or just duct tape him to an empty locker in Baltimore and “accidentally” leave him behind.

Mitch Moreland versus Chris Davis

Remember when Chris Davis was “Crush” and he was the Texas Rangers’ first baseman of the future?

Well, to jog your memory, Justin Smoak was still the hotshot prospect, and Mitch Moreland was a dude that the powers that be thought might have more value as a middle-reliever.

True story.

Hey speaking of Chris Davis, he’s been hitting the ball pretty well. Batting .333 with 5 home runs. It’s no secret that I have a huge man crush on Chris Davis, and, sadly, there is photographic proof:

The Texas Rangers Have Lost Consecutive Series—No need to panic

I hadn't been that nervous since Prom.

Anyways, it will be fun to watch how Davis hits against us and how Moreland does against the Orioles. For a franchise (Rangers) famous for creating excellent first baseman (and some not so good—cough—Jason Botts). Should be an entertaining head-to-head showdown.

Also of note, the Rangers’ right-handed bench bat, Brandon Snyder, was a former first round pick of the Baltimore Orioles. He’s also a first basemen that is versatile enough to play in the outfield, like Mitch…of course, Snyder was the only first rounder of the three, and he’s the only one not a starter; that’s the way baseball go…

Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson…?

Yeah, it could happen. If the Rangers’ rotation (as well as the Angels’) stays in the same order, on Friday May 11th, it would be Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Whoa. That’d be awesome! “The Young Buck vs. Mr. Playoff Suck”

Now, granted, it’s not a playoff game, so C.J. Wilson won’t be guaranteed to lose…Bing!

I’m intentionally overlooking the next series, with the Cleveland Indians

Yeah, the Cleveland Indians are the Rangers’ next opponent, right before the Orioles. I don’t know, the Indians don’t really scare me much. Maybe it’s because we’re 13-3 against them over the last two seasons combined.

Perhaps it’s because those poor suckers will have to face Yu Darvish.

Anyways, I’m looking past the Indians, in the same vane that we don’t even consider the Oakland Athletics or Seattle Mariners as serious threats, even though they are only 5, and 6 games, respectively, behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Because it’s always fun to say, the Angels are 8 games out of first place and in the cellar—right next to the rusty plumbing and high school yearbooks that you don’t look at, but are too sentimental to get rid of.

Final Diagnosis

Yeah, I know, we’re mired in a losing streak. It sucks. And even though it’s our first of the year, this team is so good it seems like we’ll win every single game.

Not possible.

We were outscored by the Jays 19-12, in the month. And yes, we’ve lost consecutive games on the road. But it’s no time to push the panic button.

Josh Hamilton will be coming back full-strength, as will Adrian Beltre.

We are going to be just fine.

The major tests have been passed—can we beat the playoff caliber teams? Absolutely. Can Yu Darvish harness his command? You’d better believe it…can we score runs without Beltre and Hamilton in our lineup? Affirmative.

Plus, the way Yu Darvish continues to improve every start, he’ll probably close out the month with consecutive perfect games.

And I believe that will be a record…and speaking of records, 17-8 ain’t so bad.

UPDATE!!! Jered Weaver just threw a no-hitter against the Twins! Yes, I checked, it does count even if thrown against Minnesota…Too bad they only gain a half game, huh? Pujols was 1-5, but I’m sure we already guessed that.

Peace out, and Go Rangers!

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Apr 302012
 

Rangers lose first series of season; Holland and Hamilton roughed up

Monday Morning FastballsIt couldn’t have set up any better last night for Ian Kinsler and all Rangers fans.  Down by 3, bases loaded with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, Kinsler approached the plate after being at the center of manager Ron Washington’s ejection from the game in the 7th inning.  As a Rangers fan, this is what you wanted…a chance at redemption…and a chance to get a win on Wash’s birthday for the first time since he took the reins.

But as the great and hated former MLB Commissioner, Bart Giamatti, once said “it breaks your heart…it is designed to break your heart.”  Maybe that’s a bit overly dramatic, given that we’re still in late April, but the ESPN guys last night said it best, “you’d think it was mid-October by the way these Texas fans are cheering”.  The Rangers lost 2 of 3 to a good team…a team that they have eliminated from the postseason in each of the past two years.

“At least the cake tasted pretty good,” Washington said. “That’s all right … we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Monday Morning Fastballs

Some video of Wash’s ejection.

Derek Holland’s record fell to 2-2 after taking the loss last night, with a 5.13 ERA over his first five starts.  He pitched 7 complete, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8.  Holland’s worst stretch last night came in the 2nd inning when gave up 3 runs to the Rays, which if you were watching seemed like limited damage given the way they were hitting the ball.  Mark Lowe and Scooter Feldman wrapped it up with a scoreless 8th and 9th.

“During the second inning, he misplaced some fastballs,” Washington said. “After that, he got a grip on that and had great secondary stuff. Just in that second inning, he got his fastball up. He’ll have to make an adjustment and we believe he will.”

“He’s going to be fine,” catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. “He’s getting behind in the count and his fastball command wasn’t there, especially tonight. His offspeed pitches were good. I’m not worried about it. He had some rough outings. He’s probably been the best pitcher we’ve had lately. He’ll be able to make adjustments.”

While Holland’s outing wasn’t inspiring, it wasn’t the biggest concern of the evening, as Josh Hamilton left the game after the 2nd inning with back stiffness.  He is currently listed as day-to-day, and expects to play tonight in Toronto.

Monday Morning Fastballs“I made contact and I hit the ball, and about the third or fourth step out of the box, I felt my mid-back spasm up on me,” Hamilton said. “I got to first and tried to stretch it out a little bit and it wouldn’t release. I came back in and stretched my back underneath, and then I went out there and realized I couldn’t really rotate like I wanted to. And I told Skip I couldn’t go.”

“I’m not worried about it because I didn’t feel anything alarming or anything like that,” Hamilton said. “It was just a little tight this morning, but nothing out of the ordinary. I just came in and got loosened up and it felt great.”

Hamilton may get a start at DH during the series with the Blue Jays, and then will benefit from a day off on Thursday before the team heads to Cleveland for three with the Indians.

Quick hits:

  • Yu Darvish (3-0, 2.42 ERA) takes the mound tonight against Doug Drabek’s son (2-1, 2.25 ERA) in Toronto.  Remember, it was the Blue Jays who were rumored to have won the negotiating rights with Yu in the days leading up to the announcement that the Rangers were the high bidder.

“It depends on the team,” Darvish said of his game-to-game adjustments. “Every team is different. The umpires are different, and the strike zone is different. It also depends on the ballpark. Every ballpark right now is a first time for me. I have to experience everything. I’m not just learning the players. I’m understanding the atmosphere and I’m able to control my emotions.”

  • Toronto is the first of three stops along a 10 game road trip that will also include Cleveland and Baltimore.
  • Josh Hamilton has a chance to take full claim of the club’s record for home runs in April tonight.  He is currently tied with four other players with 9 – one of which is Ian Kinsler who his 9 in April of 2007.
  • According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), over the past 20 years, the Rangers have not gone through an entire April without calling up at least one player from the Minor Leagues.

Happy Belated Birthday to Wash (yesterday – 60) & Happy Birthday to Willie Nelson (today – 79)

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Apr 242012
 

Tuesday Morning Sliders

On a night when the Rangers were on the national stage against the biggest empire in Major League Baseball, they fell short of victory.
On a night when many Rangers fans were fighting back tears of joy as one of the greatest Rangers of all-time announced his retirement, the evening didn’t end with victorious fireworks.

On a night when our starting pitching wasn’t dominant, and our hitting couldn’t rescue it….we still went to bed with the best record in the American League.

The Rangers fell 7-4 to the hated Yankees last night, on a night that will be remembered for the end and new beginning of Pudge Rodriguez more so than what happened on the field.  Derek Holland (2-1, 4.78 ERA) took the loss, giving up all 7 runs over 6 innings of work.  Josh hit his league leading 8th home run (solo shot) and my second favorite Craig got 2 RBI, but it wasn’t enough.

“I’m pretty upset with myself,” said Holland. “I didn’t battle as well as I usually have been before. The walks really killed me. I didn’t give my defense anything to play with.”

“It was poor execution,” Holland said. “I was trying to overthrow a little bit. It was a mental thing. I didn’t hit my spots. It was just one of those nights, I guess.”

  • The vote of confidence from Face:

“The thing with Derek is, one, he knows he’s really good, which is a great thing to have if you want to be an impact big leaguer,” Young said. “When you’re talking about him, knowing him, he’s already chomping at the bit for his next start. When he looks at this start, he’ll look at things he wants to get better at. He’ll make his really good adjustments, and he’ll be ready to roll in five days. We look forward to playing behind him.”

Pudge hits:

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersT.R. Sullivan recaps the Pudge retirement ceremony here with a short video clip of Pudge firing down to second base for the last time.
  • The ceremony was very well done…kudos to the Rangers organization for making this happen.
  • While it was a great opportunity to look back on one of the all-time great careers, one of the more exciting moments came when Nolan said said the Rangers are working on an agreement with Pudge to have him work with the organization in an undetermined capacity.
  • More to come on Pudge…

Quick hits:

  • Adrian Beltre may return to the lineup tonight after his MRI returned normal results yesterday.  Beltre has some mild inflammation of his hamstring and is currently listed as day-to-day.
  • Two former Nippon greats will face off tonight when Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.57 ERA) takes the mound against Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 5.00 ERA).  More details on the match-up here.
  • Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) wrote a good column on the progress that Darvish is making both on and off the field.

First pitch is 7:05 tonight.  Hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) if you wanna chat during the game.  We are postponing this week’s podcast due to conflicts with our schedules.  We’ll get one up as quickly as possible.

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Apr 182012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“The ball was carrying pretty good tonight.” – Josh Hamilton

At some point last night, I just laughed.  I wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox, but rather it was a joyful laugh…an emotion that could only come from pride in just how good this team is.  I just laughed….at how ridiculously talented this line-up is from top to bottom, even with it’s interchangeable parts.  I just laughed…as Colby settled in after giving up a first inning 2-run shot to Dustin Pedroia.  I just laughed…as Ranger Nation was in full force on Twitter, watching an offensive explosion in fellowship and celebrating with each run.  I couldn’t help myself…I just laughed.

If your reading this, more than likely you were watching that.  If not, just know that in game 11 of 162 in 2012, the Rangers looked like an All-Star team…on the road…against at quality opponent.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn our last podcast, Jasen and I talked about the depth of this team, and how you can have players like Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli slumping and it’s offset by players like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler surging (insert any of the core names in this scenario).  Last night, everyone was surging, and hopefully the surge will carry over through the remainder of this road trip (next stop Motown after wrapping short series with BoSox tonight) and beyond.

18 runs on 21 hits with 3 doubles and 6 home runs.  Every Rangers player that got an AB, got a hit with the exception of Alberto Gonzalez who came into the game for Kinsler, after Kins had gotten 5 ABs.  Boston Ace Jon Lester gave up 7 over 2 IP.  New acquired Red Sox relieve Mark Melancon gave up 6 without recording an out (an ERA killer!!).  Meanwhile, Colby Lewis gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 IP, while striking out 7 batters and making the Red Sox lineup look foolish on many occasions.   It was a slaughter.

It’s fun to watch and fun to rehash, but today is a new day, and the Rangers have to take care of business again tonight against that same Red Sox team they embarrassed last night.

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“I’m just finding holes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I’m getting there. My timing is still early. I’m getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.”

“I’m getting close,” Cruz said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and my timing is there.”

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Napoli said. “I have been in the cage trying to iron it out. It feels good to put some swings into it and barrel up the ball. I just want to do it for a full game.”

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are officially splitting up Holland and Harrison in the rotation.  The day off on Monday afforded them the opportunity to flip-flop Harrison and Darvish in the rotation and they are taking advantage of it.  According to Wash, it has more to do with Yu then splitting the lefties.

“We wanted to keep Darvish pitching on four days’ rest,” Washington said. “He pitched, what, once a week in Japan? We want him to get used to four days down and then pitching on the fifth day. It just so happens to split the left-handers.”

  • Moreland returned to the team last night in Boston after battling oral issues.

“I’m so much better. It was a rough few days,” Moreland said. “I probably got five hours sleep total in two days, but I feel 100 percent better. I slept great last night.”

  • The Rangers will have 3 of the first 53 picks in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.  The Rangers will have the 29th overall pick in the first round. They will also have two picks in the compensation round, including the 39th overall pick as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels and the 53rd pick for Darren Oliver signing with the Blue Jays.
  • Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) covers the draft order in more depth.
  • Michael Young left in the 8th inning last night with back stiffness.  It’s not expected to be serious.

“He’ll be fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was just a little stiff so we got him out of there. We had the lead there. He’ll be in there Wednesday.”

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Apr 172012
 

Podcast Episode 14: Rangers start strong & early season surprises!

The Rangers are 8 – 2…if you want to know why…listen to this podcast.

  • Early season observations
  • Top surprises from the first 10 games
  • Jasen’s day job…
  • Paying Josh

Jasen also threw down the gauntlet…let us hear from you!

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Apr 132012
 

There’s nothing like a Dutch Oven in the middle of the day!

Friday Morning Dutch Ovens

Derek Holland and Michael Young led the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners yesterday.  Holland pitched 7 1/3 innings (115 pitches), giving up 2 earned on 5 hits and no walks, while striking out 8.  Young accounted for 80% of the clubs RBI’s with 4, increasing his batting average on the young season to .321.

  • Young hit from the 2 hole, as Manager Ron Washington gave Elvis Andrus the day off.  Lot’s of banter on Twitter concerning Young’s position in the batting order, with the majority wanting to see MY10 permanently moved to the 2 hole.  I’m personally a fan of the lineup with Young batting 5th and Andrus batting 2nd.  This may be one where Jasen and I are split in our opinions, so instead of diving into here, we’ll save this topic for a podcast or future article.
  • Rangers starters now have a 2.42 ERA on the season, which is impressive, but keep in mind that 4 of the 7 games have been against the Mariners and all 7 games have been at home.  First road test kicks off today, and I’m hoping to see the strong performance continue.

“They are throwing early strikes, which is something that’s preached around here, and they aren’t giving in,” cather Mike Napoli said. “But more than that, the young guys are growing up. They’re not throwing out there. They’re pitching.”

“I wanted to stay consistent with both my fastball and off-speed pitches,” Holland said. “The big thing that Mike Maddux pitches to us is first-pitch strikes. If we go out there and throw our first-pitch strikes, go after hitters right away, it makes it a lot tougher for those hitters to react.”

“We’re trying to motivate each other,” Holland said. “We’re very happy with the way things have taken off. We’ve been doing our jobs. That’s to go out there and make sure we give our team a chance to win.”

  • Box Score Note – both Napoli & Cruz were hitless in the game, continuing their slow starts.  One of the beauties of this team is the depth across all facets of the roster.  They’ll come around eventually and when they do, more than likely someone else will slump a little.  The points is, one way or another, the Rangers are going to score runs because there are NO holes in their lineup.

Quick hits:

  • Friday Morning Dutch OvensMatt Harrison takes the mound tonight in Minnesota looking for win number 2.  The Twins will send Anthony Swarzak to the hill…who?
  • Harrison attributes his strong opener and recent success to working inside:

“Once you have some success against some guys in, it shows that you’re able to pitch inside,” Harrison said. “Whenever that happens you’re willing to do it more often. Once you start getting strikes in there, you start to open up the inner half. It’s a lot better for you when command both sides of the plate and keep the hitters more uncomfortable.”

  • Adams got the save in yesterday’s game, after Nathan pitched in back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Wash is sticking by closer Joe Nathan after lots of knee-jerk reactions from fans and media after Wednesday night’s blown save and loss.

“Two things can happen: You get off good, you get off bad,” Washington said. “We’re going to support Joe Nathan 100 percent. Once he recovers from workload last night, he’ll close. If he’s in position to close a second night, we’ll give him the ball.”

Looking for feedback:

We are contemplating kicking off the Baseball Do Forums in the next week or so and trying to gauge what the participation would be like.  Let us know what you think.  You can comment here on the site or hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (Baseball Do Facebook Page).

Not signed up for the Baseball Do Field Trip yet?  What’s the hold up?  Gonna be a great time of Rangers Fan Fellowship, great food & drink and Reckless Kelly!

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Apr 032012
 

We recorded our 2012 Season Preview podcast last night and will have it up on the site later today.

Tuesday Morning SlidersBold Prediction #2 – Elvis Andrus will be the starting short-stop for the 2012 American League All-Star team.

This builds on yesterday’s prediction of Ian Kinsler winning the 2012 AL MVP.  As I wrote yesterday, I think one of the keys for Kinsler is going to be the improvement of Andrus’ offensive performance in 2012 which would help provide Kinsler with more line-up protection – aka, can’t pitch around Kinsler if Elvis is hitting the ball well.  Elvis worked to build his upper body and core strength during the off-season and that, along with his experience, athleticism and advancing maturity and discipline a the plate are going to make him a threat in the 2-hole for the Rangers all season.

The best part about this prediction is that my fellow Rangers fans can help me make it come true by voting for Elvis when the voting commences this season.  No doubt the Yankees and Indians fans will vote in droves to try to get their short stop the starting role, but Elvis will prevail…and it won’t be because Rangers fans have stuffed the ballot boxes because Elvis is simply a Ranger.  It will be because Elvis has deserved and proven he is the top player at his position.

Nolan Ryan spoke with media yesterday before the Rangers and the AAA Round Rock Express played.  Ryan addressed a number of hot topics including the Angels, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.

“The Angels have stepped up and helped themselves,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a tough division for us. They are very competitive, and it will come down to who stays healthiest. They have real strong pitching, so we know we have our work cut out for us.  It should make it interesting. It should make it a good rivalry. I’m looking forward to it. I still think we have the best ballclub.”

When asked if the Rangers-Angels rivalry compares to the Red Sox-Yankees, Ryan said “Are we the West Coast version of it?  I don’t know. I don’t think a lot about it. Obviously, the fact that we’ve won the division the last two years and they felt like they had a lock on that. [Angels owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it.  It will be good for our division and baseball, and it’s going to stimulate more interest, obviously, with Pujols and C.J. over there.”

“[Center field is] where he wants to be,” Ryan said about Josh Hamilton. “It’s where he is happiest. It’s where his focus is. He’ll be fine there.”

“He has a good feel for pitching,” Ryan said about Yu Darvish. “He tried to make some adjustments. Each start he had he worked on things. I saw improvement. I thought that was a positive.  We don’t have any numbers we’re putting with him.  We think he’ll pitch in the rotation and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he’s at the point in his career where he’s accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings. Somewhere in that neighborhood, I think, would be the expectations.”

Quick hits:

  • Josh Hamilton hit his first homer of the Spring yesterday against Round Rock, blasting a 426 foot 2-run 3rd inning home run to center field.
  • Derek Holland started the game and threw 78 pitches, giving up a 2-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.  Holland felt good after the start, despite the long ball.

“I’m ready to go for sure, despite the home runs,” Holland said. “I thought everything was good. I left a couple of pitches up for strikes. That’s part of getting ready for the season.”

  • Matt Harrison pitches tonight at the Ballpark against Mexico City, 7:05pm first pitch.
  • The Rangers have rounded out their roster, sending Julio Borbon to AAA to start the season.  Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder and Craig Gentry all secured the final bench spots on the team.  Snyder gives the team a lot of flexibility as the 3rd catcher, 3rd baseman and corner outfielder.
  • Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will be starting for the Frisco Rough Riders to start the season.  Maybe the next Field Trip will be to Frisco to see these two budding stars.
  • 2012 opening MLB Power Rankings have the Rangers in 2nd.
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Mar 282012
 

2012 has begun!  The Athletics and Mariners are over in Japan wrapping up the season opener as I type this.  One note, the Rangers will be tied with the Angels for 2nd when this game completes.  Nice article by Jim Caples (ESPN) on Ichiro’s return to Japan.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsMike Napoli hit two home runs in yesterday’s Spring Training match-up with the Padres, which was won by the Rangers when Joey Butler (of Baseball Do podcast fame) scored from third on a wild pitch.

  • Ian Kinsler continues to tear through Spring Training, compiling 3 hits in the game, raising his Spring Training batting average to .422.  I’m calling it right now – Kinsler will not hit above .422 during the regular season.
  • Robbie Ross, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen with the Rangers, started the game and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk over 2 innings of work.

“I was up just a little bit,” Ross said. “I got behind on batter a few times. I hit my spots OK, but I think I could have attacked the guy that hit the home run better than I did. I kind of pitched around him and nit-picked a little bit.”

  • Ross made a nice defensive play, snagging a line drive hit back to the mound by Chris Denorfia.  Credit Greg Maddux with the nice glove work by the prospect.  After Ross just got out of the way of a similar line drive hit by Torii Hunter on Sunday, Maddux put Ross out on the mound and drilled 6 line drives back at him, making him field the ball rather than bail.

“He was hitting them at me, so this time I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what we worked on,’” Ross said. “It was kind of nice knowing I could stick in there with that.”

Wednesday Morning CurveballsNeftali Feliz got back on the mound for the first time since being pulled early from a game last week due to should stiffness.

  • Feliz gave up one earned run (three runs total) on six hits and one walk in four innings of work, striking out three.
  • He hit 96 MPH with his fastball in both of his final two innings of game.

“I felt good,” said Feliz through a translator. “Everything was OK. I wasn’t trying to throw hard, just trying to keep my pitches down.”

The Rangers are expected to announce their starting rotation very soon.  It’s known that Colby Lewis will start Opening Day and Neftali Feliz will take the 5th spot.  If the Rangers are truly wanting to split up their left-handers, as manager Ron Washington eluded to earlier this Spring, than the rotation should look like:

  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz

Quick Hits

  • Hold your breath…Elvis Andrus left yesterday’s game with a tight right hip flexor muscle.  The plan is to rest him today and get him back in the lineup tomorrow.  Wash isn’t concerned.  Exhale…
  • Joe Nathan pitched back-to-back days for the first time this Spring on Monday & Tuesday.  His outing yesterday, against the Royals AA team, was especially gratifying as he struck out 2 and got a ground out in a quick 11 pitch inning.
  • Nathan hiy 94 MPG with his fastball and said that his arm felt strong on Tuesday than it did on Monday.

“I had good building blocks yesterday and built on that,” Nathan said.

  • The Dutch Oven pitches tonight at the Royals and Alexi Ogando will pitch in a minor league game against the Dodgers in which is expected to go 6 innings.
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsT.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article on Adrian Beltre’s leadership role on the Rangers.  The article is filled with comments from his teammates and manager Ron Washington.

“It’s so easy on this team to be yourself and help others,” Beltre said. “There are not a lot of guys who get out of line. It makes it easy. I like to have fun. It helps me relax and enjoy the game. When I enjoy the game, I perform better. It’s tough to have fun when you’re losing. The good thing is this team wins a lot. It’s easier that way.”

  • Next week’s podcast will be our 2012 Season Preview Special.
  • We’re planning a giveaway in the near future for some Rangers tickets, so stay tuned.
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Mar 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 11   Big news for us and Dutch!  C.J. sucks!Jasen and I talk about:

  • Our new partnership with Patty Shack Burgers!
  • Derek Holland’s new contract
  • Neftali’s stiff shoulder
  • The closer role
  • C.J. Wilson’s failed attempt at a prank on Mike Napoli
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