The 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)
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
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)
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
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.
• 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.