It’s starting to sink in. At first, during the off-season following the club first World Series appearance, it seemed like a temporary strength of this team that would flee to Philadelphia with Cliff Lee. Then, throughout 2011, it seemed like the timing was just right and everyone was clicking at the same time. Now, it’s sinking it. Starting pitching is a true strength for this team, and will be for the foreseeable future based on the makeup of the current staff and the pipeline, both on the current roster (Ogando, Feldman, Ross) and in the minors (Perez, Ramirez, Buckel, Mendez, etc.).
“Starting pitching is, for sure,” Kinsler said when asked what was most gratifying about the Rangers current stretch. “The way they have been throwing has been outstanding. They have been keeping us in the game, 1-5, and the bullpen has been lights out.”
To put some numbers behind Kinsler’s statement, Rangers starters are now 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA over the first 13 games of the season. According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), “That’s the longest winning streak by an American League rotation to start the season since the Yankees’ starters won 16 straight decisions to open 2003.”
Yu Darvish took a big step last night in his performance on the road against a top tier offense, quieting the bats of the Detroit Tigers to the tune of 1 run on 2 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 5 over 6 1/3.
“He made another step forward,” Manager Ron Washington said. “It’s been that process since he got here and he did a great job tonight using all his pitches. He used his fastball well and threw his breaking ball in every count. I wish he had gotten through seven, but he did a great job. He really did.”
“He’s very good,” Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera said. “He mixed his pitches very good — fastball, breaking ball, slider. I think he threw a couple changeups today. He did a very good job to stop our offense today. Today, he was very good. I think he’s only going to get better.”
“I know that if I battle and keep the team close in the game, the offense is going to come through for me,” Darvish said. “The biggest improvement was the consistency of my command. I feel close to where I want to be. I think I threw more quality strikes tonight.”
The Rangers provided run support for Darvish right off the bat, jumping to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and adding support in the 2nd, 5th and 6th, before putting the game away with a 5 run 8th.
“Well, sometimes it just isn’t your day,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That pretty much sums it up. We just couldn’t stop them. When they hit it hard, it was a hit, when they didn’t hit it hard, it was a hit. It’s one of those nights. We just got beat up.”
3 more games to go in this series, so it’s far from over, but last night was a big step in more ways than one.
Oh yeah, the offense was once again ridiculous with Napoli hitting another bomb and Kinsler, Cruz and Young all accumulating 3 hits apiece. Let’s not take it for granted.
- Matt Harrison takes the mound tonight, looking to continue his hot start to the season (2-0, 0.64 ERA). He’ll face off with another young talented pitcher in Rick Porcello who has started strong (1-0, 1.84 ERA). First pitch – 6:05 Texas Time.
- Harrison has not faired well so far in his career against the Tigers, posting a 1-4 record with a 6+ ERA. This shouldn’t be too big of a concern considering that Harrison has matured into the pitcher that he is only recently.
- Moreland and Murphy will both be back in the line-up tonight against the right-handed Porcello. Murphy is 7-for-9 in his career with a home run against Porcello.
- Per Sullivan (MLB.com), “With two more wins this series, the Rangers would win their fifth straight series to start the season for just the second time in team history. The 1989 club — also the only other Rangers squad to start 11-2 — did so as well.”
- Pudge retires at the Ballpark on Monday before the game against the Yankees. We’ll have more on that over the weekend, and we’ll be recording our podcast immediately following the ceremony with lots of good discussion about one of the greatest Rangers ever.
Have a good weekend!