Aug 102012
 
Feldmania copy copy

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?Although the thermometer hasn’t gotten much relief, August has been much kinder to the Texas Rangers than July. So far, Texas is 6-2—just three wins shy of last month’s total—and they have been averaging the most runs scored in the American League (tied with the San Francisco Giants for most in Major League Baseball with 59).

And as the calendar pushes closer to the end of the regular season, the Rangers’ bats have been heating up at the best possible time.

What better way to gear up for the stretch-run, and its inherent playoff-implications, than in a rematch of last year’s American League Championship Series?

Tonight’s Lineups:

Detroit Tigers (60-52) L10: 6-4

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?

Prince Fielder has never faced Scott Feldman before.


CF Austin Jackson
LF Andy Dirks
3B Miguel Cabrera*
1B Prince Fielder
RF Brennan Boesch
DH Delmon Young
C Alex Avila
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Omar Infante

*Over the last five years, Cabrera is batting .700 with two home runs off of Feldman.

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9)

Since the All-Star Break, Feldman has easily been the Rangers’ best starter, going 3-0 with a remarkable 1.19 earned run average. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, the Hawaiian-born righty was 0-6 with an ERA north of seven less than two months ago.

Consider this: Feldman’s three wins during the dreadful month of July were 33% of the team’s total wins. Whoa boy.

Over his last five years, Feldman is 0-2 with a god-awful 8.68 ERA and equally unsightly 2.42 WHIP. However, those numbers exclude the postseason, and Feldman was the Game 2 winner of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. He pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief while striking out 5 and walking none.

At home, Scooter is at his best as he is 4-3 with a sparkling 2.81 ERA. Right-handed batters are batting .287 with 4 homers off of him, while lefties are hitting .252 with 5 long balls.

Texas Rangers (65-45) L10: 6-4

Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?

Hamilton has been showing signs of life lately. Over his last two games, he’s gone 5-for-9 with 5 RBI.


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

VS

RHP Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72, 1.41 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)

It truly isn’t a stretch to state that Scherzer might just have better pure “stuff” than his fellow teammate and last year’s A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander.

Like the Rangers’ Yu Darvish, what’s keeping Scherzer from being an elite TORP (top of the rotation pitcher), is his lack of command.

All you need to know about Scherzer’s arsenal can be gleaned from taking a peek at his strikeout per nine innings rate. 11.3! That’s absolutely ludicrous. That would be high for an elite closer. Again, like Darvish, sometimes the sheer electricity of his offerings makes them hard to control, and his walk totals reflect that…the end result of that is he’s behind in the count and forces a pitch into the zone for a strike, and then gets thwacked. In that aforementioned scenario, Scherzer is like Holland minus the ADD.

In his career against Texas, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. This does not take into consideration his 0-1 record and 9.27 ERA after his ALCS Game 2 thrashing that came largely at the hands of Nelson Cruz.

Scherzer has been slightly better at home (4-2, 4.42) than on the road (6-4, 4.94) and has gone 2-1 with a 4.75 ERA since the All-Star Break of a month ago. Scherzer is susceptible to the long ball from both right-handers and left-handers, as each side has 10 against him in 2012. Righties (.219) fair far worse overall than lefties (.307) against his excellent stuff that features a mid-to-high 90s heater.

As we all know, the Rangers are a fastball-hitting team that sometimes struggles with junk-ballers. Scherzer is certainly a hard-thrower and should he struggle with his control, Texas might just jump on him early.

Go Rangers!


Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview: Can Detroit and Scherzer Halt Scooter mania?
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Aug 092012
 
JUAN GONZALEZ RANGERS

Texas Rangers Ready for Three Game Homestand with Detroit TigersAfter taking two-of-three from the Boston Red Sox, claiming their second-straight series win, the Texas Rangers are now back home in Arlington enjoying an off-day.

As the A.L. West’s leaders by 5 1/2 over those pesky A’s of Oakland, and with a sparkling 65-45 record through their first 110 games, they have earned a much needed respite.

That being said, a day without a Texas Rangers game is similar to a summer day that doesn’t reach triple digits—it’s probably best for all parties involved—but it just doesn’t seem quite right.

So, what to do with a full day of zero Rangers baseball?

I decided to pass the time by conjuring up Texas Rangers moments of the past. Good ones, of course. You know how it goes, you spend the day digging up all the bad moments, and the next thing you know you’re sporting a vagrant-length beard, babbling about John Burkett, the GD Yankees, and C.J. Wilson—smelling so sour with bitter tears that you’re dog won’t even give you a sniff.

So, here’s a look at today in Rangers’ history as well as how the Rangers fared 110 games into the season during their playoff-run years.

Enjoy.

August 9, in Rangers’ years past

August 9, 1996:

• Texas’ Bobby Witt improved to 11-8 on the season as he out-dueled Toronto’s Paul Quantril, 5-4 in Toronto. Rangers’ closer, Mike Henneman, picked up his 24th save of the season.

The win improved the Rangers to 64-52 on the season and pushed their A.L. West lead to three games over the Seattle Mariners.

The ’96 Rangers would close out the season by going 26-20 en route to their first-ever playoff appearance.

Through their first 110 games: 61-49

August 9, 1998:

• Boston’s Jim Corsi beat the Rangers’ Todd Stottlemyre 14-8, as Stottlemyre dropped to 10-10 on the year. The Rangers’ A.L. West lead shrank to just two games as their record fell to 63-53.

The Rangers would finish out their ’98 campaign by going 24-22 on their way to their second A.L. West Division crown in the last three years.

Through their first 110 games: 59-51

August 9, 1999

Texas Rangers Ready for Three Game Homestand with Detroit Tigers

Yep. This man was one of our best pitchers in 1999. Good thing we hit eleventy-billion home runs, eh?


• The Toronto Blue Jays bludgeoned the Rangers at The Ballpark, 19-4. Perhaps the only saving grace was that the loss was witnessed by only 22,235 in attendance. That number seems small nowadays, but that’s quite a few people to witness a team that had only won one playoff game in their 27 years up to that point. Plus, it’s hot in August.

The lopsided loss dropped Mike Morgan’s record to 12-7 as the Blue Jays’ Joey Hamilton (5-6) earned the win. The Rangers record dropped to 66-45 but they still had a nice 6 1/2 game lead over the Oakland A’s. Billy Beane was just getting settled in as General Manager, as ’99 marked just his second full season at the helm.

The Rangers finished out the ’99 campaign by going 29-22, to finish at 95-67. The mark stood as their finest season until last year’s team went 96-66 on their way to a second-consecutive A.L. Pennant.

Through their first 110 games: 66-44

August 9, 2010:

Yes, hard to believe that the Rangers (as well as their playoff-starved fanbase) would have to wait 11 long years to put a halt to their nine-game playoff losing streak. The 2010 season, of course, would prove to be well worth the wait.

• Much like today, the Texas Rangers had the day off on Monday, August 9, 2010. Though idle, the Rangers held a 7 1/2 game advantage over the second-placed Oakland Athletics on this date.

Through their first 110 games: : 64-46

August 9, 2011:

• The Rangers improved to 66-51 on this date last season, the 7-6 walk-off win over the Mariners came at a crucial time in the season, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were just 1 1/2 games behind Texas in the standings…I’m sure few of us would have believed that last season we’d win the A.L. West by 10 games.

Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz (2-3) earned the victory, thanks to Josh Hamilton’s walk-off single that scored Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the ninth. Hamilton’s heroics came with two-on and no one out off of Mariner’s reliever Aaron Laffey.

Through their first 110 games: : 61-49

Up Next:

Rangers’ right-hander Scott Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA) looks to continue his Scooter-fied magic as he opposes Detroit’s heterochromatic-hurler, righty Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (CST).

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Aug 032012
 
Hamilton copy

Cliff Lee Claimed on Waivers, Josh Hamilton Feels Big Gs Wrath and Derek Jeters Sex ChangeWhat a fabulous day in the wonderful world of Major League Baseball!

Some of today’s hottest stories read more like something from a trashy celebrity gossip column than an awesome baseball-centric website.

Well, who are we at Baseball Do to let the tabloid rags have all the fun (and pageviews)?

Vengeful fist of Old Testament “G” dishes out punishment on Josh Hamilton

• Josh Hamilton has always been the number one priority to the big “G,” everyone’s favorite benevolently bearded head-honcho of Heaven.

This of course is not exactly breaking news. Because, let’s face it, who cares about war, fathom, death or really expensive gas prices when Hamilton isn’t happy?

Well, just like a top mob boss, once you make a deal with the big “G” you’d better darn well hold up your end of the bargain…

Hamilton, after setting the world on fire in April and May (metaphorically, of course), quickly morphed into the worst player in the history of Major League Baseball in June and July (chart, below).

Cliff Lee Claimed on Waivers, Josh Hamilton Feels Big Gs Wrath and Derek Jeters Sex Change

And now, finally, we know the reason why: The Wrath of the Big G.

Now why in the “h,” “e,” “double hockey stick,” had we not figured out the reason until now? The answer to his suck-factor was smack-dab under our sniffers the whole time! Much like the sweet, sweet scent of Skoal.

Evidently, Hamilton made a pact to stop the lip service, only to later give in to the evil clutches of the un-saintly snuff stuff once again.

Oh, the horrors! Truly, hell hath no fury like a plummeting OPS.

Here’s hoping that Hamilton can come to some kind of mutually beneficial agreement with the big G, because as it worked out, Hami’s punishment ended up being harsh only on his fans. What in the Hades? We were the ones that had to suffer through his nicotine-free bouts of inexplicable suckage.

Cliff Lee Claimed on Waivers, Josh Hamilton Feels Big Gs Wrath and Derek Jeters Sex Change

“Me dang it. I knew I should have gone with the 7 1/4″ hat. I have thick hair though, y’know? Now I’m out $36.99. There is no ‘diety discount’ at Lids, friends, I’ll tell you that right now.”


New York Yankees’ Captain, Derek Jeter to undergo sex change

• It’s a well known fact that shortstop Derek Jeter has lost his fair share of range over the years. Now, it’s become apparent that the Captain is willing to lose far more than that…

Derek Jeter, per numerous reports, as well as good old fashioned common sense, is all set to undergo the necessary surgery needed for him to finally flee the vestige of the fairer sex.

Yep, Derek Jeter is going to become a man, man.

Concerned for El Capitan? Well, you should be, as this surgery is hardcore. Yeah, gone are the day’s where all it took to go from chick to dude was a little duct tape and a cadaver’s hooded hero.

Asked about what he is most excited about once the sex change is complete, Mr. 3000 said that “Being able to urinate while standing up,” is the most alluring ability but that “picking out towels for aesthetics rather than function, as well as selecting cute shell-shaped soaps due to their sweet smells rather than cleaning properties…” will be sorely missed.

No press release has been issued by the Yankees in regards to Jeter, who most likely, was (pre-surgery) Major League Baseball’s first female ball player.

Once his considerable stitches have finally heeled, it is unknown whether or not Jeter will boycott Chick-Fil-A, since they frown upon the consumption of fried chicken between same-sex partners, and now his formerly heterosexual relationship will become a homosexual one.

Jeter’s longtime beau, Alex Rodriguez, was unavailable for comment, but sources say he’s probably pissed off, as he could live off the Original Chicken Sandwich (no pickle.)

Cliff Lee placed on waivers

• Former Philadelphia Phillies second-string ace, and decent left-hander, Clifton Phifer Lee, had been placed on the waiver wire, making him eligible to be claimed by any of nine different teams. This no-trade clause was inked in blood after he nipped a vein and signed his elventy-billion dollar contract prior to the 2011 Major League Baseball season.

No team put in a claim on Lee, but one team’s leader—name of Derek Jeter—has snatched up the the former resident of Benton, Arkansas.

Jeter, still recovering in his ginormous mansion while allowing his recently acquired bald-headed yogurt slinger (with matching knackers) to heal properly, was quoted as saying that Cliff Lee will be put to work immediately, and will function mainly as his third-string “pool boy,” but will also “take care of things around the house that I don’t want to anymore.”

When pressed for more information as to what these mundane tasks might entail, Jeter stated that: “I ruined my decorative soaps by using them to clean my hands after working all day on my hot rod. Then, I destroyed my lovely show-towels—the ones with Alex’s beautiful face with the minotaur body—by drying off my hands!”

An audible sigh was heard in the background from superstar third baseman (and Jeter’s chief boy toy) Alex Rodriguez. As it turns out, A-Rod was particularly melancholy because he hates it when Jeter refers to him as “hot rod,” even more so in public. He was also a little miffed about the minotaur hand towels too.

“So anyways, Cliffy Poo can run to the Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up some supplies, and then just slap me silly if I try to use them again,” Jeter said with a wink in my general direction.

When asked if he would travel with his newly acquired man-servant to the local Bed, Bath and Beyond, his normally jovial mood headed south in a hurry.

Jeter stomped his foot—almost ruining his $200,000 Borgezie Stillettos. His face became drawn as his eyes narrowed. His right hand extended in a limp-wristed finger wag, first to the heavens, and then to my chest.

“NO! No, no, no! I will NOT go to the three bees with Phifer Lee! That is HIS job! Be.
(stiletto stomp) Sides. (stiletto stomp) They don’t let real men shop there anyways.”

It was a chilling moment, and one that will live with me forever. I’m going to keep my complementary minotaur towel. Yeah, that’s right complEmentary. It goes well with my free Chick-Fil-A sandwich coupon.

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Jul 182012
 
Roy

Coming into last night’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics had been on a roll. Their offense had finally started to support one of the league’s most underrated—and unheard of—pitching staffs.

But then along came Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt’s previous four starts had ranged from decent to terrible. Last night was easily his best start as a Texas Ranger. Oswalt’s dominant effort quieted the A’s offense, with Adrian Beltre and Craig Gentry combining to solve the riddle of the Athletics’ Colon.

Um, Bartolo that is. On a side note, the Athletics should have that checked at least once a year or so. It’s better safe than sorry when you’re talking about something as important as your Colon.

My thoughts from last night’s 6-1

That a boy, Roy

That was a nice start from Mr. Os. 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, with six strikeouts and zero walks. A few more starts like that and Neftali Feliz will most certainly end up in the bullpen.

Mike Adams, indigestion inducer

When Adams is on the hill, I tend to pop Rolaids like C.C. Sabathia does Oreos—by the sleeve.

Adams had Jemile Weeks down 0-2, with one out…then plunks him. Next thing you know the bases are loaded and Rangers killer Yoenis Cespedes is up. Somehow Adams got out of the inning unscathed.

But c’mon, this guy wants to close? I’m fine with that, as long as it’s for a different team.

Adrian Beltre

Beltre’s fourth inning solo shot represented the point in time when I first realized the Rangers were about to defeat the rotund right-hander, Colon.

All kidding aside, it was nice to see the Rangers have some success against Bartolo Colon. Remember that the last time Texas took on Colon in Oakland, he shut them down and did it in about two hours…no easy task.

Gentry not so Gentlemanly while in Oakland

Craig Gentry is now batting .550 (11-for-20) with 5 RBI off of Oakland Athletics’ pitching this season.

That’s downright uncivilized, good sir (or madam).

This is the equivalent of obliging a fellow gent’s request to a duel, only to shove a grenade down his pants and run like hell—all the way to the victim’s quarters so as to bed his recently widowed wife.

Or something like that…whatever, keep up the good work, Gentry.

Welcome back, Aleix Ogando and Mike Napoli

Napoli hadn’t been gone long, but his run-producig stroke had been witnessed on more than a few DFW-area milk cartons. Last night, his RBI single plated Gentry for the first run of the game, and here’s hoping it’s a sign that Napoli is finally turning the page on his very unproductive 2012 story.

It’s always a pleasure to see the “Stickman from the Dominican.” Alexi Ogando hadn’t appeared in a game since straining his right groin last month in San Francisco. Ogando pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief, ratcheting his fastball all the way up to 97 MPH. His addition makes the Rangers bullpen that much stronger.

Up Next

RHP Colby Lewis (6-6, 3.51 ERA) will make his first start since June 23 today at 2:35 (CT). Lewis had been sidelined with right forearm tendonitis. For the Athletics, Australian-born left-hander Travis Blackley (2-2, 3.20 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season.

Go Rangers!

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Jul 172012
 
Oswalt-sharp-in-first-start-of-the-season-GQ1NTKTC-x-large

Nothing really happened in Rangerville yesterday. It was an off day—viewed as a necessary evil to the die-hard fans like you and I. Other than ensuring proper rest for our favorite team as they ready for a stretch run in the 100-plus degree heat, off days don’t do much in the way of news.

Let’s see…

So, Jason Kidd was arrested for DWI. He’s pleading not guilty, and the word is that he was under the influence of a drug used as a sleep aid.

Sure, Kidd. I know the medication—it goes by the street name of vodka.

What else?

Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels

Mike Trout. One great hitter, and one ugly chick.


Ah yes, the Los Angels of Anaheim continue to lose. That’s always a plus. Trumbo can hit 74 bombs and Trout can bat .400 for all I care—as long as: a. The Angels keep losing, and b. Albert Pujols continues his path towards the worst year of his career.

But back to the stuff that really matters, let’s take a look at some Texas Rangers news and notes.

Rangers Rumor Mill

It’s no secret that most contending teams are hot on the tail of the Brewers’ Zach Greinke and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels.

Both are outstanding pitchers that are capable of elevating a solid team to a World Series-caliber club.

With Hamels, you’d get a lefty with a WS ring and plenty of postseason experience. It’s largely being speculated however that Hamels would be a Cliff Lee-like pickup as he would be out the door as soon as the postseason comes to a close.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather have right-hander Zach Greinke. Sure, he has anxiety issues, and no, he doesn’t have the postseason experience of the aforementioned Hamels, but I feel the Rangers have more of a shot at extending him for a few years into the future.

One knock on picking up either is that the new collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow for compensatory draft picks should either acquisition decide to jump ship…in other words, the Rangers would be out a ton of prospects for a rent-a-pitcher.

However, the lack of compensation picks might lessen the sheer amount of prospects necessary to obtain said pitcher…either way, why not pursue a pitcher like a Matt Garza, who would come with an extra “bonus year” of team control?

Roy Oswalt

When the Rangers signed Roy Oswalt several weeks ago, they realized that they weren’t getting an ace. What they wanted was a solid middle-of-the-rotation innings eater.

Oswalt looked much better in his no-decision against Minnesota during his last start. He only surrendered five hits—so noted due to the fact that he was averaging over 11 hits in his previous three starts.

The success of Oswalt over his next few starts—as we roar towards the door of the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline—will factor in to whether or not the Rangers make the move for Greinke, Hamels, or Garza.

Texas clearly has all the pieces in place to make either of those trades happen.

Josh Hamilton, former tobacco user

Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels

Seriously. Someone get this dude some snuff pronto.


Yeah, as far as I can tell, Hambone is still snuff free. Good for him. Sadly, he’s also been largely impact-free since he decided to ban the can.

It’s great—fantastic even—that he’s saying nope to the cope. And with his burgeoning family no one would doubt his modus operandi to ditch the lip candy.

However…

Can’t you wait until the offseason? No matter how talented the batter, being productive in the box takes maximum concentration. If you’re jonsing for a lip log, dude, you’re not locked in. Hamilton’s recent struggles at the plate soundly backup the “nic-fit” theory.

Injury Updates
Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels
As of today, the Texas Rangers should activate Alexi Ogando, and Koji Uehara.

Talk about a boost to the bullpen.

Rather than a B12 to the buttocks, the additions of Ogando and Uehara are more like a Pulp Fiction-esque adrenalin blast right through the ‘ole bullpen breastplate.

Also, Colby Lewis is slated to start against Oakland on Wednesday.

Up Next

Tomorrow night the Rangers start a two-game series with A.L. West foes, the Oakland Athletics. The first pitch is scheduled for 9:05 (CT), so make sure you have your energy drink of choice at the ready…

On the bump for Oakland will be RHP Bartolo Colon (6-7, 3.80 ERA) against Rangers’ right-hander Roy Oswalt (2-1, 6.26 ERA).

Should be an interesting matchup—and one that reads as a “who’s who” of turn-of-the-century aces…

Go Rangers!

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Jul 102012
 
blalock_display_image

The 1972 Texas Rangers won 54 games all season long…The 2012 Rangers squad had 52 wins heading into the 83rd MLB All-Star break.

Case in point, the Texas Rangers haven’t always been this good.

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that the only reason the Rangers had an All-Star representative was because each team had to have one.

Still, the Texas Rangers have historically played extremely well in the Midsummer Classic—they’ve garnered three AS MVPs and provided other magical moments.

So it’s time to navigate “Nostalgia Boulevard”, because “Memory Lane” was already taken.
Here’s a look at some of the top Rangers moments in the Midsummer Classic.

Josh Hamilton goes bonkers
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
Technically, Hamilton’s excellent exploits didn’t occurr during the All-Star Game. As it turned out, in the All-Star Game, “Hami” went a somewhat pedestrian 1-for-3 with a stolen base.

Hamilton, however, had made his mark the night before.

The magnitude of his performance during the 2008 Home Run Derby can cause even the world’s wittiest journalist to run out of adjectives in a hurry.

Hamilton, as you’ll recall, crushed 28 home runs—in the first round.

And the theater within which he put on his majestic show was none other than “The House that Ruth Built.” It was truly special to watch his Ruthian display on national television—as a Texas Ranger nonetheless.

It not only put Hambone on the map, but it helped the world take notice of the Texas Rangers too.

Julio Franco, AS MVP, 1990

Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic

Yeah, the trophies were much bigger back then. It’s why everyone started using steroids.


The 1990 Texas Rangers season needed a lift. When you have a four-man rotation that has two pitchers 42 years old or older in Charlie Hough and Nolan Ryan—even if one of them is a Hall of Famer—the team needed a cool breeze to amp up for the relentless late-summer Texas heat.

Julio Franco provided just that.

Franco was the Jheri-curled second baseman who at the age of 31 was making his first All-Star appearance as a reserve.

Famous for his farcical batting stance—picture a PGA golfer at the height of his back swing, and that’s Franco’s starting point—his stance was both knock-kneed goofy and extremely intimidating.

In the top of the seventh inning he lined a double to right field off of one of the Cincinnati Reds’ highly esteemed “Nasty Boys”, Rob Dibble.

The double scored both Lance Parrish and Roberto Alomar.

Those were the only runs plated in the game—and they made Franco the no-doubt choice for MVP.

Franco, incredibly, would play another 17 big league seasons after his 1990 All-Star Game heroics.

Alfonso Soriano, AS MVP, 2004
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
You can say what you want about Soriano, but during his two years with the Texas Rangers he gave Rangers Nation plenty to cheer about.

In both 2004 and 2005 he represented the Rangers in the All-Star Game, and in 2004 he was named MVP—just the second Texas Ranger to earn the award, and the first since the aforementioned Julio Franco did so way back in 1990.

Soriano certainly didn’t take long to wow the Minute Maid Park crowd in Houston.

With two on and two out in the first inning, Soriano smacked a Roger Clemens fastball for a three-run home run, providing the American League All-Stars with all of the momentum they would need to stave off the NL squad for a 9-4—pushing their All-Star game winning streak to seven.

Hank Blalock, AS Game Bad-ass, 2003
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
The year after the ill-advised and much debated Bud Selig decision to end the 2002 All-Star game in a tie, MLB fans deserved something extra special during the 2003 Midsummer Classic.

And thanks Hank Blalock, they’d receive just that. Special, of course, unless you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.

Hank Blalock was called on to pinch-hit for Troy Glaus in the bottom of the eighth inning with one on and two out. Pinch-hitting is no easy task, much less when you’re the go-ahead run at the dish and unbeatable Eric Gagne is toeing the rubber.

Two things about Gagne and his now-famous saves streak should be noted:

1. Gagne, up until the All-Star Game, had saved 31 consecutive games on the season—he’d save 55 consecutively by the end of 2003 (63 straight dating back to ’02) on his way to the ’03 Cy Young Award.

2. It’s a good thing that All-Star Games don’t count against such streaks, because Hank Blalock wasn’t hearing any of that noise.

Trailing 6-5, and with the Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells on, Blalock strode to the dish.
He then slashed a 3-1 pitch deep into right-center field for the go-ahead home run that rocked the nation.

Well, it rocked my world at least—I almost jumped through the ceiling and onto the third floor of my apartment complex.

And now, nine years later, I still wonder how the heck Blalock wasn’t deemed All-Star MVP that year.
I mean, he did stop one of the greatest streaks of all time—albeit unofficially.

The Face states his case, 2006
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic

During the 2006 All-Star Game, the “Face of the Franchise” did something truly special.

Top of the ninth inning, two outs, down 0-2, Young ripped a two-run triple off of Trevor Hoffman to give the American League a 3-2 lead.

The lead was safe in the hands of Mariano Rivera as the AL All-Stars won the Midsummer Classic for the tenth consecutive time (excluding the ’02 tie).

And the AL All-Stars, once again, had a member of the Texas Rangers to thank for the victory.

Perhaps another Texas Ranger will earn an All-Star MVP after tonight’s game has concluded. After all, with eight representatives, they’re the odds-on favorites.

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Jul 092012
 
State Farm Home Run Derby

One of the best parts of the MLB All-Star Game festivities is the Home Run Derby.  I can remember as a kid waiting with great anticipation to see which slugger could muscle a few dingers out of the park to stake claim as the ultimate power hitter.

All Star Week: Home Run Derby

Dave Parker, Cincinnati Reds, 1985 Home Run Derby Winner

Some will argue that it’s just glorified batting practice or that the derby doesn’t represent anything of value.  The derby has it’s critics, but to them I would say…just take it for what it is.  Forget about WAR, DIPS, BABIP and Bill James.  Separate yourself from the “mental/strategic game” for a couple hours and just watch.

While I have plenty of memories from the Home Run Derbies of my youth (mid to late 80′s) – including a larger-than-life Dave Parker (hit 6 to win) in 1985, Andre “The Hawk” Dawson (4) in 1987 and Eric Davis and Ruben Sierra (each hit 3) in 1989 – there has never been a Derby that could compare to 2008.

This is a Rangers blog, so I know I don’t have to recount the derby blow-by-blow (there’s a video below for that) and get into Josh’s story (there’s a book for that) and what his performance that night meant in the bigger picture of life, but here was my reaction – my jaw dropped…I laughed in disbelief…I laughed some more…I may have cried…and then I hit the rewind button on my DVR and watched it again.

I wanted to put together a dramatized video, recreating my reaction from that memorable night, but couldn’t get the funding…I’m not cheap.

Hamilton hasn’t been in another Derby since, and I’m actually grateful for that.

I’m not grateful because I’m glad Josh isn’t risking his health.

I’m grateful because that moment could never be recreated or topped.  Meaning that a return to the Derby for Josh, while it could result in a Derby win (Justin Morneau actually won the Derby in ’08), would more than likely be anti-climatic and too ordinary.

My point is this…enjoy tonight.  We don’t have any of our guys in the Derby, but there are some great players participating.  One of my favorite parts of the Derby is to watch the other players react to the bombs and watch how much fun they are having.  The next night…it matters, but tonight it’s all for fun.

My official prediction for tonight –  Prince Fielder over Mark Trumbo in the final.

Josh Hamilton 2008 Home Run Derby Video:

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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 022012
 
a

Lucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer ClassicThe Texas Rangers will have at least seven representatives at this year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Rookie right-hander Yu Darvish made the final ballot and can be voted onto the All-Star team by following this link—there is NO limit to votes, so, by all means vote “Yu” until your heart is content, or your wrist locks up in a fit of carpal tunnel syndrome…and then vote a few times more.

The Rangers have had as many as five players at the Mid-Summer Classic in previous years—including the last two—but have never had more than two voted to start. The seven—possible eight—players on this year’s roster is by far the most the Rangers have ever had during their 40-year history.

Here’s a quick look at those that have already made the cut:

The starters:

Josh Hamilton, OF—11,073,744 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.314/.381/.643, 25 HRs, 73 RBI

Hamilton obliterated the vote record set last season by Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Fellow A.L. starters, Curtis Granderson (NYY) and Jose Bautista (TOR) combined, received fewer votes than Hamilton’s gargantuan number.

This is the fifth All-Star nod for Hamilton, and the fifth straight time he’s been voted in to start. Hamilton is just the third Texas Ranger to receive the most votes in any given year. He joins catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (2,808,456 in 2000), and second baseman Alfonso Soriano (3,466,447 in 2004).

Adrian Beltre, 3B—4,613,180 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.323/.355/.527, 14 HRs, 52 RBI

In an exceptionally close race, Beltre beat-out Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera by just 416,595 votes. To wit, the balloters got this one right, as Beltre’s contributions are just as important in the field as they are at the dish.

Beltre, who started last year’s Mid-Summer Classic due to an injury to Alex Rodriguez, is a three-time All-Star participant.

Mike Napoli, C—4,317,718 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.235/.335/.438, 12 HRs, 30 RBI

“Nap-O-Lee!!!!” finished well ahead of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer to earn the start at catcher. This is Napoli’s first All-Star selection.

Although his numbers haven’t been great thus far, this honor has been bestowed upon him due to overall popularity and fantastic 2011 accomplishments—that, plus the fact that A.J. Pierzynski is a douche-bag of the highest order.

The rest of the Rangers’ best:

Ian Kinsler, 2BLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.276/.335/.451, 9 HRs, 40 RBI

Over the first few weeks of the balloting, Kinsler was in the lead for all A.L. second baseman. NY’s Robinson Cano eventually overtook him for the lead, but Kinsler was voted in by players, managers and coaches.

This is Kinsler’s third trip to the Mid-Summer Classic.

Elvis Andrus, SSLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.307/.383/.412, 16 stolen bases

Andrus was selected by manager Ron Washington as a reserve, after finishing second to the A.L.’s top vote-getter at shortstop, Derek Jeter.

Elvis is having the finest offensive season of his young career. Andrus has the highest OBP of any other A.L. short stop, and is also tops in the league in stolen bases.

This is Elvis’ second All-Star nod.

Matt Harrison, LHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
11-3, 3.16 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Harrison is tied for the A.L. lead in wins. Selected by Washington, don’t be surprised if Harrison is the American League’s starting pitcher. After all, the 26-year-old left-hander certainly has the numbers to backup such a decision.

Joe Nathan, RHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
0-2, 1.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 18 saves

Just two years removed from Tommy John Surgery that caused him to miss all of the 2010 season, Nathan was selected by Washington to participate in his fifth All-Star Game.

Aside from two early-season hiccups, Nathan has been exactly what the Rangers were looking for—a shutdown closer that’s one of the finest in all of Major League Baseball.

Nathan’s 10.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio is best in all of baseball for any pitcher that has appeared in at least 30 games.

On the fringe:

Yu Darvish, RHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117 strikeouts

Darvish, despite a quality start, lost in his first bid for win number eleven. Regardless, the rookie right-hander from Osaka, Japan, has been outstanding for the Rangers during the first half of 2012. He’s the team leader in strikeouts, second in wins and until last night’s 3-1 loss, had been undefeated at home in the hitter’s haven of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

You can make Darvish the Rangers’ team-record eighth All-Star participant by voting here.

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Jun 292012
 
feldman

Feldman Good Enough as Rangers Bats Stay Hot in 7 6 Win Over OaklandSeriously, how often does a starting pitcher’s ERA begin at 6.00, actually increase by 0.13 over the course of the game, and he earns the win? Probably not too often.

Scott Feldman, much like Roy Oswalt two nights ago, lived dangerously but still escaped with the victory as the Rangers held off the A’s 7-6.

Feldman’s main issue was the long ball—as he surrendered three over his five innings of work. Oswalt basically threw BP against Detroit, coughing up 13 hits over his six innings the night before last.

But hey, both Scooter and the Whiz have now won their last two starts. Hey, for Roy Oswalt this is still spring training. For Feldman, it’s always spring training.

Regardless, it’s good to be on the right side of Texas’ potent offense—especially when you don’t have your best stuff. Just make it through five or six, and let the sticks get your back.

Cliff Lee might be 10-0 right now—rather than winless—had he decided to stay in Arlington. I’m sure he’ll cry himself to sleep on a pillow stuffed with money.

Notes from last night:

• Adrian Beltre remains en fuego. You’re know you’re going well when you go 0-for-3, but still manage to drive in two runs.

• David Murphy continues to tear it up. Murphy went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI last night, and combined with his 4-for-5, 5 RBI night prior, he’s now raised his batting average 20 points. Murphy is not one of the flashiest players on the team, but he has a real knack for turning up his game at the most opportune times.

• Just when the criticism surrounding the Rangers’ leadoff hitter seems to reach a crescendo, Ian Kinsler catches fire. The Rangers’ second baseman is now batting .571 with 6 runs scored over his last three games. Kinsler leads the major leagues in runs scored, and his double last night pushes him into the American League lead, with 25.

• Texas Rangers super-utility man, Michael Young, may have turned the corner on a disappointing start to the season. After going 2-for-4 last night, Young is batting .370 during his current six-game hitting streak.

• Josh Hamilton went 2-for-3 last night with 2 RBI. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hamilton’s showing last night was his ability to grind-out two walks.

Prior to last night, he’d walked just three times in ten games. Seems he’s seeing the ball better now, and if that’s the case, the Oakland Athletics—as well as the American League as a whole—might be in trouble.

Up Next:

Lefty Matt Harrison (10-3, 3.24) will oppose Oakland’s right-hander A.J. Griffin (0-0, 3.00 ERA). The first pitch scheduled for 7:05 (CT).

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