Oct 252012
 
Barry Zito, yep Barry Zito, did it with his arm and his bat last night.
Thoughts on Game One of the 2012 World Series

Yeah, you don’t let this guy beat you. You just don’t.

And just like that, the first World Series game that has not included the Texas Rangers since 2009 has come and gone.

Plain and simple, it just feels weird to watch the Fall Classic without our favorite team in the mix. I’m not the only one that’s upset. Famed denizen of the Texas State Fair, “Big Tex” was so bereaved by the Rangers’ late-season collapse and subsequent postseason exit that he set himself on fire…presumably in protest.

Or something like that. Personally, I always thought of Big Tex as more of a football fan, but I guess the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really done too much to keep the flame from the flesh either, so to speak.

Here’re some notes/observations from last night’s San Francisco Giants thrashing of the seemingly hapless Detroit Tigers:

• My first thought after the conclusion of the San Francisco Giants’ 8-3 game one win was that: “Former Ranger Joaquin Arias is going to get a freaking World Series ring before any current Ranger.” This initial notion led me to consume beer number nine whilst moving on to my second thought on the matter which was: “$hit.”

• I realize that some of this was necessitated by days of rest and what not, but by using Barry Zito in game one—and unbelievably getting a win out of him—the G-men have effectively reversed their rotation. Zito last night, Madison Bumgarner tonight, Ryan Vogelsong for game three, and ace Matt Cain for game four…if you’re a Giants fan you’ve got to like this; especially if Bumgarner can put together a strong start.

• Last night was the first time this postseason that the Giants have won a game one. I don’t think the Tigers are the type of team to rally from being down 2-0 or 3-0 like San Francisco has done. In other words…

Doug Fister needs to pitch well tonight. He needs to find an answer to the 37-year-old riddle named “Marco Scutaro.” He’s got to keep Pablo Sandoval in the park and off of the base paths. Fister needs to avoid the big inning; he doesn’t need to dominate but he does need to keep the San Fran offense to a minimum.

• So, at what point last night did I realize that the Tigers were going to lose game one? The exact moment that Barry Zito went “oppo” for an RBI single.

• Last night’s big third-inning gained steam for San Fran with two outs when Angel Pagan—”Pagan Angel” for those with dyslexia or Tigers fans—hit a double right off of third base. Literally. His hit immediately brought back memories from last year’s ALCS when Miguel Cabrera ripped a shot off of third base in Detroit against the Rangers. I’d go on about karma but thinking of last year’s ALCS—since the Rangers were not only a part of it but the eventual victors—makes me sad.

• Well, at least the St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated, huh?

I’d like to know your World Series predictions and thoughts. Before last night, I had the Tigers winning it all in six games. What do you think? Just use our comments section below to let us know how you see the 2012 Fall Classic playing out.

Thoughts on Game One of the 2012 World Series

And to think, had the Rangers made it past the Orioles, the Big Tex tragedy could have been avoided.

@TMurrayHowell

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Aug 122012
 
Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers

In dramatic fashion, last night’s 2-1 Texas Rangers’ win over the Detroit Tigers was a perfect example of the past meeting the present.

All decked-out in their 1970s powder-blue retro uniforms, it was fresh-faced rookie Mike Olt (born in 1988) who provided the offensive jolt to fuel the walk-off win.

Did Mike Olt just turn into the “Oltimate Warrior”?

Rangers Play it Olt School With 2 1, Walk Off Win over Detroit
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I’m pretty sure the transformation is complete, friends…

And let’s not forget about Derek Holland, either.

I’m sure we all predicted that Dutch—who has been homer-prone and largely ineffective all season—was going to go toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander.

Yep.

And when Austin Jackson led off the first inning with a home run, we all knew that ‘ole Dutchy was going to settle down just fine, right?

Sure.

Baseball is a crazy, bizarre, occasionally unsettling, always challenging, and prolifically unpredictable game. And somehow all of those things make us love it that much more—especially after a Rangers’ win as exhilarating as that one.

Rangers Play it Olt School With 2 1, Walk Off Win over Detroit

Kicking it Olt-school, no doubt.


Up Next:

Yu Darvish (11-8, 4.72) takes the ball for Texas, with right-hander Rick Porcello (9-6, 4.62) on the hill for Detroit.

Porcello

This will be Porcello’s third start against the Rangers this season, and his second at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

At Comerica Park on April 21, Porcello was blistered, bruised, and beaten badly. He lasted just one inning while allowing 8 earned runs on 10 hits.

Two months later in Arlington, Porcello pitched well, scattering six hits over six innings while striking out seven to pick up the win.

The 24-year-old from Morristown, New Jersey, has a career mark of 2-2 with an 8.47 ERA against the Rangers.

The Yu

I don’t buy into the notion that Yu Darvish is wilting in the Texas heat. Sure, he’s 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA since July, but I don’t think the sweltering summer conditions are to blame. What with global warming and all, it’s hot everywhere…yes, even in Japan. In other words, Darvish has handled the heat before.

For The Yu, his problems are the same-old, same-old. Poor fastball command gets him behind in the count, he tries to pour one in the zone for a strike, then gets too much of the plate…Thwack.

It’s not like his stuff is the issue. He somehow struck out nine in Boston while also surrendering seven doubles. It’s way too early to label him as a “nibbler” but he definitely needs to improve his command while challenging hitters during pitcher’s counts.

This will be Darvish’s third start against the Detroit Tigers. He’s 2-0 with a 3.37 ERA. Yu’s last start against the men from Motown was arguably the finest of his career, as he walked just one—the only time all season he hasn’t given out at least two free passes—while scattering four hits and notching 10 strikeouts.

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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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Jul 112012
 
83rd MLB All-Star Game

Thank you so much for that, Justin Verlander. You pitched more like Nuke LaLoosh (pre-garter belt) than the reigning MVP and CY Award winner…

As all learned baseball men (and women) know, if you don’t have your best fastball command, you should always just throw the damn thing harder.

Ugh. Not even C.J. Wilson have surrendered five earned runs, bro—don’t quote me on that.

Look, I know that Matt Harrison isn’t blameless, but after that first inning, the game was pretty much over.

In a world where everyone has multiple mediums with which to interact, couldn’t someone have gotten word out to put down the plastic sheets because Verlander was about to shit the bed?

Good things that happened during the 83rd MLB All-Star Game:

• Mike Napoli recorded a hit—hat tip to the setting sun.

American League Gets Verlandered, Drop Third Straight to National League All Stars
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• C.J. Wilson never entered the game.

• David Freese struck out in his only plate appearance.

• Nathan’s 1-2-3 second inning.

Yeah, that’s it.

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