Sep 112012
 
HarriUbaldo

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians PreviewAfter a series such as the one that took place over the weekend in Tampa Bay, an off-day is always welcome.

In case you were fortunate enough to miss the aforementioned three game series—that saw the Texas Rangers score just five runs over thirty innings against the Tampa Bay Rays—here’s a quick recap:

Derek Holland was great. Yu Darvish was terrific. Roy Oswalt was absolutely horrific, and B.J. Upton is an a-hole.

Tonight the Texas Rangers return home for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, while the Tampa Bay Rays take off for Baltimore to battle the Orioles. With the Orioles just one game out of the A.L. East’s top spot, and the Cleveland Indians a mere five games from elimination…well…take that, Tampa!

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Cleveland Indians (59-82, L10: 4-6)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Since being moved to the leadoff spot, the Tribe’s Shin-Soo Choo has really taken off at the plate.


RF Shin-Soo Choo
2B Jason Kipnis
C Carlos Santana
1B Russ Canzler
DH Matt LaPorta
SS Brent Lillibridge
3B Jason Donald
LF Thomas Neal
CF Ezequiel Carrera

VS

LHP Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Texas Rangers’ left-hander, Matt Harrison will be pitching tonight on two extra days of rest. The Durham, North Carolina native is coming off of back-to-back losses against Tampa Bay and the Royals that saw him average just five innings in each start.

Prior to his two-game skid, Harrison had been masterful as he picked up consecutive wins against Toronto and Minnesota, averaging eight innings pitched in each start.

Over his four-year career, Harrison has been great when working on six-plus days of rest. All told, he’s 8-3 with a 3.56 ERA.

Harrison has gone 1-2 against the Cleveland Indians since 2008, while posting a 5.17 ERA with ten strikeouts. Cleveland’s leadoff batter, Shin-Soo Choo is 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and 3 RBI off of Harri. Catcher/DH Carlos Santana has also had success against Harrison, as he is 2-for-3 with a double and home run as well. All told, the Indians versus Harrison have produced a slash-line of: .277/.333/.489.

Texas Rangers (83-57, L10: 6-4)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Martin gets the start tonight to rest Nelson Cruz.

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF David Murphy
DH Michael Young
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
CF Leonys Martin

• Nelson Cruz get the night off to rest his presumably aching legs. Hamilton slides to the less labor-intensive side of the outfield and top prospect Leonys Martin gets the rare start in center field.

VS

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-15, 5.58 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 4.7 BB/9)

As mentioned earlier, Rangers’ lefty Matt Harrison has been less effective over his last two starts. Ubaldo Jimenez, on the other hand, hasn’t been nearly as sharp since, well, the second half of 2010.

The 6’5″ native of Nagua, Dominican Republic, has clearly lost some velocity in the last two years. However, Jimenez still possesses swing-and-miss stuff, which is evidenced by his above average strikeout per-nine rate of 7.5.

What has gotten Jimenez into trouble this season is his propensity to surrender the free pass. His walks per-nine rate of 4.7 is his highest since his first full season in the big leagues with Colorado back in 2008.

Against the Rangers over his career he has is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, but tends to get shelled mightily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At RBIA, he has surrendered seven home runs, and Texas has teed-off to the tune of: .318/.400/.591.

The annoying Angels and those pesky Athletics:

• In a rematch from last week—that saw the Angels sweep the Athletics—the A’s held on for a 3-1 win last night. Oakland is now just a mere three games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West race.

• Even though they lost their series-opener to the Athletics last night, the Angels are still the hottest team in the American League. They’ve won eight of their last ten games, and now are just 3 1/2 games out of the A.L. Wild Card race, and just 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Aug 292012
 
Harri

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of RaysNot that the Texas Rangers are taking tonight’s series-ender lightly, but it is easy to look ahead to their upcoming road trip to Cleveland after Yu Darvish’s dominating performance last night. Nothing like a thrilling, 1-0 win against a very good A.L. East team to get the confidence levels soaring…

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineup, as the Rangers bid adieu to their postseason rivals.

Tampa Bay Rays (70-59)

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of Rays

Wait a minute, that’s not my cap…Longoria has raked against Harri over his career, with 7 RBI.


LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
SS Ben Zobrist
DH Evan Longoria
1B Jeff Keppinger
2B Ryan Roberts
3B Elliot Johnson
C Jose Molina
RF Sam Fuld

VS.

LHP Matt Harrison (15-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9)

Harrison has quietly and efficiently been the Rangers’ most reliable starter all season long. Simply put, the 6’4″ left-hander has continued to build on his success from a season ago and is paving the way to true “ace-dom.”

At home this season, Harrison has been sharp. He’s 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA. Although right-handers have touched him up with 11 home runs and a slash line of: .269/.328/.417, left-handers are practically out before they ever step into the batter’s box: .186/.216/.261 with just two long balls.

Harrison will be looking for a measure of atonement tonight as the Rays roughed him up in his only start against them this season. It was back on April 27, and Harri lasted just five innings and was blasted for 14 hits while surrendering six earned runs.

Texas Rangers (77-52)

Matt Harrison and Rangers go for Sweep of Rays

Kinsler provided all of the offense the Rangers would need last night, thanks to his fourth inning solo home run.


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

VS.

RHP Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Cobb, a Boston, Massachusetts native, is coming off of the best start of his young career. Last week in Oakland, he pitched the first complete game as he blanked the Athletics with eight strikeouts while allowing just two hits and two walks over nine innings.

The 6′ 2″ right-hander was bombed in his previous start against the Angels, surrendering eight earned runs on a whopping 14 hits.

Tonight will be the first time that Cobb has faced the Rangers since last season. He’s 4-3 with a 5.26 ERA on the road and has held the Rangers to a triple-slash line of: .176/.263/.176 in his career.

Right-handers hit him to the tune of: .295/.337/.410 with three home runs, and left-handers go: .253/.319/.371, also with three home runs.

Ian Kinsler and the red-hot Adrian Beltre have had the most success against Cobb, as they have driven in two and have a combined batting average of .333.

Notes:

• This is the second straight start that Matt Harrison will throw to Luis Martinez. Ron Washington has shown a lot of faith in Martinez’s ability to call a quality game.

• Michael Young gets the start at second base for the first time since August 2, against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

• The A.L. West is currently the only division in Major League Baseball where all teams have a positive run differential. Thus, the argument can be made that it is the strongest division in baseball. This is just another way to celebrate the greatness that is the Texas Rangers.

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Jul 162012
 
Texas Rangers v San Diego Padres

Before I even get into the updates below, I want to throw out the idea of a sitcom called “Dutch and Harry” starring Derek Holland and Matt Harrison – two cops just trying to keep the streets of Arlington safe.  Holland plays the funny one and Harrison plays the straight-laced one…

Any buyers?

Dutch Oven looks strong

Rangers take series in Seattle behind Dutch & Harry

Who would have thought that a massive case of diarrhea (could be slightly exaggerated) could end up being the best thing that happened to Derek Holland, and subsequently, the Texas Rangers this year?

OK, maybe it won’t be the BEST thing, but it could be one of those times that we all look back upon when this season is over, knowing that the Dutch Oven was better because of it.

The diarrhea led to arm rest.  The arm rest may prove to be vital to Holland’s success in the second half of the season.

I used be bothered by typing the word “diarrhea”, but clearly I’m over that now.

Derek Holland’s second start since returning from the DL was his best of the season…albeit against a poor Mariner’s offense.  It was refreshing to see Dutch work the way he did on Friday night after a first half filled with ups and downs – unfortunately more downs than ups (5-4, 5.05 ERA & 1.329 WHIP).

Mariners continue to own Yu

Rangers take series in Seattle behind Dutch & HarryWhat can you say?  Sometimes certain players don’t perform well in certain situations or against certain teams.  Darvish doesn’t pitch well against the Mariners…

In 3 starts against Seattle, he is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.125 WHIP.  Small sample size in a young career may be a cheap view here, but nonetheless, it’s not good.

I’m of the belief that it’s not just coincidental.  I think the Mariners are larger than life for Yu, primarily because of the world-wide following they garnered when Ichiro joined them years ago…when Yu was an impressionable youngster.

He’ll get over it eventually.

Didn’t help matters that his counterpart, Felix Hernandez, was dominant on Saturday.  King Felix shut down the Rangers bats, giving up only 3 hits and allowing only one Ranger to make it into scoring position.

Harrison spins a gem

Rangers take series in Seattle behind Dutch & HarrySo, the rubber match pitted Matt Harrison against Hisashi Iwakuma yesterday.  Harrison pitched brilliantly to get his 12th win on the season and secured the series win for the Rangers on the road.

Harrison has staked claim to the title of “Staff Ace” in 2012.  If you had asked me to rank the pitching staff in order of who could emerge as the Ace in 2012, I’m pretty sure I would have put Harry 4th or 5th behind Darvish, Holland and Feliz for sure, and possibly behind the Colbra.  I wasn’t in favor of replacing Harrison in the rotation or anything, I just saw him as a solid back of the rotation guy.  He’s more than that…much more.

Harrison is now 12-4 with a 2.87 ERA over 122.1 innings of work so far in 2012.  He’s not a strike-out guy, but he knows how to pitch…he’s earned that tag of “methodical”, which was a term used often to describe the pitching of Greg Maddux.  He’s quiet and unassuming, yet a workhorse that goes after hitters and isn’t afraid to stake claim to the inside half of the plate.  In short…I’m falling in love with this guy.

Quick Hits

  • Rangers are off today before a short 2-game series in Oack on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by another day off before a weekend series in Los Angeles against the Angels.
  • Neftali Feliz will make a rehab start in Frisco today.
  • Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara are expected to be activated from the DL tomorrow.
  • Yorvit Torrealba will not be with the team for the Oakland series as he travels home for the birth of his daughter.
  • Trade deadline is fast approaching.  We’re hoping to get a podcast up this week where we’ll be discussing some of the rumors.
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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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Jul 052012
 
Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox

Rangers Bats Fall Silent as White Sox Complete Windy City Sweep

Yu Darvish became the eighth member of the Texas Rangers to be included in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

The Texas Rangers succumbed to their first sweep of the season as they fell to the Chicago White Sox, 2-1 today.

It had been over a year since an opponent had busted out the brooms on the Rangers. The Windy City White Sox hadn’t swept Texas since 2001.

After combining for 21 runs during the initial game, the two teams combined for just 12 over the final two. With the White Sox outscoring the Rangers during those two contests 7-5.

Losing the opening game of a three game series by 17 runs probably didn’t set the best precedent. Much like Scott Feldman probably wasn’t Ranger Nation’s first choice to right the game one wrong.

The Rangers’ skid has now hit four games—a tie for the longest losing streak of the season. If ever there was a time to feel good about coming home, it’s now. Starting tomorrow—in the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington—Texas exchanges the A.L. Central’s top team (White Sox) for the Central’s bottom-dwellers (Twins).

Bring ‘em on.

Thoughts from the White Sox series:

You killed us, Youk

• As the Rangers’ new color commentator, Matt Hicks, astutely noted during today’s 2-1 loss: “Kevin Youkilis has only played three home games in Chicago, and the fans are ready to give him the keys to the city.”

Well, that’s what happens when you play like Youkilis did during that three game set at U.S. Cellular Field. Youk hit .462 with 2 HRs, 6 RBI and posted a .923 slugging percentage…over his career, the certifiable “Rangers killer” is batting .328 with 7 HRs, and 35 RBI.

Jose Quintana and Chris Sale

• 23-year-old left-handers appear to have the Texas Rangers’ number. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana combined for 15 1/3 innings of seven-hit baseball, with 12 punchouts and just two walks. The young southpaws surrendered two earned runs between them and only two free passes.

• Quintana, who lacks Sale’s plus-fastball, was particularly nasty against the Rangers. He used excellent command and nasty off-speed offerings to produce plenty of swings-and-misses. The young Colombian struck out 8 over his 8 innings of work.

Mike Napoli’s continued struggles

• Batting well against left-handed pitching was Napoli’s calling card prior to this season—his splits against lefties over his career (.276/.386/.534) is still solid, but Naps has struggled against southpaws so far in 2012: .160/.274/.321.

During his breakthrough 2011 campaign, Napoli was a left-hander’s worst nightmare, as he went: .319/.430/.619.

After getting banged-up by a home plate collision with the White Sox’s A.J. Pierzynski yesterday, it wasn’t a surprise that Washington elected to sit Napoli in favor of Brandon Snyder today.

Snyder, coming into today’s game, had hit left-handers extremely well: .364/..402/.667. Perhaps as a testament to just how outstanding Quintana was today, Snyder went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

The Yu is in!

• Earlier today it was announced that rookie right-hander, Yu Darvish, would be the eighth member of the Texas Rangers to land in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

The 83rd Annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium next Tuesday.

Up Next:

The Texas Rangers will host the Minnesota Twins for the final home stand before the All-Star Break.

Minnesota is currently in last place of the A.L. Central, 10 games behind the front-running Chicago White Sox. During their last matchup, the Rangers swept the Twins 3-0 in Minnesota’s Target Field.

LHP Martin Perez (1-0, 9.00 ERA) is set to make the second major league start of his career. Perez will oppose Minnesota’s LHP Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.40 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 (CT).

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Jul 022012
 
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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 182012
 
Mike Adams, Texas Rangers

Matt Harrison vs. Jason Marquis, a Rangers/Padres Game 1 PreviewThe Texas Rangers head out to the West Coast after a dominant home stand where they won 5-of-6, highlighted by a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros as their parting gift.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until the Houston Astros are members of the A.L. West next season…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. A win tonight would push the Rangers record to a high-water mark of 14 games above .500. Here’s a quick preview of game one of the Rangers’three-game jaunt of lovely San Diego, home of the N.L. West’s last place Padres.

Tonight, it’s Rangers’ LH Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) paired up against well-traveled RH Jason Marquis (3-5, 6.60 ERA, 1.86 WHIP).

Tonight’s starting lineups:

San Diego Padres (24-43)

RF Chris Denorfia
CF Cameron Maybin
3B Chase Headley
LF Carlos Quentin (.166, 1 HR vs. Harrison)
1B Jesus Guzman
SS Everth Cabrera
C Nick Hundley
2B Alexi Amarista
P Jason Marquis

Harrison

Harrison was outstanding in his last start, a 1-0 Texas Rangers win where he was dealt a no-decision. Harrison has a 16 1/3 innings scoreless streak going and will look to keep the streak alive in the pitching-friendly confines of Petco Park.

Texas Rangers (40-27)

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
1B Michael Young (.400 BA against Marquis)
3B Adrian Beltre (.444, 4 RBI)
RF Nelson Cruz
LF Davis Murphy
C Mike Napoli
CF Leonys Martin
P Matt Harrison

Marquis

In his last start, Marquis—who started the season with the Minnesota Twins before being granted free agency on May 29th—earned his first win as a member of the San Diego Padres. He went 6 1/3 innings with four walks, four strikeouts while scattering six hits against the Seattle Mariners.

The Texas Rangers are hitting .400 against Jason Marquis. Josh Hamilton has yet to get a hit off of him, but it has been announced that he will not start in tonight’s game.

Prediction time

I look for Harrison to continue his dominance of N.L. West teams, while Marquis gets knocked out early. Leonys Martin will get his first big league hit of 2012, and the Rangers will roll, 7-1.

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Jun 142012
 
Harri6.13.12

Matt Cain was Perfect; Matt Harrison was pretty good too as Rangers win 1 0

Matt Harrison—once again—was terrific.

Last night, the Texas Rangers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 for their third-straight win and their fourth in the last five games.

The Rangers did it—once again—with great starting pitching. We won’t focus on the sputtering offense as that takes away from the eye-popping performances of Matt Harrison and Wade Miley…plus, last night—across the big leagues—it was all about pitching.

June 13th 2012 is going to go down as one great day for pitchers. Former Ranger R.A. Dickey threw a remarkable complete game, one-hitter for his 10th win—and he did it with an 80-plus MPH knuckleball. Amazing.

Matt Cain threw a no-hitter against the Houston Astros. Yeah I know technically it was the 22nd perfect game in Major League Baseball history… I’m down grading it to a no-hitter though. After all it was thrown against the Houston Astros.

I’m kidding.

The Houston Astros’ offense isn’t really that bad. They’re hitting .250 as a team, and that’s good for 18th in baseball. No it’s not great but there are 12 teams more offensively inept—like the Seattle Mariners—and we all know what even the Mariners are capable of when the stars are aligned.

So, in a nutshell…

Kudos to Matt Cain!
Emphatic smooching should be heaped upon his hindquarters.

Yes, even more than has already graced him where the good Lord split him—he deserves it.

But let’s not forget about Matt Harrison.

Awash in a wave terrible “Abel/Able” puns will be lefty Matt Harrison’s 7 1/3 from the very same night as that dude from San Fran’s successful stab at perfection.

On a side note, aren’t you glad we missed Matt Cain’s turn in the rotation last week?

Harrison’s line was far from perfect. He walked more than knuckleballer Dickey (2) and surrendered more hits (6) as well. Heck, he wasn’t even as awesome as the “other guy”—Arizona’s Wade Miley (7 2/3, 3 hits, 8 Ks, 1 ER).

But, against a team that had clobbered him the only other time he’d ever faced them, and on a night where Arizona’s Miley was near unhittable—Harrison kept his team in a position to win.

In a perfect bit of baseball irony the Texas Rangers’ Matt Harrison proved to the world that he’s a winner—even if all he earned was a no-decision.

Up Next:

The series finale between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks is scheduled for a 7:05 (CST) first pitch. RH Scott Feldman (0-5, 6.39 ERA) and RH Daniel Hudson (2-1, 6.06 ERA) get the starts on the hill, in the battle of the six-plus ERA.

Make sure to check back here tomorrow for the BaseballDo Game 3 Preview!

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Jun 092012
 
TheGentry5

Texas Rangers Score the Cinco, Give Zito and Giants El StinkoLast night’s 5-0 victory over the always-tough-on-Texas San Francisco Giants couldn’t have possibly come at a better time.

Clearly, the Texas Rangers were in a funk, and getting damn tired of the entire state of California. In their last seven games, they’d lost five; two-of-three in Anaheim and three-of-four in Oakland.

Yeah, Oakland. Ugh.

So, naturally, their final opponent during their 10-day West Coast tour was the San Francisco Giants.

Remember them? Sure, they were the ones who finally solved Cliff Lee’s unbeatable postseason riddle— ending the Rangers’ World Series bid in five games back in 2010.

The G-men also happen to play in a park that Texas had yet to win a game in. Not one stinking game! Heck, the Rangers hadn’t won a game in the city of San Francisco since 1998.

And oh yeah, toeing the rubber in game one was Barry Zito (18-6 career against Texas.)

If Zito pitched as well against every other team as he usually does against the Rangers, he might be punching a ticket to the Hall of Fame.

But, hey, if baseball was even moderately predictable it sure as hell wouldn’t be as much fun…especially when it’s the Texas Rangers’ turn to defy the odds.

Playing crappy in Cali? Craig Gentry wasn’t having it. Woeful on the westside? Ian Kinsler had had enough. Add another losing streak to the Rangers long list of recent letdowns? Matt Harrison said “no way.”

Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA) was masterful. He scattered just five hits over his nine innings of work, with four strikeouts and zero free passes.

Of his 111 pitches, 77 were of the strike variety (69%) and 18 of the 27 batters he retired he did so via the ground ball out.

Harrison’s fine effort was the highlight of the night but not the whole story…

Craig Gentry, hitting machine

• Gentry matched the entire Giant’s hit total with his 5-for-5 performance last night. His average skyrocketed 40 points, to .341. His 2 RBI—from the 8-hole—would have been enough by themselves for the win.

When Ian Kinsler pops it up 380-feet, we don’t groan

• Second pitch of the game, Kinsler takes Zito deep to left field for his seventh big fly of the year.

Let the hitters hit

• Every starting non-pitcher (NL ball is a beating) recorded at least one hit last night for the Rangers.

Here’s a look at some other numbers of interest from last night:

0.76

• Average number of long balls launched at AT&T Park per game in 2012—the lowest of any park in the major leagues.

22

• Career total in leadoff homeruns for Ian Kinsler after his first inning smash.

• Also the number that Josh Hamilton now has on the year.

• Coming into last night’s contest, 22 was the total amount of homers hit at AT&T ballpark all season before Kinsler and Hamilton connected.

8

• With the 5-0 win, Matt Harrison picked up his 8th win, tying him for the American League’s most with Rays left-hander David Price.

3

• Number of shutouts Harrison now has in his career.
• Also, the number in years since he threw his last one.

2

• Number of home runs the Rangers had managed over their last 8 games…they needed only five innings to match that total last night against Zito.

10…

• …long days since Hamilton had hit his last home run—May 29th against the Seattle Mariners.

Here’s hoping the Rangers can start their first winning streak since last month’s Toronto Blue Jays beat down…

The second game of this best-of-three series is scheduled for a 3:05 (CST) first pitch and will feature the Rangers’ Scott Feldman (0-4, 7.01 ERA) against the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 2.38).

Sure, on paper this might look like another mismatch favoring the Giants. But so did last night’s game, and that one worked out just fine.

Make sure to check back this afternoon for the full game two preview as only BaseballDo can…um…do!

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May 282012
 

Surging Rangers Offense looks to stay Hot against Seattle Mariners, Kevin MillwoodBefore the Toronto Blue Jays came to town, the Texas Rangers (30-18) were mired in an offensive funk that saw them averaging less than four runs per game—paving the way to losses in six of their previous ten games.

The Jays had beaten the Rangers in two out of three this season and had dominated Texas both last season and the season prior—and with Brandon Morrow set to toe-the-rubber in game one last Friday, things looked bleak.

However, Texas’ slumbering offense came alive immediately—plating seven in the first inning—setting the tone for domination and initiating the sweep.

And just like that, the offensive woes fell to the wayside thanks to an attack that averaged 11.33 runs per game during the Jays series.

Here’s hoping the Rangers bats can stay hot as they welcome their familiar foe, the Seattle Mariners for a three game set in Arlington.

Kevin Millwood (3-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6 K/9) vs. Matt Harrison (5-3, 4.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5.9 K/9)

Millwood

In former Texas Ranger Kevin Millwood’s last start, he pitched six scoreless innings against the Rangers, picking up the win 5-3. Millwood is in a zone that he hasn’t seen since last century (1999)—he hasn’t allowed a run in 17 consecutive innings.

Millwood is a veteran that relies not on raw stuff, but on location. A similar comparison in style would be that of Colby Lewis (with much lower K/9 and HR/9 rates).

Against the current crew of Rangers, Millwood has a .253 BA against. Adrian Beltre has 3 career home runs with 5 RBI off of him. Mike Napoli (.375, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and, of course, Josh Hamilton (.400, 1 HR, 3 RBI) have both been tough outs for Millwood throughout his career.

Matt Harrison

“Harri” had seen his ERA rise from 3.68 to 5.21 before he picked up the win against the Mariners in Seattle, 3-1, last week. Harri was sharp, going 7 innings, striking out 6, walking 2 and scattering 8 hits.

If you’ll recall, after that first inning against the M’s it sure didn’t look like we’d be getting 7 quality innings from the big left-hander.

Thanks to some outstanding defense from Hamilton, Harri was able to get out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning—while surrendering just the one run. From that point forward, he was in cruise control.

The Mariners have only managed a .182 BA against Harrison. Ichiro Suzuki has had the most at bats against him, and has collected 9 hits with a team-leading 2 RBI. Alex Liddi (.500) and Brendan Ryan (.667) see the ball well against the Durham, North Carolina native, but it’s a small sample size for them.

Much like the North Texas weather, here are four Rangers that are heating up:

•Nelson Cruz—8 RBI in one week much less one game will certainly warrant your inclusion in the hot list.

•Josh Hamilton—Much like Cruz’s big night, Hami’s walk-off, extra innings long ball is enough to realize his power stroke hasn’t gone anywhere. Plus, he’s Josh Hamilton…’nuff said.

•Mike Napoli—It’s no secret that Napoli has struggled since an April hot streak. However, his 2-for-3 yesterday afternoon (including his first home run in nearly a month) might be a sign that “Mr. NAP-O-LIII!” is starting to sizzle.

•Mitch Moreland—Mr. underrated…even after yesterday’s 0-for-3, Moreland has been torrid at the dish. In the Jays series he was 6-for-13 (.462) with 4 RBI and one big fly.

Hot Mariners to watch:

N/A—C’mon, they just got swept by the Angels for crying out loud.

The Rangers can win if:

• They can get on base early against Millwood. Millwood was dominate at times in his last outing, and he leads the league with the lowest HR/9 rate, averaging just 0.3/9. In other words, the Rangers can’t rely on the long ball to touch up Millwood.

Prediction time:

I just can’t see Millwood keeping the Rangers bats at bay twice in less than a week. Rangers win 7-4, and Millwood’s scoreless innings streak is snapped at 18.

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