May 232012
 

Harrison, Adams and Nathan secure Rangers win despite lack of offense

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn a night when the Rangers offense could only muster four hits, the pitching came up big.  Matt Harrison pitched 7 strong, giving up a single run on 7 hits and 2 walks.

“My defense was making play after play behind me tonight,” Harrison said. “It definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to start the first inning. I felt good going into the game. My arm felt the best it has felt all season. I may have been overthrowing. I needed to settle down and pound the strike zone.”

The run was surrendered in a 35 pitch first inning after which Harrison was in command of the game…until the 8th inning…enter Mike Adams.  Harrison gave up hits to the first two batters he faced in the 8th inning, and the two run lead looked vulnerable.  Adams came in to face the heart of the Mariners order, and got Jesus Montero to fly out harmlessly before striking Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager out.

“Mike has been big for us since the day we traded for him,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “The eighth inning is important and we’ve got one of the best in the business handling it. He did a great job tonight.”

Joe Nathan came on in the 9th to get his 10th save of the season.  He struck out two as well after getting the lead off hitter to ground out weakly.

Nathan was impressive and I know the definition of a save…that said, when the game was on the line, Mike Adams saved the Rangers.

“I don’t keep track of my stats,” Adams said. “I go by how I’ve been throwing, and the last few outings I feel I’ve been throwing the ball well.”

Great pitching all around, which was needed as the Rangers were only able to muster up four hits, a season low.  Mariners started Hector Noesi pitched well, and really only gave the Rangers one opportunity to put runs on the board, and they seized that opportunity with a 3-run 3rd inning.  Noesi walked Cruz and Moreland, whom were driven in by an Elvis Andrus triple.  Andrus came in to score on a Josh Hamilton ground-rule double.

T.R. Sullivan summed it up well here:

The Rangers were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position while the Mariners were 1-for-9. That was a testament to both Adams and Harrison, who survived a 35-pitch first inning to make it into the eighth.

Quick Hits

  • When Pudge retired, we all heard that he was going to take on a role with the Rangers, and it looks like he’s received his first assignment, as he’ll serve as the Rangers representative at the First Year Player Draft in June (4th through 6th, with the 1st Round live on MLB TV).  The Rangers hold the 29th pick in the first round, along with two picks in the compensation round they received for losing C.J. Wilson and Darren Oliver in free agency.
  •  Ian Kinsler and Scooter Feldman are both being recruited to play for Israel in the World Baseball Classic.  Both players have Jewish heritage, which makes them eligible to play for Israel if they so choose.

“I would definitely like to play for Team USA if that’s possible,” Kinsler said. “If not, I will consider whatever else comes up.”

“I don’t know if it’s the greatest idea for a pitcher to play in that,” Feldman said. “If I got asked, I would think about it. I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Pitchers can get hurt anytime. It would stink getting hurt doing something like that. We’ll see how many innings I pitch this year and how my arm feels and if I get asked.”

  • The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday but will not use it to give anyone extra rest or change up their rotation. Feldman pitches tonight, followed by Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish this weekend against the Blue Jays.
  • Former Ranger Kevin Millwood (2-4, 4.17 ERA) will take the mound tonight against Scooter (0-1, 3.00 ERA).  Millwood’s splits show that he pitches much better on the road than he does at Safeco, evidenced most recently by a dominating outing in Colorado last week, so here’s hoping the Rangers get to him early and see plenty of the Mariners bullpen.
  • Feldman, who has moved to the rotation after Neftali Feliz was put on the DL, is hoping to throw 100 pitches tonight, something he hasn’t done since June of 2010.

“Let’s see how he gets through it,” manager Ron Washington said. “It depends on the stress he has. If he’s able to get through some innings early without stress, that may lead to some leeway late in the game.”

  • Prediction for tonight: Rangers 6, Mariners 3 with Yoshinori Tateyama working an instrumental 7th inning to stave off a Mariners rally and Mitch Moreland doing some damage with the bat…
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May 022012
 

Wednesday Morning CurveballsWash ain’t gonna cry…

A baseball season is long and full of ups and downs.  Last night was a down…

Wash says it best…

“Any loss is difficult to take, whether they got a base hit up the middle and the run scored or it left the ballpark and the run scored. The thing is they beat us,” Washington said. “Yeah, we may helped them a little, but they beat us. We got back in the ballgame, and Lawrie deserves some credit. He hit the ball out of the ballpark. Mike Adams has been flawless. That’s why I say there’s no perfection in this game. But I’m not going to cry, we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Brett Lawrie did the dirty deed and Mike Adams gave it up.  No need to rehash something like this too much.  This was an ugly game top to bottom, and the Adams pitch was just the final dagger.

“It was a cutter, slider, whatever you want to call it,” Adams said. “It caught too much of the plate. I knew he hit it well. I didn’t know whether it was out or not. I thought it might be going off the wall, but obviously it hit off the top of the wall. He did his job.”

E6?

Wednesday Morning CurveballsElvis Andrus had his streak of consecutive games without an error come to a screeching halt in the bottom of the 7th when he wasn’t able to successfully transfer the ball from glove to hand.

Elvis had played 54 innings without committing an error at one of the most demanding positions on the field.  As this streak became discussion-worthy over the last few days, I had assumed that when the streak ended, it would be on a play that could have been argued to be a hit and not an error.  I could see thousands of tweets saying “shouldn’t have been an error.  no other SS in mlb would have even gotten to that ball…”.  Does this mean that Wash is going to have to start busting E’s balls a little more?  Doesn’t sound like it.

“It’s a clunker,” Wash said. “I think anybody that’s ever been out there has had that happen to them. It’s just a clunker. He backhanded the ball, and he just didn’t find it properly in his glove and it fell out. It happens.”

Feliz struggles with control and the BIG inning

Neftali Feliz gave up 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 6 walks over 5 innings of work while striking out 4, getting a no-decision in the loss.  The 3rd inning proved to be a fatal one in Nefti’s worst start of the young season, as he gave up all 4 runs on home runs by Kelly Johnson and Jose Bautista.

Feliz was skipped his last time through in the rotation, as Scooter Feldman made the spot start.  The time off didn’t prove to be helpful for Neftali, as he experienced his worst start of the young season.  Keep in mind that he’s still a young pitcher, and even in a poor outing like last night there were flashes of brilliance.

“It’s growing,” Washington said of the 23-year-old Feliz. “He’s got to grow. He’ll grow into it. The main thing is he just couldn’t get the ball down. He elevated it.”

Quick Hits

  • Josh Hamilton & Adrian Beltre were both out of the lineup last night due to soreness and stiffness.  Beltre was the DH on Monday, but the turf seemed to bother his hammy.

“That turf killed him, so he came in sore and we’re going to back off,” Washington said. “We’ll just see how he comes in Wednesday. Me personally, I don’t care if he plays tomorrow or not. I don’t want him to get hurt, and if he’s sore, I don’t want to take any chance. He wasn’t having this problem before we came on this turf.”

  • A Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson match up on Friday, May 11th looks very likely at this point…tasty!
  • Go vote for the Rangers All-Time Team.
  • Matt Harrison (3-1, 3.38 ERA) and Ricky Romero (3-0, 3.18 ERA) face off today (11:37 CST) in the rubber match.
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Apr 262012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsRobbie Ross leads the Major Leagues in wins…

The Rangers have won 6 straight series to open a season for the first time in franchise history…

The Rangers haven’t lost a 3 game series in Arlington since July1st-3rd of 2011 against the Marlins…

“We’re doing everything well,” Washington said. “We’re swinging the bats, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, pitching well, running the bases, playing defense. We’re playing a complete game. We’re just playing the best game we can possibly play that night. If you do that you’ll have fun, and we’re having a lot of fun right now.”

The Rangers beat the Yankees last night 7-3, in a game in which Ron Washington elected to utilize his bullpen from beginning to end by giving the spot start to Scott Feldman who was followed by Robbie Ross, Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.  All pitched relatively effectively with Feldman giving up 2 runs and Feliz giving up a solo shot Raul Ibanez in the 7th.  Whether you are a fan of the approach or not…it worked.

“We didn’t look at it as a bullpen game,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “Scott Feldman is a legitimate big league starter and a huge part of our team.”

The Rangers bullpen, continuing to exert it’s dominance early in the season, has a 2.03 ERA through the club’s first 19 games.

  • Joe Nathan – 3.72 ERA & 1.14 WHIP over 9.2 IP w/ 5 saves
  • Mike Adams – 1.00 ERA & 0.78 WHIP over 9 IP w/ 1 save
  • Alexi Ogando – 1.00 ERA & 0.44 WHIP over 9 IP w/ 1 save
  • Robbie Ross – 2.25 ERA & 0.88 WHIP over 8 IP w/ 4 wins
  • Mark Lowe – 0.00 ERA & 0.50 WHIP over 4 IP
  • Koji Uehara – 3.60 ERA & 0.80 WHIP over 5 IP
“We have a very good bullpen,” Washington said. “Ross has been tremendous, and tonight he did exactly what we needed done — he set it up for the rest of the guys.”

Just another strength of this team…the best team in MLB.

Quick hits:

  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsNeftali Feliz got an inning of work last night, but should benefit from the added rest as it was his spot in the rotation that was skipped.  His next start will come Tuesday against Toronto.  Looking back to 2011, Alexi Ogando never got a similar early season rest, and his mid-season fade is a big part of the change in approach with Feliz.

“We really didn’t have a plan for Ogando, we just let him fly,” Washington said. “We learned from that.”

“Of course having the extra day is going to help me,” Feliz said. “You never know. It’s a long season. You never know how hard I’m going to be throwing and how many innings I’m going to work. I think it’s going to help me out in the end.”

  • Harrison, Lewis & Holland will get the starts against the Rays this weekend.
  • Speaking of the Rays…anyone go into this week more concerned with the three games with them than the three games with the Yanks?  I did.  Rangers fans need to be just as loud, rowdy and supportive for these three games as they were for the hated Yanks…

“Obviously we have a ton of respect for them,” Rangers infielder Michael Young said. “This is the American League, every team is going to be tough. We just have to focus on keep getting better every day. Right now our pitching is what’s gotten us off to such a good start. They just keep us in the game every night.”

  • The Elvis Andrus errorless streak is at 50 now, which is the third longest in club history for a shortstop.  The franchise record is 60, held by Wayne Tolleson who did it in a back-up role during the mid-80′s.

Thursday Morning Changeups“I haven’t said a word to Elvis since Spring Training,” Washington said. “If I haven’t said a word to him, that means he’s doing OK. He’s doing the same things, he’s just doing it with maturity and experience. That breeds consistency.”

  • Interesting tidbit from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Yu Darvish’s 8 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday was the longest scoreless start by a Rangers pitcher against the Yankees since Bob Tewksbury threw six against them on July 7, 1995, in Arlington.

Enjoy the day off…

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Apr 202012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsIt’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.”

Friday Morning KnuckleballsYu 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.

Quick hits:

  •  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!

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Apr 182012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“The ball was carrying pretty good tonight.” – Josh Hamilton

At some point last night, I just laughed.  I wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox, but rather it was a joyful laugh…an emotion that could only come from pride in just how good this team is.  I just laughed….at how ridiculously talented this line-up is from top to bottom, even with it’s interchangeable parts.  I just laughed…as Colby settled in after giving up a first inning 2-run shot to Dustin Pedroia.  I just laughed…as Ranger Nation was in full force on Twitter, watching an offensive explosion in fellowship and celebrating with each run.  I couldn’t help myself…I just laughed.

If your reading this, more than likely you were watching that.  If not, just know that in game 11 of 162 in 2012, the Rangers looked like an All-Star team…on the road…against at quality opponent.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn our last podcast, Jasen and I talked about the depth of this team, and how you can have players like Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli slumping and it’s offset by players like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler surging (insert any of the core names in this scenario).  Last night, everyone was surging, and hopefully the surge will carry over through the remainder of this road trip (next stop Motown after wrapping short series with BoSox tonight) and beyond.

18 runs on 21 hits with 3 doubles and 6 home runs.  Every Rangers player that got an AB, got a hit with the exception of Alberto Gonzalez who came into the game for Kinsler, after Kins had gotten 5 ABs.  Boston Ace Jon Lester gave up 7 over 2 IP.  New acquired Red Sox relieve Mark Melancon gave up 6 without recording an out (an ERA killer!!).  Meanwhile, Colby Lewis gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 IP, while striking out 7 batters and making the Red Sox lineup look foolish on many occasions.   It was a slaughter.

It’s fun to watch and fun to rehash, but today is a new day, and the Rangers have to take care of business again tonight against that same Red Sox team they embarrassed last night.

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“I’m just finding holes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I’m getting there. My timing is still early. I’m getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.”

“I’m getting close,” Cruz said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and my timing is there.”

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Napoli said. “I have been in the cage trying to iron it out. It feels good to put some swings into it and barrel up the ball. I just want to do it for a full game.”

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are officially splitting up Holland and Harrison in the rotation.  The day off on Monday afforded them the opportunity to flip-flop Harrison and Darvish in the rotation and they are taking advantage of it.  According to Wash, it has more to do with Yu then splitting the lefties.

“We wanted to keep Darvish pitching on four days’ rest,” Washington said. “He pitched, what, once a week in Japan? We want him to get used to four days down and then pitching on the fifth day. It just so happens to split the left-handers.”

  • Moreland returned to the team last night in Boston after battling oral issues.

“I’m so much better. It was a rough few days,” Moreland said. “I probably got five hours sleep total in two days, but I feel 100 percent better. I slept great last night.”

  • The Rangers will have 3 of the first 53 picks in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.  The Rangers will have the 29th overall pick in the first round. They will also have two picks in the compensation round, including the 39th overall pick as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels and the 53rd pick for Darren Oliver signing with the Blue Jays.
  • Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) covers the draft order in more depth.
  • Michael Young left in the 8th inning last night with back stiffness.  It’s not expected to be serious.

“He’ll be fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was just a little stiff so we got him out of there. We had the lead there. He’ll be in there Wednesday.”

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Apr 092012
 

Monday Morning FastballsA couple of months ago when the Rangers were rumored to be interested in free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt, he was the guy who was thought to lose his spot in the rotation.

For the last 2-3 years when writers/fans praise Jon Daniels for the quality bounty he got in return for Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves, he isn’t mentioned first…or even second.

When (most of) you think of the breakout left-handed starter on the Texas Rangers, he’s not the first name that comes to mind.

Last night…he was brilliant, and we all took notice.

Matt Harrison was dominant throughout Spring Training, and he brought that same command and presence into the regular season last night in front of 45,368 cheering Rangers fans and possibly more importantly, in front of baseball fans worldwide on the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game.  Harrison pitched six scoreless frames against the Chicago White Sox to give the Rangers the 2-1 series win.

“I was able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes early in the game,” Harrison said. “It gave them something to swing at besides my fastball. They fouled a lot of pitches off early, but I just kept pounding the strike zone and making them put the ball in play.”

“Harrison pitched great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is one of those where you tip your hat to him.”

“Outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “Harrison had a good sinker working, he was moving the ball up and down, in and out, good breaking ball. Early in the game they fouled off so many pitches it put him in a bad way at the end, but he gave us what we needed tonight.”

  • Harrison gave up 4 hits and allowed 2 walks while striking out 3 across his six innings of work.
  • Hamilton, Beltre & Murph all went yard in this game, with Hamilton’s being a ridiculous 441 foot blast that initially looked like it was going to exit the stadium.
  • Hamilton also made two nice snags in center field.

Quick Hits:

  • Tonight is the debut of Yu.  Tickets are still available from the Rangers and on StubHub.  Why aren’t you going?
  • Robbie Ross was impressive last night in his Major League debut, working a scoreless 8th inning, striking out Paul Konerko and walking one.
  • Jasen and I will be at the game tonight, so hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo).
  • We will be recording this weeks podcast tomorrow night.  If you’d like to submit a question or topic, please comment on this post or sent it via the Contact Us page.
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Mar 302012
 

If you didn’t catch it on Twitter last night, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see the Mariners and Rangers on Wednesday, April 11.  To be eligible for the drawing, all you have to do is purchase your tickets for the Baseball Do Field Trip prior to midnight tonight.  We’ll announce the winner over the weekend.

Friday Morning KnuckleballsMatt Harrison continued his strong Spring in yesterday’s 6-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

  • Harrison pitched 6 innings, giving up one run on six hits, while striking out seven and only walking one.  He threw 91 pitches and lowered his Spring Training ERA to 1.69.

“I think I have really been consistent this spring pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters,” Harrison said. “A lot of it comes from last year. The games I was successful were the ones that I was aggressive and went right after hitters. I brought that mentality into Spring Training and it has paid off.”

  • Reliever Yoshinori Tateyama gave up 3 runs in the top of the seventh, blowing the 2-1 lead Harrison had protected.
  • Napoli and Moreland led off the second inning with back-to-back home runs off Giants starter Matt Cain. That was the third home run in the last three days for Napoli.
The Rangers have set their rotation, which to the surprise of at least Baseball Do, will not split up left handed starters Derek Holland & Matt Harrison.
  1. Colby Lewis – Opening Day, April 6th vs. White Sox
  2. Derek Holland – April 7th vs. White Sox
  3. Matt Harrison – April 8th vs. White Sox
  4. Yu Darvish – April 9th vs. Mariners
  5. Neftali Feliz – April 9th vs. Mariners
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsIt was well known that Wash was going to give the Opening Day nod to veteran Colby Lewis.  While you could argue that Lewis doesn’t necessarily have the highest ceiling or most potential of the pitchers on this staff, he deserves the nod for his tenure with the team and more importantly for his recent big-game/postseason performances.
“He’s my veteran,” Washington said. “He’s the guy who is dependable. You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to battle and he’s my most experienced pitcher.”
  • I like the move.  Darvish debuts in a game which will probably have less pressure (Sunday nights game will be nationally televised) and it’s a bit of a reward for Matt Harrison, which is much deserved given his strong campaign in 2011.
  • Splitting up the lefties, while seemingly a sound strategy, doesn’t carry much weight statistically and more the likely the rotation will be out of order due to off-days or fill-ins by Scooter Feldman by mid-May…if not sooner.

Quick Hits:

  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsRangers face off with the Rockies tonight in what will be the final Spring start for Yu Darvish.
  • Brad Hawpe’s career with the Rangers is over, as the veteran was unconditionally released yesterday.  Hawpe, who was brought on as insurance against Moreland’s wrist, has been invited back by the club to play in the minors if he is unable to find a major league job with another team.
  • Next week’s podcast will be our official 2012 Season Preview.  Feel free to post questions here on the blog or send us questions via the Contact Us page if you have anything specific you want us to address.
  • Sports Illustrated has put their season predictions out, and while they have the Rangers making it into the postseason as a wild card, they give the AL West crown to the Angels.  Even worse, they pick the Angels to eliminate the Rangers in the ALDS and to go on to win the World Series.

Have a good weekend!

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Mar 192012
 

Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersThe Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.

  • Harrison on the outing, ”So far, so good.  Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that.”
  • Manager Ron Washington on the effectiveness of Harrison’s changeup, ”I’ve always thought that was his second-best pitch.  He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he’s continued to work on it and it’s gotten better.”
  • Two of Harrison’s strikeouts came on changeups, which is an encouraging sign from the young starter.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor discusses how the Rangers rotation is starting to take shape.
  • Ron Washington said a few weeks ago that he was going to split Harrison and Holland up in the rotation, which makes perfect sense.  To me, I’ve though the debate was whether they would fall in the second and fourth spots of the rotation or the third and fifth, with Darvish and Feliz taking the other two spots.  After the strong performances from Holland this Spring, I think it’s clear the order looks like this:
  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz
  • Washington on Holland and Harrison expectations, “I don’t want them having 18 or 20 wins on their mind.  If they set out to do what they did last year, they’ll surpass it without even trying. If they repeat the number of wins they had last year, that’s good enough for me – anything else is failure. I don’t want them going backward.”

Quick hits:

  • C.J. Wilson is an idiot.
  • The Rangers have partnered with the Japanese social media company gloops.  The partnership will include a gloops exclusive Japanese backdrop during press conferences, a fixed sign behind home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and signs around Surprise Stadium for the rest of spring training.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDavid Murphy and Brad Hawpe each went yard in the other split-squad game yesterday, before the game was called short in the 4th inning due to rain.
  • Torrealba was removed from the line-up due to stiffness in his back.  He did get some batting practice in, so it looks like his removal was precautionary.
  • Craig Gentry returned yesterday from his wrist injury that he sustained last week.  He went 0 for 2.
  • Prospect Robbie Ross, who is fighting for the bullpen role, started the game against the Brewers yesterday and didn’t fare well, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits across 2 1/3 innings.
  • Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Ross’ outing,  ”He was aggressive, went right after these guys.  He just didn’t have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders.  He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn’t back off from them. He came right at them. I didn’t see any intimidation, and I didn’t see any fear. He just didn’t quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there.”
  • Good article from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) on Johan Yan, who the Rangers are hoping to convert from a poor hitting fielder to a strong armed relief pitcher, just as they did Alexi Ogando.  Another current Ranger who made a similar conversion was Joe Nathan, who was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Giants.

Darvish Day III:

  • Yu Darvish will be on the mound and Mike Napoli will be catching today when the Rangers play the Brewers.  The game will be live on MLB.TV, at 3:05 p.m.  Darvish is making his third start and will be looking to throw 60 pitches across four innings.  Napoli, who has been dealing with a strained groin muscle, will be back behind the plate for the first time since March 8.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDarvish reportedly generated more than $250 million of advertising revenue in January alone.
  • Pitching coach Mike Maddux on Darvish (from Ben & Skin, 103.3FM ESPN), “So far we’ve got five innings to go on. In those five innings, we had some ups, and we had some downs. We had more ups especially the ball being up and down. It’s just something we need to continue to grind at. We’re going to work today and really get that ball going down. He showed us some good breaking stuff, and that’s kind of bailed him out since his fastball command has been erratic. He’s a confident young man. He only knows success. You look at his track record in the Japanese league, and he was dominating. His expectations are to go out there and dominate, but it’s a little different game over here. There is a more concentration of talent so he has to grind it out, and I think he’s learning that.”
  • Maddux on overcoming the language barrier with Yu, “It’s somewhere between broken English, broken Spanish and broken Japanese. Some how, we got it all on the same page. The good news with baseball is that it’s an international language. Whether you’re in Tokyo or Arlington, Texas, it’s fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, change. It’s a strike and a ball. Some of the phrases are universal. There are some phrases that everybody knows whether they be in English or in Japanese or in Spanish. You kind of use those bullet phrases, and we all get on the same page. We’re able to get the communication bridged. When we come to the dugout, we really start getting the communication bridged when we employ the translators.”
  • Darvish’s younger brother, Sho Darvish, was sentenced to a one-year prison term for assaulting a female friend. According to the Japan Times, Sho repeatedly slapped the woman in the face and tried to choke her. The attack reportedly resulted from Sho’s anger over her association with some of her friends.

St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner

  • Thanks to all those that participated!  The winner of the tickets is rauch5s.  We’ll get in touch with the winner and get the tickets out in the mail this week.  Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the season!
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Mar 122012
 

Monday Morning FastballsOne of the Rangers over-shadowed acquisitions of this off-season was the signing of closer Joe Nathan who, Joey Nowak (MLB.com) writes, is confident that he’ll return to form after missing a season and a half after Tommy John surgery.

  • Nathan on the injury and surgery, ”Obviously, the surgery, being two years behind me now, has allowed my arm to heal and do everything I need to do.  It’s not a concern, I’m not thinking about that anymore. I’m just concentrating on what’s important and that’s getting guys out.”
  • Ron Washington on Nathan and the acquisition, ”Last spring, we experimented with Neftali starting, but we weren’t protected in the back end of the bullpen.  And the first thing [general manager Jon Daniels] did this winter was go get us some protection in the back end of the bullpen so we could go make this move with Neftali. I think he made a great choice in Joe Nathan. More than that, Joe Nathan wanted to be in Texas.”
  • Catcher Yorvit Torrealba on Nathan, ”Not to take anything away from Neftali, but Nathan is one of the best closers in the game, and it’s a plus to have a guy like that to bring in.  With Neftali moving to the rotation, we need a guy like that, and to have him here is great.”
  • Nice to hear Joe’s confidence in himself and that the injury is behind him completely.  This was a move that not only netted the Rangers a potential stud closer, but also with a potential top of the rotation starter with the transition of Feliz.

Minus C.J., plus Yu, and more…  Mike Bauman (MLB.com) think that the 2012 Rangers Pitching may be better than last year’s.

  • Bauman on the depth, “And there is admirable depth here. Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, appears to be all the way back after knee surgery. Hard-throwing Alexi Ogando proved his worth as a reliever in 2010, then demonstrated that he was a Major League starter in 2011.”
  • Overview from Wash, ”If our young kids continue to grow — it’s important that they continue to grow and don’t go backwards — we will certainly hold our own.  Name-wise, you put them up against some of those rotations out there, maybe we don’t compare. But result-wise, I think we will be fine. I’m certainly looking forward to them continuing their growth. And the addition of Darvish will certainly help. That will replace what we lost in C.J.  We should continue to move forward. We don’t doubt that. Colby showed that he’s coming around [with four perfect innings on Saturday]. Feldman has got his sink back and his cut back on his fastball, and he’s getting his ground balls. Neftali is moving along. Holland and Harrison have shown that they haven’t missed a beat, yet. And Darvish had a very good first outing. So we’re certainly very positive about what we have to go into the season with. And we’ve just got to hope that we stay healthy.”
  • Ron Washington on the young guys on the staff, ”The Harrisons, the Hollands, the Ogandos, the Neftalis, they were young, and they had a chance to pitch into the postseason two years, back to back, and understand what it’s like to compete.  And I think that’s a good advantage for us to have. They’ve been there and done that.”
  • Say what you want about C.J. (super douche), but his loss from the rotation did leave a gap…a gap that has been filled by Yu Darvish, who has more potential than C.J.  You couple that with the development of the younger guys on the staff, as Wash talks to above, and I think this year’s staff will out-produce last year’s staff.  A lot depends on what Yu can do…

Quick hits:

  • Rangers split their two Spring Training games over the weekend, losing Saturday to the White Sox and beating Cleveland yesterday.
  • Derek Holland had an effective outing in the win yesterday, giving up 1 ER on 3 hits over 3 innings of work, striking out 4.
  • The Rangers play the Mariners today at 3:05pm.  Matt Harrison faces off with former Ranger prospect Blake Beavan.
  • Scooter Feldman (Jasen’s pick for Surprise Player of the Year) understands the starting pitching depth that this team has, ”I’m just trying to get my focus where it needs to be at the beginning of the season.  I’d like to know what I was doing, but I’m a fortunate guy to be on this team. I just go about my business and do what I can control. I can’t control the decisions they’re gonna make.”
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN) compares the current Rangers squad to the dominant Cowboys of the mid-90′s.
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Mar 072012
 

Baseball Do Episode 10 – Spring Training Games & Surprise Players of the Year

Tim Howell joins Baseball Do to talk about the Rangers start to Spring Training, the upcoming Yu Darvish debut and all three of the guys pick their surprise player of the year.

Who do you think will be the Mike Napoli of 2012 that exceeds all expectations and shocks the pants right off of us?

Give the podcast a listen and be sure to comment below to let us know what you think.

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