Jun 132012

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 PreviewEverybody loves home cooking, and in last night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Colby Lewis served up every fans favorite dish: a 9-1 win.

Tonight it will be up to Matt Harrison to keep the good times rolling as the Rangers seek to push their modest win streak to three, while securing their fourth win in five games.

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

Texas Rangers (36-26)

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 Preview

Kinsler went 3-for-5 with an RBI in last night's 9-1 Rangers win.

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
RF Brandon Snyder *
CF Craig Gentry

LH Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)

This is Harrison’s first time to face the D-Backs at home in Arlington. He pitched against them once at Arizona’s Chase Field, and it didn’t go so well—he only lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs, all earned while walking four and striking out just two…thus he’s 0-1 with an obnoxious 17.18 ERA versus Arizona.

Hey, it’s a small sample size.

Harrison is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA at home this year as opposed to 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA on the road. His road ERA is helped out considerably by his masterful performance against the San Francisco Giants last week—Harri pitched a complete game shutout while scattering just five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

As is the case with most southpaws, Harrison prefers facing left-handed batters. Lefties on the year are batting a paltry .151 off of him whereas righties are hitting .309.

Harrison has won his last four straight games and a win tonight would give him the team lead with 9.

* This is Brandon Snyder’s first start of 2012 in right field for the Rangers. Nelson Cruz is still under the weather and Washington prefers to sit 1B Mitch Moreland against left-handed starters.

Arizona Diamondbacks (30-31)

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 Preview

Aaron Hill was the only D-Back with multiple hits last night.

SS Willie Bloomquist (.400 BA against Harrison)
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton (.500 1 HR 2 RBI)
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State)
DH Jason Kubel (.250, 1 RBI)
CF Chris Young
C Miguel Montero
3B Ryan Roberts (L.D. Bell HS)
LF Gerrardo Parra

LH Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)

This is Miley’s first time pitching at RBIA and the only current Rangers player he’s ever faced is utility man Alberto Gonzalez, who is 1-for-1 with an RBI against him.

Miley was a first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2008 (43rd overall pick) and has been quite a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this season. He’s pitched like an ace at times, and has filled in nicely for Daniel Hudson who has had been injured most of the year.

Whether on the road or at home, Miley’s splits are quite consistent. He’s 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA at Chase Field and 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA when pitching para llevar.

Much like Harrison’s excellent previous start, Miley had a fine outing against the Rockies last week. He surrendered one run and little else, as he went the distance scattering just three hits while waling none and striking out five.

When Miley is on, he’s exactly the type of pitcher that can give the Rangers fits. He has great command of his off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance, and Texas has traditionally had trouble with southpaws in general.

Keys to a Rangers win:

In last night’s win, it took the Rangers a few times through the order to figure out Ian Kennedy. Once they started to lay off of his changeup, they forced him to throw more fastballs in the zone, which they subsequently pounded.

Look for a similar approach tonight from the Rangers against Miley. Miley isn’t exactly a soft-tosser, but if he gets too many heaters in the zone the Rangers should be able to jump all over him—granted they don’t let him get ahead in the count.

Likewise for Matt Harrison, it will be important for him to minimize the damage that Ryan Roberts (.279/.338/.471, 3 HRs) and Paul Goldschmidt (.379/.440/.712, 4 HRs) can impart on left-handers that get behind in the count.

Prediction time:

I think the Rangers bats are close to getting back into a consistent groove. I also feel that Miley might not like the unforgiving alleys—not to mention the infamous jet stream—that RBIA a true hitter’s paradise …Rangers win 6-3.

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Jun 122012
Colby Lewis Texas Rangers

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks PreviewTonight the Texas Rangers welcome the National League West’s third place team, the Arizona Diamondbacks (30-30) for a three-game interleague showdown.

So far so good for the Rangers against the NL West, as they are fresh off a series sealing win over the second place San Francisco Giants.

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

Texas Rangers (35-26)

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre (.333 BA against IPK)
DH Michael Young
RF David Murphy
C Yorvit Torrealba (.000 BA)
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry*

RH Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.5 K/9)

Lewis has never faced the Arizona Diamondbacks before. Current members of the D-Backs that have faced Lewis before are batting just .138 with 11 strikeouts.

“Colbyashi” is currently mired in a tough-luck two game losing streak. Over those two games, his ERA was 2.45 and he struck out a combined 8 batters. His last start, against the Oakland Athletics, was especially frustrating. He pitched 8 innings, surrendered no walks, struck out three, and took the loss as the Rangers fell to Bartolo Colon, 2-0.

This season, right-handed batters are hitting just .233 off of him, whereas lefties are hitting him at a .261 clip. Even though Lewis can be home run prone, he has given up just 4 of his 14 homers at home this season—he’s 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA and 9.1 K/9 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

* Nelson Cruz was scratched from tonight’s starting lineup due to illness. This moved Craig Gentry into the starting lineup and shifted Hamilton to left field and Murphy to right field.

Arizona Diamondbacks (30-30)

LF Gerardo Parra
SS Willie Bloomquist (.333 BA against Lewis)
RF Justin Upton
DH Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State University)
C Miguel Montero
CF Chris Young
2B Aaron Hill (0-for-9, 5 Ks)
3B Josh Bell

RH Ian Kennedy (5-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.4 K/9)

This will be Kennedy’s first time to pitch in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has never faced the Texas Rangers, but current members of the team are batting .286 against him.

Kennedy is coming off of a breakthrough 2011 campaign where he went 21-4 and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Over his career, left-handed batter have hit just .235 off of him but so far this year they are hitting .279. Right-handed batters are hitting .258 off of Kennedy in 2012.

Kennedy has a better won/loss record at home (3-2) than on the road (2-3). However, his road ERA (3.13) is far superior to his home ERA (4.70)—this of course could change if the Rangers are able to elevate some of his offerings into the Ballpark’s world famous “jet stream.”

Kennedy is coming off of his best start of the season, as he beat Colorado on June 5th with a masterful 12-strikeout performance over six innings of five-hit ball.

Keys to a Rangers win:

Keep Paul Goldschmidt in the park. After hitting just four home runs during the first two months of the season, “Goldy” has hit four in his last eight games. Goldschmidt is the team’s leader in home runs, with 8.

The Diamondbacks are 18th in the league with 53 home runs so they might not have what it takes to take advantage of homer-friendly RBIA as well as Colby Lewis.

If Lewis can continue to pitch as effectively as he has in his last two starts while keeping the ball in the yard—and the offense can solve Ian Kennedy—the Rangers should be able to win tonight.

On the downside, Ian Kennedy is a far better pitcher than Ryan Vogelsong of San Francisco, who shut down the Rangers’ offense last Saturday. If Kennedy is on his game, it might not matter how well Lewis pitches.

Prediction time:

I look for the Rangers’ bats to heat up thanks to a much-needed return home. There’s nothing like playing in front of a sold-out home crowd…Rangers knock Kennedy around and win 6-2.

Battle of the “pitch face”

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks Preview

Kennedy's pitch face is what I like to call the "Dizzy Gillespie."

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks Preview

Two words on Lewis' pitch face: Rugged Determination, okay maybe three words: Need to Dump.

Who has the best “pitch face?” Is it Colby Lewis or Ian Kennedy? Feel free to post your answer and why in the forum, or just drop it down in the comments section.

Go Rangers!

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