Sep 072012
 
Mike Napoli 3

Which Naps coming back?According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Mike Napoli continues to make strides in his recovery from an injury to his left quad.  While it sounds like Nap just needs to get more comfort in his running, Rangers fans hold out hope that we get the 2011 version of Nap upon his return, rather than what we saw during the first 4+ months of the 2012 season.

Want the 2011 version of Nap back for the final month of the season and the playoff run?  I have the answer!!  Read on…

A look at the numbers…

Napoli, who has not played in a game since August 10th (DET), was making it clear that 2011′s performance was the outlier in his career and not the norm.  Here is a quick look at Nap’s career numbers:

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 24 LAA 99 268 47 61 13 0 16 42 51 90 .228 .360 .455 .815 110
2007 25 LAA 75 219 40 54 11 1 10 34 33 63 .247 .351 .443 .794 107
2008 26 LAA 78 227 39 62 9 1 20 49 35 70 .273 .374 .586 .960 148
2009 27 LAA 114 382 60 104 22 1 20 56 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842 120
2010 28 LAA 140 453 60 108 24 1 26 68 42 137 .238 .316 .468 .784 115
2011 29 TEX 113 369 72 118 25 0 30 75 58 85 .320 .414 .631 1.046 173
2012 30 TEX 92 301 45 67 7 2 17 40 50 108 .223 .343 .429 .771 101
7 Yrs 711 2219 363 574 111 6 139 364 309 656 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
162 Game Avg. 162 506 83 131 25 1 32 83 70 149 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
LAA (5 yrs) 506 1549 246 389 79 4 92 249 201 463 .251 .346 .485 .831 119
TEX (2 yrs) 205 670 117 185 32 2 47 115 108 193 .276 .382 .540 .922 140
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

As you can see, Napoli’s 2012 performance is down across the board from that magical 2011 season.

  • .223 batting average is actually the lowest of his career.  He’ll have a limited number of games upon his return to try to bring that up over .228 he hit in his 2006 rookie season in Anaheim.
  • 108 whiffs in 92 games YTD exceeds the respectable 85 (for a slugger) he accumulated in 2011 in 113 games played.
  • Walks is really the only thing that doesn’t seem to have gotten worse (50 YTD compared to 58 in 2011).
  • Check that – he has 2 triples!

You could go on and on, and I won’t, but the point is that it looks like Nap was playing well above himself in 2011 and his performance has regressed to the mean.

Could we get Nap v.11 for the stretch run?

Taking a closer look at 2011, we see the cycle of Nap’s season, and there is hope:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 17 45 12 12 3 0 6 12 13 8 .267 .431 .733 1.164
May 21 63 9 13 3 0 4 13 10 17 .206 .320 .444 .764
June 8 28 3 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 .179 .233 .214 .448
July 18 61 16 27 8 0 5 14 7 12 .443 .500 .820 1.320
August 28 102 20 31 5 0 7 17 13 23 .304 .388 .559 .947
Sept/Oct 21 70 12 30 5 0 8 19 14 16 .429 .518 .843 1.361
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

Started the season off with a bang, slid back into mediocrity in the early summer months and finished the season and post-season at a ridiculous All-Star level.

Last year was truly “The Year of the Napoli”:

Now, a closer look at 2012 YTD:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 20 70 11 18 1 0 7 14 6 27 .257 .338 .571 .909
May 25 77 14 17 2 2 2 11 11 27 .221 .322 .377 .699
June 23 76 11 18 3 0 3 5 12 26 .237 .356 .395 .750
July 19 60 7 11 0 0 5 8 17 19 .183 .364 .433 .797
August 5 18 2 3 1 0 0 2 4 9 .167 .318 .222 .540
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

May and June brought similar levels of mediocrity after a strong start in April, but we started to see a bit of an uptick in July with Nap’s OPS creeping up closer to the .800 range, which would be considered above average – especially at the catcher position.  Disregard August numbers given the injury.

A closer look at July shows us that his batting average was at the lowest level it’s been all year, but his walks and power numbers were up.

  • 5 home runs in 60 July at-bats (HR/12.5 AB) vs. 5 home runs in 153 May/June at-bats (HR/30.6 AB)
  • 17 walks in 19 July games vs. 23 walks in 48 May/June games

By no means was this July in line with what Nap did to close out his 2011 campaign, but as mentioned above, it gives us a glimmer of hope.  As good as this current team is, it could use Napoli v.2011.

Theories on Nap’s decreased production

OK, full disclosure before we go any further…I’m the same guy that was ready to fork over the bank to Nap before the season started.  I thought we had seen the breakout in 2011 rather than just a prolonged hot streak from an above average MLB hitter – and I’m not fully convinced I’m wrong (proven by this article), but his 2012 performance is like mud in my face at this point.

Clearly, when you look at the career stats above, 2011 was the outlier, so perhaps the real question is – Where in the hell did 2011 come from, and how do we get it back for the next two months?  Let’s first examine the top 5 theories behind why his 2012 performance hasn’t matched what he did last year (with odds since I gamble on everything):

  1. Which Naps coming back?He’s misses C.J. Wilson – while they had a little off-season friction over C.J. tweeting out Nap’s cell phone number, could it be that they really were buds?  They both made Dustin Dietz’s “Team D-Bag”, so might they have more in common than we actually realize?  Nap has dismissed a friendship, much a relationship that could cause a funk like he’s been in much of 2012.
    “You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season,” Napoli said after the so-called prant. “We don’t have that type of relationship.”
    ODDS – 75:1 
  2. Which Naps coming back?He misses Jered Weaver and the rest of the Halos – Let’s face it, Nap’s first season here in Texas was the honeymoon, and the honeymoon is always fun!  Well, maybe the honeymoon is over.  Napoli was drafted by the Angels organization in 2000.  It’s natural for a little homegrown loyalty to develop in players that come up through the ranks and experience their first success all with one organization.  The theory calls out Weaver specifically because they clearly have a friendship (suck on that C.J.), which we were all reminded of at the 2012 All Star Game (here and here) – and there’s nothing wrong with that…as long as Nap’s longing for quality time with his former homies isn’t the reason for his decreased production.
    He’s a professional.  He has the off-season to rekindle the flames.  Seems like a long shot.
    ODDS – 60:1 
  3. Which Naps coming back?The Ankle of Steel – Look at that picture!  Zoom in on it, crop it, posterize it, make it black and white, rotate it, make it look like a Zombie, do whatever you want to it…it’ll still makes you a little queasy.
    Physically, he’s over it, proven by this ability to effectively run the bases and play the catcher position during the first four months of the season.  But mentally?  Emotionally?  Could he be addicted to the pain?  Addicted the baboon ankle transplant be affecting his other senses and abilities?  Doubt.  Seems like another long shot.
    ODDS – 45:1
  4. Too much nookie -
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?  Yes it’s them again…
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?
    Sorry…that one got mixed in accidentally.
    No need for further examination of this one.  Nookie makes us stronger.  Theory trashed.
    ODDS – 1,000,000:1
  5. Which Naps coming back?The Evan Grant Pizza Curse –  It would be a first…that we know of, so I’m not 100% sure I can label it as a curse already, but maybe this will dissuade Mr. Grant from naming a pizza after a player ever again.  So far, every time Grant’s done this, the player follow’s it up with a decrease in production the following season.  It’s groundbreaking, but a strong contender.
    ODDS – 15:1

The Odds On Favorite

Overuse of the “NA-PO-LI” chant by Ranger fans -

Last season, the chants started in early October and carried through the playoffs and World Series – fans called out with the chant in key situations and were usually answered with clutch performances from the overnight fan favorite.

This season, fans were half-heatedly chanting “NA-PO-LI” with the bases empty and 2 outs in the 5th inning of a game the Rangers already had in the bag.

Can you see how it would lose a little power?

ODDS – 2:1

There you have it.  Vegas Odds say that we, the fans, can bring back Napoli v.2011.  It has nothing to do with C.J. or Weaver, his baboon ankle or nookie consumption, or even that damn pizza.  It’s about respecting the power of the chant.

I move that we reserve the “NA-PO-LI” chant for those times when we need it most.  For those times when we need some magic and when a situation calls for Super Nap (formerly known as Napoli v. 2011).

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Sep 062012
 
greatthursday copy

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Adrian Beltre continues his offensive assault, as he swatted home run number 29 last night.

If you are a resident of the greater DFW Metroplex, undoubtedly, today you had a pretty solid day. That’s just the way it is in the DF-dub when both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys win on the same night.

The Cowboys, as you may recall, defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants a night ago, much like the Rangers nipped the 1985 World Series Champion KC Royals.

It’s the kind of day that your coffee costs $4.14, and the dude at Starbucks waves you on as you plummet into your pockets unsuccessfully searching for the 14 cents.

A mockingbird might just land on your shoulder, and that good-looking person you’ve been oggling at the office actually laughs with you rather than at you.

On a day like today, your skinny pants actually make you feel skinny.

All told, it’s a red-letter, 22-font, all CAPS kind of Thursday.

How could this day get any better? Well, that’s easy, friends. A win tonight for the Texas Rangers would not only get Scooter back on track, but would also claim the season series against the increasingly pesky KC Royals.

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals (61-75)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Butler went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored an an RBI in last night’s game.


CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Tony Abreu

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9)

How many pitchers can you recall have had two six-game losing streaks in the same season? Yeah, I’m stumped too. Well, a loss tonight and Scooter Feldman will hold that ignominious distinction. It’s hard to believe that sandwiched in between his two aforementioned skids, he had a six-game winning streak, too.

Truth be told, over his current five-game skid, Feldman truly hasn’t been that bad; he’s just fallen prey to one really bad inning in each of those losses. Feldman is definitely the type of pitcher that keeps you on your toes, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Ironically, during Scooter’s six-game winning streak, it was these same KC Royals that he defeated 4-2 on August 4. The 6’6″ Hawaiian-born righty has not recorded a win since…so, beating the Royals tonight would just make a strange kind of cosmic sense, right?

Right.

Texas Rangers (81-55)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Michael Young hit his sixth home run of the season, and his second of the series in last night’s 7-6 Rangers win.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
DH Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry

VS

RHP Luke Hochevar (7-13, 5.34 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9)

Hochevar, a former number on pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, has occasionally shown flashes of greatness over his career. For example, on June 25 of this year, Hochevar pitched a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays while collecting eight strikeouts and surrendering just seven hits.

Then, of course, you have the 2 1/3 inning outing against the Yankees on May 6 where Hochevar was undressed to the tune of seven earned runs on seven hits. He didn’t strike out anyone and surrendered two long balls.

The 6’5″, 220-pound Denver, Colorado, native’s career arc is somewhere in between those two vastly different starts. In other words, Hochevar is a solid back-of-the-rotation type of starter.

The Texas Rangers have produced the triple-slash line of: .247/.309/.447 against Hochevar. Michael Young, who is batting second tonight and starting at shortstop, is the only Ranger (aside from catcher Geovany Soto) to have hit a home run off of Hochevar.

News around the A.L. West

• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace, Jered Weaver, has been scratched from his next start due to right biceps tendinitis. Although this might not have any long-term implications, it’s never a good thing for your ace to be dealing with any kind of injury issue.

• The Oakland Athletics, currently five games behind Texas, travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners tomorrow, while the Los Angeles Angels welcome the Detroit Tigers to the “Big A.” The Angels are 2 1/2 games behind the A’s and 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 052012
 
MLB: Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers

Word on the street is that some other Texas team that plays some other type of sport has a game tonight or something. I doubt seriously that anyone will pay much attention to this bizarre type of “ball” that evidently requires a “foot.”

After all, the Texas Rangers are looking to take their second game of the four game series with the Kansas City Royals this evening. A win tonight would even up the season series with four wins apiece.

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

Kansas City Royals (61-74)

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Per Fangraphs’ WAR, Francouer is having the worst season of any MLB regular, with his -2.0.


CF David Lough
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Johnny Giavotella

VS

RHP Ryan Dempster (9-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP,7.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Over his last three starts, Dempster is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 20 strikeouts. Tonight he’ll be looking for his fourth-straight win and might have an advantage over the Royals in that they are largely unfamiliar with him.

Of current Royals players, only Alcides Escobar (.154/.267/.154) and Jeff Francouer (.400/.400/.800, 1 HR, 4 RBI) have faced Dempster in more than four plate appearances.

Texas Rangers (80-55)

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Elvis flashed some pop yesterday, as he launched his third homer of the year in the first inning.


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

VS

LHP Everett Teaford (1-3, 4.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9)

This will be Teaford’s first appearance against the Rangers this season. He pitched in relief against Texas on three occasions last season, and did not allow a run in his 1 2/3 innings of work.

Teaford will be making just the eighth start of his big league career, and it was borne out of necessity due to last Saturday’s double header against the Minnesota Twins.

Royals’ skipper Ned Yost, has dubbed tonight’s game as “‘pen day,” due to the fact that Teaford—despite a solid 5 1/3 inning outing last week—is still considered a part of the KC bullpen rather than its rotation.

Regardelss, Teaford profiles as the type of pitcher than can challenge the mighty Rangers’ offense. He’s a soft-tossing port-sider that is largely unknown to the Rangers. He’s only faced David Murphy and Mitch Moreland, and they have gone a combined 0-for-3 against him.

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Teaford (left) and Tim Collins (right), found the recently departed Johnathan Broxton’s pants mighty hard to fill.

Oakland Athletics Watch

• After tonight, the A’s will play 17 of their next 20 games on the road, and hopefully, will lose the vast majority of those games.

• As of this post, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were ahead of the A’s 4-1 in the top of the ninth inning. If the Angels hold on for the win, they will have swept the A’s, which, ultimately, helps the Texas Rangers.

• Should the Angels hold on for the victory, the Athletics would drop to 4 1/2 games behind Texas, while the Angels would climb to “just” seven games behind the Rangers.

Notes:

• There was speculation that Jurickson might get the start at second base since Kinsler was manning the DH spot tonight. Alas, it will be MY that gets the nod at his “natural” position.

• Keep your eyes peeled for a possible Profar sighting for tomorrow’s “gettaway” game against he Royals.

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Sep 032012
 
Yu2

Chen Music: Rangers Rough up Royals, 8 4Well, that was a very satisfying win…one that was almost a true “KC Masterpiece.” Yu Darvish was outstanding. He retired the first 17 batters he faced—and almost made it 18—before allowing his first baserunner.

All told, Darvish lost the perfecto, no-hitter and shutout in that three-run sixth inning but still managed one of his better starts of the season.

Normally it’s hard to top a possible perfecto, but the way the Rangers’ offense has been swinging it of late, that’s exactly what happened.

Here’s a look at some numbers of note and notes on those numbers…

87

• The number of pitches Yu Darvish threw over his seven innings. It’s the fewest he’s pitched in a game all season and the lowest total pitch count since he threw 93 back on May 27 against the Blue Jays.

• Today marked the eleventh time Darvish has worked at least seven innings in a game, and it was the third consecutive time he’s done so.

1 and 1 equals 2

• Number of times Nelson Cruz was plunked in today’s game. Also the number of pitches it took for Michael Young to connect for a two-run home run immediately after Cruz’s beaning in the ninth inning.

9

• Number of points David Murphy—currently in third place in the A.L. batting race—trails leader Mike Trout (.333).

• Murphy qualified for the batting title yesterday after obtaining the necessary number of plate appearances. A player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game played.

80

• Current Rangers win total. It’s the third-fastest time the Rangers have reached that mark in the franchise’s 40-year history. Just like the 1999 Texas Rangers, they landed win number 80 in game number 134. They also share an identical record with their 20th Century predecessors up to this point (80-54). The ’99 club finished at 95-67, a team record for wins that stood until last year, when the Rangers notched 96 regular season wins.

507

• Career wins for Rangers’ manager Ron Washington. Today’s 8-4 win pushed him past Johnny Oates (506) for second place on the all-time list. Current Boston Red Sox skipper, Bobby Valentine, had 581 wins during his tenure as the Rangers’ manager, from 1985-1992.

11

• Number of home runs Adrian Beltre has hit in his last ten games. He’d hit 17 in his previous 120 games…

Up Next:

LHP Matt Harrison (15-8, 3.30 ERA) toes the rubber for the Rangers tomorrow and will oppose Royals’ RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-12, 5.48 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (CST).

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Sep 022012
 
Texas Rangers v Cleveland Indians

Feldman Falters in the First, Rangers Cant Recover as Tribe triumphs 4 3Scott Feldman is beginning to develop a pattern.

No, I’m not just talking about his current five-game losing streak. Feldman is having—quite consistently over his last six starts—one bad inning.

Every start.

Last month against the Detroit Tigers, it was the four-spot he surrendered in the sixth inning that was his ultimate undoing. In his next start, against the Yankees, it was a three-run third. The Orioles jumped on him for four in the fifth during his next go-around…then the Twinkies dropped a deuce on Feldy in the fifth inning (once again.) And, last night, the Tribe gave Texas a Scooter-scalping for four earned runs in the first inning.

If you’re keeping score at home, he need only surrender a big second-inning to close out the first six frames, dart-style.

Last night’s 4-3 loss had the makings of an extremely short outing for Feldman, as Oswalt was beginning to get loose in the bullpen with just one out in the first inning.

Feldman recovered nicely, and stellar relief from Alexi Ogando and even gasp! Koji Uehara, kept the Indians to only four runs, total. Unfortunately, Adrian Beltre can’t do it all himself and the first-frame four-spot proved insurmountable.

Here in a few hours the Rangers will turn to Derek Holland to try and take their fourth-straight series, so hey, pound a few coldies and go get ‘em tomorrow…

Oakland Athletics Watch

• I don’t know about you, but I still find myself scoreboard watching—without even looking at Oakland’s box scores. I just don’t consider them a threat. But I think that it’s high time to start giving them more than a cursory glance.

They are currently a measly three games out of first place with a 75-57 record. Think about that for a moment. The Texas Rangers are having their best season in the franchise’s history…and the stupid Oakland A’s are only three games behind them.

With their current record, the A’s would be in sole possession of first place in the A.L. Central as well as the N.L. West…it’s definitely time to circle our calendars for September 24—September 27, when the A’s arrive for a four game series in Arlington that might just have some playoff implications…

Up Next:

LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 4.90 ERA) is currently riding a modest two-game winning streak. For HollandO, a native of Newark Ohio, there is truly no place like home. The 25-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA against the Tribe over his career.

For the Indians, it’ll be RHP Zach McAllister (5-5, 3.82). Like the Indians, McAllister has struggled over the last couple of months. He’ll be vying for just his third win since July.

The first pitch is scheduled for 12:05 (CST).

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Sep 012012
 
JuricksonProfarcopy_display_image

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Dempster was one cool customer last night, as he held the Tribe to just two hits over his six innings of work.

Fresh off of a 5-3 win at Cleveland’s Progressive Field last night, it’s hard to believe that the Texas Rangers lost two-of-three to these same Indians back in May—while outscored 19-13.

The two-run advantage really isn’t indicative of the dominant effort that the Rangers put forth a night ago, it’s just a sign of how bad Koji Uehara continues to be…even with the rosters expanding to 40 today, you have to wonder why Uehara continues to occupy one of those spots.

That being said here’s a look at some Rangers of note as well as some roster information as the light at the end of the regular season tunnel begins to burn ever brighter…

Ryan Dempster Continues to Cruise

• I wish I could claim to have never felt the pangs of panic concerning Ryan Dempster. But, like most of us, the second time Demples was shellacked for eight runs, I was wiping the sweat from my brow while clenching my fist in anticipation of smashing the proverbial panic button.

However, all anxiety surrounding the right-hander has been subdued by his recent excellence. Over his last three starts, Dempster has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and has notched 20 strikeouts and only seven walks. In short, Dempster has looked like the ace the Rangers have so desperately sought since Cliff Lee’s departure via free agency.

Trade Deadline Comes to a Close as Rosters Expand

• Even after news came of the Mariners’ King Felix being claimed on waivers, it became apparent that he most likely will be staying put in Seattle.

• However, the Texas Rangers did announce that the much-anticipated debut of Jurickson Profar will occur today. Highly regarded pitching prospect Miguel De Los Santos was designated for assignment and it looks like Tanner Scheppers as well as Brandon Snyder will be returning to the big league club for the September stretch run.

• It is uncertain how much playing time the aforementioned Profar will command in the final weeks of the season, but he will be a true utility infielder expected to backup shortstop Elvis Andrus and possibly Ian Kinsler at second base.

Koji Uehara…yeah, you know

• As I’m sure most of you are well aware, I’m not a Koji Uehara fan. It’s nothing personal, he seems like a nice dude and I admire his enthusiasm. But, the guy is just an awful pitcher. Occasionally people point to his statistics to quiet my rage, but with Koji, you have to consider the situations he’s used in. He rarely pitches in a close game that the Rangers are winning and if you’ve ever wondered why, just look at his outing against Minnesota last week and last night’s thunder-shot home run off the bat of the excruitiatingly-average Casey Kotchman…and there you have it.

Personally, I’d leave Koji off of my roster even if it expanded to a 60-man…I just don’t see why he’s ever allowed to pitch.

Adrian Beltre—not of this Earth

• Beltre, last week’s A.L. Player of the Week, is continuing to sizzle at the dish. Last night he was 4-for-5, raising his batting average five points to .316 on the season. Over his last 10 games, Beltre has hit .475 with six home runs and 14 RBI. It appears that the sure-handed third baseman is getting hot at the best possible time…

A.L. West Continues to Sizzle

• As great as the Rangers have played over the last several weeks, it’s hard to believe that they have been the A.L. West’s third hottest team over their last ten games.

• The second-place Oakland Athletics have won nine-of-ten and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak; the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have started to show signs of life, winning seven-of-ten while feeling the flow of a four-game winning streak.

Robbie Ross Injured

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Fan favorite and outstanding lefty reliever, Robbie Ross, is headed to the DL with tightness in his left forearm.

• Word came down late last night that left-handed reliever-extraordinnaire Robbie Ross will be placed on the disabled list due to left-forearm stiffness. The diagnosis is particularly disparaging as tightness in the forearm is often a precursor to elbow ligament damage—see Lewis, Colby.

Up Next:

RHP Scott Feldman (6-10, 4.95 ERA) will look to tap into some of his six-game winning streak magic in hopes of staving off his current four-game skid. Scooter will oppose the Indians’ Jeanmar Gomez (4-7, 5.11 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 (CST).

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences
making gifs
It’s Profar time, and I’m stoked!

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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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Aug 282012
 
Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...So, Roy Oswalt has cleared waivers. Did he pass like a ship in the night, or did he fall like a tree in an abandoned forest?

Does anyone care? Should we care?

You’d think the feeling of his passing would be a relief since his stay here in Arlington has been a tumultuous one, about as comfortable as a kidney stone.

There are some teams rumored to be interested in a trade for ‘ole Roy. Naturally, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the mix.

The Dodgers have become the MLB equivalent of your crazy grandmother. Yeah, the one with the $15K credit card limit that orders every magazine known to man, only to let each issue stack up throughout her house. Eventually, the unread magazines form false walls constructed from Cat Fancy and Redbook rather than plywood and drywall as Gam Gam’s house becomes a labyrinthine layer not even David Bowie would dare enter.

The Roy Oswalt saga can continue until this Friday at 11:00 PM (ET), when the trade deadline comes to an absolute close…in the meantime, on to more important matters.

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

Tampa Bay Rays (70-58)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

Jennings was 2-for-4 in last night’s game.


LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
RF Matt Joyce
3B Evan Longoria
SS Ben Zobrist
DH Luke Scott
1B Carlos Pena
2B Ryan Roberts
C Jose Lobaton

VS

RHP Yu Darvish (12-9, 4.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 4.9 BB/9)

Tonight marks the return of The Yu. Darvish is making his first start since August 17, as he was scratched from his last start due to a tight quad…or, perhaps, just because he felt sorry for Roy Oswalt and decided to let him start to boost his spirits.

In Darvish’s last start, he took the loss despite allowing just three hits, one walk, and three earned runs. He finished up striking out 10 over his seven innings of work.

The Tampa Bay Rays will pose a unique challenge for Darvish, as the Rays lead the American League in walks, with 451, trailing only the Atlanta Braves (454) for the major league lead.

Clearly, Darvish’s success is often predicated by how much he can control the strike zone (or find it with consistency.) If he walks too many Rays, it could be a long night and a short outing for The Yu.

However, on the flip side, the Rays tend to walk due to dire necessity. In other words, they take the free pass because they can do little else with a pitched ball. As a team, they are batting just .236. If Darvish’s stuff is present—as it usually is, he might be able to get the Rays to swing at offerings off of the plate. The key for him will be to attack the zone early and often.

This will be the first time that Darvish has faced the Tampa Bay Rays. At home this season, Darvish is 8-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Texas Rangers (76-52)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

Elvis has destroyed Shields in his career, posting a triple-slash line of: .571/.609/.857.


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

VS

RHP James Shields (12-7, 4.01 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9)

On the hill for the Rays tonight, it’s “Big Game James,” a nickname I’m fairly certain James Shields made up for himself. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but it’s just that most of Shields’ “big games” have come against the Texas Rangers, and they haven’t gone so well for him. Unless of course, his moniker means “Big Game” for the Texas Rangers’ bats…

Against Texas during the 2010 and 2011 American League Division, Shields is 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA with eight strikeouts. But, hey, in those two starts he didn’t walk anybody!

The Rangers have hit .257 against Shields over his career with eight home runs—six of which were hit by Kinsler, Young and Hamilton. Over his career, Shields is 3-2 with a 4.11 ERA at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (during the regular season.)

Texas Rangers Roy Oswalt Clears Waivers and Yu Darvish Returns...

“You have thirteen hours to solve the labyrinth…in the meantime, can you pass me that copy of Cat Fancy?”

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Aug 272012
 
Craig Gentry, rocketman.

Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series

Craig Gentry, rocketman.

The Minnesota Twins are gone, but they won’t be forgotten. And for the most part, their four game stay at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will be remembered fondly.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from that four-game set…

Adrian Beltre can carry a team

• Adrian Beltre was 7-for-9 (.777) in the first two games of the Twins series. He went 3-for-5 with one homer in game 1 (not a bad encore after the previous night’s three home run effort against Baltimore.) Game 2 saw Beltre notch the second cycle of his career, as he went 4-for-4 with three RBI.

• When Beltre heats up he’s more than capable of setting the tone for the Rangers’ offense or carrying the team on his own.

• It will be fun to see how Beltre handles the Tampa Bay Rays this week. Beltre hit three home runs in game 4 of the 2011 ALDS against the Rays.

Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series

Beltre gets a well-deserved hug from Mike Napoli.


Throwing at Josh Hamilton’s Cabeza is highly frowned upon…

• Yep, we learned this in the series’ opening game. Starting pitcher Scott Diamond retaliated for a Roy Oswalt beanball by letting one loose in the general vicinity of Hambone’s head.

• Even though Oswalt had not been warned, and no brawl ensued, Diamond was treated to a six-game suspension courtesy of Major League Baseball.

• Head-hunting aside, Hamilton had one heck of a series against the Twins. All told, he hit .438 with 9 RBI and hit his 35th home run of the year during yesterday’s finale.

White Men can jump, and Craig Gentry is proof

• With one out and one on in the top of the ninth inning, Craig Gentry perfectly played a deep blast off of the bat of Joe Mauer. #KittenFace deftly judged the arc of the ball before cat-apulting over the centerfield wall, landing on top of the Captain Morgan Club’s roof, robbing Mauer of what would have been the first ball ever hit onto Randol Mill Road. All in all, it was pretty sweet.

Koji Uehara still sucks

• Sunday’s finale saw the return of right-handed relief specialist Koji Uehara—whose true specialty is serving up the long ball. It’s good to see that after a two month layoff, Uehara can still get rocked with the best of them.

• Had it not been for the aforementioned trampoline-like leap of Craig Gentry, Uehara would have served up a two-run bomb to Minnesota’s Joe Mauer. This, of course, would have surprised absolutely no one.

• Can we please get Tanner Scheppers back up here to replace Koji? Sure I know he’s susceptible to the long ball as well, but at least his heater can actually break a pane of glass.

Mitch Moreland, one strong son of a gun
Rangers Offense Keeps on Rolling as Texas Takes Second straight Series
• In the second inning of the third game of the Minnesota series, Mitch Moreland crushed a Brian Duensing pitch into the right field upper deck. The three-run shot was measured at 463 feet, making it the third-longest bomb ever hit in the 19-year history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

• Not only was the bomb historic in length, it is also notable in that it came off of a left-handed pitcher, only the third time this season and the fourth time in his career that Moreland has gone deep off of a port-sider.

Up Next:

The Tampa Bay Rays, currently in second place in the A.L. East, come to Arlington for a three-game series.

On the hill for the Rangers will be LHP Derek Holland (8-6, 4.92 ERA). Left-handed ace, David Price (16-4, 2.28 ERA), is on the bump for Tampa Bay. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 (CST).

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Aug 212012
 
Feldy!

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris TillmanLast night’s 5-1 Rangers’ win certainly felt far more comfortable than the four-run advantage would indicate.

Against quality right-hander Miguel Gonzalez—who pitched quite well save for the fourth inning—the offense did a great job of working the count and seeing their fair share of pitches.

And if Gonzalez was good, then Ryan Dempster was great. Heck even if Gonzalez was terrible, Dempster was still great.

It was easily his best performance as a Texas Ranger. Dempster, simply put, looked like an ace last night, and the type of pitcher that can fill-in for the injured Colby Lewis, and maybe, just maybe, take the ball in game one of a playoff series and shut the opposition down.

In other words, be the anti-C.J. Wilson.

Hey if two extra days off and a no-call, no-show to Toronto is what it takes for this version of Dempster to show up consistently, then see ya in seven days Dempy and please continue to curtail Canada…

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

Baltimore Orioles (66-56)

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris Tillman

Although he doesn’t “make it rain,” this Adam Jones doesn’t suck either. He went 2-for-4 last night, driving in the O’s only run.


RF Nick Markakis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam “Not Pacman” Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Chris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Omar Quintanilla
3B Manny Machado

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 6.2 K/9)

Over his last two starts, Feldman has somewhat returned to Earth. Prior to those back-to-back losses, Scooter was rolling on a six-game winning streak, and over the month of July was the Rangers’ best starter.

Seriously.

Think about it. If I had told you four months ago that the Rangers would sign Roy Oswalt, you might not believe me. And you would send me off to the nuthouse straightaway if I told you that Oswalt would not only be signed by Texas, but would be relegated to the bullpen because Scott Feldman swiped the starting spot right out from under him…

Over his last two games, Feldman has been victimized by one poor inning, or, in the case of his start against Detroit, one bad pitch. Still, though he hasn’t been that bad even in losing efforts. Over his last 10 games, the Hawaiian-born hurler has gone 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA, with 41 strikeouts up against just 8 walks—four of which he allowed in last week’s loss to the New York Yankees.

Texas Rangers (71-50)

Orioles/Rangers Game 2 Preview: Scott Feldman vs. Chris Tillman

Murphy was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI in last night’s 5-1 win.


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

VS

RHP Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, K/9: 7.1)

Tilllman was a second round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2006 MLB amateur draft. He’s pitched in parts of the last four seasons after making his big league debut in 2009.

He’s having a fine season thus far, and at just 24 years of age, he could be a bright spot for the Orioles for years to come.

Tillman came over in the Erik Bedard trade with Adam “Not Pacman” Jones in what is beginning to look like an extremely Orioles-friendly—if not completely lopsided—trade.

The 6′ 5″ righty from Fountain Valley, California is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA on the road thus far in 2012. He’s tough on both right-handed batters (.239/.364/.457, 2 HR) as well as lefties (.250/.281/.398, 3 HR).

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