Oct 052012
 
Bud Selig's Frankenstein's monster, the additional wild card game, debuts tonight.

The Yu Darvish Ace Audition: Baltimore/Texas “Playoff” Matchup Bud Selig’s bouncing baby—the “extra” Wild Card Game—springs to life tonight for the Texas Rangers at 7:30 PM CDT. Here are some thoughts prior to the Rangers’ possible pilgrimage to the ALDS for a third-consecutive season.

The Yu Darvish Factor

Yu Darvish essentially has his “ace” test tonight. If he wins, he’s an ace, end of story. Should the Rangers win, and he pitches poorly, he’s still a number one. Should he pitch poorly and the Rangers lose, well, he’s still a helluva lot better than the Ceej.

• This is the first time that Yu Darvish will face the Baltimore Orioles. In first-time starts, The Yu is 11-3 with a 3.12 ERA. Pretty impressive, more so if you consider that the majority of those decisions came prior to Darvish’s return-to-Japanese-League-Super-Awesome-Pitcher-of-Extraordinary-Magnitude-form.

• If Wednesday’s nearly-unmentionable 12-5 O-town debacle has left you skeptical not only about the Rangers, but of Yu Darvish as well, then consider this, cynical Sally: The Baltimore Orioles are a team that succumbs to strikeouts, and Yu Darvish is their worst freaking nightmare. Also, Captain contempt, C.J. Wilson ain’t starting tonight.

Joe Saunders “Factor”

• The greatness of The Yu is matched only by the awfulness of Joe Saunders. Joe freaking Saunders, man! My only concern: Joe Saunders pitches from the port side and can’t break glass with his heater. Two things the Rangers’ bats tend to struggle with.

Playoff Or Game 163?

• It’s goofy, but tonight’s game actually would have gone down even without the new Wild Card format since the Rangers and Orioles have identical records, it makes it hard to get too excited. In many ways, it’s just game 163, the baseball game equivalent of going to junior college right out of high school, and enjoying the heck out of a “bonus year.” Or what I used to enthusiastically refer to as “12th Grade Redux.” I mean, isn’t that exactly what the Orioles are—our JV discards?

Buck Showalter

• He could never consistently win as a Texas Rangers manager so why should he now? Sure, that’s an irrational thought. The Baltimore Orioles are essentially built from a Rangers’ scrapheap of prospects, pitchers, and Adam “Not Pacman” Jones. Personally, I think that says far more about the level of talent that the Rangers possess than the excellent job Showalter has done in Baltimore. Regardless, the 2012 Orioles are a far better team than anything that Buck Showalter had to work with during his Texas tenure.

If/Then

Wednesday’s collapse sent me hurtling into a fetal position that only the promise of cheap beer and discount chicken wings could usher me out of. Yes, I was trapped in a childlike daze for hours after that 12-5 gut punch. So, in lieu of that, let’s take a trip into the excellent pre-adolescent game of “If/Then.” Why? Because it’s fun, and I’m sure as hades not going to “predict” anything…here goes:

If the Texas Rangers jump on the Baltimore Orioles early, and Yu Darvish continues to pitch the way he has, while once again destroying a first-time opponent, Then the Texas Rangers will win, and face the New York Yankees this Sunday in the ALDS.

If said Rangers win occurs, then I will still not buy this silly hat:

The Yu Darvish Ace Audition: Baltimore/Texas “Playoff” Matchup

However, if said hat should happen to come adorned with another particular logo—hint: the same one that’s been on there since 2010—then I will most definitely purchase one—and still bitch about the $38.99 price tag.

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Jun 052012
 
Scott Feldman 4
Rangers Offense Bottoms out in Oaktown while Feldman Gets Rocked

Yeah. Scooter was lit-up last night.

The hackneyed premise for the recent movie,The Changeup,centers around two dudes that switch bodies after taking a piss in a magical pond.

It makes you wonder at what point the Mariners and the Rangers whizzed in Hurricane Harbor’s Lazy River.
We may never know. But should the secret surface, I’ll give you a shout main.

It’s definitely no secret as to who crapped the cradle for Texas last night: Scott Feldman.

Here are some of my thoughts—the ones that can be printed—after last night’s 12-1 Oakland A’s ass stomping.

Roy Oswalt’s appeal is at an all-time high

• Just like an ugly chick on dollar beer night, Roy Oswalt is looking better by the minute.

• And yes, Roy Oswalt would be one ugly chick—at least for the first nine beers…

Those Crazy 8s

• The Texas Rangers have surrendered eight runs in one inning for the third time in six days.

• The Seattle Mariners did it last week in consecutive innings. They’re batting .236 as a team

• The Oakland Athletics entered last night’s game batting .204…it jumped up to .213, which is still the worst in all of MLB if not the world.

Closed door meeting

• Seemed to work for the defense…not so much for the offense. How about an open-door testicle-tazing? Might just put a charge into them.

Rangers Offense Bottoms out in Oaktown while Feldman Gets Rocked

Okay. Whose balls are first?

Forgot to pack the bat

• Beltre is 0-for-12 with 8 strikeouts over his last three games.

Scooter’s pooter

• In eerie fashion to Derek Holland a week ago, Feldman retired the first three A’s he faced while striking out 2-of-3…only to get rocked for 8 eight runs in the second inning.

Rangers Offense Bottoms out in Oaktown while Feldman Gets Rocked

This is how Feldman's pitches appeared from the batter's box during his fatal second inning.

Jarrod Parker is good, but they’re still the A’s

• Parker had a no-hitter going through seven innings; had he finished it off there would have been 10,000 in attendance to have witnessed it—but only 5,000 would have admitted to being there.

If it were up to me

• I’d option Scott Feldman to the minor leagues; or place him on the 15-day disabled list.

• Then I’d call up a lefty for the bullpen (Michael Kirkman) and I’d let Robbie Ross pitch in the five-hole until Roy Oswalt is ready.

• I would also hold Feldman contractually obligated to buy Papa John’s pizza for any Rangers’ fan that freely admits to having watched his second inning.

• The pizzas would be hand-delivered to us in bikinis by the Fox Sports Chicks.

• Maybe it would be a better idea for the Fox Sports Chicks to be in the bikinis rather than us…
Rangers Offense Bottoms out in Oaktown while Feldman Gets Rocked
2012 MLB Draft Picks

• The Rangers drafted Lewis Brinson with their 29th pick tonight. Joey Gallo was their next pick at 39th, and Colin Wyles was their final first-round selection, and was taken 53rd overall.

• None of the three are available for tomorrow night’s game. I already asked.

Tonight’s Head Scratcher

• Why go with center fielder Craig Gentry to pitch the eighth rather than Mitch Moreland?

Moreland was a closer at Mississippi State, his fastball sat in the low to mid 90s. Craig Gentry had TJ surgery in college (Arkansas).

Silver Lining in a sea of crap

• The Angels lost 8-6 last night.

• Thus the Rangers’ lead is still 4 1/2 games in the American League West; and being in first place is ALWAYS a good thing—so long as you’re not first in being last, whatever the hell that means.

Up Next:

Derek Holland toes the rubber for the first time since the Mariners provided him with an auxiliary a-hole last Wednesday…make sure to check back here for tomorrow’s BaseballDo pregame preview as well as a Rangers Draft review…

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Jun 042012
 
Snoop & Dre

Texas Rangers Look to Take Down Athletics West Coast StyleThe Texas Rangers finally stopped their 4-game losing streak—preventing the Angels from gaining ground—with their 7-3 victory yesterday afternoon.

For the Rangers, it’s another week of wonderful California weather and woeful West Coast start times. For the next four games it’s the less-than-formidable Oakland Athletics that stand in their path.

No matter how bad the Rangers have been playing lately, the A’s have been much worse. This Oakland squad is a team that the Rangers should have no problems dispatching. But what with the Rangers’ playing a skitterish brand of ball of late, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Oakland Athletics (23-31, 4th Place)

The A’s had a surprisingly strong start to the 2012 season. Since then, they’ve regressed back to their mean. Currently the once proud franchise has won just one game in their last 10.

On the hill:

RH Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, K/9: 4.1, BB/9: 4.5)

vs.

RH Jarrod Parker (1-2, 2.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, K/9: 6.4, BB/9: 4.6)

Feldman

This will be “Scooter’s” third spot-start as the number five man in place of the injured Neftali Feliz. In terms of success, he’s been right down the middle. He has yet to win a game and hasn’t pitched more than 4 2/3 innings yet.

However, aside from being roughed up in Seattle late last month, he’s pitched well enough to keep his team in the game.

Gives Scooter Fits:

Kurt Suzuki (.300, 4 RBI)

Can’t hit his shi*:

Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales are a combined 2-for-16 (.125) with 4 Ks against Scooter.

Key to success: Scott Feldman relies on two things for success: fastball command, and keeping his sinker down in the zone. When he’s on, he is a groundball machine that works quickly. If he doesn’t have the feel for his sinker it’ll be a quick outing—even against Oakland’s lethargic offense.

Parker

Jarrod Parker was one of the key trade pieces in the Trevor Cahill trade last off-season. Parker was the Diamondbacks’ top pick in the 2007 MLB Draft (1st RD, 9th Overall).

Like Feldman, Parker can have issues in command and generally walks far too many batters. However, he is extremely difficult to hit home runs off of so he tends to minimize the damage of his free passes.

Parker was roughed up for 6 earned runs against an anemic San Francisco Giants offense that was without their top hitter, Pablo Sandoval.

Hitters that have found their niche and batter’s he’s made his bitch

In his young career, Parker has never faced a current member of the Texas Rangers.

Keys to Victory:

It’s a small sample size, but if the A’s can hit enough to give Parker a lead he might be able to capitalize against a Rangers offense that has been sputtering of late.

Prediction Time

Parker has never faced an offense as potent as the Texas Rangers. He struggled against a Kung Fu Panda-less Giants offense last month and if he brings that same game tonight, he will get crushed.

Rangers win 5-2.

Go Rangers!

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May 292012
 

Texas Rangers, Scott Feldman, can breath easy—Wizard of Os is on the wayThe Texas Rangers have signed former Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt for a reported amount in the $5.5 million dollar range.

What with a rash of recent injuries to multiple team’s top-of-the-rotation studs—Roy Halladay, and Jered Weaver—the signing sends a ripple through the ranks of Major League Baseball.

In other words, simply by signing the diminutive Mississippian right-hander, the Rangers have prevented chief-rivals, the Los Angeles Angels of that city that houses Disneyland and little else, from scooping him up.

Take that suckas!

The only down side to the great gift of Roy Oswalt pitching for the two-time defending AL Champions is that it can’t be opened for a few more weeks.

It’s basically a layaway gift; an excellent insurance policy should Scott Feldman continue to falter in his temporary role as Rangers’ fifth starter.

For the Texas Rangers (31-18) to win their fifth-straight game tonight it will be all about how Feldman fares in his third start of the season—his second consecutive start against the AL West’s bottom dwelling Seattle Mariners (21-30).

Even though “Scooter” lacked command against the Mariners a week ago, he still pitched well enough to earn the win, save for one ill-fated pitch.

Feldman grooved a sinker to Alex Liddi with the bases loaded and the young Italian prospect didn’t miss it. After the grand slam, the day was done for the Hawaiian-born right-hander.

In life, rare are the occasions when we’re afforded second chances; and tonight Feldman will get a shot at hardball atonement.

Alex Liddi is batting .800 (4-for-5) versus Feldman, with a double, and 4 RBI thanks to that bases-loaded four-bagger. Justin Smoak (.400, 1 HR), John Jasso (.500) and Ichiro Suzuki (.286) are also hurdles that Feldman must jump for a successful second stab at Seattle.

But you know what? Even if Feldman fails to harness his control and leaves a sinker hanging once again, denizens of Rangers Nation can all rest assured that help is on the way.

Thank you Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan et al!

Roy Oswalt, the 34-year-old major league veteran of 11 seasons was plucked from free agent purgatory this afternoon and should be ready to pitch in his first big league game of 2012 in the next four weeks.

The immediate impact of the “Wizard of Os” following his yellow brick (cold hard cash-tinged) road down to Arlington is multi-faceted.

Oswalt in the Rangers rotation means:

• Neftali Feliz will not be rushed back; he can take his time getting his elbow back up to snuff.

• Scott Feldman can go back to being the spot-starter/long man; a role that he has excelled at over the last couple of seasons.

• Should Feliz return to 100% and there are no unforeseen injuries in the rotation, the Rangers may choose to place Feliz in the bullpen for the playoff run, similar to how they handled Alexi Ogando last season.

• A healthy Oswalt is a true number one, which gives the Rangers the ace they’ve so coveted since Cliff Lee’s departure via free agency following the 2010 season.

• In short, with the addition of Roy Oswalt, the Rangers have unprecedented pitching depth to match their deep and versatile lineup.

Game two of this three-game series between the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners is scheduled for a 7:05 first pitch.

Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.68 ERA 1.40 WHIP, 3.7 K/9) opposes Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.58, 1.02 WHIP, 6 K/9)

Go Rangers!

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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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May 182012
 

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?A popular Nancy Sinatra song from 1966 speaks of the wonders of boots that are made for walking. After broaching her brogan’s business it’s a letdown to learn that walking—rather than knocking—was all those bad boys were up to way back when.

The Silver Boot is far less ambiguous. It’s the annual award handed out to the winner of the interleague series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers.

This boot exists for one reason, and one reason only:

For kicking the shi@ out of the Houston Astros.
Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

The Texas Rangers travel to Houston today to start a three-game series. Normally, I’d breakdown how each team matches up against the other. However, I’m going to skip that because I couldn’t find any information on the Astros. Turns out MLB.com only lists statistics for major leaguer ball players Bing!

Aw hell, it’s pretty much just Bud Norris, and then the rest will bore us. You can use that if you want to.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the Lone Star Series:

• Despite having 12 opportunities to pitch against the Rangers during his two seasons in Houston, Roger Clemens was always too frightened to toe the rubber against Texas.
• The future demise of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim occurred the very moment that Gary Matthews Jr. made his circus grab against the Astros on July 1, 2006. Had it not been for that spectacular catch, the Halos wouldn’t have started their string of cash whipping outfielders past their prime. See: Wells, Vernon (yes it was a trade but they’re stuck with that contract). Abreu, Bobby. Hunter, Torii. Etc, ad infinitum.
• The Lone Star Series started in 2001, but the Rangers and Astros first played each other in 1997, one year after both the Astros and Rangers retired Nolan Ryan’s number 34.
• The Texas Rangers and Astros have split three Lone Star Series. The Rangers won all three as they outscored the Astros overall.
• The Rangers have won the boot 73% of the time, including the last five years straight.
• The Silver Boot was originally made out of 14-karat solid gold, but Tom Hicks pawned it in 2009.

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Yep, Tom Hicks pawned the Gold Boot here in 2009. What a jerk.

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM, Houston time, which is exactly like DFW time yet smoggier and infinitely more humid.

Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32 ERA) will oppose Wandy Rodriguez (3-1, 1.99 ERA).

Go Rangers!

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Walking Boots? No thanks. Knocking Boots? Yes, please.

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May 092012
 

Josh Hamilton is pretty good at this whole hitting a baseball thing

Hey Hamilton deserves to be on the $32 bill! That way he has left over dough after purchasing a gigantic wiener!


Last night, Josh Hamilton had one amazing night. Yep. Even by his lofty standards.

Now, a kick-ass night for Josh Hamilton is quite a good deal different than an excellent evening for most of us normal human beings.

Four home runs constitute a titanic Tuesday for the Hambone. For the rest of the world, the hallmark of a solid day is just one that, well, doesn’t suck.

For some, that means a hangover that goes away before you think you’re dying, coffee that isn’t that crappy, and a trip to the gas pump that only robs you of most of your money.

Sounds like a pretty solid day to me.

Besides, at least you have coffee to drink, gas to guzzle, and there is no tombstone that states: “And his final words were: ‘Dude, I think this hangover is going to kill me.’”

But no, for Hamilton to have a good—no, great day—he’s got to throw it in the normal man’s face…with his gigantic four dongs the only exclamation mark necessary to draw the eye to his truly titillating Tuesday…Alliteration! Come and get some!

Sure, four dongs—and of course they’re all long. Some guys get all the luck.

All kidding aside, even though I wasn’t kidding, Josh Hamilton’s night against the Baltimore Orioles was truly one for the ages.

5-5, with 8 RBI. 18 total bases. His batting average jumped 30 points—to .406. He now leads all of MLB in all three of the Triple Crown categories—.406, 14 HR, 36 RBI.

And Hamilton did all of that in just 5 plate appearances. A quick breakdown of the highlights:

18 total bases—that means that Hamilton ran 1,620 feet of which 1,440 feet were of the trotting variety. That’s over a quarter of a mile! If only cardio were that fun for me.

15 That’s how many players had hit 4 home runs in one game until last night. Unbelievable. To better grasp this, here are three names that NEVER hit 4 in one game: Babe Ruth. Barry Bonds. Tim Howell (okay, once I did hit out three during a home run derby on a little league field…whatever man, a 179 foot power alley is deeper than you think, and my last two I crushed.)

5 Number of home runs Hami has swatted in his last six at-bats. Whoa. He’s had 22 total bases over that span. Boston’s Kevin Youkillis has had 22 total bases all season long

Well, like all great statistical accomplishments, the best way to appreciate them, fully, is to compare them to, uh, comparable stats that suck…big time. So, here we go:

Josh Hamilton’s wonderful night versus Albert Pujols’ piece of shit season:

• Josh Hamilton’s 8 RBI last night are just 1 shy of Albert Pujols’ entire season total…Poo’s got nine, I wasn’t patient enough to wait out your mental calculations.
• Hamilton’s 18 total bases are 18 more than Pujols’ total bases from his 0-4 performance last night. (Note: I just came dangerously close to embedding an emoticon into this article. And yes, it would have been a smiley-faced one.)
• Hamilton hit four home runs in just over three hours. Given his current pace, Pujols will hit his fourth round tripper (which is shorter than a Hami dong but still a dinger) 363 at-bats from now. It will take significantly longer than 3 hours for Pujols to accomplish this.
• Albert Pujols has one more home run now than his gigantic and disturbing bronze statue.

Josh Hamilton is pretty good at this whole hitting a baseball thing

Yes, Albert Pujols' Bronze statue is only one home run shy of catching up with Captain Poo.


• Hamilton, rather than going with the bronze statue, decided to opt for brass balls.
• Albert Pujols should become a rapper. There are all kinds of words that rhyme with Pujols’ favorites—”ang” and “mang”—this would create a Poo Hole Flow of epic proportions…plus Poo’s penchant for ducking out of press interviews when things go wrong would add some serious street cred.
Okay, now it’s time to get off of Pujols.

‘Cuz he just got off of my Mom!!!

I don’t think I said that right.

Go Rangers!

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