Tagged: Hank Blalock

Lots o stuff

Wow. Just yesterday I posted my prediction for the Opening Day rotation, but last night I checked TR Sullivan’s blog and found out that I was apparently completely off. The lefties and righties are still interspersed, like I predicted they would be, but their placement does not appear to reflect skill level. Just to recap, this is what I predicted:

Rich Harden (R)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)

Here’s what Mike Maddux envisions for the 2010 rotation:

Rich Harden (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)

Rich Harden
Both rotations list Rich Harden as the ace. Duh. But everything else is different.
Usually, the starting rotation reflects a pitcher’s skill level. You’ll often hear the terms “top-of-the-rotation pitcher” and “back-of-the-rotation pitcher” when speaking of starters, and it is generally understood that pitchers at the top of the rotation are more skilled than the pitchers at the back of the rotation.

CJ Wilson

C.J. has done an amazing job in Spring Training, and he has a lot of years of experience in professional baseball either as a starter or reliever. But he does not qualify as a No. 2 starter. For Pete’s sake, he’s been competing for a job all Spring Training! Yeah, he’s worked as a starter in the past, but those experiments all failed. Until he proves himself as a starter, he shouldn’t be our No. 2 man. He should be our No. 5 man.
Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman was guaranteed a starting job at the end of the 2009 season. He should be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. Given, Feldman didn’t begin the 2009 season in the starting rotation, but he was our best pitcher last year. He had a 17-win season! Come on, people!
Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis is the Rangers’ only pitcher with a multi-year contract. He has been tearin’ it up in Japan for the last 2 years. He was guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation in 2010. And Maddux puts him as the No 5 starter??? I had him as the No. 4 starter, but only because I wanted to diversify the rotation with a lefty. As far as talent goes, he should be the No. 3 starter of this Rangers’ rotation.
Matt Harrison
Sure, Matt Harrison spent most of the 2009 season on the DL. But he was one of the Rangers’ starting pitchers on Opening Day in 2009, and he amazed in the Arizona Fall League immediately after the end of the 2009 regular season. Plus, he comes into 2010 a full 30 pounds lighter than he was in 2009. That shows dedication. But we knew Harrison was competing for a spot as a back-of-the-rotation starter, so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings that Maddux lists Harrison as his No. 4 man. I only had him at No. 3 because he’s a lefty.

So, to summarize, I think my rotation is better. But then again, Mike Maddux has a pretty stellar reputation. I mean, look at what he did for the Rangers’ pitching staff in his very first year as pitching coach: he brought the team ERA down a whole run. That’s pretty impressive! I trust his judgement, but there was so way I could let this slide without getting my 2 cents in first.

I would also like to interject here at Evan Grant’s projected starting rotation is identical to mine. Grant came up with his prediction on Monday, March 22, but I looked at it just now, and it looks exactly like mine! I guess great minds think alike! It also goes to prove that my assumptions weren’t completely baseless.

Tommy Hunter

On a related note, Tommy Hunter finally admitted today that he won’t be able to open the season as one of the Rangers’ starters. TR Sullivan predicted this first late last week, almost immediately after his injury last Thursday evening.

Anyway, today Tommy grudgingly admitted that he wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day. But he does think he’ll be ready by April 8, just 3 days later. Wishful thinking?? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

With the starting rotation pretty much figured out, Evan Grant has predicted the following 7 players for the Rangers’ bullpen: RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Dustin Nippert, and RHP Doug Mathis.

Jamey Newberg thinks it will be RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Dustin Nippert, RHP Doug Mathis, and RHP Chris Ray.

As much as I admire Evan and Jamey, I think the Rangers will need more than one lefty in the bullpen. Darren Oliver is a fabulous pitcher, but I’m not sure he will be able to fill all of the club’s needs for a lefty reliever by himself.

Derek Holland

Derek Holland will almost certainly find himself starting in AAA. The Rangers will want to keep him stretched out as a starter in case he’s needed in the Bigs in 2010. Ben Snyder seems to be the only other viable lefty option, but he has been unimpressive so far in Spring Training. Maybe Jon Daniels will sort through other teams’ “trash piles” and grab another lefty reliever off waivers or the Rule 5 Draft. JD’s always got something up his sleeves. 🙂

Brandon McCarthy
While I agree that Brandon McCarthy is worthy of the big league club, he may prefer to stay a stretched out as a starter down in AAA rather than join the big league ballclub. Doug Mathis can fill the Rangers’ needs for a long reliever/spot starter. And I don’t know anything about Chris Ray, since he was only acquired by the Rangers this off-season (received in the trade for Kevin Millwood).

In other news, the Rangers have made what appears to be a bit of progress in finding a utility infielder. Hernan Iribarren, who was nabbed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, cleared waivers with the Rangers today and was outrighted to AAA. So apparently they don’t see Iribarren making the big league club.

Also today, the Rangers announced that they had traded pitcher Edwar Ramirez (recently acquired from the Yankees and rumored to be trade bait) to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Gregorio Petit. Petit’s experience has been primarily at shortstop, which is what the Rangers have been looking for.

This search for a utility infielder has been exhausting. The Rangers will need 2 guys to do what Omar Vizquel (SS/2B/3B) and Hank Blalock (1B) did last year. First there was an almost-trade for Mike Lowell (1st/3rd baseman) in the early off-season, but he failed the physical, so that put the kibosh on those dealings. Then we got Khalil Greene, and it looked like everything was going to be just fine.

Wrong.

The Rangers had an influx of new infielders vying to win the SS/2B job, but they all seemed to be lacking. Joe Inglett, Mitch Hilligoss, Hernan Iribarren, and Erik Morrison joined Esteban German, Joaquin Arias, and Ray Olmedo in the pursuit of a utility infielder for the Rangers. But none of them were a very good fit.

Now that a month of Spring Training has passed, Matt Brown is looking like the frontrunner for the backup 1st/3rd baseman, and he has shown quite a bit of pop in his bat this Spring Training. Could Gregorio Petit be the SS/2B the Rangers have been searching for?

TR Sullivan doesn’t think so. He predicts that Petit will play SS in AAA, now that Ray Olmedo has been traded away. And apparently, the Rangers are still looking at veteran infielders Augie Ojeda (Diamondbacks), Ramon Vazquez (Pirates), Kevin Frandsen (Giants), and Willie Bloomquist (Royals).

Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is planning to get into a Spring Training game next Monday, March 29. This will give him one week to practice in game situations before Opening Day. This sounds great. I just hope Kinsler’s ankle really is okay by Monday, and he doesn’t cause more health problems for himself that end up keeping him out of regular season games. If he does have to miss, I guess we’ll be seeing our newly minted utility infielder sooner than we thought!

 
The only other question remaining for the starting lineup? Catcher. It will be the best/healthiest two out of Salty, Taylor Teagarden, and Matt Treanor. Who knows?

I just know I’m excited for the season to start. Vlad Guerrero in a Rangers jersey!!! SqueeeeEEEEE!!!

12 days ’til Opening Day!!
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World Series disappointment, hockey excitement, and Rangers News

Blech. The Yankees won Game 6 of the World Series last night, thus sealing themselves as the 2009 champs. Excuse me, I have to go throw up now.

<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~HEAVE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

Okay, I’m back. The good news is that I didn’t have to watch the Phillies lose last night, because I went to the Dallas Stars’ game last night! The Stars ended up losing, but that kind of ended up being a footnote of the evening. I had a great time! After Lindy and I had been there for about 3 minutes, I turned to her and said “Okay, we have to come back to another one of these!” Which was exciting for her, because she has a hard time finding people to go to games with her in the middle of the week. So yay!
—————————————————————————
The Rangers have officially hired Clint Hurdle as their new hitting coach. He is a former baseball player, and he has spent many years as a hitting coach and as a manager for the Colorado Rockies. I’m sure Jon Daniels knows what he’s doing, so I’ll just hope it was the best choice. The only thing that bothers me is that Clint Hurdle was fired as the Rockies manager in May of this year (mid-season), and I don’t know why he was fired. I may have to do some more research to find out. But he led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, and even though they lost the Series to the BoSox, getting there is good enough for me.
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In other news, the Free Agency market opens today. Each individual team has 2 weeks to negotiate exclusively with their players before open negotiations begin. The Rangers have 7 players who will be free agents: Joaquin Beniot, Eddie Guardado, Omar Vizquel, Hank Blalock, Andruw Jones, Pudge Rodriguez, and Marlon Byrd.
Hank Blalock
The Rangers have already said that they will not re-sign Blalock and Jones, and Eddie Guardado is considering retirement. Joaquin Beniot is a question mark, because he spent all of the 2009 season on the DL with a shoulder injury.

The Rangers have expressed interest in re-signing Pudge, and he has also shown interest in staying to retire with the Rangers, but a lot of it will supposedly hinge on Salty’s recovery. I have also heard that Pudge might not want to be with the Rangers now that they no longer have Rudy Jaramillo, because apparently he was looking forward to working with Rudy during the off-season.

Omar Vizquel
Talks have reportedly been going really well between the Rangers and Vizquel, and Jon Daniels said that he might be the only free agent that the Rangers sign before the end of the exclusive 2-week period, which ends November 19.
Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd is obviously the biggest free agent in contention, but he apparently wants to explore offers from other teams, so he isn’t expected to re-sign within the 2-week window.
If the Rangers can’t re-sign Marlon Byrd, they’re going to look at Jermaine Dye (among others on the free agent market) for a right-handed power bat. I’ve also heard word that the Rangers might be interested in Milton Bradley again, although the Cubs would have to take a huge chunk of his salary in order to make that possible.
Other right-handed bats on the free agent market that the Rangers are rumored to be looking at are Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Troy Glaus and Fernando Tatis. Although I don’t think we could afford Vlad. And I don’t know enough about the other guys to comment on them.
CJ Wilson
The Rangers are also talking about moving Neftali Feliz and/or C.J. Wilson into the starting rotation, which would mean they would need more middle relievers. They will almost certainly at least one more lefty reliever, to replace Eddie Guardado and/or C.J. Wilson (if he moves to the rotation).
They could be looking at Ben Sheets as a starter again, considering that he already had a contract drawn up with the Rangers in 2009 before it was voided due to medical issues. 
 
Sigh. There’s a lot of ifs and maybes and rumors circulating.
 
Originally published November 5, 2009

A quick sprinkling of information

*The Phillies won the NLCS last night, and they are going to the World Series

*Tonight is Game 5 of the ALCS, and the Yankees are up 3 games to 1 over the Angels. If the Yankees win any 1 of the remaining 3 games in the series, they will be going to the World Series. The Angels would have to win tonight’s game as well as the remaining 2 games in New York to advance. It’s not looking too good for the Halos. 😦

*Derek Holland went to Japan earlier this week to talk to Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old pitching phenom. Kikuchi has to decide by October 29 if he wants to go into the Japanese draft (to play for a professional Japanese baseball team) or into the American draft.

*New ownership: Originally the consensus was that a deal wouldn’t be brokered until at least January 2010. But now the timetable has apparently been pushed up, because it’s looking like a deal could be finalized by the end of 2009. Jim Crane and Chuck Greenberg (2 of the 3 frontrunners to buy the Rangers) have both individually visited the ballpark and had a meeting with Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels, and Tom Hicks this week, so Dennis Gilbert is sure to follow.

*Jason Grilli and Kevin Richardson have been outrighted to AAA Oklahoma City. They both have already cleared waivers. The Rangers expect Jason Grilli to decline the assignment and become a free agent and go somewhere else, while Kevin Richardson could possibly re-sign a minor league contract with the Rangers. This adds 2 more open spots of the 40-man roster, along with the assumed vacancies left by Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock, who are not expected to re-sign with the Rangers, and Eddie Guardado, who might retire.

*Jarrod Saltalamacchia might play in the Dominican Winter League, in order to rehab after his surgery.

*The Surprise Rafters are tied for the lead in the AFL West (which consists of a grand total of 3 teams), with a win-loss record of 5-3.

Originally published October 22, 2009

report card

I checked T.R. Sullivan’s blog today, and he had a kind of report card for this year’s players. I agree with most of what he says, but we differ on a few things. This is his report card:

Starters
Kevin Millwood – Manager has already said he is the Opening Day pitcher in 2010
Scott Feldman – What an amazing season.
Derek Holland – This kid is going to be fine. Can’t wait for his next start.
Tommy Hunter – Tommy, meet Nolan Ryan, the resident conditioning fanatic.
Brandon McCarthy – The Big Tease. He has talent but at what point do the Rangers say uncle?
Matt Harrison – He was pretty good before he got hurt
Neftali Feliz – The Rangers will try him in the rotation. Bet he makes it
Dustin Nippert – His numbers will work every year
Guillermo Moscoso – Should be Opening Day pitcher at Oklahoma City

Relievers
Frank Francisco – Needs warning label: handle with care.
C.J. Wilson – Most Valuable Reliever
Darren O’Day – Transaction of the Year
Jason Grilli – Wasn’t the same after he got hurt
Doug Mathis – Can he fill middle relief role?
Eddie Guardado – No finer person in baseball
Pedro Strop – Needs more time. Just not ready
Willie Eyre – Taking long road back from injuries

Catchers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Should still be No. 1 on depth chart
Ivan Rodriguez – Would you give him $4 million for two years?
Taylor Teagarden – Should have been in Triple A
Kevin Richardson – He is from Seattle area. He should have started one game this weekend.

Infielders
Chris Davis – Only one other player is a bigger key for Rangers in 2010.
Ian Kinsler – Absolutely nothing wrong with 101 runs and 86 RBI.
Elvis Andrus – He lived up to it all
Michael Young – Turns out he can still hit…and play third.
Omar Vizquel – He has one definite vote for the Hall of Fame.
Esteban German – A nice fifth player if the Rangers had the room
Hank Blalock – Hank’s Homies bid you adieu. It was fun while it lasted.

Outfielders
Josh Hamilton – Obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010
David Murphy – Forget Rusty Greer all right? Anybody think he can be Paul O’Neill?
Julio Borbon – Definitely the kind of player the Rangers desperately need
Nelson Cruz – He is a good player. Can he be a great one or is this enough?
Marlon Byrd – Loved watching him tell the rookies to turn off the football game on Sunday and turn on baseball.
Andruw Jones – Next.
Craig Gentry – Off to Triple A to bide his time.

My take:
Derek Holland: I wouldn’t say I “can’t wait” for his next start. I think if he works hard during the off-season, he can have a stellar year. He has a lot of untapped potential.
C.J. Wilson: I would not call him the most valuable reliever. I think with C.J., you never know what you’re gonna get.
Pudge: I don’t think it will take that much money. I think $3 million for 2 years, or if the Rangers aren’t sure how long he’ll last, then around $1.5 mil for 1 year.
Ian Kinsler: His runs scored and RBIs are good, but he needs to be more reliable. And, most importantly, he needs to work on his swing in the off-season and find out whyhe’s popping everything up!!!
Esteban German: I don’t think it’s an “if the Rangers have room” situation. I think they’ll definitely need a bench player who can step up if anyone gets injured, and who can spell all 4 infielders at regular intervals. He has played mainly 2B and 3B, but he has big league experience at SS and 1B as well. He’s a true utility infielder.
Josh Hamilton: I don’t agree that he’s “obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” If he can perform, it will be great, but I don’t think we can depend on him to perform. You can never predict injuries. I don’t want to trade him, because I think he’s a great addition to a team, whether he can play or not. And when he’s good, he’s really good. But look what this Rangers team did this year without Josh Hamilton!
Julio Borbon: I wouldn’t say that the Rangers “desperately need” someone like Borbon. Borbon has a great OBP, and he’s excellent at stealing bases and manufacturing runs. But he’s got a weak arm for an outfielder, and he’s not good against LHP. Borbon is a lefty outfielder, and we already have Josh Hamilton and David Murphy that are left handed outfielders.
Craig Gentry: Gentry can be the perfect center fielder that the Rangers “desperately need” in 2011, but he needs more experience. If the Rangers decide to take a chance on Gentry like they did on Elvis, it could pay some amazing dividends. But I’m betting that the Rangers put Gentry in AAA all next year.
Marlon Byrd: I don’t know anything about the rookies watching football, but I think Marlon is the “biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” We need him next year. Not only is he an amazing player, he’s a revitalizing force in the clubhouse.

And the 2009 season ends with a whimper

Well, yesterday marked the end of the regular baseball season. Now I have to figure out which team I’m going to root for in the playoffs. I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s wrap up this game.

Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman took the mound for us yesterday, hoping to get his 18th win of the year. But unfortunately, he was going up against “King” Felix Hernandez, and the Rangers weren’t able to pull out a win for their ace. The final score was 4-3.
“King” Felix Hernandez
Feldman pitched 6 innings for the Rangers yesterday, and he did a good job of keeping the score low, knowing that the Rangers’ offense wouldn’t be able to do much to score against King Felix. But he couldn’t keep it low enough, it seems.
Scooter gave up one run in the bottom of the 3rd inning, but the Rangers were able to come back and get a run of their own to tie the score 1-1 in the top of the 5th inning. But the score didn’t stay tied for long.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Feldman allowed 2 singles followed by 2 doubles. That allowed 3 runs to score, putting the Mariners up 4-1. At that point, I thought for sure that the Rangers were done for. There was no way that King Felix would allow 3 or more runs to allow us to tie/win the game.

Hank Blalock
But then came the top of the 7th. Hank Blalock led off the inning, and Felix actually walked him, issuing his first walk of the night. Yes!! Every pitching coach will tell you that more often than not, walking the lead-off batter in an inning will come back to bite you.
Ian Kinsler
And it certainly came back to bite King Felix, although it didn’t cause quite as much damage as I had hoped. Ian Kinsler came up behind Blalock and hit a line drive to left field that turned into a double. Runners at 2nd and 3rd, no outs.

Chris Davis (my husband)
Then Chris Davis hit a ground ball for the first out of the inning, but it allowed Hank Blalock to score and Ian Kinsler to advance to 3rd base. That brought the score to 4-2 Mariners, with only one out.
Taylor Teagarden
Taylor Teagarden came up to bat next, and he sacrificed himself just like Chris Davis did to bring Ian Kinsler home. And that brought us to our final score of 4-3. If only CD or Taylor could have gotten on base instead of getting a sacrifice, we might have been able to keep the inning going! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

After Teagarden’s out, they pulled King Felix from the game, and the new pitcher (Randy Messenger) got the final out of the 7th inning. Miguel Batista pitched the 8th inning, and David Aardsma came on to close it out in the 9th. And King Felix got his 19th win of the season.

Darren O’Day                                                                                                                                               CJ Wilson
After Feldman left the game, Darren O’Day got 1 1/3 innings of work, followed by C.J. Wilson for the final 2/3 of an inning. They both did a great job, giving up no hits or walks and recording 2 strike-outs each. I’m almost positive that we’ll see C.J. again next year, but I’m a little anxious about Darren O’Day’s status as a Ranger. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I really hope they can bring him back, because he’s done a great job for us!
 
Game Notes:
Marlon Byrd
*Marlon Byrd wasn’t in the lineup for this game. Marlon wasn’t able to play because of his strained hip capsule, which sidelined him for a few games last week and had been bothering him for a few weeks. I was sad not to see Marlon Byrd playing yesterday, because he might not be back next year. I hope the Rangers can get him back, but the financial situation is in dire straits.
Michael Young

*Michael Young was also missing from the lineup yesterday, but he’s guaranteed to come back next season. Michael couldn’t play because he had to rush home since his wife, Cristina, was in labor with their second child. Congratulations, Mike and Cristina!!
Nelson Cruz
*Nelson Cruz wasn’t in the lineup either, because of his sprained ankle. I had predicted a few days ago that Nelly probably wouldn’t be back again this year, but he’s coming back next year too, so it’s okay.
*Hank Blalock WAS in the lineup yesterday, playing 1st base, and that was great to see because it was almost certainly Hank’s last game in a Rangers’ uniform. And it was good that Hank got on base and was able to score a run for the Rangers. I wish Hank all the best luck next year, and in the rest of his baseball career. He was an integral part of our team for many years, and I hope he finds a home that makes him happy!
*We will probably need to win at least 10 more games next year than we did this year in order to make it to the post-season.

Well, this is usually where I would talk about the upcoming pitching matchup, but there are no more upcoming games for the Rangers. But there is still post-season baseball to be played.

Joe Mauer
The next game that I’m excited to see is the one-game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers to see who wins the AL Central. Both teams finished the regular season tied at 86-76. I’m not sure who I want to win, but I think I’m leaning towards Minnesota because of Joe Mauer. He’s a lock to win the AL MVP this year!

Curtis Granderson
But I’ll be happy if Detroit wins too, because Gerald Laird plays for them now. Curtis Granderson is really good too, and he does a lot of charity work. He just seems like a good guy. Whoever wins will go up against the Yankees, so I’ll be rooting for either team to kick the Yankees out of contention!

I would also like to point out here that my Texas Rangers finished the season with a record of 87-75, meaning that if we were in the AL Central Division, we would be going to the playoffs. But we’re not in the AL Central. We’re in the AL West, even though Texas is in the central part of the U.S. That’s why I don’t think that there should be divisions. All the teams in the AL should just play all the other teams in the division an equal number of times, and the top 4 teams should go to the playoffs. Just my opinion. 🙂

Game 1 win in Seattle

Last night was the start of the last (regular season) series of the year, and it was a great game! Well, it was a .great game for Rangers’ fans, because of the ending. But it was a close game for most of the night.

Brandon McCarthy
Brandon McCarthy got the start for Texas last night, but unfortunately he didn’t stay in the game long enough to get the win. He deserved a win (which he didn’t get) in his last outing, when he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, but the bullpen gave away the game. In last night’s outing, he pitched 4 2/3 innings, but he gave up all 4 of the Mariners runs for the night during his stint.

The Rangers were leading 3-0 early in the game. But the Mariners came back to score 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning to tie up the score, and another run in the bottom of the 5th to lead the Rangers 4-3. And that was when McCarthy came out of the game.

Dustin Nippert

Dustin Nippert came in to pitch 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and he did a fantastic job. He came in with a runner at first base and 2 outs in the 5th inning, and he got the Rangers out of the inning to keep the game close.

Andruw Jones
In the top of the 8th inning, Andruw Jones stepped up to the plate to lead off the inning. And, amazingly enough, he got a double on a line drive! Luckily, Ron Washington realized that Andruw Jones is not a guy that you want running the bases in a clutch situation, and he replaced him with pinch runner Esteban German.
Elvis Andrus
Taylor Teagarden came up next and struck out for the first out of the inning. Then Elvis Andrus worked a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Julio Borbon lined out for the 2nd out of the inning. And then Michael Young stepped up to the plate.

Michael Young
Michael Young singled to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. Esteban German really turned on the burners coming down the third base line, and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach as I watched Ichiro fire the ball to home plate. Ichiro has a cannon attached to his shoulder. The play at the plate was close, but not nearly as close as I had feared, and Esteban slid behind the tag to tie the game 4-4!
Chris Davis
The 2 teams were still tied going into the top of the 9th inning. And it didn’t look good as the Rangers got 2 outs before they got their first baserunner. Then Chris Davis hit a single to left field to start a Rangers’ rally. Nice!

Esteban German came up next and singled on a line drive to center field. Runners at 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.

Craig Gentry
At this point, Wash realized that CD wasn’t looking too great on that sore hammy, and he replaced him with speedy runner Craig Gentry. So Taylor Teagarden was coming to the plate with 2 outs and 2 on. Uh oh. Taylor hasn’t gotten into very many games this year (only 58 out of 160), and his batting average is only .214. Probably not the guy you want in a clutch situation.
Taylor Teagarden
But Taylor came through with a single, and Craig Gentry hauled @$$ to score, putting the Rangers ahead 5-4. Thank you, Taylor!!! Runners at the corners, still 2 outs.

Elvis Andrus came up to bat next, and he got a double (which turned into a triple on the throw) to score Esteban German and Taylor Teagarden, making it 7-4 Rangers.

The Mariners weren’t able to do anything in the bottom of the 9th, and the Rangers walked away with their 2nd win in a row after 4 straight losses.

Game Notes:
Marlon Byrd
*Marlon Byrd started last night’s game after missing the previous two games with a strained hip capsule. Hank Blalock was also expected to start last night, but he missed his 2nd straight game due to a mild concussion.

 

*Chris Davis went 3-for-5 last night, and it was his second night in a row to do that. These 3-for-5 outings come after 2 days riding the bench, resting his sore hamstring. In his last 2 games, he has been DHing, so he won’t be tempted to stretch at 1st base and cause himself further injury. CD credits his 2 days of rest with his power at the plate, because he says that taking those days off took away some pressure. Davis said, “Even though I was rehabbing the hamstring, it was good to sit back and watch a few games and take a break. It’s probably helped me that I’m not trying to do anything like go up there and hit the ball out of the ballpark. Instead, I’m just doing what I can and taking nice, easy swings.” Keep it up!!

Julio Borbon

*Julio Borbon started in center field last night for the first time, and unfortunately he didn’t do such a great job. He doesn’t have a very strong or accurate arm, and he will certainly have to work on that in the off-season. In tonight’s game, he’s supposed to start against a left-handed pitcher for the first time in the Bigs, and I’m anxious to see how he handles it.
 

*With their win last night, the Rangers assured their #2 spot in the AL West division. I knew it would be a pride thing for the Rangers to be able to finish in 2nd place instead of 3rd, but I didn’t know that there was a monetary incentive. T.R. Sullivan said in an article on the Rangers’ website today, “Finishing second in any division means some extra pocket money for every player. Last year it was worth approximately $12,000 per player.” Huh. Interesting. This means that the Rangers have now finished 2nd in the AL West for the second straight year, after 8 straight years of placing no higher than 3rd place.

Tommy Hunter
Tonight’s pitching matchup: Tommy Hunter (9-5) against Ryan Rowland-Smith (4-4). Tommy is coming off his worst outing of the season, and Ryan is coming off his best outing of the season. In Tommy’s last start, he went less than 5 innings for the first time in 18 starts this year, and he gave up 7 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Angels. It was just bad. That was the first game in the series against the Angels, and the Rangers knew they had to win out to make the post-season. I think Tommy just buckled under the pressure.

But this time, the Rangers are going into tonight’s game with some winning momentum. They know they’re out of the playoff race, but they still want to end strong. Tommy is playing to become the 9th Ranger rookie to get 10 wins in a season.

Win in Anaheim!

Yesssss!!!!!!!! We avoided the sweep in Anaheim! And we put a much-needed end to our 4-game losing streak! I was really worried that the Rangers weren’t going to be able to pull it together and would just lose out. But they didn’t!

I was worried that Ron Washington had completely given up on winning in Anaheim when most of his regular starting lineup was out yesterday, but apparently it was just the jolt that the guys needed. The Rangers were able to get their first win in 5 games without Michael Young, Pudge, Hank Blalock, Marlon Byrd, and Nelly Cruz.

Kevin Millwood
Kevin Millwood was on the mound for the Rangers yesterday, and he was able to pitch the complete game! He wasn’t looking so great early on, but he seemed to find his groove in the later innings and was able to strike out 10, with 8 of those strike-outs coming in the 5th inning and beyond.
Andruw Jones
First of all, the guys were much better about getting on base last night. They had 15 hits yesterday, compared with only one hit in the shut-out the night before. The only guy NOT to get a hit last night was Andruw Jones (surprise, surprise). But even Andruw got some RBI action last night with a sacrifice fly.

Chris Davis

It started in the top of the 2nd inning, when Chris Davis hit a homer with Ian Kinsler on base to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead. The Angels’ starter, John Lackey, apparently didn’t know about CD’s sore hammy, and he wasn’t shy about encouraging Davis to maybe step up his pace while running around the bases. Classic John Lackey! That guy is such a tool! {rolls eyes and shakes head while smiling indulgently}

But the Rangers didn’t hold onto the lead for long. Millie let 3 runs cross the plate in the bottom of the 3rd inning, but then he got out of it and shut down the Angels for the rest of the game.

The Rangers came back in the top of the 5th inning to tie it up 3-3 on a pair of doubles by Julio Borbon and Ian Kinsler, but they were just getting warmed up.

Taylor Teagarden
In the top of the 6th inning, the Rangers scored 6 runs and batted around. Nice! Omar Vizquel led off the inning with a strike-out for the first out of the inning. Taylor Teagarden started the onslought of runs with a double, which was good for him, because his batting average could use a little boost! Then Craig Gentry got a single to put runners at the corners.

Craig Gentry
Julio Borbon followed that up with a single, plating Taylor Teagarden, and Craig Gentry turned on the burners and made it to 3rd base. Runners at the corners again, Rangers leading 4-3, still only one out.
Elvis Andrus
Then Elvis Andrus came up to bat, and he hit a doubled on a fly ball to left field. Craig Gentry scored, and Julio Borbon got to 3rd base. Runners at 2nd and 3rd, Rangers leading 5-3, still one out.

David Murphy
Next the Angels decided to intentionally walk David Murphy to load the bases, which brought up Andruw Jones. In the past, Andruw Jones was a serious threat. He’s hit 388 career home runs. But now, after 14 years in the big leagues, he’s hitting only .207. It was a good idea for the Angels to walk Murph, who has a hot bat, in favor of Andruw Jones, whose bat has cooled.
Julio Borbon
And that was when Andruw got his sac fly, allowing all the runners to tag and advance. Julio Borbon scored, Elvis Andrus to moved to 3rd, and David Murphy advanced to 2nd base. 6-3 Rangers, 2 guys in scoring position, 2 outs.

Ian Kinsler
Then the Rangers went from being “good” to being “lucky.” Ian Kinsler was the next batter, and he hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Wood. But instead of fielding it cleanly for an out, Wood bobbled it for an error, allowing Kins to reach 1st base. Elvis scored, and Murph moved to 3rd base. 7-3 Rangers, two outs.

Chris Davis singled next, which plated David Murphy and moved Ian to 2nd. 8-3 Rangers, still two outs.

Omar Vizquel
Then Omar Vizquel got his 2nd chance of the inning, and he got a hit this time. He singled on a line drive to left field, scoring Kinsler and moving Davis to 2nd. 9-3 Rangers, still 2 outs. Finally, Taylor Teagarden, who started the rally earlier in the inning, ended the rally by striking out to give the Angels a breather.

The Rangers added a couple more runs in the top of the 9th inning, including walking in a run, but the game was pretty much over after the 6th inning.

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy.jpgTonight’s pitching matchup:
Brandon McCarthy (7-4) against the Seattle Mariners’ Ian Snell (7-10). B-Mac really should have gotten a win in that last one, so I hope he gets one tonight. But Ian Snell has been doing really well of late, so we’ll have to fight for this one. Hopefully the Rangers can carry their momentum from last night’s win onto the field tonight.