THE NEWBERG REPORT — SEPTEMBER 20, 2006

The way things shake out, last night was my final trip to Ameriquest Field for a 2006 Rangers game, and it turned out to be the night on which Texas was eliminated from the race. The magic number formula doesn’t say so — if Texas were to win out and the A’s lost the remainder of their games, both teams would have 87 wins — but that would also mean that Oakland would have lost seven times to the Angels, giving Los Angeles a minimum of 88 wins.

So it’s over, mathematically.

Exciting game and all, but the Mariners threw just 60 percent of their 172 pitches for strikes, and Texas threw just 62 percent of their 215 for strikes. Not pretty.

Rod Barajas singled Carlos Lee in with two outs in the fifth to extend the Rangers’ lead to 7-5. After that, Texas hitters finished the game 0 for 17. A J.J. Putz error in the 10th was all that marred what was otherwise a perfect five and a third from the Mariners bullpen after the Barajas flare.

Six of Seattle’s nine runs scored after there were two outs.

Edinson Volquez had trouble not only with two outs, but with two strikes. Maybe the most important key for him is learning how to bury a hitter. The stuff is there.

Gary Matthews Jr. didn’t thank home plate ump Jeff Nelson for (in his opinion) blowing the call on the 3-1 pitch that would have resulted in a walk, rather than a next-pitch bomb to left.

Matthews is the reigning American League Player of the Week. One of the two finalists was Kansas City infielder Esteban German.

Sure hope German for Fabio Castro for Daniel Haigwood doesn’t turn out to look like Justin Duchscherer for Luis Vizcaino for Jesus Pena.

Mark Teixeira’s blast to left center in the third not only rang the bell — it **** near put a dent in it. Wow.

The 1929 Tigers, the 1932 Phillies, and the 2006 Rangers are the only three teams to have had four players with at least 40 doubles. Mark DeRosa joined Michael Young, Matthews, and Teixeira with his two-bagger off the left field wall in the third inning.

The only player in baseball with more games of at least four RBI’s than Teixeira has since he debuted in 2003 is David Ortiz.

Ian Kinsler is on pace to get 35 more at-bats. He’d have to get 18 hits in that span to finish at .300.

Jason Botts isn’t returning to the big club this month after all. He’s headed to instructs (which opened yesterday) before playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Games begin at instructs on Sunday and last through October 14.

The Hawaii Winter League begins on October 1. The Arizona Fall League kicks off on October 10.

The Rangers, according to Baseball America, released 18-year-old Venezuelan infielder Jose Rodriguez, who was getting a little hype last winter, and Oklahoma catcher Tom Gregorio.

Dominican righthander Yeyser Marinez will have (or had) Tommy John surgery. He pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2004 and in the Arizona League in 2005, but didn’t pitch this season.

“Hannibal Rising” will be published on December 5.

I think “Studio 60″ has got something.

NPR’s Robert Siegel has the best voice. Ever.

Rangers manager of media relations Jeff Evans notes that Jim Hickman’s natural cycle (August 7, 1963) was the only one achieved as swiftly as the Matthews feat last week. Both hit their home run with no outs in the sixth.

Lefthander Julian Cordero went 1-0, 7.82 for Low A West Virginia in the Brewers system following the Carlos Lee trade. He gave up 20 hits and five walks in 12.2 innings (one start and four relief appearances), fanning a dozen.

I hope it’s not the Astros who sign Lee, since they’re under .500.

Detroit designated righthander Colby Lewis for assignment.

If Ichiro grew up in the United States, I bet he wouldn’t have come close to what he’s accomplished in baseball. Some coach would undoubtedly have changed that “step in the bucket” approach of his at age 15.

Those Batter vs. Pitcher tables say that Ichiro is now 2 for 4 lifetime against Akinori Otsuka. That’s not completely true, now, is it? The 34-year-old Otsuka and the 32-year-old Ichiro were on opposing Japanese Pacific League clubs from 1997 through 2000.

Aki next spring: Less WBC, more PFP.

Grant Schiller interviewed me.

In some ways, I feel this morning as if baseball season has ended. But in another way, it seems like it’s just begun again. You owe it to yourself to read this

The baseball winter just got a lot better.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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