THE NEWBERG REPORT — APRIL 7, 2007

Most exciting play in yesterday’s 2-0 win, a game in which Robinson Tejeda, Joaquin Benoit, and Akinori Otsuka didn’t need many standout defensive plays:

4-3-37.

Wish I could have seen the look on Ron Washington’s face as Mark Teixeira handed him the ball seconds after squeezing the final out, but the look on Teixeira’s face was enough to fire up the goosebumps.

As for Tejeda, what more can you say about 77 pitches in seven innings? Two hits, one an infield single that clanked off his glove. No inning in which Boston had two baserunners. Sixteen flyouts and only four groundouts, but most of the flies were pop-ups or lazy flutters to the outfield. The vaunted Boston lineup squared up on very few balls.

Worried about the one Tejeda strikeout? Don’t be.

Sure, you’d generally want more from your starter, but let’s consider this pitcher in particular.

Last year, Tejeda went 1-3, 9.78 in his first five Rangers starts, prompting an uninterrupted two-month stint in Oklahoma City.

After returning to Texas in late June, he made nine more starts, going 4-2, 2.32, with seven quality starts.

In that first-half stretch, Tejeda struck out 15 hitters and walked 17 in 19.1 innings. Seven punchouts per nine innings, and eight walks.

In his late-season run, he fanned 25 and issued 15 walks in 54.1 frames. That’s only four whiffs per nine, two-and-a-half walks.

Tejeda is so much better when he’s not overthrowing and instead commanding his above-average stuff. His one strikeout yesterday (which came at a huge time, with Doug Mirabelli up after Coco Crisp’s one-out double in the fifth) may not be indicative of a dominant starter, but it sure appears to be indicative of the better brand of Robinson Tejeda.

Two Sammy Sosa-related observations:

How does a guy check-swing a knuckleball over the infielders’ heads? Think there was some torque in that Sosa cut before he held it up?

Why did Washington send Nelson Cruz up to hit for Sosa against lefthander Hideki Okajima with a man on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth? I fully understand getting Cruz out there defensively in the ninth, but what do we take out of Washington’s decision to take the bat out of Sosa’s hands in favor of Cruz beforehand? And regardless of what the reason was, why not put Cruz in defensively in the top of the eighth if he was going to hit for Sosa in the bottom of the frame? (Or did that happen and I missed the defensive replacement?)

Hank Blalock’s streak of home openers with home runs may have been snapped at four, but he hit three foul balls to right that may have been as deep as any of the balls he hit fair in the previous four openers.

But none of them were as close to fair ground as Ian Kinsler’s shot to left that nearly produced his — and the entire’s club’s — third bomb of the season.

Michael Irvin shouldn’t be called a hero until well after Everson Walls is.

Closer Eric Gagne touched 94 (in cold weather) in last night’s Frisco appearance, throwing only eight of 15 pitches for strikes and recording a strikeout, a flyout, and a walk. He’ll pitch again tonight and then on Tuesday before joining Texas on April 13.

Righthander Jamey Wright induced seven groundouts and three flyouts in his four-inning start for Frisco on Thursday night, allowing two runs on six hits, but said afterwards, “I couldn’t get loose. I was just trying to get through it. I was still sore from my bullpen session. We cut it short so I would be fresh for Tuesday.”

Not the most promising comment.

Righthander Frankie Francisco pitched the eighth for Oklahoma yesterday, striking out the side on 14 pitches, 11 for strikes. Wes Littleton retired the Memphis side in a perfect sixth, needing just 11 pitches (though only six were strikes).

Outfielder Marlon Byrd cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Oklahoma, even though procedurally he had the right to decline it and look elsewhere as a free agent. It’s a pretty clear indication that, while jobs are more difficult to find in early April than in mid-March, Byrd judged the potential for opportunity to crack the outfield to be as promising here as anywhere else.

Philadelphia signed righthander Rick Bauer to a minor league contract.

The Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association re-signed lefthander Joel Kirsten.

Kevin Millwood struggled in last year’s home opener against the Red Sox but was better when Texas traveled to Boston in June, and lifetime he has an acceptable ERA of 4.12 in nine outings against the Sox. Julian Tavarez had a 7.36 ERA in 3.2 relief innings against Texas in 2006, and he sports a 5.86 ERA in 35.1 lifetime frames, with the Rangers putting up a line of .296/.367/.467 against him — which is exponentially healthier than the .149/.259/.231 numbers this lineup has scratched together through four games.

Tonight’s game is one we need to win.

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

1 Comment

cliche’ cliche’ If it is high let it fly. Sosa was looking for every advantage he could because he has declined so much. That is probably why. How do you find time to be a lawyer and watch all the games?

http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/

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