NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — JULY 8, 2007

The game starts off with a sharp single, a sac bunt, another sharp single that drives in a run, and a five-pitch walk. The way Kevin Millwood was uncomfortably shuffling around the mound, the illness of the blowing wind was palpable, and it was basically impossible to imagine the Orioles were done scoring for the day.

But they were. And Kenny Lofton – who shockingly is the number 28 OPS hitter in all of baseball (.946) in June and July – scores on a Marlon Byrd single in the bottom of the first (Byrd is number nine in OPS [1.050] over that same span) and then on his own solo shot in the sixth (drawing walks in his other two trips), and the Rangers win, again on the strength of excellent starting pitching.

That’s seven straight series the club has won or tied, and a 15-8 stretch of baseball, most of which has been played without 75 percent of the starting infield.

Big, big moment for Frankie Francisco in the eighth.

And then there was this from earlier in the day:

BALTIMORE ORIOLES-Placed SS Freddie Bynum on the 15-day DL. Recalled SS Luis Hernandez from Norfolk (IL).

Hernandez, at age 23, came into this season as a lifetime .246 hitter, over six years in the Braves minor league system. Joining the Orioles as a free agent this off-season, he hit a combined .244 between AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk. He joined Baltimore today and entered the game defensively after Melvin Mora had pinch-hit for Brandon Fahey in the seventh.

Hernandez’s first stroll into a big league batters’ box was with two outs in the ninth inning against Eric Gagné.

Not exactly fair.

But if baseball was always fair, and always predictable, I probably wouldn’t have decided to take my daughter to the ballpark at all this afternoon, and even having made that decision, I might have packed up and left after those first four hitters.

Another great day at the yard, and I am baseball-content going into this four-day break.

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

1 Comment

Lofton has been very good for the Rangers this year. I think he deserves an extension at least for one more year. If he wants two, I would strongly consider it the way he keeps himself in shape. I know there are several good centerfielders coming out in free agency next year, but they will cost a ton, and no guarantee any of them will sign here, also none are leadoff guys like Lofton. It sure is nice to see a guy with speed and good on base pct. at the top of the lineup. If the Rangers were to land say Tori Hunter, I would say a trio of Hunter, Lofton and Byrd roaming the outfield would be pretty good.

I would also resign Gagne, definitely worth the price of admission to see him pitch. I was at the July 4th game and just watching the scoreboard as he was entering the game was very cool, Game Over! If the Rangers are trying to build a winner you need guys like Lofton and Gagne to get there, plus you don’t lose draft picks if you sign your own guys.

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