Home half of the first: Ian Kinsler
grounded out to San Diego starter Chad Gaudin, who came into the game with a
3-6, 5.60 record in 2009 – after being released by the Cubs at the end of spring
training – and a career 3-6, 6.08 mark in 19 appearances against Texas (1.748
WHIP, .305/.392/.495 – a better slash line than any Rangers hitter has this
David Murphy followed with a
base on balls.
Michael Young singled to
The rest of the way against Gaudin
and one inning of Heath Bell?
The Rangers sent 28 hitters to the
plate in 8.2 innings.
No hits, two walks, 10 strikeouts.
Tommy Hunter: 6.1 innings, under 15
pitches per frame, seven hits, no walks, three strikeouts, maybe the best
breaking ball command from a starter outside of Kevin Millwood all
It didn’t matter last night (though
it allowed Texas to keep the bullpen in order and makes
some bigger questions interesting).
(Footnote: I don’t
really want Pirates righthander Ian Snell either, but last night, in his first
minor league start since 2005, the recently demoted 27-year-old walked the first
Toledo batter of
the game. He then struck out 13 straight Mud Hens. Would you trade Hunter, if
not a more highly estimated prospect, to get Snell? Not
Gaudin – Chad Gaudin – became the first opponent in the
16-season history of Rangers Ballpark to hold Texas to one or zero hits in at least eight
innings of work.
So here comes Los Angeles for three (and
six of the Rangers’ next nine games). The Angels have one more win than
fewer losses, and a lot more swagger. They’ve just finished interleague play
14-4, including a weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks, with wins keyed by a bunt
that went for four bases and a straight steal of
Assume Josh Hamilton hadn’t missed
more games than he’s played. Assume the club’s first basemen weren’t hitting
.213/.270/.434, that its outfielders weren’t hitting .256/.315/.459, that its
designated hitters weren’t hitting .235/.307/.510. Assume more one member of
the club’s season-opening rotation had managed to avoid the disabled list.
Even without any of the above,
before this season, would you have taken 1.5 games out of first heading into six
of nine against the front-running Angels at the end of
That’s not to excuse the way
playing right now, but maybe it’s a good time to lean on a little
Imagine this thing starting from
scratch today, with just under 90 games left. From this point forward, are we
going to be two games better than the Angels, who have been there over and over
and are playing like it?
A whole lot would have to turn
around with a whole lot of players on this roster to answer that question
affirmatively, but with the team positioned to make more noise over the next few
years than it was expected to in 2009, that fact that, so far, every game of the
season has meant something in the standings is a good thing, something that
ought to benefit the young players in particular as they continue to learn on
the job, learning not only to handle big league situations and to make
at-bat-to-at-bat and game-to-game and series-to-series adjustments, but also to
I could name three more young
players at Oklahoma City and one at Frisco that might be putting themselves into
high-level roster discussions right now, not just because it might be the
natural next step for each of them developmentally but also because they might
be candidates to make the Rangers better right now.
This next month is going to be
fascinating – baseball July’s almost always are – starting with a real gut check
against the team that, after a two-month run chasing the Rangers, has put itself
back in first place with the undeniable message that it’s right where it