A big game. Again.

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Big game this afternoon. 
Much better to go into the four-day Break coming off a 4-3 road trip to
Anaheim and Seattle than to go in with a losing record on the trip, regardless of
whether the Angels complete a sweep of the Yankees today or not.

 

One of the huge (but overlooked) differences between the
2008 Rangers and 2009 brand has been how much the club has cut down on outs given
up on the bases.  Last night’s bad baserunning
stood out because it’s thankfully been an aberration this season, as opposed to
a routine issue like it was early in 2008.

 

Kevin Millwood in April (five starts): 2.13 ERA,
.210/.253/.333 opponents’ slash line, 1.9 walks per nine innings, 7.2 innings
per start

 

May (six starts): 4.28, .280/.354/.490, 3.4 per nine, 6.2 innings
per start

 

June (five starts): 1.30, .214/.299/.328, 3.4 per nine, 7.0 innings
per start

 

July (three starts): 8.83, .324/.390/.535, 4.2 per nine, 5.2
innings per start

 

Millwood leads the American League with 130 innings pitched,
tied with Arizona’s
Dan Haren for the heaviest workload in baseball.  He’ll get eight days of rest before starting
against Boston.

 

Ian Kinsler, author of the six-hit cycle on April 15, was in
a 6 for 41 (.146) slide before going 5 for his last 17 (.294).  These next four days of inactivity,
especially if he contributes again this afternoon, are going to be good for
him, and for this team.

 

Incidentally, since it was Dustin Pedroia who was in need of
an All-Star Game replacement, the decision was left to Rays manager Joe
Maddon.  Had Pedroia been a players’ selection
(like Torii Hunter) rather than a fan selection, the replacement would have
been Kinsler, since he had the highest number of player votes among second
basemen not already on the roster.   

 

Jon Daniels and his crew are getting plenty of well-deserved
credit for the quiet additions of Darren O’Day and Andruw Jones and Omar
Vizquel to this roster, but Jason Grilli belongs on the list, too.

 

Grilli has now logged 12.1 innings with Texas,
after 19.1 innings for Colorado
at the start of the season.

 

With the Rockies: 6.05 ERA,
.345/.429/.476 slash line, 6.1 walks per nine innings

 

With the Rangers: 1.46 ERA, .146/.222/.293 slash line, 2.9 walks
per nine innings

 

Fluky?  I don’t know.  But the fact is that Daniels’s scouts and
advisors saw something they liked in Grilli despite those abominable Rockies
numbers, and moves like that one, when there are two or three or four in a
season, can change the win column by two or three or four, even if they escape
the headlines. 

 

Neftali Feliz will pitch for the World Team in today’s
Futures Game, which airs on ESPN2 at 1:00. 

 

Twenty of the 30 MLB clubs have two prospects in the
game.  The Rangers, despite having the top
farm system in baseball, are one of the 10 teams with just one.

 

ESPN’s Keith Law on that subject:

 

Where on earth is Texas first baseman
Justin Smoak?  Smoak, the third-best
player available in the 2008 draft, is now the top first base prospect in the
minors, but MLB never asked the Rangers to send him to the Futures Game.  He hit .328/.449/.481 before his recent
promotion to Oklahoma City,
despite going from college straight to Double-A.  Another Rangers farmhand, pitcher Martin
Perez, belongs in the contest as well but was omitted.  The fact there’s only one Ranger in the game -
most clubs have two representatives – would be a lot easier to swallow if their
system wasn’t good, but Texas has the best farm system in the majors and should
have more than just Feliz wearing its uniform on Sunday.

 

According to a local report, the Rangers have confirmed that
they agreed to pay Curacao shortstop Jurickson Profar $1.55 million to sign a
week and a half ago, and Venezuela
shortstop Luis Sardinas $1.5 million.  Both
are in the top 10, dollar-wise, around the league, based on the July 2 signings
that have been reported.

 

Roy Halladay’s numbers in Rangers Ballpark are a concern for
a number of you, if some of the emails I’ve gotten are any indication.

 

But maybe it’s not the park, but the opponent.

 

Against the Rangers in Arlington,
Halladay has a 6.14 ERA and has allowed Texas
to hit .285/.338/.461.

 

But against the Rangers in Toronto, Halladay has a 4.55
ERA and has allowed Texas
to hit .292/.335/.453.

 

And overall in Toronto,
Halladay has a 3.26 ERA and allows opponents to hit .243/.285/.376.

 

You know, I said at the top that today’s game, pitting
Dustin Nippert against Erik Bedard, is a big one.  It is. 
But when was the last one that wasn’t?

 

Don’t take for granted that this team has given us Big Games
almost every day for the last three months. 
Things are looking up for this organization long-term, but seasons like
this don’t always happen – even when they’re supposed to.

 

 

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

 

1 Comment

Great stuff Jamie!!!! I was wondering where Smoak and, Perez where too. Anyways, lets just hope we are still playing big games in October. I think we have the potential to be there. Once we make it to the playoffs we are looking at some scary starting pitching, I am not sure if Milly, Vinny, and Feldman can match up well with C.C., Beckett and the like. We will see, but those Millwood numbers were freaking scary!

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