An odd night. We hope.

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“It was just an odd
night,” said Rich Harden.

 

Yep.

 

Am I concerned about
Harden, who seemed to have little more idea where his pitches were going than
the Toronto hitters who went down on strikes for an extraordinary eight of
their 11 outs while he was on the mound? 

 

Yes.

 

But not as concerned
as I am about Josh Hamilton, who looks exceptionally uncomfortable and completely
out of sync at the plate.

 

The Rangers issued 10 walks last night, after spending March
as one of baseball’s stingiest staffs as far as bases on balls were concerned. 

 

Granted, spring training statistics don’t mean a whole heck of
a lot (see: Vladimir Guerrero’s homerless camp), but the hope is that the club’s
low walk totals in Arizona were far more indicative of what to expect from this
staff than last night’s location disaster. 

 

And that Hamilton’s .373 batting average and .610 slug in
camp suggests he can be more reliable in 2010 than he was in 2009.

 

But he looks like he’s overthinking things and guessing too
much, and that makes him an easy mark at the plate, as we saw last year.

 

Hamilton may never look as locked in this season as Nelson
Cruz has for a month, and that’s OK.  But
he needs to look a whole lot better than the 2009 version of himself, and in
this admittedly tiny sample size of Games One and Two, he clearly hasn’t.

 

I’d like to see Julio Borbon drop a bunt to lead off the
bottom of the first today.  After taking
a pitch.

 

Thank goodness Monday’s game ended well.

 

Losses happen in baseball, but the real ugly losses are hard
to take.  Last night’s was a big old can
of bad ugly.  I was hoping that “O Canada”
and those plummeting temperatures might have put Harden in a good place after an
uninspiring spring.  The changeup was on
for the most part, but that sort of scattered fastball command leads not only
to gifted bases but also to lousy pitch counts and a tax on the bullpen, and while
Harden is historically not one who regularly goes deep into games, there’s
nothing acceptable about a pitch count looking like a radar gun reading in the
fourth inning.  That certainly can’t
happen every fifth day.

 

And as lost as Hamilton looks, that can’t continue to handicap
the lineup every day, particularly in the three hole.

 

It was on odd night, as Harden said.  If by that he meant “abnormal,” I sure hope
that turns out to be true.  If there was anything
normal about it, then uh-oh.

 

C.J. Wilson has the task of putting Texas in a position to
win the opening series this afternoon.  He’d
probably like for you to stop by his new
blog
but I would also recommend you check out this video (and wiffle ball BP
session) he filmed with the producers of “Lost.”
 

 

The four full-season minor league affiliates open
today.  A full season of daily game recaps
from the formidable Scott Lucas begins tomorrow morning.

 

And finally, sometime later this morning the first 2010
installment of my weekly MLB.com column will turn up on TexasRangers.com.  (This week’s: Ranking the top 10 right-handed
starting pitchers in the Rangers farm system.) 
I’ll toss you a heads-up when it’s posted.

 

 

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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

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