Mound siege.

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0-5, 12.05 AS A


That was exquisite pitching.  C.J. Wilson had great stuff, located everything,
exploited the outer edges of a big Jeff Nelson strike zone, struck out a career
high 12 (with 10 strike threes down in the zone), got 36 called strikes.  He went to 2-0 just one time (a sixth-inning
Julio Lugo at-bat at a time when Lugo had Baltimore’s only two hits), and only
three times all night went to a three-ball count.


Twice this year Wilson has walked as few as last night’s
one.  The first time was a zero-walk
effort against the Angels four weeks ago, a night on which he registered only
three strikeouts in eight innings.  The second
was in his last start – and the Rangers’ last win – when he set eight Red Sox
down on strikes and issued one walk in 7.2 frames.


Wilson’s 12:1 ratio last night was Cliff Lee style, particularly
after the third inning, when his pitches per inning dropped from 19.0 to 10.8.  Wilson was perfect in the 4th
through 8th, getting seven of his 15 outs on strikes, and five of
those looking.  He was drilling his spots
all night, staying away from the wheelhouse.


When Wilson is locked in the way he was in that game, with
stuff that’s better than Lee’s, that’s unquestionably a guy who fits in a
playoff rotation.


But the offense, once again held down, remains a concern.


If you’re glancing at today’s pitching matchup and thinking
this is the day that the lineup wakes up a bit – and gives Lee some run support
for a change – Brad Bergesen’s 5.80 ERA is a little deceptive.  Since July 31, Bergesen has a 2.22 ERA in
four starts, holding opponents to a .206/.257/.392 slash.  By way of comparison, Lee in the same
stretch: 4.50 ERA and a .277/.298/.370 slash.


Dan Haren got torched by Minnesota last night, falling to
1-4 in six Angels starts, and Los Angeles gave back the game it had gained on
Thursday, dipping again to eight games out. 
Oakland escaped with a win over Tampa Bay (with an eighth inning I wish I
didn’t see), to stay within seven.


The Rangers are cited as one of the teams interested in
outfielder-first baseman Brad Hawpe, whom the Rockies are letting go, but various
sources have also linked the Giants, Rays, Red Sox, White Sox, Twins, and
Yankees to the 31-year-old.  One issue:
Hawpe isn’t very good defensively.  I’m open
to the
Manny Ramirez idea
, but short of that kind of bat, I’m not sure how good an
idea it would be to bring in another position player whose glove would be an
issue, especially since Hawpe hasn’t hit or reached base this season the way he
had prior to 2010.


If the thought is that Hawpe could give the team more situational
offense than Jorge Cantu, that’s OK as long as third base is covered on the
bench (and second base as well, because you can’t just hope Andres Blanco won’t
be needed at both spots in a given game). 
Easier to plan for as of September 1, but that’s still a week and a half


In that stretch, Texas will play 11 games.  Cliff Lee’s got three of those (Baltimore, Minnesota,
Kansas City) and C.J. Wilson’s got another two (Minnesota and Kansas City).  There’s a three-game home set against the A’s
in there as well (next weekend), a series that could effectively bury Oakland’s
chances if the Rangers can hold ground until then.


But the bats have to do their part.  Credit Wilson for carrying the offense last
night, but over the next six weeks, the Rangers will need to find a way to start
clicking across the board.  Getting some
key guys back from injury will help, but there’s room for improvement all over
the lineup.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



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