Colby’s last nine starts
Stuck on nine wins all that
9-9-10: Win ten
Texas didn’t blow Toronto out, but as Lewis spearheaded the split
of the four-game series, the final time that the Jays had so much as the tying
run at the plate in the 4-2 Rangers victory was with one out in the fifth, when
Fred Lewis singled after a John Buck strikeout and was left stranded there as the
Rangers righthander fanned both Travis Snider and Dewayne Wise to close out the
So Texas is now 77-63, sitting 7.5 games up on Oakland,
which was idle Thursday and kicks off a three-game set against Boston tonight.
Last year after 140 games, the Rangers were 79-61 – but 5.5
games behind the Angels (and three behind Boston for the Wild Card spot). They were post-season longshots in the second
week of September, even though they were within a game of a 92-win pace, something
Nolan Ryan projected for the 2010 version, whose magic number is now 16 in
spite of what’s now just an 89-win pace.
And we know that last year’s club didn’t come close to that
win total, running out of gas over the final three weeks (8-14) to finish with
what was, in the end, a disappointing 87-75 record.
It would take that sort of collapse, and a 16-7 finish by the
A’s, for the two clubs to finish with a 162-game tie atop the division.
But thank goodness the rest of the AL West has been crummy
How about seven wins in these next 11 (three games against
the Yankees and two against the Tigers at home, followed by three in Seattle
and three in Los Angeles) before Texas visits the A’s for four? Starting tonight, when C.J. Wilson faces
Javier Vazquez, against whom the game plan should be clear. Vazquez has averaged 19 pitches per inning
the last month, a span in which his ERA is 6.53 and opponents’ OPS is
.929. Texas needs to work counts and get
to the weak part of the New York pen early.
It’s true that Wilson’s last effort, Sunday in Minnesota, was
one of his two worst all year, but it came after four straight quality starts,
and he’s been decent in two starts against New York this year (3.97 ERA), while
the Rangers spanked Vazquez in their one 2010 matchup (six runs on eight hits
and two walks in 4.1 innings).
Elvis Andrus is expected to return to the lineup tonight.
The best part of Vladimir
Guerrero’s box score last night: 3 for 4 with two runs scored. That .301/.345/.500 on the right side is a
whole bunch of simple slashy goodness, too.
But tucked toward the middle, in a game in which Rangers hitters saw a not-so-great
3.49 pitches per plate appearance, is the eight that Guerrero forced Toronto
pitchers to throw him in four trips, including just five Shawn Hill pitches in
his first three at-bats. The only player
in baseball who sees fewer pitches per plate appearances than Guerrero’s 3.17
is the awful Yuniesky Betancourt (3.13).
Of course, when you’re 4 for 5 lifetime against Shawn Hill, which
Guerrero happens to be, sporting a batting average that no other big league
hitter can match against the 29-year-old, plate patience is probably an
unnecessary bone to pick (one that shows up lower on the list than Guerrero’s
baffling insistence on continuing to run wild on the bases).
Guerrero against Toronto this season: .541/.564/.784 in 37
at-bats. Don’t be fooled by the edge his
on-base percentage has on his batting average.
Guerrero didn’t work a walk against the Jays in 2010 – but he was
Darren O’Day has allowed four home runs this year. All came in his four appearances in Toronto’s
Rogers Centre. Jose Bautista hit two of
them, and Vernon Wells and Jose Molina chipped in with one apiece.
Mitch Moreland’s .817 OPS is fourth highest on the Rangers, behind
only Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Guerrero.
(Yes, Chris Davis was pretty good his first summer, too, clocking
in at .880. I’m not saying it’s time to
offer Moreland an eight-year contract. But he’s had a very good rookie summer.)
There was a story written this week suggesting that Esteban
German won’t be eligible for the playoff roster since he wasn’t brought up until
after August 31. Simply not true. He’s eligible, as a replacement, for
instance, for Craig Gentry, who sits on the disabled list.
Hope you were able to catch Thad Levine’s hour-long Q&A at
the Sherlock’s game-watching party on Wednesday night, whether in person or by
tuning into Ted Price’s live stream over the Web, but if you didn’t, Ted should
have the video uploaded soon. Lots of
good stuff. I’ll give you a heads-up
when it’s available.
I’d very much like to see left-on-left specialist Clay Rapada
(10 batters faced, zero hits, one walk, three strikeouts, very little good contact)
with this club when camp reopens in February.
Hope you’ve been following Scott Lucas’s coverage of the
minor league playoffs. A Rangers franchise-record
six farm clubs out of seven reached the post-season. Win-loss records are never the priority as
far as player development is concerned, but there is a certain value placed on
prospects learning how to win, and given that this is a system that regularly pushes
its players aggressively, making many of its clubs among the youngest in their
leagues, and that has seen an extraordinary number of productive players traded
away during the season, this has been a remarkable year on the farm.
Wait until you see in Scott’s report today what Martin Perez
did for Frisco last night.
Although nothing’s official yet, the Austin
American-Statesman speculates that the Rangers’ expected AAA move from
Oklahoma City to Round Rock won’t result in the Astros assuming the RedHawks
franchise. Instead, Houston is expected
to take over the Nashville Sounds in place of Milwaukee, which would in turn
move into Oklahoma City.
As Scott has detailed, Spokane outfielder Jared Hoying, the Rangers’
10th-round pick this summer out of the University of Toledo, was
named the Northwest League MVP, on the strength of his .325/.378/.543
slash. The left-handed hitter added 20
stolen bases in 62 games. Spokane
manager Tim Hulett is the league’s Manager of the Year for the second time in
The Rangers’ Arizona Fall League (Surprise Rafters) contingent
will include righthanders Adalberto Flores, Danny Gutierrez, and Eric Hurley, lefthander
Tim Murphy, catcher Jose Felix, infielder Davis Stoneburner, and outfielders Engel
Beltre and Joey Butler. Hickory pitching
coach Brad Holman will serve in that role same capacity for the Rafters. The AFL begins play on October 12.
Boston claimed Matt Fox off waivers, after Minnesota designated
the righthander for assignment following his standout big league debut against Texas
a week ago.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia has three hits in 10 Boston at-bats –
and they’re all doubles. He also has
four walks, and no strikeouts. He’s
caught one of four runners attempting to steal.
The Rangers’ highest unsigned pick in 2006, lefthander Kevin
Angelle, was traded by the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American
Association to the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League.
Playoff preview in Arlington this weekend? Texas and New York aren’t at full strength,
but since we’re less than a month from playoff baseball, the undercurrent will
be there, with three near-sellouts in store.
Make no mistake: this series is sort of a big deal.
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(c) Jamey Newberg