Marching toward a clinch.

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A’s near-Royal flush

Was magically propitious

Crazy: Number’s eight.


Texas hits the road for the next 10 games, a stretch during
which the odds are that the playoff berth gets nailed down.  Even the folks in creative for TBS agree that
the Rangers are locks:



NY billboard #1.jpg



Thanks to Scott Gann and Katy Roffino for photographing
those New York City billboards this week and sharing them with us, and to TBS not
only for putting Cliff Lee front and center but also resisting what had to be
considerable pressure to go ahead and airbrush “Texas” out and put Lee in those
birthright pinstripes.  Impressive restraint.


When we recorded the latest edition of Rangers Podcast in
Arlington last night, we wrapped up by predicting when Texas would actually
clinch, and I went with a week from tomorrow, which I suppose is wishful
thinking since that’s a 3 p.m. game while the five games preceding it have 9
p.m. local starts. 


The soonest that the Rangers can wrap this up, by winning
out and Oakland continuing to lose, would be this Monday night, when Texas is
in Anaheim and Oakland hosts Chicago.  


Keep an eye on Wednesday, too.  If, over the 10 games that Texas and Oakland
play over the next five days, the Ranger wins plus A’s losses total seven, the
Rangers could actually clinch Wednesday afternoon, when the White Sox (Edwin
Jackson) face Oakland (Brett Anderson) at 2:35 CT in the finale of that series,
a game that should end well before C.J. Wilson faces the Angels’ Dan Haren at
9:35 CT that night. 


But if the division isn’t wrapped up by that date, at least
the Rangers and A’s face off for the following four, making it more likely that
Texas can clinch by squeezing the final out, rather than celebrating a
scoreboard message.  (That assumes that the
A’s can hold the Angels off from closing the 1.5-game gap between those teams


I’m sticking with next Saturday.  If the Rangers and A’s stay in rotation,
Derek Holland will take the ball that day, facing off against Gio
Gonzalez.  Jeff Francoeur will have a key
hit, cementing his place in Rangers history despite what could be the briefest
of stints in the organization.


The 10-game lead that Texas has on Oakland at the moment matches
the biggest divisional lead the club has ever held.


I got a couple dozen emails yesterday asking what happens to
the players and coaches who suited up for Oklahoma City and for Round Rock in
2010.  Easy: They follow their organizations.  RedHawks players and coaches will remain
Rangers assets, and will be in Surprise in February and March if not let go in the
off-season.  If reassigned to AAA, they
will suit up for Round Rock in April.


I repeat that here for those of you in Northern California,
South Carolina, or elsewhere who might wonder the same thing when the Rangers
announce this afternoon that they have agreed to a player development contract with
the High A Myrtle Beach Pelicans (a Chuck Greenberg franchise), ending a six-year
run in Bakersfield.


Myrtle Beach is a four-hour drive from the Rangers’ Low A affiliate
in Hickory, North Carolina, a distance of 234 miles.  I’m not sure how long the flight from Hickory
to Bakersfield is, but the towns are nearly 2,400 miles apart.  That’s not the only reason this transition
makes a lot of sense (the Carolina League also tends to be a better environment
for developing pitching), but it’s a much better situation logistically.


Incidentally, Milwaukee announced earlier this week that it’s
keeping its AAA club in Nashville, ending speculation that the Brewers would
move into Oklahoma City, leaving Nashville as the likely destination for the
Astros now that their affiliation with Round Rock has ended.  The Brewers’ stay makes an arrangement between
Houston and Oklahoma City a strong likelihood. 


The MRI on Frankie Francisco’s right side showed that his
rib cage is healing.  He should start
throwing Monday.


Darren Oliver’s $3.25 million option for 2011 vested when he
made his 59th appearance Wednesday night.  He’s had a tremendous season (2.50 ERA, 63 strikeouts
and 10 unintentional walks in 57.2 innings, .234/.286/.358 slash, 1.39 G/F),
and would surely have been brought back even if the option had not locked in –
though it should be pointed out that he was much sharper in the first half (1.36
ERA, .191 opponents’ average) than he has been in the second half (5.00 ERA,
.314 opponents’ average).  Don’t expect
as heavy a workload next spring.


By the way, on Sunday I wrote: “The last time Texas swept
the Yankees at home was in 1996, a season in which the Rangers would eventually
win Game One of the ALDS, in New York. 
The Rangers-Yankees karma since then has been lousy,
of the players or coaches or baseball operations folks here now were here then
and maybe this little three-game set did a little bit to minimize whatever
stigma might still be attached, if there’s actually any of that which exists
other than with the fan base and media.”


Oliver was here in 1996, of course. 


One scout offered the following assessment of Nelson Cruz to
Baseball Prospectus’s John Perrotto: “He kind of gets overlooked in that lineup
with Josh Hamilton and Michael Young and Vladdy Guerrero and Ian Kinsler, but
he’s a very dangerous hitter who has learned how to handle off-speed stuff.  He’s not a flashy guy but you can tell he
likes hitting in big situations.  That’s
why he’s my pick to the breakout star of the postseason.”


Young was elected to the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame,
along with St. Louis righthander Chris Carpenter.  Young played in the AFL in 2000, three months
after Texas acquired him from Toronto.  He
was assigned to the Grand Canyon Rafters that fall along with Joaquin Benoit,
Kevin Mench, Jason Romano, Spike Lundberg, and David Elder.


The Rangers’ minor league award winners for August:
Dominican Summer League righthander David Perez was Pitcher of the Month, Arizona
League first baseman Jhonny Gomez was Player of the Month, Spokane third
baseman Mike Olt was Defender of the Month, and Spokane righthander Ben Rowen
was Reliever of the Month.


named Hickory lefthander Robbie Erlin a second-teamer on
its Minor League All-Star Team.  Erlin’s
2.12 ERA was third-lowest among all minor league starting pitchers in 2010.


Juan Gonzalez, age 40, will be teammates with Rangers
outfield prospect Miguel Velazquez, age 22, on Puerto Rico’s entry in the Pan
Am Qualifier tournament.


We’ll hit you up with an update once this afternoon’s announcement
out of Myrtle Beach has been made.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



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