We’ve talked a lot in the last two months about the possible impact the Rangers’ awful 9-8 loss to the Angels on July 20 had on this pennant race, not because the blown 8-3 lead was anything that would have lingered in the Texas clubhouse but because some (myself included) believed it had the potential to galvanize a flagging Los Angeles season a week and a half before the trade deadline.
I’m not going to revisit that discussion, but would point out that it was the only time that Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter have ever pitched in the same game. Haren (seven runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings) was long gone by time Hunter (two runs plus an inherited runner scored in his two-thirds of the brutal sixth inning) relieved Derek Holland, but it either sets up a dramatic rematch between the two righthanders or doesn’t, as Haren and Hunter face off tonight in what is not only the opener of the Angels’ three-game set in Baltimore but also the third straight game pitting a former Rangers righty against Los Angeles.
Hope it goes better for Hunter than it did for Guillermo Moscoso and Rich Harden, each of whom put up zeroes outside of one three-run inning, which turned out to be enough for the Angels.
Speaking of former Rangers righthanders, Blake Beavan has faced Texas once and did the same thing – yielding a three-spot (on a Mitch Moreland jimmy-jack) and nothing else in what was a solid 6.2-inning effort. He takes the hill tonight against C.J. Wilson, who is a brilliant 6-1, 1.89 (.205/.261/.327) in his last seven starts – four against division opponents plus two against the Rays and one against the Red Sox – and 3-0, 1.57 (.207/.253/.256) against the Mariners this season.
And fellow former Rangers righthander Brandon McCarthy draws Detroit righty Max Scherzer tonight. An Oakland win in that game would be appreciated, though by choice I haven’t really focused much on what Detroit or Boston or Tampa Bay is doing, just as I haven’t calculated any Magic Numbers this year. It’s all about winning the game in front of you right now, reclaiming this division, hoping to make the season’s final three in Anaheim meaningless, and taking care of head-to-head business against the Angels if they’re not. I’ll think about home field when I’m no longer thinking about getting into the tournament.
Texas has gone 9-4 in September, holding opponents to a .227/.291/.377 slash while hitting .328/.390/.578 as an offense.
Stated another way?
The Rangers’ September attack has been Ryan Braun (.329/.395/.579 in 2011).
Rangers pitchers have turned the club’s September opposition into Gordon Beckham (.229/.293/.330), with a tick more power.
The offense and pitching don’t need to maintain those levels these next two weeks for Texas to push the season past 162, and Dan Haren doesn’t need to be as bad tonight as he was the last time he was opposite Tommy Hunter. But while the talk shows reclaim their daily spot on the edge of their seats waiting to see if the Cowboys can save their season in Week Two, I couldn’t be any more fidgety waiting for tonight’s, tomorrow’s, and Sunday’s baseball games in Seattle, with an eye on what’s going down in Baltimore as well.
This weekend’s slate is reward for caring a lot about baseball.
My omen at work?
Or Scioscia Darwinism?
* * *
Yes, Brandon McCarthy actually faced Max Scherzer last night – not tonight – and beat him, busting up the Tigers’ win streak.
See how much I’m not paying attention to Detroit?
Have a great weekend.