The season-ending series in Anaheim is going to mean something, to Los Angeles if not to Texas, as Boston’s slide has brought the Angels (and Rays) to within 2.5 games of the Wild Card slot, while they sit a full five games behind the Rangers in the West.
So Texas will face Haren (Monday), Santana (Tuesday), and Weaver (Wednesday), with the Angels likely having everything on the line all three games.
For the most obvious of reasons, we can hope that the only meaning of that series to Texas will be to help determine who its ALDS opponent will be, but that’s a sort-out that I’ve been intentionally giving very little thought to. All I care about – for now – is getting into the tournament. Getting some key players a little rest would help, too.
And I expect this team to fight to get back to the World Series, which means getting through two of the three other AL playoff clubs. Whichever one is the first draw is fine with me.
Lots of the games will be in Arlington, lots on the road. Even if Texas travels to New York for Games One and Two – whether in the ALDS or ALCS – part of me thinks the Yankees might actually be the Rangers’ best matchup anyway.
But back to the original point. It would be a very good thing to lock in what these first 162 are all about at some point while the Rangers are at home tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. That became a bigger deal after midnight. As last night’s game ended, and I was rounding up another brilliant Eric Nadel home run call to share with you all, one added reason for a home clincher bubbled up with a nasty reminder.
C.J. Wilson told reporters after the game that he had a blister develop on his left middle finger in the first inning. He says it’s not a big deal, that he’s used to it, that he’ll adjust.
But Wilson’s command issues last night were not all on home plate umpire Gerry Davis. His stuff was excellent (eight strikeouts in six innings), but he threw only 61 percent of his pitches for strikes, missing badly at times. He started only 10 of the 24 Oakland hitters he faced with a strike. Against Boston or New York and probably Detroit, that number would have been worse.
Wilson had a blister issue in Game Five of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium last year, a bad outing, and then was chased from Game Two of the World Series in San Francisco with a blister on that same middle finger. The score was 1-0, Giants, in the bottom of the seventh when Wilson exited. Texas lost, 9-0.
Wilson is slated to pitch Monday in Anaheim. I get that he’ll want to pitch that night, and that Texas will want him to pitch, so that he won’t go into the playoffs with more than a week of rest. He needs to stay in his routine.
But if he can go short that night, even if the game is a critical one for the Angels, it could put Wilson in line to start Game One a week from tomorrow (on three days’ rest) rather than Game Two. (Though either way, he’d be slated to come back for Game Five, unless the club wanted to run him out there for Game Four on short rest.)
Let Wilson pitch Monday, but not for very long. Because whether he gets the ball next in Game One or Game Two, I’d feel a lot better if he wasn’t dealing with the blister problem he battled through last night, or an aggravated one brought about by 110 high-pressure pitches in a Monday game that the Rangers found themselves needing to win.
So let’s just go ahead and nail this thing down in our house this weekend, if it’s all the same to you. Castle Doctrine.