Win the Damn Series.
Weaver-Dempster tonight, along with Beavan-Griffin.
Tomorrow: Santana-Holland, and Vargas-Straily.
Greinke-Darvish and Ramirez-Milone on Sunday afternoon.
Three of those games need to go the Rangers’ way. And not only because going to Oakland for 160, 161, and 162 with the A’s a game or two out – with Martin Perez going on Monday (though I’d bet on Roy Oswalt if the lead really is down to one or two games) – would be a little unpleasant, especially considering that it would mean Texas played its way into a lost series at home after having dropped two of the last three to the A’s, or that Oakland was on a hot streak again, or both.
The Rangers also need to lock down the West this weekend because they don’t need Matt Harrison (whose velocity and sharpness was off some yesterday) throwing any more than two or three innings before the playoffs get underway.
And because if Mike Adams is going to be available for the ALDS, pending whatever this afternoon’s shoulder MRI reveals, a tune-up inning in Oakland would be great, but no high-leverage work for him, please.
Los Angeles comes in here with what amounts to three Game Sevens on the slate. I don’t question whether Texas will play with the same sense of urgency it would have if the race were tighter, but I don’t want Perez (or Oswalt) needing to dial up a gem in Oakland on Monday, I don’t want Harrison needing to give this club 110 pitches on Tuesday, and I don’t want an Adams-less bullpen having to save the regular season next week with the playoffs days away – or Adams posting up in that series even if the best course would be rest and maybe a few batters just to get work so he’s fresh for the ALDS.
I know we all heaved a sigh of relief with yesterday’s win, but I’m in no mood to launch into cruise control. I can live without home field over the Yankees, if it comes to that (New York has just busted out against Toronto starter Chad Jenkins, whose AA ERA was close to 5.00 this year, to start tonight’s game), but after Harrison’s work yesterday and the Adams news today, I’m all about playing the Angels with something just short of a Game Seven intensity.
While a playoff berth may not hang in the balance, there’s a real opportunity the next three days to get a couple extremely important pitchers right, or at least attempt to do that, before they’ll be asked to throw some of the biggest innings of the season. The Angels are gonna bring it, without question, and the Rangers need to invoke some Castle Doctrine and slaughter their season, with the added benefit of improving the chances that their own will last very deep into October.