Just a week and a half ago, I expressed concern over the upcoming home series with the Twins, opining how the Twins worried me as much if not more than any of the teams in the AL playoff hunt. Then we went out and took three of four.
Now the Rangers go into their last series with the Twins at Target Field looking at an opponent decimated by injuries and bad timing.
Justin Morneau still is not back in the line-up for the Twins with a concussion-related injury. Now the problems are mounting among the starting pitching staff.
Already down one starting pitcher, Scott Baker went down Thursday after only two innings against the Tigers and could be done for the year. In addition, thanks to a 13-inning affair with the Tigers, Minnesota was forced to use two other starters, including Nick Blackburn, who was scheduled to start tonight’s opener.
Instead, the Rangers will be facing a 27-year-old minor leaguer making his big league debut, a pitcher who wasn’t even on the 40-man roster to begin with. In other words, a sacrificial lamb.
Again I temper my expectations, knowing the Rangers are 0-3 in Minneapolis this year. Under the circumstances, though, Texas has to be considered a huge favorite to win this one, especially considering Ian Kinsler returns to the line-up tonight.
On the other hand, Derek Holland is making his second start at Target Field tonight. You may recall what happened to Holland his first time against the Twins. On ESPN’s national Sunday night game May 30th, Holland’s velocity was down from the start and he left after one inning plus, having given up three runs, three hits and three walks. He then went on the disabled list, not returning to the Rangers until August.
Holland has a world of talent, but we’ve still only seen glimpses of it at the big league level. Get it tonight and it should be a good night for the Rangers. If he doesn’t, this could be a high-scoring one for both sides.
All I know is, I’m feeling better about our chances against the Twins from her on out.
Rangers News: New roster additions tonight include Taylor Teagarden as the third catcher (recalled), Dustin Nippert as another long-relief option (reinstated from DL) and, for the first time in a Rangers uniform, LHP Clay Rapada (recalled), who is expected to be what is affectionately referred to in baseball as a LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY). If my math is correct, that currently puts the roster at 29 players (15 position players and 14 pitchers). Still to come is Scott Feldman when he’s ready to come off the DL. Outside of Feldman, I don’t see the Rangers bringing anyone else up until either Oklahoma City is eliminated from the playoffs or the Rangers have clinched the AL West.