Who knew it would take over 40 years to make me want to act like Dennis The Menace and just drop by CJ Wilson‘s house to bug him. But I do. I want to march over to his house right now and repeat “Please re-sign with the Rangers” over and over and over and over and over and over until he has no recourse but to re-sign, if only to get me off his back and off of his property.
Mr. Wilson took the mound Sunday after the Rangers had seen their AL West lead shrink to a mere game and a half over the second place Angels and proceeded to pitch eight innings of shutout baseball in leading Texas to an 8-1 win and a 2-1 series win over the Oakland A’s. A money performance from a money pitcher, and one who is now working on a 17 inning scoreless streak. Meanwhile, the Angels blew a chance to sweep the Yankees, with a dropped fly ball leading to two Yankees runs which put the lead back to 2 1/2 games, now with only 15 games to go.
To take a little bit of the luster off the Rangers win yesterday and the 11 strikeout performance, the A’s did rest a lot of their regulars in the game, so CJ wasn’t exactly facing an optimal line-up. On the other hand, how many times have you seen your own team rest certain regulars when facing another team’s bona fide ace? For much of the season, the Rangers have been known as having a good starting pitching staff but one without a true ace. It’s becoming more and more apparent that Wilson is turning into an ace right before our eyes, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Even more heartening than Wilson’s Sunday performance was the one turned in by Adrian Beltre. The third baseman has hit for average since returning from the disabled list, but the power hasn’t been there. Ron Washington has been batting Beltre 5th in the order, saying he’s looking for signs he’s ready to return to the clean-up spot. One big humongous sign was shown yesterday. Beltre had a double with authority in his first at bat. His third at bat cleared the left field fence, but not by much, for his first post-DL home run. His 4th at bat was a no doubter, easily clearing the fence onto the green in center field for his second dinger of the day. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance Beltre is back in the 4-hole come Tuesday night.
Beltre’s bat is sorely needed because, quite frankly, Josh Hamilton has only been an average hitter over the past month plus. It certainly wasn’t expected for Hambone to match last year’s MVP performance numbers in 2011, but something just doesn’t look quite right with Josh. While much has been made about how poorly Hamilton has done in day games, overall he just hasn’t hit the ball with much authority. Since the beginning of August, he’s been respectable, with 7 doubles, a triple, 6 Homers and 24 RBI, but his batting average has been a pedestrian .274. To add a little perspective, in the same span, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler all have more RBI’s than Hamilton, David Murphy has only one less. Napoli and Kinsler have both hit more home runs and Kinsler has more doubles as well. And all the aforementioned except for Kinsler have hit for a higher average as well.
Certainly it’s a good problem to have, as it shows what a consistent threat the Rangers offensive line-up is, even without Nelson Cruz. Still, a nice Hamilton hot streak would be more than welcome right around now. I’m beginning to wonder if the broken bone in his upper arm that he suffered in April has caused a slight adjustment to his swing that’s affected his average and power. Anything’s possible.
Hamilton’s problem isn’t nearly as worrisome as former high school teammates and now Rangers teammates Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama. Uehara hasn’t been very good since coming over from the Orioles and Tateyama has been even worse over the past two weeks.
When Uehara was traded to the Rangers, he sported a 1.72 ERA, a .152 opponents batting average and he had given up 4 home runs in 47 innings of work. Since arriving in the Lone Star State, Koji’s given up 5 home runs in just 13 innings of work, with a .226 opponents BA and a 5.27 ERA.
But that’s nothing compared to Tateyama. On August 23rd Yoshi’s ERA had reached its lowest point of the season at 2.37. Since that time, he’s pitched 4 innings, given up 11 hits and twelve runs, all earned, for a 27.00 ERA. Adding insult to injury, the last two batters he’s faced have both hit grand slams off him. Saturday’s grand slam broke open a 3-3 game and helped the A’s break a 10-game losing streak against Texas.
With only 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season, Wash doesn’t have a lot of time left to figure out who will fill what bullpen roles come playoff time (assuming the Rangers get there). The recent performances of the two Japanese imports, as well as Mark Lowe and Mike Gonzalez, aren’t making the skipper’s decision any easier.
Off day today so the R’s can root for the A’s against the Angels tonight, then Cleveland comes to town Tuesday.
In closing, I’d just like Mr. Wilson to know this: Please resign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers…..