Tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

Texas Rangers Stars Of The Week: 3/31-4/6

Star of the WeekEvery Monday, this space names the Texas Rangers Stars of the Week. These are the guys who went above and beyond during the previous week. Each week two position players and one pitcher get special mentions. For position players, there’s a Star of the Week for a full week’s performance and one recognizing an outstanding single game. The pitching Star of the Week could be either.

Star of the WeekPosition Player Star of the Week (Single Game): Elvis Andrus Texas had two walk-off wins in as many days against the Philadelphia Phillies. Adrian Beltre came through with the game-winning hit in the first walk-off win, while Shin-Soo Choo coaxed a bases-loaded walk to decide the following game. Still, nothing topped the dramatics of the 7th inning Sunday in Tampa Bay. Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb had matched seven innings of scoreless baseball. Texas hadn’t even seriously threatened to score the entire game. In the top of the 8th inning, with two outs, Shin-Soo Choo managed an infield single off the glove of pitcher Joel Peralta. Elvis Andrus then worked the count to 3-2 when Peralta threw him one more fastball:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_04_06_texmlb_tbamlb_1&mode=video&content_id=31878961&tcid=vpp_copy_31878961

It was the first Rangers home run since Alex Rios cleared the fences on Opening Day. Elvis has never hit more than six home runs in a season, so to say this was unexpected would be an understatement. The man who now resembles an Amish farmer also supplied some nifty glove work on two line drives late in the game to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard and preserve a Texas win.

Star of the WeekPosition Player Star of the Week (Full Week): Shin-Soo Choo One of the keys to the Rangers success this season is their new lead-off hitter. Choo has one of the highest On Base Percentages in baseball over the past few seasons, despite less than sterling numbers against left-handed pitchers. His ability to take pitches and get on base was the major reason Texas signed him to a big bucks multi-year deal. In the first week of the season, Choo did not disappoint. While a modest .273 batting average for the week with no extra base hits doesn’t sound like a lot, he’s started out strong against the southpaws: 3 for 9 plus two walks. In addition, Choo saved his best for the times it mattered most. In Tuesday’s win over the Phillies, he led off the 9th with a walk and scored the winning run on Adrian Beltre’s single. The next day, Choo battled back from a 1-2 count to get a bases-loaded walk, plating the winning run in another walk-off against the Phils. Finally on Sunday, in a scoreless tie with two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Choo worked Joel Peralta for seven pitches, finally earning yet another walk and setting the stage for the Elvis Andrus fireworks to come. Prince Fielder is off to a slow start, but Choo has already earned a lot of love from the Rangers fan base.

 

Star of the WeekPitching Star of the Week: Yu Darvish Yu Darvish originally was to pitch the first game of the season. Instead, a stiff neck earned him a DL stint and Tanner Scheppers the Opening Day start. Nothing went right for Texas in Game 1 as they dropped a 14-10 decision to Philadelphia. In fact, the first four games of the season saw not one Rangers starter last six innings, the first time that’s happened since the Washington Senators moved to Arlington to become the Rangers. Rookie Nick Martinez managed to make it through six in his début Saturday, but it was important for Darvish to set a new tone following his activation Sunday. He didn’t disappoint, going seven strong innings and picking up the win in his season début. Darvish has been victim of high pitch counts his first two seasons but got through seven innings on just 89 pitches while throwing 65 of them for strikes. At one point early on, Darvish K’d three consecutive Rays batters on just nine pitches. In the first inning, Darvish got his 500th career MLB strikeout and set a record for reaching 500 K’s in the fewest innings pitched (just 401 IP). Darvish provided the shot in the arm the Rangers pitching staff needed. As a special treat to honor Darvish this week, check out this YouTube presentation of every one of Yu’s strikeouts in 2013, courtesy of the massively talented Drew Sheppard:

Texas went 3-3 the first week. The three wins had plenty of late-inning dramatics, while the three losses featured poor pitching, poor defense and, in two of the three losses, silent bats. This week in Rangers baseball finds Texas in Fenway Park for a 3-game series against the defending World Series Champions and former Rangers Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara. After an off-day Thursday, it’s back to Arlington to start a 10-day homestand with three against the Houston Astros.

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The Friday/Saturday Sundry: 4/4/14

Not much to discuss today, but here are a couple of links worth the look.

TR Sullivan did a great piece on Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington for MLB.com. As big as statistics are to baseball fans, Wash shares his food for thought on what it takes to compile those stats. Basically, he believes if you play the game right the stats will come instead of the opposite.

There’s also this: The rehabbing Derek Holland answers “Rangers player most likely to…” questions.

Martin Perez turns 23 years old today.

Lastly, there’s this photo taken at the Season Opener for the Rangers’ AA affiliate the Frisco RoughRiders. The game got postponed in the third inning. Looking at the picture, I think you’ll know why:

Frisco 4-3-14

Here’s tonight’s schedule:

RANGERS (2-1) at Tampa Bay (2-2)  Joe Saunders vs. Jake Odorizzi

AAA Oklahoma City(Astros) (1-0) at ROUND ROCK (Rangers) (0-1)

AA NW Arkansas (Royals) at FRISCO (Rangers)

High-A Salem (Red Sox) (1-0) at MYRTLE BEACH (Rangers) (0-1)

Low-A HICKORY (Rangers) (1-0) at Greensboro (Marlins) (0-1)

The End Comes Too Soon

I had modest hopes. To me, a World Series appearance wasn’t in the cards for the Texas Rangers in 2013, but entering the extended regular season finale, I had hopes my boys would be able to extend their winning streak to nine to get a shot at the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. David Price put in a gutty performance and the Tampa Bay Rays ended the Rangers’ season at 163 games.

Still, it was a helluva year. Who would have thought the Rangers would be capable of winning 91 games in a season where:

1) Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli departed, replaced by Leonys Martin, AJ Pierzynski and Lance Berkman.

2) Berkman was a bust and the team’s best power hitter, Nelson Cruz, got suspended for the last 50 games of the year.

3) David Murphy and Mitch Moreland performed under expectations by a wide margin.

4) #2 starter Matt Harrison only managed two ineffective starts before going down to injury for the year.

5) The Rangers had a starting rotation at one point that consisted of Josh Lindblom, Ross Wolf, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch and Derek Holland.

6) The big pitching acquisition, Matt Garza, had many more poor performances than good ones.

The Rangers handled all this adversity and still won 91 games. They did it with a new infusion of youth that will only get better in the next few years, particularly Leonys Martin, Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez, who all showed signs of being major contributors.

Meanwhile, there are some players who won’t return for another round in 2014. David Murphy will most certainly be allowed to leave via free agency. Adam Rosales will also go. The pitching staff may say goodbye to Jason Frasor and even Joe Nathan leaving is a possibility.

Nelson Cruz

Gone? Nelson Cruz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Others are iffy. Nelson Cruz will be a free agent. He has stated often over the years he wants to stay in Texas, yet management never saw fit to make him an offer these past three years. Still, they may relent and bring him back as the team’s designated hitter because this team desperately needs some power. I’d love to see utility man Jeff Baker return. AJ Pierzynski could be gone as the Rangers keep getting linked to a free agency pursuit of Brian McCann. After his year ended so poorly, I can’t see Mitch Moreland as part of the plan for 2014. Whether that means Texas will ask Ian Kinsler to move to first (which also opens up second base for Jurickson Profar) or they pursue a free agent like James Loney remains to be seen. And, of course, there could be trades in the future that could see others leave the organization. Maybe the aforementioned David Price could come Texas’ way via trade.

This off-season I expect the Rangers to address their offensive needs as there are only a couple of modifications needed for the pitching staff. Four starters and at least five bullpen pieces are already set. Then I expect Texas will be a better team than they were in 2013. The window isn’t closed yet. It still has a few good years of being open left.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 26

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 7-0

Overall: 91-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .391/.462/.435, 1 Double, 3 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases

Alex Rios .346/.357/.654  3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 8 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .200/.333/.200

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Texas Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Joe Nathan/Robbie Ross/Tanner Scheppers/Joakim Soria/Jason Frasor):  22 Games, 5-0 with 3 Saves, 20.2 Innings Pitched, 10 Hits, 1 Run, 7 Walks, 27 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  3 Runs, 8 Hits Allowed in 5.1 Innings Pitched

The Texas Rangers have not qualified for the post-season, but thanks to an incredible last week of the season, they are guaranteed a 163rd game.

Say what you will about Texas getting to stay home the entire last week of the season to face the only two teams they dominated all season, they still needed every one of the seven straight wins they put together on the week to qualify for even this 163rd game. The Monday night match-up with the Tampa Bay Rays is not officially a play-off game, it’s actually a regular season game, with all stats counting towards the regular season total. Win tonight and THEN the Rangers can say they’ve made the post-season for the 4th year in a row.

Even with a 7-0 week, the Rangers weren’t the hottest team in the American League. That honor went to the Wild Card bound Cleveland Indians, who will take on the winner of tonight’s Texas-Tampa Bay game on Wednesday while riding a 9 game winning streak. The Indians dominated their week against the two lowest-ranked teams in the AL Central and Minnesota in particular seemed to just roll over against the hot Tribe. By the way, I want to meet the guy who could have said with certainty four months ago that the Indians would make the playoffs sporting a rotation that included Ubaldo Jiminez and Scott Kazmir.

Thanks to the Rays dropping two of their three games with the Blue Jays, the Rangers get to play the Rays tonight with rookie Martin Perez getting the start against David Price. The game will see the return of Nelson Cruz, who has now finished serving his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. Cruz will likely be the DH against the Rays. If Texas loses tonight, Cruz will be back for one game and then possibly no longer be a Ranger, as he heads into free agency after the season.

Seven days ago, I didn’t think I’d have anything more to write about in terms of play on the field after today’s wrap-up of the week. I am happy to say I will have more to write, at least for another day.

Getting Into Position For A Miracle

Even allowing for the fact they got to close their season at home against the two teams they had handled with the most ease in the regular season, even the most die-hard of Rangers fans had to admit there was little chance for post-season baseball in Arlington this year. It still may not happen, but a 6-0 spurt combined with a sudden two game skid by the Tampa Bay Rays suddenly has Texas on the cusp of what seemed so improbable less than a week ago.

There are four scenarios on the last game of the regular season. In three of those scenarios, the Rangers get to play a Game 163. The other one ends the dream on the last day of the season.

The Rangers have their ace ready to go in the regular season finale. It doesn’t get any more intense in the regular season than this.

Rangers-Angels. Darvish vs. Vargas. Win and you don’t even have to worry about what the Rays do. Lose and they need help from elsewhere.

Here are all the scenarios, courtesy of the Rangers:

The Texas Rangers will enter the last day of the 2013 regular season tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League’s second Wild Card spot with 90-71 records. The Cleveland Indians hold the first Wild Card spot at 91-70.
The following are the possible scenarios that could exist after play concludes on Sunday:

Texas defeats Los Angeles—Record of 91-71

Tampa Bay defeats Toronto—Record of 91-71

Cleveland defeats Minnesota—Record of 92-70 OR

Texas and Tampa both lose and Cleveland wins or loses on Sunday:

–Cleveland is the first Wild Card and would host the Wild Card Game on Wednesday

–Texas and Tampa Bay would play a one-game tiebreaker on Monday in Arlington at7:07 p.m. CT with the winner being the second Wild Card.

Texas defeats Los Angeles—Record of 91-71

Tampa Bay loses to Toronto—Record of 90-72

Cleveland defeats Minnesota—Record of 92-70

–Cleveland is the first Wild Card and would host the second Wild Card Texas in the Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
Texas defeats Los Angeles—Record of 91-71

Tampa Bay loses to Toronto—Record of 90-72

Cleveland loses to Minnesota—Record of 91-71

–Cleveland is the first Wild Card by virtue of having the head-to-head advantage over Texas (5-1) and would host the second Wild Card Rangers in the Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
Texas defeats Los Angeles—Record of 91-71

Tampa Bay defeats Toronto—Record of 91-71

Cleveland loses to Minnesota—Record of 91-71

–The first three-way tie in history would exist for the two A.L. Wild Card spots.

–Under the tiebreaker sequence determined by MLB and the three clubs on Friday, Cleveland would host Tampa Bay on Monday at 4:07 p.m. ET with the winner becoming an A.L. Wild Card.

–The losing club in Monday’s game would then play Texas in Arlington on Tuesday at 3:07 p.m. CT with the winner of that game becoming the other A.L. Wild Card.

–Home field advantage in Wednesday’s A.L. Wild Card Game would be determined by the head-to-head record between the two clubs that earned the Wild Card berths. Texas would host the game if Tampa Bay is the opponent and would play on the road if Cleveland is the opponent.
Texas loses to Los Angeles—Record of 90-72

Tampa Bay defeats Toronto—Record of 91-71

Cleveland loses to Minnesota—Record of 91-71

–Tampa Bay hosts Cleveland in the Wild Card Game on Wednesday
Texas loses to Los Angeles—Record of 90-72

Tampa Bay defeats Toronto—Record of 91-71

Cleveland defeats Minnesota—Record of 92-70

–Cleveland hosts Tampa Bay in the Wild Card Game on Wednesday
With Cleveland’s win today, Texas and Cleveland can no longer tie for the second Wild Card.

Win or lose, make the playoffs or not, what a great way to end a season!

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 24

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 0-6

Overall: 81-67  (2nd Place AL West) (-6.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Jim Adduci   .444/.500/.444 1 Stolen Base

A.J. Pierzynski  .318/.360/.455  3 Doubles

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .000/.133/.000  0 Hits in 13 AB’s

Leonys Martin  .105/.150/.105

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Yu Darvish  0-2, 14 Innings Pitched, 8 Hits, 2 Earned Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Derek Holland 0-1, 3 Innings Pitched, 6 Earned Runs, 18.00 ERA

Matt Garza 0-1, 4 Innings Pitched, 3 Earned Runs, 6.75 ERA

Martin Perez 0-2 11.1 Innings Pitched, 16 Hits, 7 Earned Runs, 5.56 ERA


Paul Simon said it best in 1977: Slip Slidin’ Away, Slip Slidin’ Away, You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’ away. Two weeks ago, the Texas Rangers, at the very least, were Wild Card playoff bound. With luck they could even find themselves AL West Champions and not facing a one and done Wild Card playoff. Fast forward to today and the Rangers are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. Sure, they’re tied for the Wild Card with Tampa Bay, but Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City are knocking at the door as well and the Rangers are playing two of those four teams this week. On the road. Following an 0-6 week that was all in front of the home crowd.

It was the first time in Rangers history that a home stand of six or more games resulted in zero wins.  Not only did they lose every game, the Rangers NEVER HAD A LEAD THE ENTIRE WEEK. 54 innings of losing baseball. In all three games of the Oakland series, the A’s scored in the first inning. That means the game was in essence over before the Rangers even had an at bat in the game. Texas had ZERO home runs for the week. Zero home runs. At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, historically one of the most prolific home run parks in the majors. The Rangers haven’t hit a home run since Alex Rios on Sunday the 8th at Anaheim, and that was in the first inning. It has been nearly seven games since a Rangers player hit a home run. A total of 62 1/3 innings now.

Yu Darvish was 0-2 on the week despite giving up only two runs in 14 innings of work. The Rangers lost both games 1-0. Darvish has lost four games by a score of 1-0 this year. Over his last seven starts, the Rangers have scored a total of 13 runs.

The kicker was yesterday’s game against the A’s. Texas was slated to face Oakland’s ace Jarrod Parker but Parker was a last-minute scratch because of illness. The A’s also pulled slugger Yoenis Cespedes from the line-up at the last minute with shoulder soreness. If the AL West title was really on the line, do you think either of those two players would have sat on the bench? Nope, they would have gutted it out to give their team their best chance to win. Instead of Parker, the Rangers got Tommy Millone, who for his career was 0-4 against Texas with a  5.67 ERA, including 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in 2013. In other words, the A’s 1) no longer fear the Rangers; and 2) were telling Texas they didn’t care if the Rangers won or not on Sunday. Being given a gift on a golden platter, what did the Rangers do? Nothing. They scored a run in the first and nothing the rest of the way. Against Tommy Millone.

Things are bad in Arlington right now. The Rangers are 6 1/2 out with 14 games to play. The AL West is pretty much out of the question now. The only hope that remains is to stay in the Wild Card hunt. To do that, they have to get the ship righted immediately. There are no more off days and it starts tonight with the first of four games against the team they’re tied with for the Wild Card lead, the Tampa Bay Rays. After Tampa, the Rangers go to Kansas City for three games with the Royals, who still have an outside shot at a Wild Card berth themselves.

Over the past four seasons, it has never been this discouraging being a Rangers fan. Someone throw them a life-preserver. Please.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 21

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 75-55  (1st Place AL West) (+2.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .350/.480/.750    2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 4 RBI, 5 Walks

Ian Kinsler .364/.400/.500  1 Home Run, 6 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .188/.350/.313

Leonys Martin  .222/.391/.222

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

5/7 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor): 11 Games, 11.2 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Matt Garza  5.93 ERA  9 Earned Runs (10 Total) in 13.2 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. 
You might think that strange considering the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2 and went from a half game up in the standings to two and a half up on the second place Oakland A’s, but it was indeed a wasted week. Why? Because Texas should have a three and a half game lead entering play today. The Rangers pushed the lead to 3 1/2 after Friday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, then couldn’t win either Saturday or Sunday with Yu Darvish and Matt Garza on the mound. The A’s went 1-1 in that span against Baltimore. It was a prime opportunity for Texas to add some space and they blew it. The offense could only score four runs over the last two games of the week and Garza turned in another lackluster performance to boot.

Every game counts in this stretch because the strength of schedule favors Oakland in the September stretch drive. Now is the time Texas has to go into overdrive because the A’s are certainly going to make another push soon. The Rangers have to take advantage against the Mariners this week while the A’s have to contend with the Detroit Tigers on the road. It won’t be easy for the Rangers, as they have to face both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the three game set, not to mention Rangers killer Kyle Seager, who has 11 doubles and four home runs against Texas this season. It doesn’t matter how difficult the chore, they have to take two of three at Seattle this week and follow it up by taking at least two of three at home against the Twins while the A’s host Tampa Bay. The lead is two and a half games now. It needs to increase to four or five games by Sunday. If it’s less than four, there’s still a very good chance the A’s will once again win the AL West. If it’s four games or more, the odds tip over to the Texas side of the ledger.