G142: Rangers sweep A’s (12-9), tie them for third

It’s a weird time. It’s that time of year when I get burnt out from writing about the Rangers, mostly because of all the losses. It’s the start of football season, and while I’m a baseball fan first, you can’t not be excited about Week 1 in the NFL. Which is what I spent most of this day watching. I only briefly watched the Rangers game, and saw little of it. However, this is an exciting time, as we’ve been playing very well the last two months or so, have decent to OK pitching (if not awesome), and have an outside shot at ending the season at .500.
But this game was cool, because it was a sweep of a division rival, and we ended up tied for third after the game was over. For the first time in quite awhile (sometime in May I think), we weren’t in sole possession of last place. We do have an off day tomorrow, so if Oakland wins on Monday, we’re right back in the cellar, but they do seem to be in a bit of a free fall, so I think it’s a fairly realistic option that we end up in third this year.
Anyway, as I said above, I didn’t see much of this game. But it did seem like one of those games in the rain that was a mess in more ways than one. The Rangers had three errors, (which I’m sure contributed to the four unearned runs that John Rheinecker gave up), and 13 hits. This was not a fast moving game at all (4:08 in all, including a 90 minute rain delay), and while the actual game time wasn’t too bad for a 21 run, 22 hit game, it just felt like it went on for 10 hours.
One of the parts, and it was the biggest part I did get to see was the eight inning outburst in the second. The home run by Sammy Sosa was seemingly vintage 90’s Sosa. It was a titanic shot into the club level. I still dispute that those home runs only went 440 feet up there. It seems like it would be a lot further than that. Nelson Cruz had three hits, Sammy Sosa had three hits, Young & Botts had two, and the remaining three hits were split between Hairston, Byrd, & Laird. Sosa continues to deliver when asked to, and really has been a surprise this season. No, he’s not gonna hit 60 home runs anymore with 135 RBI, but if you had said when we first signed him that he’d have 19 home runs and 83 RBI, I think most of us would be satisfied with that.
Combined the two teams used 13 pitchers. That kind of thing happens in rain delayed 20+ run games. :) In fact, of all those pitchers, the only pitcher to pitch more than two innings was old Rangers friend Colby Lewis, who tossed four for the A’s. Bill White for the Rangers threw two, and everyone else was less than that. Lots of trips to the mound. :)
Hopefully we can keep the momentum going (we have won 5 in a row now) into Detroit where we have a doubleheader on Tuesday.
Michael Young Watch: 175 hits. 25 hits needed in 20 games.

G141: Rangers beat A’s again (7-3); move closer to third

Well, Kason Gabbard was supposed to start this game, but did not due to a blister. So the Rangers tossed out there Luis Mendoza, who made his major league debut in this game. Mendoza came over from the Red Sox last year in one of those trades that at the time made the majority of Ranger fans go “Huh?” I’m sure Jamey Newberg probably liked it, because I don’t think the lowest guy in rookie ball can change his choice of breakfast cereal without Jamey knowing it. However, most of the rest of us probably didn’t think much of this deadline deal when it was made last summer, if they even remember it at all. BTW, here is a press release announcing it last summer.
The kid did pretty well. Just two hits, and no runs with no walks. No strikeouts, either. Unfortunately, he only pitched two innings. This was because he got wailed on in the leg by a batted ball, and was down on the ground for a bit. He did finish the inning, but was unable to come back for the third. You kind of felt bad for him, as he was doing pretty decently, and from the short sample, seemed in line to get his first major league win in his first major league start. You have to feel bad for someone when something like that happens.

Anyway, he was followed on the hill by AJ Murray who did pretty well until the back end of his three innings in relief. In all, Murray gave up two runs in three innings on 3 hits and a walk. He was followed by Mike Wood, John Rheinecker, & Wes Littleton. Rheneicker gave up one run, but it was unearned on an error by Michael Young. I’d say we had a really good combined line for all our pitchers tonight.
Offensively, we got to Chad Gaudin for 6 runs on 10 hits. Gaudin was great in the early part of the season, but not now. I dropped him a month ago or so from several fantasy teams I had him on. The Rangers had two solo home runs in this game (Kinsler & Blalock). Blalock’s was a no doubter into right. Kinsler’s was not so sure – it barely cleared the wall, but it did prompt a funny clip with the woman who ended up with the ball; Victor & Tom certainly enjoyed that clip. Byrd & Blalock both had three hits, and Kinsler had two. The remaining five hits the Rangers got were all spread out over five other players. One of them was Michael Young, who is now at 173 hits, needing 27 in 21 games to get to 200 again. Reachable, but any kind of injury or slump will kill that.
If we sweep the A’s tomorrow, we’ll finish the series tied with them for third place. Four more games remain on the schedule with them after this series. So it could be interesting. Be a minor victory to not remain in the basement – we’ve been there since some time in early May, I believe.

G140: Rangers and Cat beat A’s, 5-3

Short and sweet update.
Edinson Volquez looked like what he was touted to be when everyone was touting the “DVD” pitchers.
Frank Catalanotto shouldn’t have been pinch hit for, despite the righty/lefty thing. He deserved the shot at history.
Cat had a great night, and fueled our offense. Nice to see after the horrid start to the season he had.

G139: Rangers beat KC 3-2, win series

This is the kind of game that Ron Washington has said he loves to see. Well pitched, close, and a more traditional kind of game than the slugfest, no pitching contests we seem to still get into way too much year after year.
It started with Vicente Padilla, who looked a lot like the 2006 version of himself, not the guy who has been wearing #44 most of the year in 2007. Padilla went 6, giving up no runs on just two hits. He walked two and struck out five. Only tossed ninety balls – probably could have gone more, not sure why he came out when he did. Wes Littleton followed, and wasn’t as good, going less than an inning (0.2), and giving up the two KC runs on a home run ball hit by John Buck, the KC catcher. Littleton was followed by Bill White, the surprising September callup, who made his major league debut this game, going 0.2 innings, striking out one, and giving up one hit. But no runs. A nice performance for Bill. Ranger pitching was closed down by Jamey Wright, and Joaquin Benoit, who got the save. Rather well pitched game in all. Nine innings, six hits, two runs, two walks, seven strikeouts. Nice combined line.
The Rangers didn’t have a lot of offense either, but got it when it counted. In all we had just six hits, and all were singles, except one. Catalanotto had one, Young had two, Wilkerson had one, and Blalock had two. Blalock had the only non single hit; a double.
As Wash likes, a nice low scoring game that the Rangers cam out on top of.

G137: Rangers stink it up, lose to Royals 8-1

I thought about using the Simpsons clip with Homer and “I’ve seen teams suck before..”, but I just used that a couple of weeks ago. But it was appropriate. The Rangers stunk up the joint pretty good, losing to Kansas City, 8-1.
Ugh. What is it with them? If they were good, it wouldn’t be so much of a puzzle, but they’re not. Gah!

G136: Rangers hang on again, beat Angels, 8-7

A lot happened in this game, but if you’re a Rangers fan, the thing that was probably the coolest thing was the return of Hank Blalock. This was his first game action since going on the DL back in May. Was nice seeing the Hammer at the plate again. Especially with Mark Teixeira gone, I think this team needs a shot of “familiar” instead of seeing a parade of guys from AAA this year like we have. That’s usually good, but this fan was happy to see someone familiar instead of someone trying to make their mark, know what I mean?
Anyway, Hank went 2 for 4, but the second one was the memorable one. It was a grand slam in the 8th off of Scot Shields, a guy who usually torments us. Was quite nice to see that. In fact, all eight of our runs were off of the longball. Blalock’s grand slam was four, Ian Kinsler’s home run was two, and Brad Wilkerson’s home run was two more for a total of 8 runs. While one would like a more balanced attack, you can’t argue with the results; we won the game.
Kason Gabbard started the game for us, and didn’t pitch all that well. Went six innings, gave up 5 hits, which isn’t too bad, but also walked 5 (bad), and gave up 5 earned runs. I like the 5-5-5 deal from Domino’s Pizza, but definitely not from my starting pitchers. Wes Littleton came in, and was almost perfect in his two innings of work, only walking one batter, and nothing else. CJ Wilson gave up two earned runs in his relief appearance, and tried to give the game to Anaheim, but didn’t break. He earned the save, and we got the win.
Now we go home to play the Royals, a team we should utterly destroy, but never seem to be able to beat.

G135: Rangers hang on, beat Angels, 7-6

For some reason I always find it amusing when we win a game over an opponent by the same score they just beat us by the day before. I can’t explain that. :)
As this was September 1st, this means it’s time for callups. We brought up two guys, both of which would have likely been here anyway if it wasn’t for extenuating circumstances (injury, punishment). Neither is your classic “September callup”. These would be Hank Blalock, who was activated from the 60 day disabled list. He didn’t play in the game, but it was nice to see his name off the DL. Edinson Volquez was also brought up, and started the game.
Edinson had a few too many pitches (94 in 5 innings), but pitched well enough to get the win. In his five frames, Edinson gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and three earned runs. Struck out four. Not dominating, but not really bad, either. I’m sure he’ll be in the mix for the starting rotation in 2008. Jamey Wright pitched well in relief. He’s been like Benoit in that regard. He’s pitched extremely well out of the pen, not so much as a starter. Wright went three scoreless innings and looked pretty decent. He gave way to Joaquin Benoit & CJ Wilson, who combined try to give the game to the Angels, but we hung on in the end.
One amusing note was Marlon Byrd. In one of the middle frames, a ball was popped up to him in center, and he completely lost it in the sun. When it finally came down, he had to twist out of the way to save himself from being bonked in the head. It was comical, but fortunately it didn’t cost any runs. Next time up though Byrd deposited a Dustin Moseley pitch into the bullpen, redeeming himself. That was the only home run the Rangers had this game. We did have three doubles (Byrd, Murphy, Wilkkkkkerson) and a triple (Kinsler). Byrd went 3-5, Kinsler was 2-3, and Salty was 2-4. A pretty nice offensive game.
Not a fan of our games on national TV, I much prefer our own guys. I wonder what Tom Grieve does on days like that? Play golf? :)
Michael Young Watch: 1-5. .304 average, 164 hits (36 to go in 26 games)

G134: Rangers lose in 10 to Angels, 7-6

I didn’t get to see much of this game due to my projects still going on – I was swamped with several big ones all at once, so the Rangers site took a back seat. But I did see some of this one.
This game qualified as a back and forth game. We’d score, they’d score. That happened several times, so it was one of those games where you figured it was going to come down to something small happening late.
Vicente Padilla started the game, and his line tells you it wasn’t a particularly well pitched game. One one hand, he pitched into the seventh, which is good, but then you see he gave up six of the Angels 7 runs on 10 hits, ad one walk. Also for a guy who gets strikeouts, he had zero again. That’s a bit of a concern, I would think. He gave up one home run, a two run shot to Garret Anderson. Mike Wood came in and pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Frank Francisco finished up, and got the loss. He wasn’t really terrible, as he gave up just one hit and two walks. But they were bunched, so that didn’t help.
Offensively, we had a bunch of hits. Ian Kinsler led off and had three hits, all of which were good solid hits. He looked good. Michael Young also had three hits, and is going to need several more of those to get back to 200 hits. He’s at 163, and needs 37 in 27 remaining games. Definitely doable, but will need several three hit games to accomplish that. Jarrod Saltamacchia had two hits (one a double). Ramon Vazquez also had two hits, so it was nicely spread out. Nelson Cruz had a solo home run in the 7th. We did leave nine men on base, and with 14 hits total, there was definitely opportunities
Random remark: Our old friend Darren Oliver got the win as he was the pitcher of record in the 10th.
Another remark: Scot Shields is one of the better relievers out there. Wouldn’t mind having him, but I somehow feel that Joaquin Benoit can be that way – which is quite an accomplishment given how many times in the last 4 years or so his job hung on by a thread.
Final remark: Nice to see Ron Washington extended. Would have preferred it be for more than one year, but I’ll take it. Makes you wonder if that was done in part for Torii Hunter. We’ll see.