The Rangers are 25-25

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Back to .500. Another bullpen implosion.

  • I originally had a whole different post written, as it looked like the Rangers had the series win in the bag. Alas, baseball happened.

  • Ariel Jurado got the start for the afternoon start time and was, overall, effective. Effective enough to deserve a better result, at least. He didn’t — as is his profile — overpower hitters. In going 6.1 innings, he allowed 2 earned runs, although one of those runs was given up by Jeffrey Springs in relief. Jurado struck out three, walked two, and gave up six hits. Overall, not a bad start for someone who profiles to be a 4th-5th starter moving forward. You’ll absolutely take it.

  • Springs came in for relief, and was mostly awful. He gave up four earned runs of his own on four hits, and in a questionable decision, was left in to face Mike Trout with the Rangers still clinging to a 5-3 lead. To me, it seemed that leaving Springs — a lefty — in to face Trout was less than ideal. Trout ended up doubling, and with lefty Shohei Ohtani coming up, I thought perhaps Springs would be allowed another hitter to take advantage of the lefty-lefty matchup. However, for some reason manager Chris Woodward opted to go with Kyle Dowdy.

  • There’s no way around it: Kyle Dowdy has been a disaster as a Major League pitcher. The mid-90’s fastball is alluring, but he’s got no idea where it’s going. In a twist of cruelty, as awful as Dowdy was in allowing the tying run to score on a sacrifice fly and then two runs on consecutive wild pitches, his ERA actually went down as all runs scored were inherited runners from Springs.

  • That ended up being enough for the Angels. Even though the Rangers threatened in the top of the 9th, the final was 7-6.

  • On the whole, it was an adequate, if unspectacular day for the Texas lineup. Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence were the only two Rangers with multiple hits, while Joey Gallo worked three walks of his own. At one point, it looked like a Pence double in the top of the 6th would be the back-breaker and give the Rangers a series win, but it wasn’t to be.

  • I’ve mentioned it several times on Twitter, but I’m not sure how the Rangers can justify keeping Kyle “Howdy” Dowdy around. As a Rule 5 selection, he can’t be sent to the minors, so the Rangers would have to offer him back to the Cleveland Indians. I’m simply not sure how he can merit a 25-man spot right now. He hadn’t previously shown the kind of numbers in the minors that indicated he was ready to face Major League hitters, and it appears even less so at this point. The Rangers don’t have a ton of currently-viable options to replace him without throwing some of the young guys out there, but I’m not sure throwing Dowdy at a brick wall over and over again is the way to go, either.

  • The Rangers will now head to Seattle as part of their West Coast swing.

The Rangers are 25-24

Rougned Odor is 55.6% on stolen base attempts for his career. Either his coaches keep telling him to run, or he does it on his own without consequence. Considering the break-even point is between 70-75% depending on the base-out scenario in play, there’s no excuse for Rougned Odor to ever attempt to steal. Not with basically five years of data.

This is unconscionable and irresponsible no matter whose fault it is. And this is all I have to say about tonight’s loss after Elvis was robbed of a chance to give the Rangers a lead because sir-punch-a-lot can’t just stand on first base and either not get caught stealing or avoid getting picked off.

That doesn’t even mention that he’s actually not a very good hitter and his relay throw allowed the tying run to score. But sure, let’s keep trying to get Rougned Odor “right”. Glad Danny Santana is sitting.

The Rangers are 25-23

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Another win, this one on the road!

  • So basically Hunter Pence winning games for the Rangers, just like we all predicted before the season, right?

  • Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run. Choo now has 8 home runs on the season and a wRC+ of 143. He’s pretty damn good.

  • Drew Smyly got the start tonight, and was… decent at best. He did end up going six innings for his longest start of the season, and his first win since 2016, but the way he got there was less than desirable. Smyly got through the first inning mostly unscathed, the one baserunner being a Shohei Ohtani walk. However, the walk came on four pitches,

  • By the end of his outing, what had looked like would be a bloodbath resulted in Smyly’s defense saving him as he walked four hitters with four strikeouts. I commented on Twitter that Smyly’s outing very much resembled a “Martin Perez with the Rangers” start. That is, sometimes he gets away with bad pitching, but on the whole, you’re going to look up and not be terribly pleased with his outings.

  • With the Rangers down 3-1, it wasn’t until the top of the 6th inning that the Rangers put another run on the board. Hunter Pence doubled, and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to drive him in, bringing the deficit to only one run heading into the final third of the game. Pence now has a wRC+ on the season of 156 and only trails Joey Gallo on the roster as far as players that have more than 100 PA. He’s been more than any of us could have hoped for, especially me.

  • The bullpen was fairly solid on the evening. Specifically, Jesse Chavez came on and once again shut down the opposing offense. Since May 1, he hasn’t allowed an earned run, and his FIP is a nice 2.64.

  • In the top of the 7th inning, the Angels defense helped the Rangers out a bit with two errors. After Shin-Soo Choo reached on the first error of the inning, Logan Forsythe walked, bringing up Hunter Pence. Pence proceeded to hit a line drive to center field that would have scored one run easily, but Mike Trout — uncharacteristically and with his first error in two years in an attempt to make a play somewhere — missed the ball on the hop, booting it and allowing the go-ahead run in Forsythe to score as well.

  • The score held into the bottom of the 9th inning, bringing Shawn Kelley on to close out the win. With one out, Brian Goodwin singled to right field, setting up a scenario in which Kelley needed the double play to avoid facing Mike Trout. David Fletcher lined out to Joey Gallo in left field, which set up Trout coming up representing the winning run. Up 0-2 on Trout, Kelley threw a wild pitch that advanced Goodwin into scoring position at 2nd, and it seemed perfectly set up for the kind of ending that you’d expect with Mike Trout, especially after Kelley got away with a slider earlier in the plate appearance. Alas, Kelley ended up striking out Trout on a slider down and away to end the game and secure a Rangers victory.

  • Mike Minor will take the mound tomorrow opposite Tyler Skaggs at 9:07 CDT.

Back To The Game

Writing about painful things is never fun.

It can be useful catharsis, of course; but the last couple of years for the Texas Rangers didn’t feel like necessary dues-paying or “part of the process”…my impression was that the Rangers zigged when they should have zagged. They took the wrong turn at Albuquerque. They missed the last plane to Lisbon. And so on. That is to say, I felt they wound up where they were by making some bad choices, not necessarily as the part of the normal decline of a good team.

And so, everything I tried to write was negative. I couldn’t focus on the positive, because I felt that half the problems were self-inflicted wounds. Covering things from that point of view just ends up starting fights; fights I really wasn’t interested in. And then going into this season, as I saw the Rangers revamp their pitching program from the ground up, and saw real results from changing batting coaches and instruction, and saw Texas finally embrace technology and advanced analysis, I saw real reason for hope.

Ironically, this time a large percentage of the fanbase wasn’t engaged in optimism. A lot of people still think that the Rangers will never win again without a Front Office tear-down. Or specifically, without a Jon Daniels tear-down, as the entire rest of the Front Office is new at this point.

But I’M optimistic, dammit, and I’m writing this, and what we need now is a sign from the baseball gods that everything is gonna be alright.

Yesterday, Josh Hamilton suddenly showed up in Central Texas. Sober, clean, melancholic? Yes. And being a father to his softball playing girls.

He’s back because it’s time…or rather enough time has passed.

His knees feel fine, but he wants to be with his girls.

He could still DH. Dear Lord, we all KNOW he could still DH. And he knows it. But he wants to be with his girls.

He misses playing baseball. He never watched it much, but finds himself watching games sometimes. While he’s taking care of his girls.

He misses being that Josh Hamilton, and he knows that WE miss him being that Josh Hamilton.

But he wants to take care of his girls.

Stay clean. Stay sober. Take care of his girls. Take care of himself. Be a contributing member of the community. That’s his mantra.

On August 17th, he’ll be back at Globe Life Park/The Ballpark in Arlington, a place he helped make important every bit as much as Nolan Ryan, Rafael Palmeiro, and Adrian Beltre. And Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, and all your favorite Rangers. Josh Hamilton will become a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, an award he surely deserves…one of the greatest Rangers to ever play the game.

He's back now because maybe it’s just time. Time to be a part of the game again? I guess we’ll see. Time to be honored by his peers, certainly. Time to be loved by his fans again; pretty sure that’s gonna happen. Time because the Rangers, for the first time since Hamilton left after the 2012 season, have another Josh Hamilton in Center Field.

Time because the Rangers are alright, now. And Josh is alright, now.

May the baseball gods smile on both.

Welcome back.

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The Rangers are 21-23

An extra-innings walk-off win! How fun!

  • Drew Smyly started for the Rangers today in the latest episode of former Tigers pitchers that struggle for the Rangers. It was clear from the first inning that he wouldn’t be long for this game. In four innings of work, Smyly walked four Cardinals hitters while giving up two runs, and the Rangers were fortunate that the damage wasn’t worse.

  • Shin-Soo Choo continued his trend of hitting the ball hard, notching a home run and a double as well as a hard-luck laser that found Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Choo has been a punching bag of sorts in Texas for years due to his contract, but he’s proven himself to be among the best run-producers for the Rangers thus far in 2019.

  • Danny Santana came on as a pinch-hitter and added a home run of his own, and later on in the bottom of the 10th a walk. He’s been an incredibly nice surprise along with Logan Forsythe, giving the Rangers some viable bench options in games like today’s.

  • I talked a bit about Jeanmar Gomez last night, and he was once again knocked around a bit. Gomez came on to work the top of the 10th inning and gave up two hits, allowing the Cardinals to score the go-ahead run. At that point, it looked like this might be one of those games the Rangers let get away.

  • But then Willie Calhoun happened. Calhoun, who has absolutely mashed the ball since coming up last week, wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, but came on as a pinch-hitter for Jeff Mathis in the bottom of the 10th. He laced a game-tying RBI single to right field, scoring Rougned Odor and setting the stage for Nomar Mazara to hit the walk-off sacrifice fly.

  • So, all in all, a successful weekend for the Rangers, as they took the series from the hated St. Louis Cardinals. It’s weekends like this that keep baseball fun in Arlington.