It remains to be seen whether or not Prince Fielder is working out of his early-season slump, but his 2nd home run of the season was a 393 foot moonshot off of an 89-mph fastball from Jose Quintana.
Perhaps even more notable was that Kevin Kouzmanoff has continued to produce in the absense of Adrian Beltre. His lone hit of the night was a solo home run, and going back to his Rangers debut on April 9 in Boston, Kouzmanoff has at least one hit in every game.
Kouzmanoff now has a .395 average and an OPS of 1.123. Yes, his BABIP of .406 suggests that he's going to regress, the Rangers only need him in a full-time role for four more games until Adrian Beltre is eligible to come back for Friday's game in Seattle.
A guy that we had high hopes for coming into the season, Shin-Soo Choo, has done nothing but prove his worth thus far, as he had a 3-hit night that included two doubles. His .425 OBP is exactly what the Rangers envisioned when signing Choo. Ian Kinsler's highest OBP was in 2010 when he put up a .382 mark. In 2011, when he was arguably the MVP of that Rangers ball club, he put up an OBP of .355. We're only 18 games into the 2014 season, but the Rangers wanted to put a renewed emphasis on getting going early in games, and Choo is a piece that fits right into that puzzle. He was the first Rangers run of the night on an Alex Rios double.
The Rangers are now on a five-game winning streak, and I feel like something that shouldn't be lost in the sudden emergence of the Rangers offense we all thought we would see heading into the season is the importance of Colby Lewis.
Lewis, in his two starts so far, has provided the club with stability in a rotation that, even as the season moves forward, continues to deal with injuries. No matter that Tanner Scheppers would have probably only received one more start before it was announced he would be on the DL, Lewis's return has prevented the Rangers from needing to give Joe Saunders another start or pull Alexi Ogando from the bullpen for a spot start.
If not for some bad defense against Seattle, Lewis's first outing would have likely been a victory as well, but nevertheless, if this is the Colby Lewis the Rangers will get going forward, I think they're going to be thrilled.
Add into the equation the fact that Matt Harrison had a strong outing in Frisco tonight -- 8.0 shutout innings on 86 pitches, 3 hits, 1 walk, and 5 Ks, while reaching 94-mph on the fastball -- and things look much brighter than they did around this time two weeks ago.
Jamey Newberg reminded me of something in his report this morning -- something that he mentioned on Twitter about a week ago:
10 at home vs. HOU, SEA, and CWS. Win seven and record would be 11-8. We good with that?— Jamey Newberg (@NewbergReport) April 11, 2014
Well, the Rangers are now 11-7, and have already met that criteria. A win tomorrow with Robbie Ross on the mound would be a huge bonus before a 3-game series in Oakland. Given the way the bats have been hitting over this recent stretch, and with the early success of the pitching staff, we could be looking at a ball club that improves on a record that already sits it at the 2nd-best winning percentage in the American League. Tops in the American League? None other than those pesky Oakland A's, who sit at 12-5.
These next four games could be a lot of fun.