Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rangers Manage A Win

Ron Washington finally did what I pray for him to do every night. He brought in closing pitcher, C.J. Wilson. Wilson came in at the bottom of the ninth with a very tight score; his team ahead by only one. The score was 2-1 and he had a save opportunity.

Before we talk about the end though, it might help to describe how they got there. The Rangers first went on the board in the second inning, going up 1-0 when Taylor Teagarden got a double to drive home Marlon Byrd. In the third, Ian Kinsler had singled off of pitcher Dan Haren. He then stole second base, not a surprise, which ended up benefitting his team. David Murphy got an RBI single, sending Kinsler to home which later on became the deciding run of the game.

Arizona's only run was scored by Miguel Montero in the bottom of the fifth. Their pitcher, Haren, pitched seven innings as did Vicente Padilla for the Rangers. Haren gave up four hits, two runs, but also struck out eight. Padilla, through seven innings, let up six hits, one run, and only struck out three.

For the eighth, Texas brought in Frank Francisco, who pitched one inning. He gave up one hit and struck out one. More exciting though, was the save by Wilson. He was brought out for the ninth with the score still 2-1. If he got three outs, Texas would win their first game in the last five. In that one inning, he let up no hits or runs, didn't walk any, and struck out one. He saved the game and the Rangers have now split the series at one with Arizona. Wilson has now saved seven games in eight opportunities.

Texas faces off against Arizona again tonight, looking to take the series.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rangers Lose 8-2 While I Lose My Mind

I hate umpires. Okay, I won't discriminate against them all but the ones that took part in the Texas Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game last night were a complete fail. There were many times during the game I found myself wanting to just go to bed because I couldn't take it.

Let me begin by saying A TIME OUT MEANS A BREAK IN THE PLAY. Definition: a pause from doing something. Hmm..? So here's what happened, Rangers' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia called a time out after a pitch. The ump then put his hand up to signal this time out. Then Salty made a bad throw back to the pitcher (very unlike him) during the time out. The ball rolled into center field because Jason Jennings (pitcher) couldn't catch the stupid ball, or pitch for that matter but that's a whole different story. The guy at third (it's too painful to type his name) starts running home. Hello?! There was a time out! So Salty then throws his hands in the air because he's a little confused at this point, as was I. The run was allowed, which didn't make ANY sense. My guess, the ump suffers from short term memory loss. Manager Ron Washington then comes out to speak with the umpire to argue this call. Salty argues, Washington argues, but the play stands. I can't wait til the commissioner of the MLB takes a look at it; hopefully he's better than the NHL's.

Other notable mistakes they made include players on the Rangers that were safe making it to first base. This including Elvis Andrus and Marlon Byrd to name a couple. Tie goes to runners, right? Not last night. Apparently they decided to change all the rules. I mean, yeah Texas lost 8-2 and probably wouldn't have won even if the right calls were made, but it's the fact that they were called wrong in the first place.

Tonight they play again, in the second game of the series. The Rangers are currently on a five game losing streak, with their offense having disappeared. The Diamondbacks' have won one game after being swept by Seattle.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Swept In San Fran

The Rangers were recently swept by the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, a ball park where they've never won a game. Although swept, it wasn't like they were completely awful or had bad games, and their pitching was actually the best I've seen it in a while. Their usual over-powering offense, however, was shut down causing them to lose games like 6-4, 2-1, and 3-2.

Skipping to the second game of the series, Saturday night the 22 year old, Derek Holland, pitched seven solid innings. In those seven he gave up only four hits, one run, one base on balls, and had five strike outs on the night. Personally, I think pitching a great game like this deserved a win, but better luck next time. If only the offense could have got going, they definitely could have put this game away with the game they got from Holland. Ian Kinsler's solo home-run which tied the game, was the only run Texas got for the night.

Today's game was also a great game for pitcher, Kevin Millwood. Millwood also pitched seven strong innings himself, striking out ten batters. Ten batters in seven innings is amazing, to me at least seeing as how with Texas you don't always see numbers like that. While on the mound he let up eight hits giving up three runs. Here's another pitcher who deserved the win. Again, the Rangers were down some runs when Jones blasted a two-run homer to tie. Once again, they lost the lead and couldn't find the offense to win.

It was a fun series to watch because it was a battle of pitchers and defense. One play I found myself replaying about twenty times the next day was that of second baseman, Ian Kinsler. It was in the eighth inning of Saturday night's game and it was the most amazing double play I've seen. (see double play here: )

Texas now heads to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. Even though the Rangers have lost four in a row, I wouldn't be worried. They've been having a decently successful season thus far and they'll bounce back and make up for this weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Murphy Makes the Difference

Last night, (Wednesday June 17) was one of the most exciting Rangers wins I've seen in a while. Nothing is better than a walk-off win, especially one in extra innings. That's exactly what happened as the Rangers won 5-4 versus the Astros in ten innings. This win now means Texas is 5-0 versus Houston this season. It's the battle of Texas.

I, personally, thought the Rangers were going to win when they went up 4-3 when Omar Vizquel scored on Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly. I know, they were only up by one run, but I thought they had it. Well I was wrong, because with a save opportunity for Eddie Guardado in the eighth, Hunter Pence homered to tie it up 4-4. I controlled my anxiousness, but I still believe C.J. Wilson should have been brought in to save the game in the first place.

I then got my wish because Wilson was brought out for the ninth with a job of keeping the score tied. He did his job well with a little, i mean a lot of help from catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty made two great throws to get the man out at second, helping end the inning with the score still tied. The Rangers, however couldn't get on the board in the bottom of the ninths, so onto the tenth they went.

To my excitement, Wilson was brought back out to the mound. He once again got the three outs to move on to the bottom of the tenth. This half of the inning, was very exciting. First Kinsler got a basehit, and then did one thing he does best; steal base. That's just what he does when it's needed most. Michael Young was up next, and thankfully he got a hit also to reach base. With a man on third and first, Hank Blalock was up to the plate. To my surprise, Houston pitching decided to intentionally walk him. At this point, there were NO outs so I started thinking; OK they definitely are going to win this.

Nelson Cruz had his turn to bat, but got out. That was OK though, it was only one out. So up comes David Murphy, who isn't exactly my favorite Ranger. Forget that though, he wanted to prove me wrong apparently because he hit a pitch that was outside to send it into left field. Kinsler came home and the team attacked Murphy. It was a happy ending to my Wednesday night.

Worth mentioning: Texas looks to sweep the Astros tonight at 8:05.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jesus Saves, But So Does Wilson

I've been told that I am the type of sports fan who doesn't have the most well-known athletes listed as my favorite. I like to have a complete different opinion than every other fan, which makes me so unconventional. The underrated players who work the hardest and go unnoticed are the ones that attract my attention. On the Texas Rangers, and in Major League Baseball my favorite pitcher is a closing pitcher who I feel doesn't get enough attention. He's a lefty named C.J. Wilson.

Born and raised in California, he now has a new home in Texas where he dedicates himself to baseball. The Rangers are the only major league team he's suited up for, and has been with them since the 2005 season. He was drafted and signed in 2001, but made his debut June 10th, 2005. Since being with the team, he has never made playoffs therefore has no post-season stats.

With 212 career games under his belt, he has recorded 44 saves in the 52 save opportunities he has had. Each season his earned runs average (ERA) is usually pretty good, and his overall career ERA is 4.64. So far in this 2009 season he has played in 28 games with three wins and three losses, has six saves in seven opportunities, with an ERA of 3.12.

Enough with numbered stats though. His style of pitching and the hard work he puts into his game, is even more impressive. He pitches aggressively and likes to try and get his batters to chase. He challenges them with his strong sliders *corrected by c.j. wilson* and change-up. The Rangers aren't exactly known for their "great" pitching, but Wilson is definitely one that the organization and fans can say is a success.

Like any player in any sport, he has his downfalls. Right-handed hitters get hits and homeruns off of him too easily, but this is something that can be worked on and nothing to get worked up about. Wilson can usually be depended on to close games in tight situations, and get the job done. I know his job is as a relieving pitcher, but I think with some work he could be a starter. He may not want to be a starter, who knows, but I would love to be able to watch him for than just an inning or two every few games.

Wilson says he can throw a type of pitch called the “gyro ball” which is Japanese. His teammates don’t seem to think it exists but according to Wilson, if you can throw it- you can say it exists. He seems to be a very laid-back person but on the mound (just like about every other pitcher) he is intense and has a temper. I don’t think he’d throw a fit if he didn’t save the game, but he definitely would find out what went wrong to do whatever he could to fix it next time. I still feel as though Wilson is underrated, as I’ve mentioned, but I think when the Rangers have bandwagon fans jump on because of a pretty successful season so far, they will see the beauty in him just like I do.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First Place?

That’s right. The Texas Rangers are in first place in the American League, and second in the league overall behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. How did this happen? Well apparently one season can make a big difference. I don’t know about other Rangers fans, but being from Boston, most people tell me that Texas is awful and then go off comparing them to the beloved Red Sox.

Yeah, yeah so they don’t have the “best” pitching in the league, but they have the offense to make up for it. I will actually give their pitching some credit, because for the most part they haven’t given up 15 runs a game like they did last year. When I say offense, I mean this team hits homeruns like it’s nothing. They have at least one player in every category for league leaders.

Starting with their all-star second baseman, Ian Kinsler, I’d like to point out that he’s having an amazing season so far. He’s in the top ten for Runs Batted In, Runs, Stolen Bases, and Home Runs. Kinsler is the type of player who can throw the team on his back and carry them when needed. The 2008 All Star Game was his first, also there was teammate Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is another power hitter, but his season has been brought down a lot by injury. It still hasn’t stopped him from making a difference though. The Rangers themselves take up four spots in the top ten for most home runs hit this season with Nelson Cruz (14), Ian Kinsler (13), Hank Blalock (12), and Chris Davis (12).

Texas has a record of 30-20, playing at .600 baseball. At home, they have a record of 18-9. As they earn back their fans, maybe this successful season will get those Sox fans off my back.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hamilton's Wild Ride

“I’m proof that hope is never lost”

That’s my favorite quote, and it was said by my favorite baseball player, Josh Hamilton. Not only has he been to hell and back, he’s a great baseball player who can steal the show wherever he goes.

Think back to last year’s Homerun Derby at Yankee Stadium. It wasn’t the Homerun Derby; it was the Josh Hamilton Show (as fans and announcers called it) He broke the record of most homeruns hit in the first round when he knocked 28 out of the park, making the crowd go wild.

I would assume most Rangers fans and diehard baseball fans know Josh Hamilton’s story. If not, the short of it is he got heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, destroying his body and his relationship with his family. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999, signing a $4 million bonus and I bet you can guess where he spent it. As he got farther out of touch with baseball and even himself, it wasn’t until his grandmother and wife, Katie, could bring him back.

It was his faith in God and the support from his family that helped him get his life back on track. He is currently playing for my beloved Texas Rangers, clean and sober. He was on the Cincinnati Reds when he was finally allowed back into baseball, and the Rangers sent scouts over to listen to him speak before they decided whether or not they wanted to offer him a contract. They liked what they heard, and he is now the centerfielder for all fans to see at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Because of a rib injury he had sustained, Hamilton has only played in 28 games this season. Even though he only has six homeruns, there’s plenty of time for him to catch up and be on pace for possibly a thirty homerun season.

One thing I love most about watching Hamilton play, is his determination. I not only see it from him making a tremendous comeback to baseball, but when he plays you can just see it. On base, he runs as if his life depended on it. In the outfield, he makes sure he does whatever he can to stop a player from getting a hit, and at the plate, he makes it happen.

The Texas Rangers are 26-18 this season, which is very successful compared to the last few seasons. Although they haven’t made the post-season in a while, if they stay on track they’re on pace for a very successful season.