Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
The weekend started off so well. The Rangers gave their ace an early lead, and chased an opposing starter early in the first game of the series. Darvish was rolling, then everyone realized he had a real shot at a perfect game, then it happened.
A pop to shallow right went probably three times as high as it went far, and it caught a low breeze, moving it over Rougned Odor's head and a few feet in front of Alex Rios. The baseball internet writers' community did what it does best and manufactured/feigned outrage at the fact that the Rangers' official scorer called it an error rather than a hit (how dare he blatantly follow the rule as it is written, word for word?).
From that point until the end of the game Sunday, the Rangers were outscored 13-5, outhit 20-14, outwalked 10-3, outbaseballed 2-0. Adding injury to the heap of insult, Martin Perez will sit for an unknown period of time due to elbow inflammation.
Maybe the baseball gods do exist, and maybe Rios' 7th inning error from Friday should be changed to a hit, because from that moment on things haven't looked good for the Rangers.
We hurt ourselves Sunday, to see if we still feel
Enough has been written and enough teeth have been gnashed about Darvish's second annual near-miss of a no-hitter that I don't think I need to add to it beyond saying: how is anyone upset with the effort Yu gave us? How does anyone look back on 8 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 12 K/2 BB against last year's World Series champions, in a time when a Rangers starter making it to the sixth qualifies as a good break regardless of the outcome of the game, and not appreciate it and Yu Darvish in general?
It was the Rangers’ best start of the year. It's likely to stay that way.
The odd trend that's popped up over Yu's last two starts has seen the team attempt to reverse the trend of not scoring at all while Yu is pitching, and regression has been coming pretty fast. After putting up nine runs against the Angels last week, the team scored eight for Yu Friday. It would be very nice if this was a real thing and not a weird Rangers blip on the radar.
Sadly, Saturday also saw another Rangers trend in its juvenile stage, which was Martin Perez's recent inability to get outs without runs coming across. Since Perez concluded his scoreless inning streak, he's faced 72 batters and allowed 34 to reach via hit or walk. This may be the only situation where an injury is happy news; the hope is his elbow inflammation will right itself and we'll see the young rotation horse we thought he might be return.
Of course, it's 2014 and Perez is a young pitcher and there's something wrong with his elbow, so the odds of Tommy John surgery can't be ignored.
Sunday's game featured an odd strategic choice in the first inning. Robbie Ross allowed a double to start the game from Dustin Pedroia, followed by a sacrifice by Shane Victorino to move Pedroia to third. This should actually come as a relief, because the odds of scoring with a man on third and one out aren't appreciably greater than the odds of scoring with a man on second and no out. However, David Ortiz, a lefty, was intentionally walked by Robbie Ross, also a lefty, to get to Mike Napoli, a righty who has the 25th highest wOBA against lefties over the course of this decade.
Now, there's some merit to the idea in general, because Robbie Ross has shown a reverse-split tendency over the last year-plus, but that goes out the window when you realize you're giving Mike Napoli an extra baserunner (who he would move to third with a double) while stating to your young starter “I don't think you can get this guy out.”
Hindsight's always 20/20, and the Red Sox scored three runs that inning (one of which was Ortiz), enough to sock away to win; but, in general, teams rarely ever say “Sure am glad I walked that guy.” The point of baseball is to avoid outs, or to procure them if you're on defense. When you ignore that prime directive, the baseball gods tend to not shine favor on you.
Apparently they do the same with official scorers.
Happy to see you, happy to see you again. Haven't been so happy since, I don't when
Starting Monday the Rangers will see the Astros for a three game set in Arlington, which could almost literally not come at a better time. Monday's game matches up Colby Lewis against Brad Peacock. Peacock strikes batters out at about an average rate (7.79 K/9) but is pretty spectacular at walking them (6.68 BB/9, almost 1.5 walks per nine innings worse than the league's worst qualifying starter). He also has one of baseball's worst GB rates (38.5 percent) and doesn't do a great job controlling homers (4 in 32.1 innings). The last the Rangers saw of Peacock, he pitched 2.2 innings, allowing six baserunners across those eight outs while somehow only allowing one run.
“Peacock” is also one of Katy Perry's worst songs. Don't ask me how I know this or how I formulated this opinion.
Tuesday's matchup is Matt Harrison versus Dallas Keuchel. Unlike Peacock, Keuchel does a great job of getting grounders (65.6 percent) and has shown success in Three True Outcome areas (8.18 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, .8 HR/9). Luckily for Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, Keuchel has allowed lefties a .363 wOBA this season, and .334 for his career.
Wednesday's finale will see Scott Feldman match up against a soon-to-be-called-up Nick Tepesch. Feldman is the answer to the popular trivia question, “Wait Scott Feldman is still in the majors?” Feldman has a 1.93 ERA on the season that's buoyed by a massively unsustainable .196 BABiP (batting average on balls in play). For perspective, his magical 17-win 2009 season was fueled by a .273 BABiP. Further indicating a massive correction is due is is his strikeout percentage, a chuckleworthy 11.71 percent.
Nick Tepesch has been eating innings in Round Rock this season, leading the Rangers' minor league system with 45.2 IP in 7 starts with a 1.58 ERA. He won't be that good in the majors (although he's more than welcome to do so) but he's still a good bet to fill in as a inning-eating back of the rotation horse, which is sorely, sorely needed right now.
Joseph Ursery can be found here and on twitter.com at @thejoeursery. His main interests include fatherhood, craft beer, facial hair, and twenty-year-old middle infielders with patience and power. Oh, and cover songs, too. He really likes cover songs. “No particular reason why,” he says, but WFAA feels like there's more to this story.