Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
Raise your hands high, Yu Darvish. There's a world's worth of work, and a need for you.
(Refraining from the cheap pun seems like a good idea to start the season.)
That series was not a good series.
Friday's game was over approximately the time the team scheduled Joe Saunders as its starting pitcher. Saunders has had a lengthy career, most of it fairly nondistinguishable outside of some fairly decent win totals.
On a completely related note, pitcher wins are a very bad stat for any kind of analytic conclusion.
The Rangers lost Friday's game 8-1, and Saunders was possibly injured when an Evan Longoria liner struck his left ankle. After some initial media confusion as to which ankle was possibly injured, Saunders's X-rays were negative for any fractures or discernable ability to get batters out.
Saturday's game was a disappointment of a different note. Affable young righthander Nick Martinez made his Major League debut, pitching opposite all-universe Rays lefty David Price. The offense, a day after realizing they might as well take the day off, realized that they had a pitcher to support, and scored four runs off Price in his six innings of work. Martinez (from a runs standpoint) outdueled Price, allowing three runs in six innings (although Price struck out six and walked zero, while Martinez struck out three, walked three, and allowed two home runs). As his reward, Martinez returns to anchor Frisco's rotation, where he'll no doubt be peppered with questions from Rougned Odor about what to expect in the bigs.
All was for naught, though, as the normally dependable Neal Cotts allowed two eighth-inning runs on a hit and two walks in his one inning of work. After that, Grant Balfour pitched a clean ninth for a Rays 5, Rangers 4 final.
In Sunday's finale, Yu Darvish made his season premiere, and nonsurprisingly pitched the finest start a Ranger has made to date this season, throwing seven innings of shutout ball, allowing eight baserunners on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. Notably, his second strikeout of the first inning made his MLB's fastest pitcher ever to the 500 strikeout milestone, which is shocking because how has he only struck out 500 batters so far? That feels like it should at least be 2,000 by now.
Unfortunately, Darvish drew Alex Cobb as his opposite, who matched Darvish's seven shutout innings, only allowing four baserunners. However, in the eighth, Elvis Andrus muscled a 90 mph Joel Peralta fastball into a two-run home run. Noted rapist (I'm not being funny here, Josh Leuke was actually charged with rape as a member of the Bakersfield Blaze while in the Texas Rangers system. He was traded to Seattle as part of the Cliff Lee deal, in no small part due to the fact that Seattle's GM failed to perform any kind of background on Lueke, including, like, googling his name and seeing what returns on the first page of results. It would be humorous if it didn't involve sex crimes) Josh Lueke allowed a run from a Donnie Murphy infield single, leaving Joakim Soria to protect a 3-0 lead in the ninth, which he did, with aplomb, for the season's first save and non-walkoff victory.
The series ahead
Up next, the Rangers head to Fenway Park for a three-game series with the reigning World Series champion Red Sox, prominently featuring two former Rangers in first baseman Mike Napoli (pleae note, that's pronounced Nap-uh-lee, Mr. President, sir) and closer Koji uehara, the latter of which is currently in the middle of a historic run. So far, the 39 year old has appeared in three games this season, striking out five and allowing a single baserunner (via a hit). His .333 WHIP is probably not sustainable over a long season though; last season, that number was .565. For those unfamiliar with WHIP, it means Koji has basically developed an allergy to allowing baserunners since leaving the Rangers.
Monday's game features Tanner Scheppers aiming to improve on his current 15.75 ERA opposite familiar Ranger opponent John Lackey.
Tuesday's pitching matchup will see Martin Perez face off against lefty Felix Doubront. Watch for Michael Choice to make his second start of the season, replacing either Mitch Moreland or Shin-Shoo Choo (guess which one we're all hoping it is?).
In Wednesday's capper, Robbie Ross will face Jake Peavy. Fun fact: the three scheduled Rangers starters will account for about 1.5 million dollars of rangers payroll; the Red Sox are paying about 31 million dollars for the combined services of Lackey, Peavy, and Doubront.
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.