Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
More proof that 2014 is the year of weirdness in sports? This weekend a coach in New York tried to muscle his way out of his team to get to Milwaukee.
That, and Chris Gimenez pinch-hit for Carlos Pena in a key spot. This is the strangest sports year I've ever encountered.
Just looked in the mirror, and things are lookin' so good / I'm lookin' Arlington, and feelin' Minnesota
It was a weekend of welcome news coming out of Arlington. The team averaged four runs per game in this series, which seems astounding for the current lineup. The Rangers got 21.1 innings out of their starters in the three games, with only Colby Lewis allowing the only two runs to cross while starters were on the mound. There was even good news on the injury front, as Geovanny Soto and Engel Beltre took big steps towards returning from their respective injuries while Derek Holland continued his Family Circus-like route back towards starting.
The bad news? Joakim Soria allowed five runs on five hits and a walk in two innings, and Adam Rosales is coming back to town. It's not that Rosales is bad in and of himself; it's that he's replaceing Luis Sardinas, who's a more fun player to watch and root for, who's probably going to significantly outproduce Rosales starting as early as next year.
Friday's game featured Nick Tepesch starting opposite Kevin Correia. Tepesch pitched into the eighth, departing with a line of 7.1 IP, three hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and zero runs. Cotts and Frasor each contributed a clean out to get the team to the ninth, where Soria allowed four of his five runs to score this weekend. However, after a two-run homer from Beltre, run scoring doubles from Luis Sardinas and Shin-Soo Choo, and a sacrifice fly from Beltre scoring Elvis Andrus, the four runs were effectively moot and an eight-game losing streak was ended.
When Nick Tepesch pitches a shutout into the eighth, it's news. When Yu Darvish does it, it's just meeting expectations. Darvish's 8 IP / 4 H / 1 BB / 10 K game was his third best outing by Game Score this season. It was also his 25th game with at least ten strikeouts since joining MLB, which ties him for second place among all pitchers in double-digit strikeout games in his first three seasons. With seven more 10+ K games this season, Darvish would overtake Dwight Gooden for the top spot on that list. And with that, we all hope that Yu Darvish's career does not take the path that Gooden's did.
One of the noteworthy and telling stats of Colby Lewis' 2014 was the fact that he had only completed the sixth inning twice, and never made a quality start. He broke that particular schneid on Sunday, pitching six innings and allowing the only two runs Ranger's starters would allow in the weekend's series. More notably, he struck out eight while walking none. The most encouraging nugget may be that he only allowed five hits; in his previous four outings Colby had allowed 33 hits in 21.2 IP.
The Rangers went into the ninth inning tied, but Joakim Soria allowed a Josh Willngham single and a should-have-been-a-Ranger Kendrys Morales RBI double around striking out the side.
Soria's recent troubles are, well, troubling, since he's one of the Rangers' most valuable trade assets as we move forward.
We should be drinking a toast to absent pals, instead of these Orioles
The Rangers go to Maryland for a four-game set starting today. In the opener, Ubaldo Jimenez pitches against Joe Saunders. Against the current Rangers roster, Ubaldo Jimenez has 15 strikeouts and 14 walks, so the Rangers have an outside shot of matching the rate at which the Orioles will be getting on base via hit against Saunders.
On Tuesday, the Rangers have a serious pitching advantage as Nick Martinez faces off against To Be Announced. To Be Announced has no pitching stats whatsoever - I couldn't even find minor league stats for him.
In all seriousness, there was a minor scare that this could have been a returning Dylan Bundy, but that was ruled out, which is good for the Rangers and good for Bundy.
Nick Martinez is coming off of one of the season's worst starts against Detroit, lasting only 2.1 innings while allowing four runs and five walks.
On Wednesday, the Rangers match Nick Tepesch up against Chris Tillman. Last time Texas saw Tillman, he was chased after one inning and nine baserunners. Since then, he's pitched four straight quality starts, allowing five runs and 31 baserunners in 28 innings.
In Thursday's finale, Yu Darvish matches up against To Be Announced, who will be throwing his second game in three days. Buck Showalter really grinds his young arms down.
Against the free-swinging current roster of the Orioles, Darvish has a 27.78 percent strikeout rate. Of course the power bats in the middle of the lineup could make things hard for him, but this is a good opportunity to notch another double-digit strikeout game for Darvish.
Finally, the Orioles will display a key point to this season; trade acquisitions Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter hold down key roles for the O's, and they wouldn't be in Baltimore except for the team making trades once a season was lost. This is a lesson for Rangers fans to take to heart; we all love Rios and Soria and Cotts and Frasor, but we could love the guys those guys bring in trades for five or six years. The difference between losing 90 and 95 games this year is far less than the difference between winning 90 or 95 games next year.
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.