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Looking back and looking ahead: AL West showdowns

Looking back and looking ahead: AL West showdowns

Credit: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images

Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) can't make a play on a ball hit by Oakland Athletics designated hitter Alberto Callaspo in the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday April 30, 2014. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)

by EDDIE MIDDLEBROOK

WFAA Sports

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 9:31 AM

Each Thursday, we will look back at the week that was for the Texas Rangers and then preview the weekend series.

Losing Is a Disease

“We must begin by asking it... ‘What is losing?’ Losing is a disease...as contagious as polio.”

-- The Natural

Four in a row is tough to swallow, but being swept by your rival at home and outscored 25-4 during the series is nearly inexcusable. On Wednesday night, the Rangers committed as many errors (four) as hits off Oakland pitchers.  

Who’s Hot?

Heading into Wednesday night, Alex Rios still leads the team in hits (35), batting average (.327) and RBI (12). At least one of the major off-season acquisitions is off to a good start, Shin-Soo Choo. He leads the team with a .952 OPS and eight doubles. 

From a pitching standpoint, Nick Martinez has played himself into the long-man role as he has a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings of action. However, manager Ron Washington said Wednesday that the plan is still for Martinez to return to the minor leagues to get regular innings once the major league pitching staff is healthy.

Leonys Martin has a hit in seven straight games, and 13 of the last 14 overall. His .308 batting average is sixth among MLB center fielders.     

Who’s Ice Cold?

Elvis Andrus has struggled as he is hitting .233/.304/.311 and struggled in the field on Wednesday as he committed two errors. Prince Fielder was able to beat the shift Wednesday for a single, but is still finding it difficult to find green grass or the cheap seats as he is hitting .202/.325/.313 with only two home runs. The only regulars who have a lower slugging percentage than Fielder are Michael Choice (.288), Josh Wilson (.308) and Andrus (.311).

Alexi Ogando has been incredibly inconsistent this season as he has a 6.28 ERA in 14.1 innings with seven walks. The team’s ERA has increased to 4.15, which ranks 19th in MLB.

Sunny California

The Angels are currently a half game behind the Rangers at 14-13 on the season. LAA is third in runs, 11th in batting average (.256), 13th in on-base percentage (.323), second in slugging percentage (.443) and 16th in ERA (3.85).

Mike Trout is playing like Mike Trout, as he is hitting .321/.403/.596. Albert Pujols leads the team in home runs with nine.    

9:05 p.m., Friday: RHP Colby Lewis (1-1, 4.60) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (0-4, 4.44)

Lewis gave up two home runs in his last start, but they were solo shots and he took a no-decision in a 6-3 win over Seattle. In his three starts, he hasn’t gone more than 5.1 innings and 91 pitches.

The Angels are 0-5 in Santiago’s starts. In his most recent start, Hector only pitched 4.1 innings and gave up four runs in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees. Prior to that start, Santiago only gave up one run in 12.2 innings against Detroit and Oakland. He features a 91 mph four-seam fastball, a circle change and cutter.    

8:05 p.m., Saturday: LHP Matt Harrison (0-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (2-0, 2.53)

Harrison pitched well in his first start back from injury as he went six innings, gave up two runs and struck out four. He took a no-decision as the Rangers lost 6-5 to Seattle on Sunday. It will be interesting to pay attention to his velocity as the season progresses. For his career, Harrison usually hovers around 93.5 mph for his four-seam, but this year he is throwing 91.35.

Richards is off to a solid start as he has given up two runs or less in four of his five starts. The 25-year-old has also pitched seven innings in three of his starts. He features a 97 mph four-seam and two-seam fastball while mixing in a slider and curve.   

2:35 p.m., Sunday: RHP Yu Darvish (1-1, 2.59) vs. LHP Tyler Skaggs (2-0, 3.34)

Darvish only lasted 3.1 innings against Oakland on Monday as he gave up six hits and four runs. His ERA rose from 1.61 to 2.59. Despite only having one win this season, the Rangers are 4-1 when Darvish starts.

The Angels are 5-0 when Skaggs starts in 2014. The 22-year-old has pitched at least six innings in each of his starts. The kid features a 93 mph four-seam and two-seam fastball while also throwing a curve and change.

Prediction

The team is struggling at this point, but there is a chance to steal two wins against the Angels. Lewis, Harrison and Darvish are all veterans with a combined 8-4 record in 17 starts at Angel Stadium.     

Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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