Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
Very rare is the series win featuring a walkoff and two dominant performances by starting pitchers that feels so disappointing and sparse. If I told you on Friday morning the Rangers would win two of three, and Darvish and Perez would combine for sixteen shutout innings, and that Scheppers would give you seven innings in the other game, only allowing any runs in one of those innings, you'd probably take it and be pretty happy with yourself. Yet, here we are, feeling much like one feels after eating Taco Bell breakfast.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is just the weatherman. Adrian Beltre makes the wind blow.
Friday's game was a torturous affair. Darvish pitched his aforementioned eight shutout inings, allowing only two baserunners (one sixth-inning Matt Dominguez single, one seventh-inning Altuve walk) yet exited the game with zero run support, as the Rangers weren't able to get a run in until the 12th inning, when finally Robinson Chirinos snuck a single into center field to score Kevin Kouzmanoff for the game's lone run. I'm not one to look cross-eyed at wins, but when Yu Darvish gives you eight scoreless, you shouldn't need to use your bullpen for four innings against a team as scrounged-up as the Houston Astros.
Tanner Scheppers started Saturday's game opposite Jared Cosart. Scheppers pitched seven innings and only allowed seven baserunners- except he allowed five of those baserunners to score in the fourth inning. The Rangers managed to scratch back to a tie the game at five after Micheal Choice took a Kevin Chapman two-seamer 412 feet. However, a tenth inning triple-sac fly by Houston against Jakim Soria provided the winning run, as Choice was unable to repeat his ninth-inning heroics in the top of the tenth. Despite only having two starts, Darvish is the current league leader in Pitching Wins Above Replacement in the Majors. A 0.00 ERA/ 1.58 FIP with fifteen innings pitched will do that (and both of those marks are league best, as well).
Perez answered the call on Sunday,pitching one of his finest games as a pro. Of the eight baserunner Perez allowed, he erased four of them via double play. It's possible Perez will take the early-season absence of Holland and Harrison to push himself to a more prominent role than he would have taken, were those guys hogging up all the front-of-the-rotation innings. Perez has always been the type to accept a challenge, from when he pitched in the Northwest League as a seventeen year old thousands of miles away from his home and family.
Of course, the fact that he's increased his groundball rate from his career 48% mark to 58.2% on this young season. Small samples are small samples, but batted-ball rates stabilize themselves around 70 balls in play, which Martin should arrive at sometime over his next two starts (as of now, he's faced 74 hitters, and struck out or walked 18- meaning 56 have made contact). Groundballs get outs quickly and safely, which lets you pitch more innings, which keeps your manager and your bullpen happy.
The biggest news this weekend came Sunday, though, when the team announced Adrian Beltre's balky quadriceps would take him to the fifteen day DL. Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit well since being called up last week (and over the Spring) but moving from Beltre to Kouzmanoff is like going from a Lexus to a 2001 Honda Accord with 180,000 miles and a broke CD player. The Honda will still get you from Point A to Point B fairly reliably, but everything's just better with the Lexus.
Colby Lewis will have his revenge against Seattle
Although not officialy announced as of now, all signs point to Colby Lewis starting the first game of the next series, a four game home set against Seattle. Regardless of the result, it's a huge accomplishment for Lewis to make it back, after not throwing a major league pitch in anger since early July, 2012. I emphasize, again, “regardless of the result”.
He'll face Seattle rookie Roenis Elias, a 26 year old Cuban lefthanderwith two Major League starts under his belt. Playing in Arlington and facing a right-handed rookie, and without Adrian Beltre in front of him, this would be a very good game for Prince Fielder to start regressing back to career averages.
Tuesday's game 2 will feature Robbie Ross across from Irving's own Blake Beavan. Like Lewis, Beavan will be making his first start of the season. It's hard to believe, but it's been seven years since the Rangers selected Beavan in the first round of the 2007 Draft. Other members of that 2007 draft class include Michael Main, Neil Ramirez, Julio Borbon, and Tommy Hunter. Second rounder Matt West, currently relieving in Frisco, still has a chance to make an impact at the Major League level, but the rest of the draftees have either moved on from pro baseball or moved on to another organization.
Also, if you haven't done your taxes by Tuesday, you'd probably better do that than watch the Rangers (just a little public service announcement).
Wednesday will match up Felix Hernandez versus Yu. That's probably going to be a pretty well-pitched game. You definitely should have your taxes done before that game.
In Thursday's series finale, Tanner Scheppers faces Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez has allowed three homers (despite pitching in relatively homer-supressing parks in Oakland and LA, and super-homer-suppressing Safeco in Seattle) in three starts and sixteen innings. This would also be a fine opportunity for Prince Fielder to kick start his season.
Thursday marks one week away from when Adrian Beltre is able to return to the field. We should both be looking very forward to that day, friends.
Unfortunately, the Mariners throw three righties at the Rangers, so the outlook includes a lot of Mitch Moreland and not a lot of Michael Choice. While Moreland may be the safer hitter right now, the day will come when Choice will likely be the far superior... well... choice between the two. Every day that Moreland hits and Choice sits moves that day farther out into the future, erasing some of Choice's prime in the process. That said, I really want Mitch Moreland to succeed and be good for the Rangers, because I feel that I would receive some very mean hate mail if I didn't make that clear.
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.