Date: Wednesday, May 17th
Rangers’ Record: 20-20 (3rd place, 8.5 games behind Houston)
Tonight’s Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies (14-22)
Tonight’s Starters: Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.81) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-3, 2.43)
If you’re keeping track, the section above might be confusing. The Rangers were 8.0 games behind the Astros at this time yesterday, won a game, and are now 8.5 games behind. That’s because the Astros also won last night, and did so again today, beating the Marlins 3-0. In fact, when the Rangers last lost a game, before this 7-game win streak, they found themselves… 8.5 games back.
Yes. It is accurate to say that the Rangers’ 7-game winning streak has netted them precisely zero games in the AL West standings. The Astros are also hot, having lost just one game over that same timeframe (the front half of a double-header with the Yankees). That can be frustrating.
There is, of course, another way to look at it. At the risk of sounding like a patronizing or condescending sportswriter, I will share something I have told my own kids innumerable times: “You can only control your own actions.” The Rangers will play the Astros 15 more times this season. That’s more than enough to make up an 8.5-game deficit. And hey - if you want to be exceptionally optimistic about the last week, look at it from the Astros’ perspective: sure, 8.5 games is a big lead this early in the season–only the Washington Nationals have one bigger, at 9.0–but they’ve won nine of their last 10 games and increased their lead over the Rangers by… zero games.
As I said: it’s optimistic. That’s a big lead this early. The Astros are a really good team. But so–at least for the last week–are the Rangers.
1. The Rangers won (again) yesterday! It was a 5-1 triumph over the Phillies, and Yu Darvish was great. Read all about it.
2. Shin-Soo Choo is back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with lower back stiffness. Choo said that he got three or four different kinds of treatment on his back, including acupuncture, and that he was surprised in the speed of his recovery.
For those of you who can’t watch the video, I will summarize: Choo is feeling about 75%, but says that no one is ever at 100% in this game. 75% is plenty good enough to play. He also says that he is comfortable and ready to play in the field, but that Banister was more comfortable having him in the DH role for his first game back.
3. Andrew Cashner is tonight’s starter, and while he has been one of the brighter spots in both the rotation and the season (6 games, 33⅓ innings pitched, opponents’ batting average of .212) he also has yet to earn a pitcher win, whatever that’s worth. Cashner says it doesn’t matter to him, so long as the team is winning, but says that he thinks the best is yet to come. “I think it’s been fun,” the big right-hander said yesterday during his media availability. “We’ve yet to still play full-team baseball. I think we’re definitely playing better (...) It’s been fun to watch. We’ve been getting big hits, really we’ve been punishing guys’ bullpens lately. I think two-out hitting has been another big thing for us here lately.”
He also spoke about what it’s like to be part of this particular starting rotation. “We’ve got a close group. We try to do dinner quite a bit, but it’s talking here, talking there at the field, what I’m trying to do, what pitches they’re trying to work on, that kind of stuff. I think A.J. Griffin’s one of the smartest guys in learning how to set up hitters. I think it’s him helping other guys and learning how to talk about that, and I think it’s just as a whole staff, having the same game plan.”
4. Adrian Beltre ran on the field again today. Here’s the latest update: He was on the AlterG treadmill again today, supporting about 85% of his body weight, and ran up to 14mph (80-85% effort). He also ran on the field, doing sprints at about 75%. He took ground balls and took batting practice. We did not get an updated timeline for his return.
5. Tyson Ross is pitching again today in Arizona. He is expected to throw roughly 4 innings / 60-65 pitches, and if all goes well, his next start would be on Monday, May 22nd at the 5 ip / 75 pitch range, likely as a member of the Round Rock Express. After that, it would 6/90 on Saturday, May 27th. At that point, barring any setbacks, it would be the team’s call whether he needs another rehab start on June 2nd, or if it would be time to work him into the big-league rotation.
Today’s music rec comes from Austin Bibens-Dirkx, the 32-year-old rookie who will HOPEFULLY get into a game tonight or tomorrow. You can read more about his journey here, but his music rec was Lindsey Stirling. Her songs–”good workout music,” says Bibens-Dirkx–sound like / are electronica, but if you listen closely, there’s a slight difference: those strings are real. Stirling is a violinist. The specific song Bibens-Dirkx recommended is “Crystallize”; it comes from her 2012 self-titled album. (Side note: he’s right. It’s good workout music. It’s also good writing music.)
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet here.
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