"Test the Balls" It's the July 28th Baseball Texas Daily!

Date: Friday, July 28th
Rangers’ Record: 49-52 (3rd place, 18 games behind Houston)
Wild Card Position: (6th of 12, 4.5 games out)
Tonight’s Opponent: Baltimore Orioles (48-53)
Tonight’s Starters: Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01) vs. Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64)

You’d think that facing a starter with a record of 1-5 and an ERA of 7.01 would bode well for Texas, and you may be right. But recent history should remind you that nothing in baseball is ever a slam dunk (and not just because that’s a basketball term). Think all the way back to July 17th, when Cashner worked 6⅔ innings, allowing just 3 runs, but lost to a pitcher who came into the game with a 1-5 record and a 7.90 ERA. That pitcher was ah crap that was Tillman. So hopefully tonight goes a little better for the Rangers.  

BASEBALL STUFF

1. Adrian Beltre 3,000th Hit Watch: Beltre is at 2,996 after getting three hits in Wednesday night’s Horrorhouse Circus of a 22-10 loss. More on that later, but for now, Beltre has just FOUR HITS TO GO, with six games left in this homestand. It could literally happen any day now.

NUMBERGENERATOR.ORG PICK A NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND THREE THOUSAND: 925

Adrian Beltre’s 925th hit was the second of two hits on September 9th, 2004, bumping his batting average up to .342. Both hits were off Diamondbacks starter Edgar Gonzalez, who fell to 0-9 on the season and didn’t pitch again that year. The following year, his ERA was 108.00, and after bouncing around from the Diamondbacks to the A’s, Rockies, Astros, Blue Jays, and Astros again, he last pitched in the big leagues in 2013. He is still pitching, in 2017, for the Sultanes de Monterrey in Mexico. This has been your Edgar Gonzalez update. They are rare, please treasure it.

We’ll keep doing this every day until Beltre gets his 3,000th hit.

2. Adrian Beltre’s ejection on Wednesday night simultaneously entertained and frustrated the entire baseball world, and of course we’re still talking about it today.  Here are Jeff Banister’s thoughts from today, when asked if MLB had provided the team with any explanation of umpire Gerry Davis’ actions.  

“I don’t have any knowledge of us contacting MLB, I’m sure that there will be, I’m sure we’ll get some correspondence with Major League Baseball based on two ejections, and the attention that this has gotten. At this point, there’s ... kind of the only thing that I personally have to say about it, it’s kind of an unfortunate situation kind of how it happened. First time I’ve really experienced a batter being asked to move. I’ve seen some pitchers in the past get upset where the guys were well behind the plate, but I’ve never seen ...that. It’s one of those things, the moment in time kind of amplified the situation. ... I’m sure if it was another player, a younger player, not in the same situation Adrian is in, it probably doesn’t get as much attention.

Banister, along with everyone else, noticed that not much changed after that. Mike Napoli jokingly stood in the dirt circle left by the since-moved vinyl disc. Carlos Gomez stood directly beside the dugout. But mostly, batters just continued to stand where they always had.

“It didn’t change after that. Either team. And, again, look, Gerry’s a great human being, tremendous guy, I have nothing ... it’s just, the whole situation, for everybody it’s just kind of one of those things that happened on the baseball field, and it’s unfortunate, and some emotions came into play, and we move on. Probably my emotion more than anybody else.”

3. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is scheduled to be the starter tomorrow (unless something crazy happens tonight), meaning A.J. Griffin will get a third rehab start tomorrow. But that’s not why he’s number two on today’s list. He’s here because he, and some other guys in the bullpen, had an idea for a shirt. With the well-documented uptick in home runs in MLB this year, the steroid allegations are back. ABD quipped “don’t test the players, test the balls!” to which someone replied “that sounds like a t-shirt.” One thing led to another, and the good folks at Korked Baseball (the company behind the Joe Maddon “try not to suck” shirts) have sent a shipment to the Rangers bullpen.

Actually, forget everything I just said. A portion of the proceeds from these shirts are going towards the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation. MLB does a lot of work to help battle testicular cancer! That’s an approved cause! And it’s also a pretty good justification for a t-shirt that would otherwise be pretty bold! If you read this, MLB, this is to help a cause you believe in, and definitely not a statement about the baseballs that no one thinks have changed, everything is fine!

You can purchase your Austin-Bibens-Dirkx-inspired shirt here, if you so desire.

4. Jake Diekman has a very optimistic timeline for his return, telling us he thinks that he could return as early as the next couple of weeks. He threw a bullpen on Wednesday (35 pitches; was scheduled for 30) and is scheduled for 35 pitches in tomorrow’s session (“probably 42” he said), and will pitch a live batting practice session on Wednesday. He reiterated a few times that he feels great, but also said they haven’t turned on the radar gun yet.

"I told them I didn't really want a gun until Wednesday when I throw a live BP. That would be like a determining (factor) of how close I am, actually. If I go out and fire as hard as I can and it's like 83, I'm just gonna walk off the mound and drive home," he joked.  

But as for the optimistic timeline? "It's possible. I have a number (of outings) that I told them in my head... and it's not more than one. I told them I feel like I can throw one rehab outing and then be good. That's what I told them. But I'm pretty firm on streamlining this thing.”

Asked how the training staff responded to his insistence that one rehab outing would be enough, he was honest: “They laughed at me."

But then he doubled down.

"Fourteen days from now is what, August 11th, 12th? That should be pretty good, I think."

He was not laughing.

5. Brett Nicholas got a print-out of his velocity sheet from his mop-up relief appearance on Wednesday. He ranged from 44mph to 74mph (a 30mph difference!) The bullpen spent a few minutes alternately teasing and encouraging Nicholas today. I pointed out that the final three outs he got in the ninth inning was kind of a rarity in that game: it was only the third time in the game that any Rangers pitcher had retired three or more batters in a row. He reminded me that the Marlins also hit something like four doubles in five pitches (close: it was three).

“We’ve all done it,” Tony Barnette piped in. “Yeah that happens in real life, not just in eephus life,” Bibens-Dirkx added.

MUSIC RECOMMENDATION

I can’t remember if I’ve ever recommended “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me’ from Brand New in this space, but even if I have, it’s worth saying again. It’s one of the best albums of all time.
(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 threetwoeephus@gmail.com or a tweet here.

You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!

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