Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.
Baseball's Chaos Theory was in full effect over this last week; Houston failed to sign their No. 1 overall pick from June's draft, which means they're handed the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft, which means anyone who doesn't have the worst record in baseball gets their pick in next year's draft bumped down a slot. This means the stakes in the race for bottom place (I feel like that should be capitalized? I also feel that if I did Randy Galloway would start using it and none of us want that) increased dramatically, all due to the questionable nature of the ulnar collateral ligament in an 18-year-old guy and questionable negotiating tactics on the part of Houston's front office.
It's not quite as stark of an example as a butterfly flapping it's wings in Beijing producing a hurricane in New York, but it's feels chaos-y alright.
All that said leads into the central theory (and, no, chaos isn't my central theory) of the article; that losing every game not started by Yu Darvish looks to possibly be the norm for the rest of the season, and that's OK.
Janitor saw 'greasy looking' Canadians in parking lot
I imagine Yu Darvish wakes up every morning, stretches, goes downstairs, has a nice light breakfast, and says 'OK, who's saying I'm not an ace today?' On every fifth day he goes out and strikes out at least ten batters.
Friday was that fifth day. Darvish struck out 12 in 6.2 IP, allowing eight runners to reach (five via hit, three via walk). One double, one homer, and three singles. When Darvish is good, he's the best pitcher in the American League. When he's not good, he's just one of the best pitchers in the American League. He is 2014's bright spot. Appreciate him. Celebrate him. Ignore columnists who fill space by denigrating him.
The offensive high point was J.P. Arencibia's three-run homer in the seventh because 2014 is strange. I have my fingers crossed, against all logic, that Arencibia and Soto go on a tear over the next nine days and Jon Daniels starts fielding desperate calls offering something (anything) of any form of moderate value to Rangers teams for either of them.
On Saturday, Colby Lewis pitched against Marcus Stroman and the Rangers lost 4-1. I don't really want to talk about the baseball things that happened in Saturday's game, because it was a pretty boring and straightforward affair. The things I want to talk about are Colby-Colby bunt incident, and the birds.
In the bottom of the fifth, Colby Rasmus bunted for a single against the shift and Colby Lewis took exception. Lewis accused Rasmus of just doing it to inflate his batting average, because it was a bad time to bunt? I use a question mark because Colby's explanation sounded a lot like when my brother-in-law tries to explain how everything Obama does is awful but can't provide any details.
I don't think you'll easily find anyone who hates the bunt more than I do, but, paradoxically, I celebrate the bunt as a way to beat the shift. The shift is a gimmick, and bunting is a gimmick. The thing is, the entire point of baseball is getting on base. If the batter gets on base, he won his individual matchup. If he doesn't, he lost.
The entire reason the shift has survived this long has been the ego of left-handed batters not taking the opportunity to bunt for the free single the defense is giving them. The moment it becomes cool or ok for lefties to bunt against the shift, it will disintegrate into memory. I just hope that lasts until Joey Gallo is in the majors, because seeing him bunt against the shift is a sight to behold.
Maybe Rasmus did violate some unwritten rule, but the thing about rules is the devil is in the details, and if it's not written down, how can you check the details? If bunting it where they ain't is an invalid strategy, is hitting it where they ain't not acceptable? I love you, Colby Lewis, but if you're going to go against the grain with Yogi Berra, it's going to be a long day for you.
Plus, you play for Ron Washington and you're going to say scratch about bunting? Good way to get yourself on your manager's bad side. I'm sure Wash loves Colby, but I think he loves the bunt more.
The other story from Saturday's game was the pigeons. See, birds on fields is nothing new- they didn't learn from Randy Johnson's display against them that their kind is not welcome there - but it is pretty notable when pigeons makes it onto the field in a closed dome. In the eighth inning, the game was delayed briefly while two pigeons casually strolled across the diamond. Roman Mendez seemed to enjoy it, Adrian Beltre seemed mildly annoyed, and Arencibia seemed to not really know what to do (what's the unwritten rule about pigeons on the field?).
Then they left and we were left with the 2014 Rangers. Brief moments of levity are all we have. You're always welcome on the Rangers' field, greasy Canadian pigeons.
On Sunday, Nick Tepesch allowed five runs in 4.1 innings and nearly matched Mark Buerhle, who took six innings to allow five runs. With the game tied at five in the seventh, Neftali Feliz allowed a leadoff homer to Melky Cabrera, and Matt West allowed three runs on five singles in the eighth, and we're left with 9-6, and we're left with twenty games below .500 for the first time in 11 years. It's a new bottom, but we may have digging yet to go.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Yankee Mambo
If you want to know why I'm such a proponent of using this year to refresh and rebuild the team, look no further than the team the Rangers are visiting for a four-game set. The Yankees have been monstrously expensive, will remain monstrously expensive, and they're an old, middle of the road, no-fun team. It's hard to imagine upside with them - they're built primarily from parts that are going to get worse rather than better. For a long time, I wished the Rangers would emulate the Yankees, but those days are long dead and gone.
In the series opener, Miles Mikolas will pitch for the Rangers while Shane Greene starts for the Yankees. The bad news: the current Yankees roster has a 1.000 OBP against Mikolas. The good news: The entire history of the current Yankees roster and Mikolas is one Bryan McCann plate appearance that resulted in a HBP. In two starts this season, Greene has allowed two earned runs and struck out 11. He also has a relief appearance wherein he walked three, and struck out one, getting stuck with three unearned runs in a one-third of an inning masterpiece of modern theatre.
I'm kind of sad that his 27.0 K/9, 81.0 BB/9, 0.00 BAA, and 0.00 ERA marks from that relief appearance aren't going to stand up for the season because that's the greatest statistical line ever.
Both Mikolas and Greene have three appearances on the season and strike out seven batters per nine while walking three per nine.
In Tuesday's game, Nick Martinez will face off against Chase Whitely. Both Martinez and Whitely have started 11 games with a 5.10 ERA. Both are rookies. Both were drafted pretty late to see this much major league time this early (Martinez in the 18th round of the 2011 draft, Whitely in the 15th round of the 2010 draft). No batters from either team has faced the opposing pitcher in the major leagues.
The level of similarities between the starters for the first two games is making me uncomfortable. And our guys have the facial hair, so if this is some alternate universe thing, we're probably the evil twins.
Wednesday's game will see Yu Darvish against David Phelps. Phelps has pitched 95 innings of 4.14 xFIP ball for the Yankees, which qualifies him as their No. 1 or No. 2 right now. Yeah, things are pretty bad in New York too. What stands out about Phelps' statistical profile is nothing stands out. Did you ever see the movie Idiocracy? From a statistical standpoint, David Phelps is Luke Wilson from that movie. If we need to freeze a mediocre pitcher from this era for future societies, Phelps has a good case that it should be him.
In Thursday's finale, Colby Lewis will match up against Brandon McCarthy. In the past 11 years, there have only been three seasons (2005-2007) when one of these two men weren't on the Rangers roster, yet they only overlapped in 2010 (when McCarthy was in AAA). McCarthy is also on the long list of players traded from the Diamondbacks in a manner that seems designed solely to annoy me; while acquiring players for this season is just adding more deck chairs to the Titanic, McCarthy's still a solid pitcher and was traded to the Yankees for Vidal Nuno; the Rangers probably have about a dozen possible Vidal Nunos in their system right now. Every time Arizona trades a player (Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, now McCarthy) it annoys me that the Rangers didn't get into the fray, because the cost is so low and the player is generally at least decent and can help.
Luckily for Colby Lewis the Yankees as a team only have nine bunt hits this year.
This is normally the space reserved for telling you to go follow Joseph Ursery on twitter. We're still going to do that (go follow @thejoeursery on twitter please) but we're also going to donate this space to the Give Guilder Rodriguez a Cup of Coffee 2014 movement. Guilder's an eight-year minor league vet who's been with the RoughRiders for most of the last five years. He's 31 years old, and he deserves to get some time on a Major League field this year. Guilder Rodriguez: Because Why The Heck Not?
Rangers recap: Pigeons and bunt hits
Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.