Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, and Omar Beltre have made 30 starts this season, recording only eight wins. Their collective ERA is 5.59.
But they've started the three games during which we've done Fox Sports Southwest chats this season - and we're 3-0 in those games. (Thanks to the hundreds of you who participated.)
Beltre wasn't sharp last night - 37 of his 85 pitches were balls, most everything was up, and he issued four walks (after walking only one in his last three AAA starts, throwing 70 percent of his pitches for strikes) - but there was plenty to like. His fastball has tons of life, his breaking ball is an out pitch, and only two of the five hits he gave up were hit hard - including the Erick Aybar home run he served up on the fourth big league pitch he threw. (It was only the second bomb Aybar has hit in 2010, and only the second one Beltre has allowed this season.)
Beltre appeared nervous at times. He averaged over 21 pitches per inning (a dramatic difference from the 12.4 he averaged in those last three AAA starts), which resulted in a four-inning stint that didn't qualify for the win. But set six hitters down on strikes, kept Texas in a game that it ultimately won, and you'd think he earned another start, probably when Cleveland visits Arlington next week.
When is a home run not as good as a triple? Never, unless you lack the three-bagger for the cycle and instead go deep for a second time and were hoping for some SportsCenter love. What Vladimir Guerrero did last night was better than a cycle, and couldn't have been more forceful.
Imagine you're an Angels fan. You go into this series 4.5 games behind Texas (six in the loss column), but confident that the division deficit is only temporary, especially after taking Game One in this series and, in Game Two, drawing a rookie making his big league debut after fewer than 40 innings above Class A. You get an early lead and knock the kid out after four innings, forcing Dustin Nippert into the game. You're feeling good, starting to imagine a sweep.
Then you see Guerrero, who had homered (and singled and added a sac fly) the night before in his first game in Anaheim as an ex-Angel, go 4 for 4 with two no-doubt home runs, a scorched double, and a single, driving in five of the Rangers' six runs.
It's easy to appreciate that win from a Rangers' fan's perspective, but think about how crummy a loss that had to be for an Angels fan. Like a Niners fan watching Deion Sanders or Charles Haley do his thing as a Cowboy, only Bigger and Badder.
Guerrero has stepped in against his former teammate Jered Weaver only three times (back on May 18 this year). He has a home run and a double in those three trips.
Weaver vs. C.J. Wilson tonight. The Rangers will say it's not all that big a game.
Fox Sports reporter Jon Paul Morosi writes this morning that the player to be named later in the Bengie Molina trade, which is expected to be made official today, will be a Class A pitcher. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets (@Buster_ESPN) that the player will be a "mid-tier prospect." That would theoretically include candidates like Wilfredo Boscan, Jake Brigham, Fabio Castillo, Michael Main (who has been promoted to Frisco), Carlos Pimentel, Neil Ramirez, Braden Tullis, and Corey Young. Do not fear that a guy like Wilmer Font or Robbie Ross or Matt Thompson or Joe Wieland being part of this deal.
Morosi adds that the Giants will pay the remainder of Molina's $4.5 million salary, while Texas will be responsible for the balance of Chris Ray's $975,000 contract.
Olney suggests that the nature of the trade shows how Texas could accomplish a Cliff Lee trade even if the club is not out of bankruptcy: "They could include a contract of another player (Rich Harden?), and get some salary relief from SEA to even out the money - and in return, give SEA a strong package of prospects. A deal without adding $."
If that were the case, the type of prospects the Rangers would have to part with to convince Seattle to go in that direction rather than deal with another team would probably be massively prohibitive.
For what it's worth, Harden has an ERA of 0.86 in nine career Safeco Field appearances, with 46 strikeouts and 14 walks in 42 innings. He has held Mariners hitters to a silly .147/.226/.196 slash line in their home park.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Rangers had a scout on hand for Lee's last start. So did the Mets and Phillies. The Twins and Dodgers apparently did not.
According to a local report, Texas also scouted Cleveland righthander Fausto Carmona's last start.
We have had two sponsors step forward with regard to Newberg Report Night on July 25: the fine folks at OSAR Consulting (which creates the productivity solutions "GoWork" and "GoWeb," to enhance your business, increase revenue, and reduce costs: http://www.osar.com/Services.aspx) and Leapfrog Executive Search (which offers "Retained Search for HR Leaders": www.lhre.net).
Among the prizes lined up so far for the charity auction and raffle:
MLB baseball signed by Tommy Hunter
MLB baseball signed by Tanner Scheppers
MLB baseball signed by Derek Holland
Rangers batting practice baseball signed by Rusty Greer
Baseball signed by Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Scott Feldman, David Murphy, Justin Smoak, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Craig Gentry, Brandon McCarthy, Chris Davis, and Rusty Greer
Autographed Yovanni Gallardo 8 x 10
2008 Newberg Report Bound Edition signed by Chris Davis, Doug Mathis, Blake Beavan, and Johnny Whittleman
I'm not making this up (and couldn't): Sir Earl Toon from the group Kool and the Gang will call whoever the winner chooses and sing Happy Birthday to them over the phone
And these two needed to be set off from the rest.
Sports artist Pat Payton has donated one of 12 proofs of a print he has made of Nolan Ryan. I've seen the print. It's incredible. You can see it here: http://www.PatrickPayton.com
In addition, Payton has agreed to create a custom original piece of art for another winner - any player you choose. Payton's last original apparently went for over $5,000.
As always, we'll raffle off a bunch of the prizes and auction off a select few, including the two Payton pieces. Proceeds will go to the Hello Win Column Fund and to Genesis Women's Shelter.
More details as we get closer.
I think if I won the custom-made Payton piece, I'd have him do a rendition of Vladimir Guerrero the instant after last night's grand slam left his bat.
Unless Big Bad does something even more dramatic tonight.
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(c) Jamey Newberg