Tommy Hunter's first big league win came on his 23rd birthday, a 3-1 win in Rangers Ballpark over Tampa Bay.
Tommy Hunter's most recent big league win came on his 24rd birthday, a 3-1 win in Rangers Ballpark over Chicago.
There were lots of differences between the two wins. Hunter lasted only 5.1 innings in last year's win, needing 90 pitches and throwing only 61 percent for strikes. More than half of the Texas lineup - Marlon Byrd, Andruw Jones, Hank Blalock, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Chris Davis - isn't even around any more.
Tonight, Hunter gave the Rangers seven-plus, throwing 72 percent of his 94 pitches for strikes, a tremendously efficient effort that includes, for example, an 0-4 night by Jones that, despite accounting for two of Hunter's three strikeouts, still faced only 11 Hunter pitches.
Hunter faced 29 White Sox tonight. He started off 25 with a first-pitch strike.
When I was on ESPN Radio yesterday, Ben Rogers asked me rank the top four young Rangers starting pitchers in terms of untouchability at trade time. I said Martin Perez would be the one I'd be least likely to part with, followed by Derek Holland, and then Tanner Scheppers, and finally Hunter - who is now 5-0, 1.98 for the season and has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any of his six starts.
But I finished the point by saying how much I love having Hunter on this staff.
You look at the current Rangers starting five, the rotation that's leading one of baseball's only three teams playing .600 baseball, and I would wager that Hunter is the most likely to be a Texas Ranger three years from now.
I'm still not sure why Joaquin Arias is still around but he did drive in a run and score another, both with John Danks on the mound, giving me an opportunity to shoehorn in the note that Arias and Danks were Stockton teammates in 2004, Frisco teammates in 2005, and Oklahoma teammates in 2006.
I'm more interested in sharing with you that Arias and Ultimate Journeyman Bruce Chen were Oklahoma teammates in 2007. Chen was perfect into the seventh tonight in Anaheim, earning the Royals' second straight win over the Angels, a game that just ended with Kansas City coming out on top, 4-2.
With the white-hot White Sox in Arlington, and the Angels hosting the hapless Royals, after these last two nights Los Angeles has given back the game it gained in the Rangers series. The division lead is back to 4.5 games.
Six in the loss column.
My work now turns to a report I've been meaning to write for about two weeks, one that I can't put off any longer (especially since I'm getting a dozen emails every day asking for it).
Back with that report in the morning. Or maybe Monday.
To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to www.newbergreport.com and click the "Mailing List" link on the top menu bar.
(c) Jamey Newberg