The Chicago Trade was the lead going into last night's game, but it was two players from the Atlanta Trade who stepped to the forefront to help give Texas a really solid win and another chance, today, to get back above .500. Matt Harrison - once again with Taylor Teagarden behind the plate - extended his scoreless streak to 10 innings (seven hits, no walks, six strikeouts), though he was less efficient than in his last start, needing 100 pitches to get through five on Sunday. Liked how he dug deep to touch 94 and fan Alexei Ramirez to finish the second with a man on third, and 93 during the nine-pitch Carlos Quentin at-bat with the bases loaded and a 3-0 lead in the fifth, a battle that ended with Quentin flying out lazily to right.
Elvis Andrus was outstanding in his first start hitting somewhere other than ninth, going 2 for 3 with a great-looking sacrifice bunt out of the two hole, firing a double down the left field line and aggressively stretching a single to center into two bags when Brent Lillibridge didn't field the ball cleanly. Andrus added a steal of third and made several impressive plays defensively, showing off both his range and arm strength in several chances.
Second straight subpar effort for John Danks, whose night got off to a bad start when his Spokane, Clinton, and Oklahoma teammate Ian Kinsler worked the count full leading off the first before depositing Danks's sixth pitch in the left field seats.
Darren O'Day: 12 pitches, 10 strikes. So far, looks like a very solid pickup.
C.J. Wilson: eight pitches, six strikes. Much better. (And bet Ozzie Guillen enjoyed that. Bet he enjoyed that very much.)
Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu probably wasn't too concerned about pulling Chris Jakubauskas in the fifth yesterday, considering he has horses Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard ready to go tonight and tomorrow. But seven Mariners relievers ended up throwing 188 pitches in the 15-inning tussle with the A's, and though only Miguel Batista (65 pitches) and Jason Vargas (45 pitches) threw at least 20, you can bet the blueprint against Hernandez tonight will be to work the count (not that it would be any different even if Jakubauskas had gone the distance on Sunday) in an effort to try and get to the Mariners bullpen early. Easier gameplanned than done.
For what it's worth, Hernandez has consistently averaged 99-103 pitches in each of his five big league seasons, generally getting into the seventh.
While Hernandez is riding a 19-inning scoreless streak, he's had trouble with Texas, relatively speaking. In 16 career starts against the Rangers (more than he's had against anyone else), he's 4-8, 4.38. A couple American League clubs have slapped a higher ERA on him, but nobody has skewed his win-loss record as much.
With Jarrod Saltalamacchia no longer sidelined with eye irritation, Max Ramirez was reportedly optioned back to Oklahoma City, and RedHawks outfielder Greg Golson joined the team on its flight to Seattle. Golson, acquired in November from Philadelphia for John Mayberry Jr., was hitting .286/.338/.400 with four stolen bases in as many tries, getting the nod ahead of Brandon Boggs as the latter is dealing with a sore shoulder.
Unbelievable effort by Chris Davis on that foul pop-up in the big Quentin at-bat. That had a chance to be one of the all-time great plays by a first baseman, if the ball hadn't gotten Bartmanned by a fan.
Before playing at Navarro Junior College, Davis briefly attended the University of Texas. If he hadn't transferred, and if Danks didn't sign with the Rangers out of high school, they would have been Longhorn teammates with Teagarden in 2005. Johnny Whittleman would have arrived in 2006 had he not signed with the Rangers, joining the squad as Teagarden departed, and Marcus Lemon would have shown up in 2007 after Danks moved on to the pros.
Randy Taylor was the Rangers' area scout responsible for all but Lemon (who was a Guy DeMutis sign). Taylor was probably in on Golson, too, another UT commit whom the Phillies drafted (and signed) in 2004 in the first round, 21st overall, between the Thomas Diamond and Eric Hurley selections that the Rangers made and 49 rounds before the Yankees took Davis, then a Longview High School third baseman.
Infielder Jose Vallejo (.289/.318/.349, seven stolen bases in eight attempts) was promoted from Frisco to Oklahoma City, contributing a single and a walk in a 10-inning, 12-8 RedHawks loss on Sunday.
Separated at birth: Kinsler and actor James Franco.
Rangers starting pitchers averaged the most pitches per game (101) in baseball in April. That's a very good stat.
Worst team ERA in baseball? Belongs to the club that signed C.C. Sabathia for $161 million and A.J. Burnett for $82.5 million this winter. No team has allowed more earned runs than the 5.93 per nine innings that the Yankees are serving up.
Mark Teixeira is down to .182/.354/.338.
Stay on your toes: the local start times for the Rangers' next eight games (two in Seattle, two in Oakland, three in Chicago, than back in Arlington after a day off a week from today) are 9:10, 3:40, 9:07, 2:37, 7:11, 6:05, 1:05, and 7:05.
Kevin Millwood-King Felix tonight, Vicente Padilla-Bedard tomorrow afternoon, 2.5 games separating the two teams in the division. It's not a critical pair this early in the season, but it's a good opportunity to take advantage of a little momentum and the right starter matchup against the right pitchers from, for now, the right team.
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(c) Jamey Newberg
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