The Rangers started off the 2011 MLB season right – a three-game season opening series sweep against the Boston Red Sox. Sunday, the Rangers defeated Boston 5-1 with Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz both scoring a home run making them the first ever teammates to hit homers in the first three games of the season.
Today, the Rangers will meet the Seattle Mariners for another three-game series at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers originally had Alexi Ogando scheduled to start on Monday but changed the rotation and now Ogando will start Tuesday against Seattle while Derek Holland will step up and start on Monday against the Mariners.
I don’t have to tell you that the offense (and the defense) is impeccable this season for the Rangers especially with 11 homers hit in three games so I won’t waste my time or yours with that and I’ll simply step into the pitching matchups for Monday night’s game as well as the offense and defense for the Mariners. However, I will take the time to say that out of a combined 102 at-bats, the Rangers have 26 runs on 34 hits with 26 RBIs and have only 12 strikeouts. Now, on to the pitching matchups…had to brag a little!
The Rangers will put left-hander Holland on the mound Monday. In 2010, Holland was a Rangers relief pitcher but showed such stamina this spring that he was named in the starting rotation. Last season from the bullpen, Holland went 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out 54 and walked 24 while allowing 30 runs on 55 hits over the course of 57 innings. This spring, he went 2-1 with an ERA of 6.38 – not necessarily impressive – but struck out 15 and walked 6. He allowed 14 runs on 30 hits over 18 innings pitched.
The Mariners will counter with left-hander Erik Bedard. In 2009, Bedard was 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA after striking out 90 and walking 34. He allowed 29 runs on 56 hits over 83 innings after only being able to play for four months prior to making his way on the DL because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder (pitching shoulder). He entered free agency following 2009 but the Mariners re-signed him to a one-year contract with a 2011 mutual option. There was hope for a May or June return in 2010 but he faced several setbacks during rehabbing his left shoulder and never pitched in 2010. The mutual option was declined by Seattle but he was signed to a non-guaranteed incentive laden contract. After missing 2010, Bedard went 3-1 this spring with a 3.15 ERA. He threw 18 strikes and six walks while allowing 7 runs on 17 hits over the course of 20 innings.
Mariners’ Offense and Defense
So far this season, Seattle has only hit two homers – Figgins and Langerhans. As a team, they’ve had 100 at-bats with 25 hits and 12 runs resulting in 10 RBIs as well as 26 strikeouts. Looking at the three games that the Mariners played against the Oakland Athletics, I’d say they were average in both offense and defense. Justin Smoak is definitely one to keep an eye on in this next three-game series in Texas in terms of offense. He is currently on a 13-game streak of hitting against left-handed pitchers. So far this year, he is 3-for-9 with a .333 batting average. Plus, he has done decent in the past in Texas and up against Derek Holland, a left-handed pitcher, Smoak is going to be the strength of the Mariners in the lineup. Aside from Smoak, though, it seems that Seattle’s main problem is leaving their guys on the bases.
Looking at the defensive aspect of the M’s, though, in the last of the three-game series, they were unable to keep up losing 7-1 to Oakland mainly because of missing balls. Apparently, the sun got in the way a few times resulting in several of the defensive plays going right down the drain. Regardless of their defensive struggles, Seattle is solid and should provide a few semi-intense games at the least – so long as they can actually catch the balls and add some firepower to the lineup otherwise it is going to be smooth sailing for the Rangers.
I know I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself assuming that the Rangers have what it takes to get yet another win making four straight victories this season but I really see it happening. These guys are sizzling and with Bedard making his first regular season appearance on the mound, he’s going to likely struggle a bit. Final score: 6-3 Rangers.
Chime in below with your game predictions!