The Rangers are finishing up their three-game series at Philadelphia against the Phillies and are still seeking their very first win at Citizens Bank Park after losing the first two of this set. Once they wrap up this set, they’ll be on their way home to Arlington where they will face the Chicago White Sox starting tomorrow for a three-game series before having a day off then hosting the Kansas City Royals.
Regardless of their three-game losing streak of which they hope to snap this afternoon, the Rangers still hold first place in the AL West. However, if they want to continue their possession of first place then they need to get their swings in order as well as their pitches. Hopefully, they can pick up this afternoon, but if not, they’ll be back at home tomorrow and should see an improvement…especially with Ian Kinsler, who finally got a hit last night after going 0-for-15 over his previous four games, as he has always hit better at home than on the road – although he is batting .467 against the Phillies’ start this afternoon, which is the best among the lineup.
Pitching MatchupsThe Phillies turn to RHP Roy Oswalt to finish this series out with a sweep. Oswalt is 3-1 this year with a 3.09 earned run average over six starts. He has allowed 12 runs on 28 hits over 32 innings while striking out 24 batters and walking eight. May 17, Oswalt received a no decision after allowing just one run on seven hits over five innings in a 2-1 loss against St. Louis. His last time out was his first start since April 26 when he allowed a season-high of five runs on six hits in only three innings against Arizona. This will be the right-hander’s second start after coming off the disabled list with a strain in his lower back.
Against the Rangers, Oswalt is 4-6 for his career with an ERA of 4.54 over 12 starts. He has allowed 42 runs on 94 hits across 81.1 innings. Last year, he went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA against Texas allowing seven earned runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings for one start at the end of June in Arlington.
The Rangers will look to LHP Matt Harrison to get in the last win of this series and the first ever at Citizens Bank Park. He is 3-4 for the season after starting the year off 3-0, has 30 strikeouts and holds an earned run average of 4.27. Being unable to count his last time out since the game was rained out and deemed unofficial, his official last time out wasn’t pretty but was better than his previous few starts. On May 17 against the White Sox, he allowed three runs on three hits over seven innings striking out six but walking four.
Harrison will look for his first win since April 15 as he heads to the mound this afternoon to face the Phillies for the first time ever. For interleague play, though, Harrison is 0-1 with an ugly 10.38 ERA over two starts.
Pitchers vs. Hitters
RHP Roy Oswalt: Ian Kinsler may get out of his slump this afternoon, as he is 7-for-15 with two doubles, one triple, one homer and two RBIs against Oswalt. Michael Young is 12-for-39 with four doubles, one homer and seven RBIs, Elvis Andrus is 1-for-3 with one RBI and Adrian Beltre is 2-for-6 with one homer and two RBIs. David Murphy hasn’t gotten a hit off the right-hander in six at-bats.
LHP Matt Harrison: Harrison has never actually pitched to Philadelphia but does have some experience against a few of the players. Placido Polanco is 3-for-7 with one RBI against Harrison, Ben Francisco is 2-for-2, Raul Ibanez is 1-for-6 with one RBI and Ross Gload is 0-for-3 against the 25-year-old lefty.
If we see the Matt Harrison that we saw at the start of the season – the one who looked like he was coming back in his last “unofficial” start (because of the rain) – then the Rangers may have this one in the bag. If we see the struggling Harrison – the one who couldn’t get his head into the game and was struggling mentally keeping things together – then the Rangers are likely going to simply hand this one over to the Phillies…especially if the offense doesn’t vamp up their hitting abilities.
If we see the new, solid Harrison with a decent Rangers offense: Rangers win 3-2. It will be a close game.
If we see the old, struggling Matt and a struggling lineup: Phillies win 7-2. It won’t be close at all!