Mike is taking a well deserved break, and for a while I envied him. The Rangers had not been able to get any thing going against A.J. Griffin and the rest of the Athletics bullpen. They missed a bases loaded opportunity earlier into the game but were finally able to get the big hit they needed. Credit has to also go to Matt Harrison who pitched brilliantly and gave his team a chance to wake up before the end of the game.
Craig Gentry has been a very, very pleasant surprise with his bat this season and it was only fitting that he came through after coming into the game as a pinch hitter for David Murphy who was the designated hitter tonight. Gentry is hitting .356 on the season after his game-winning triple and that is much more than is expected from Gentry. Gentry’s role on this team was as a fourth outfielder who can play center field when Josh Hamilton is in left for Murphy. A lot has been said about his defense and that is obviously an asset for him.
Gentry’s BABIP is well above average, even for a guy who can leg out infield hits. That is bound to come down, and especially considering he his only sitting on 132 plate appearances so far this season but if he can be an above average hitter, he has a future as a starting outfielder or at least in the role he is currently in. With Leonys Martin also playing well, that might not be in Texas.
Harrison, like I mentioned before, pitched very well and scattered eight hits along with seven strikeouts and only one walk. If it wasn’t for Gentry’s hit, he would have been saddled with a no-decision or even a loss. Instead, he became the winning pitcher when Tanner Scheppers came into the game for his first Major League save after Joe Nathan pitched the last few nights and needed a game off.
The Rangers pitching staff has been hit again, this time with Mark Lowe going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his right rib cage. Yoshinori Tateyama was recalled. Harrison’s start gave the bullpen a well deserved night off which is important because nobody knows how Martin Perez will perform tomorrow in his first Major League start.
Lowe’s injury now means that Robbie Ross will get an increased role as will Scheppers, obviously, who was Ron Washington’s pick to close out the ninth likely due to his experience in the ninth inning role and also to give Mike Adams and Robbie Ross another night off going forward.
On a non-Rangers note, the Oakland pitching staff will be very interesting going forward. In addition to Brandon McCarthy, the staff’s ace, they have Jarrod Parker, Griffin, tomorrow’s starter Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole in the minor leagues. They traded Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez this winter but received a lot of talent back, including catcher Derek Norris and some of the pitchers I just mentioned. It may not be Moneyball anymore for Oakland and Billy Beane but they are definitely on the upswing in what may become a very, very tough AL West.