The Rangers are coming off of another series win, and another series win against an AL West opponent. Yu Darvish struck out eleven Angels in the Rangers 11-3 route of the Halos. But after the game the Rangers had to take a long cross country flight to Minnesota very late at night and get ready for four with the Twins.
“You just try to catch a nap on the plane,” Ron Washington told MLB’s official website about the flight and the quick turnaround. “It’s a tough trip with the time change but what are you going to do? It’s the schedule, you have to play it. You get in, sleep as long as you can, get up, go to the ballpark and play baseball.” (source)
The Rangers did not fare well at Target field when it first opened, but did alright there and over all against the Twins in 2012. The Twins are off to a better start in 2013 (9-8) than they were the last two seasons, but the Rangers seem to be firing on all cylinders right now. The Rangers are first in ERA by a mile, posting a team ERA coming into this series of 2.85. As a team they have also only allowed 13 home runs, third lowest in the AL. Consequently, second lowest in the AL at ten is the Twins. On offense the Rangers are second in home runs hit with twenty-six, and third in the league in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage).
On paper anyway, the Rangers are the better team. Nick Tepesch goes for the Rangers tonight, and he is 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA. He has a WAR of 0.3, a RAR of 3, and his WAA
is 0.2. The Twins have Vance Worley on the hill tonight, who is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA. He has a WAR of -0.4, a RAR of -4, and his WAA is -0.6. All that being said, Tepesch should have the advantage tonight, especially with that Rangers defense backing him and the Ranger offense hitting like it is right now.
Of course we cannot take away the fatigue factor. This has been a tough road trip for the Rangers, and I believe that some of that fatigue is going to show up at some point during this series. We have already seen Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland struggle for the first time in the season, and Tepesch and Grimm are very young, inexperienced starters. Now the Rangers could push through and win all four games in Minnesota, but I highly doubt that will be the case. So lets not all freak out when the Rangers lose a game because they can’t seem to throw anything but strikes right down the middle of the plate or their offense looks like they can’t get the bats off of their shoulders. Lets just remember that the baseball season is very long, and even the best teams lose sixty plus games.
I do believe that the Rangers will win three out of four of these games and head home from their first long road trip in command of the AL West. I think that people are starting to realize what I said before the season started, and that is that this team is special and has a chance to do something special because of their pitching. We have watched guys like Joe Ortiz, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm surprise us with their poise and maturity. And this offense is being much more aggressive than they were a season ago. The base stealing and first to third running has put them where they are right now, and as long as they continue to be aggressive and pitch well, I see no reason why I won’t still be writing about Rangers baseball in October. But, before I get carried away, lets enjoy the four game set between the Rangers and Twins.