There comes a point in every young man’s life when he gets to experience the total and unequivocal bludgeoning of one of baseball’s best pitchers. Wednesday afternoon against Felix Hernandez was one of those days.
Hernandez, who entered the game boasting the American League’s second-best ERA (2.63), and second-best xFIP (2.67), was tattooed — as Eric Nadel put it — surrendering a career-high 8 earned runs in 3-plus innings on the bump, the second-shortest outing of his 9-year big league run. It’s the 3rd time in 2013 he has allowed double digits in hits, and the 2nd time the Rangers have been the opponent to inflict such damage.
When the book closed on Felix’s afternoon his ERA had jumped greater than three-tenths of a point, which isn’t the easiest thing to do at the end of August.
The scoring onslaught began in the top of the 2nd, on an opposite-field 3-run HR off the bat of Leonys Martin, his 6th of the season. What followed was a Geovany Soto 2-run single in the 3rd, and 4 consecutive hits to lead off the top of the 4th, a sequence that featured a Jurickson Profar double, a Martin single, an Elvis Andrus double and a seeing-eye single from Ian Kinsler.
Felix Hernandez wouldn’t throw another pitch.
To add insult, the next hitter, Adrian Beltre, pissed on a Brandon Maurer fastball to make the game 10-0. If Miguel Cabrera wasn’t still hitting like Miguel Cabrera, or if lighting had not struck for Chris Davis, Beltre’s 2013 campaign would certainly be worth strong MVP consideration. For narrative purposes, we like to use go-to catch phrases like “[This player] puts the team on his back,” or “[This player] is the straw that stirs the drink,” or whatever. But Adrian Beltre hasn’t so much been the straw; he’s really just the drink all by himself.
With the 12-4 victory the Rangers improve their record to 19-6 in the month of August, and, quite amazingly if you ask me, in none of those 25 games has the pitching staff given up more than 4 runs. The last time Texas allowed at least 5 runs was July 30th against the team who says they’re from Los Angeles but aren’t, and the good guys won that game, 14-11.
Martin Perez was the pitcher of record, spotting the Mariners 2 solo HRs in 6.0 innings of work. Perez’s ERA on the season is now at a highly respectable 3.58 in 88.0 innings. In an underwhelming crop of American League rookies, Martin Perez could, by default, have a decent crack at winning Rookie of the Year. (It should be noted that I’m not 100% sure if he accumulated enough service time in 2012 to disqualify him from his rookie eligibility.)
The win also bumps the Rangers to a remarkable 44-16 (.733) record against its own division in 2013, far and away the best mark in the major leagues (which is also to say not every team has the Astros, Mariners and Angels as divisional opponents). At 78-55, Texas still has two series’ apiece with the Angels and Athletics, and one with the lowly Astros.
Tomorrow we enter the 2nd of 3 consecutive Thursday off-days, which will be followed by the briefest home-stand of the season — a 3-game set with the Twins this weekend. After that, as the kids would say, “shit is about to get real,” as the Rangers will embark on a West Coast road trip through Oakland and Anaheim.
Tickets are available for this weekend’s series so make sure to grab some and see if the Rangers can remain one of the hottest teams in baseball during the second half of the season.