St. Petersburg, FL – The Texas Rangers will start a 3-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays today, which is their home opener. The last time they met was in game 163 in Arlington where David Price pitched a gem to help the Rays advance to the Wild Card Play-in game.
Now that time has allowed wounds of game 163 to heal, the Rangers will play the Rays on their home ground. For the Rangers, they hope to build the momentum after winning their last 2 games with walk-off wins.
At this point, the Rangers are on the same pace there were on last year to start the season. In 2013, they opened the season against Houston with a loss, a game where Matt Harrison was shelled all day long. The next day, Yu Darvish took to the mound to right the ship and gave the Rangers the first win of 2013. They then went on to win the next 3 games. Hopefully the Rangers will repeat that trend.
The Rangers have been red hot in April since 2012. They the best April win-loss record since that time at 36-14. The Atlanta Braves have the second best at 33-18.
Rays say, Not in my house Joe: The Texas Rangers will send newly acquired Joe Saunders to the mound today against the Rays. Saunders hasn’t had much or any luck again the Rays during his career. He has a record of 0-3 with and ERA of 8.40. The Rays are the only team he hasn’t recorded a win against.
Maybe things are about to change for Saunders. If there is one thing the Texas Rangers like to do, is to break weird records/stats and streaks. Before Wednesday’s win against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Texas Rangers had never beaten them back-to-back. I won’t mention their other notorious record they had in 2012, if anyone can remember that record, leave me a comment at the bottom.
Practice killed Mozart, but patience helps Choo: After the blockbuster trade for Prince Fielder many probably thought Jon Daniels was done with the big name signings. Jon Daniels added one more weapon to the lineup with Shin-Soo Choo. Choo had a rough spring training and probably left many wondering if he’ll be able to bring to the Rangers what he did with the Cincinnati Reds. During Tuesday’s game he reached 4 for 4 and on Wednesday gave the Texas Rangers their first walk-off walk since 1999. I would expect more of the same from Choo during the weekend series.
Tonight he’s going against Jacob Odorizzi who just made it in the rotation as the Rays’ number 5 pitcher. If anyone can draw a walk from Odorizzi tonight it will be Choo. Some are already saying this will be a hard game for the Rangers to win. If they are able to capture what they did offensively in game one and late in game 2 and 3, they’ll be fine.
More than a Choice: With Prince Fielder now at first, Mitch Moreland now must get playing time any where he can get it. Surprisingly it will probably be most often at the designated hitter position. After two games, it would seem that Ron Washington should have given Michael Choice a start at the DH spot, but Mitch Moreland hit 2 solid balls that eventually won the game on Wednesday.
Moreland will have the chance again tonight to prove he has the stuff to make as a DH and an all around player. I expect him to continue to hit the ball hard. When he is able to find a hole, he’ll get on base, maybe for another triple. Ron Washington did say today that Michael Choice will get his first major league start on Saturday against the Rays.
Not quite a Prince in Texas: Prince Fielder hasn’t abused the home run porch in right field in Arlington this season, but it has only been 3 games. He has a .167 batting average with 1 double. At this point the Rays should be worried, Fielder is due anytime now. With the power he brings to the plate, he’s due for a nice crack of the bat.
My guess would be he should do quite well off of the Rays number 5 guy Odorizzi. Everyone has projected Fielder to be among the leaders in RBI, doubles, and home runs. He will eventually start hitting and I don’t think it will take long.
No bull here: If you were to tell me the Rangers bullpen would be the saving grace against the Phillies, I would have doubted you. After Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz were removed from the pen, I was a bit pessimistic about the pen. But, after game 2 and 3 against the Phillies, I’m a believer they’ll be just fine. The Rangers have been known for having a strong pen and it appears they again in 2014. So far the bullpen has thrown 8.1 consecutive scoreless innings going back to game 1 against the Phillies. The bullpen is one of 5 clubs to take credit for 2 wins in 2014.
When the Rangers do go to the pen tonight, I would love to see Seth Rosin again. He earned the win against the Phillies on Wednesday. He currently has an 0.00 ERA with 2 strike outs over 2 games/3 innings.
Overall thoughts: This should be a good game to watch. If Saunders is able to keep the ball down and not throw too many balls, he’ll keep the Rangers in it. I would expect the Rangers to swing fast and often at anything that Odorizzi delivers to get to him early. If the Rangers are able to get few base hits and eat up some pitches, I think they’ll managed to score early and often. But, they might have to if Saunders has a rough night. With rookie Nick Martinez making his major league debut on the mound tomorrow, the Rangers can’t afford to dig too deep in their bullpen.