The Texas Rangers start a big series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in California starting tonight. After stumbling to the finish line in April, and you can probably argue they were carried off the field in April by the Oakland Athletics, the Rangers look to make things right in May.
Normally, I wouldn’t say a series in May is that huge, but the Rangers are taking on their division rival for a 3-game set to determine second or possibly first place in the division. Least year the Texas Rangers won the season series with a record of 4-15.
From start to close: They managed to torment former Texas Rangers C.J. Wilson and the Angels’ closer Ernesto Frier. The Rangers have easily owned both pitchers in recent years.
Over 7 starts against the Rangers, Wilson has a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 7.92. Don’t go by record alone, each outing against the Rangers for Wilson is a huge battle. The Rangers offense almost always perks up when he is on the mound. Of the 7 starts against the Rangers, only 2 have been quality starts. The others, have been almost out right ugly. He has been wild in most appearances. In 6 of the 7 games, he has walked at least 3 batters.
In 16 games against the Rangers, Frier has a record of 0-3, 5 saves and an ERA of 7.47. The Rangers managed to nail him twice last year in July to give him two blown saves and to capture two wild walk-off wins.
Wilson isn’t slated to pitch in this series, but the Rangers will see their favorite closer Frier .
King Cobra: The Texas Rangers starting rotation if finally getting healthy. Colby Lewis return on April 14 against the Seattle Mariners. His first game was probably below average, but if you consider it was his first start since July 18, 2012 and that he’s had elbow and hip surgery, then you’ll have to credit that as a good start. Since that outing, Lewis has steadily gotten better and in some ways looks like the Lewis of 2011. Some have been very doubtful on his return, some have even said that all signs of the old Lewis were gone. But, I’ll take a more optimistic view of Lewis and say he is showing signs of his former self. If the Rangers are going to get back on track, they’ll need that from Lewis. Lewis has pitched well in the past in Angels Stadium. Over 5 starts, he has a record of 2-2 with an ERA of 2.94. If he is able to hold them to a few runs, it should setup a chance for the Rangers to have a lead or at least a chance to get to the Angels’ closer Frier.
Offensive woes: If the Rangers are going to win the weekend series, the offense needs start producing. For one, tonight isn’t a night to allow J.P. Arencibia catch. His bat is now a liability in the lineup. He currently has a batting average of .086, which ranks almost 500th of 500 professional catchers. Also, his fielding hasn’t been great and he’s allowed several wild pitches to get past him.
Everyone knows that Prince Fielder is barely above the Mendoza line. He has finally been able to sprinkle a few hits here and here. Sometimes it appears he is trying to beat the shift. And honestly, if he were just to lay a bunt down the third baseline, he could probably reach second. If you’ve watch the games, the third baseman is almost at second.
For Elvis Andrus it is time to shave the beard. Maybe it’s weighing his head down too much. Something has to change for him. His last hit was on April 26 and has barely reached at all recently. Baseball is a very superstitious sport, maybe the beard is cursed. I know the beards worked out for the Red Sox, but it isn’t working out for the Rangers.
Charlie Brown baseball: If it wasn’t enough the offense wasn’t clicking, the defense wasn’t either. It was almost like watching Lucy pull the football from Charlie Brown the past couple of days. Sunday was the worst with 4 errors, 2 by Andrus. Routine fly balls were not caught either. It seemed several times outfielders were not adjusting to the batters and were getting burned by balls rolling towards the wall. Hopefully with a day off and a change of scenery they’ll change that. The Angels will the hit the ball and hit it hard.
Win the series: It is time to dust off the losses in April and play some true Texas Rangers baseball in May. If the Rangers offense and defense can manage to do what they did against the Athletics, then they easily win the series. That series wasn’t the best, but things went well enough for the win. Even one mistake could be enough to lose the game. That happened several times over the last 5 games. Enough is enough, yes baseball is 162, but ask the Houston Astros, enough losses in April/May can take you out of contention for a playoff spot very quickly.