Texas Rangers (23-21) at Philadelphia Phillies (26-17) Preview Game 1


The Rangers were on their way to Philadelphia last night after their loss to the Kansas City Royals in the 10th inning but they weren’t traveling with their ace lefty C.J. Wilson. No, he’s not injured and yes, he is starting. He just went on ahead of his team so that he could get a good night’s rest prior to his start tonight.

The Rangers were 14-4 (.778) last year for Interleague play setting records for the club for both wins as well as winning percentage. In addition, Texas ranked second in the Major Leagues in those two aspects only falling behind Chicago. They surpassed their previous win record for Interleague play by three games from an 11 game win record in 2007. The Phillies were 10-8 last year against American League teams.

The Rangers have never won at Citizens Bank Park and will put their faith in their left-handed Ace to make it a first and bring them home a win. So, it’s a battle of the Aces tonight with LHP C.J. Wilson for the Rangers and RHP Roy Halladay for the Phillies. Let’s have an in-depth look…

Pitching Matchups

Wilson is 4-2 for the season with a 3.38 ERA and holds 50 strikeouts. The 30-year-old lefty is coming off a no-decision after allowing four runs – two earned – on six hits over five innings. Thankfully, though, the bullpen came in and didn’t allow any more runs and the offense were supportive in the 5-4 victory against the Angels on May 15. On May 4, he pitched an entire game allowing two runs – one earned – on six hits, striking out a season-high 12 batters and walking just one.

Since becoming a starter for the Rangers, the club has won 30 of 42 starts by Wilson. These 30 wins are the most for any individual pitcher in the Majors since the commencement of the 2010 MLB season. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Wilson has only appeared against the Phils twice and both of those appearances were in relief back in 2008. He got one save in the first game of the series and came in to close for the ninth inning, in which he allowed no runs.

Halladay is 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 73 strikeouts for the 2011 season. The 34-year-old will be seeking some redemption as he has lost his last two starts allowing a combined five runs on 13 hits over 16 innings while striking out 16 and walking four batters. You see, the problem with the Phillies isn’t just the pitching but is also the offense as in four of Halladay’s previous seven starts he has only been supported with two or fewer runs.

Dating back to 2005, Halladay had thrown four complete baseball games against Texas of his previous nine starts. His career ERA against Texas, though, is the highest when compared with any opther team at 5.36. Last year in Interleague play the right-hander went 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA allowing 15 earned runs over 26.2 innings in four starts.

Pitchers vs. Hitters

LHP C.J. Wilson: The Phillies don’t have just a whole lot of experience up against this left-handed pitcher of the Rangers. Raul Ibanez is 2-for-19 with two RBIs, Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco are both 1-for-2 with Polanco with one RBI, Ben Francisco is 0-for-2 and Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-0. Not much to build off here.

RHP Roy Halladay: David Murphy is by far the best out of the Rangers when it comes to hitting against Halladay as he is 4-for-8 with one RBI. However, it is Michael Young who has the most experience as well as four RBIs and is 12-for-43 with a double, a triple, a homer and 12 strikeouts. Chris Davis is 1-for-3 with one RBI, Ian Kinsler is 6-for-19 with one homer and four RBIs and Mike Napoli is 3-for-10 with one homer and two RBIs. In two at-bats a piece, Yorvit Torrealba and Elvis Andrus have been unable to get a hit off Halladay.

A Look at Wilson’s Starts This Year…

Looking at Wilson’s nine starts this season, there is a bit of a pattern although he didn’t receive decisions in all nine starts. The Rangers won the first two games, lost one, won two, lost one, won one, lost one, and won one. If the pattern continues to play out this way then the Rangers are set to lose but the pattern could play out a different way getting two wins in a row. We’ll just have to wait and see…but I do know that the Rangers have the right pitcher on the mound to start things off in Philly.