Travis Blackley Exudes Will To Win, Actually Wins Baseball Game
By Eric Reining
Piggybacking on journeyman left-hander Travis Blackley, the Ranger offense pumped out 8 runs against the Mariners in route to victory on Monday night.
Blackley, who may best be known for… well, nothing, wound up allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 6.0 innings — on an efficient 71 pitches — which is good for his first quality start since October 2nd of last year, when he allowed 1 run in 6.0 innings against the Rangers. (In fairness to Trav-dawg, before being claimed on waivers by Texas he had spent the entirety of the 2013 season pitching in Houston’s bullpen, also known as baseball purgatory, so it’s not as if he had ample opportunities.)
Nonetheless, Blackley looked sharp, even if it was a complete goddamn surprise.
The Ranger bullpen performed in a very 2013 Ranger-like way, with Neal Cotts (2 Ks, 1 BB), Joakim Soria (1 K, 0 BB) and Tanner Scheppers (1 K, 0 BB) each providing a hitless, shutout frame.
The offense scored 7 runs off Mariners starter and ex-Virginia-Tech left-hander Joe Saunders, which was capped off by a key 7th inning sequence in which Ian Kinsler doubled, Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked, and A.J. Pierzynski hit a 3-run homer, all with two outs.
On the night the Rangers tallied 6 two-out RBI, going 4-10 with runners in scoring position.
On his 25th birthday, Elvis Andrus went 3-5 and is now hitting .261/.322/.312 (71 wRC+) on the season, which — while still relatively abysmal — is a far cry from the .242/.300/.280 (55 wRC+) he produced in the 1st half of 2013. I’m not a strong advocate of Andrus batting out of the 2-hole, because frankly he’s not one of the Rangers’ 4-best hitters, but it’s sure a load off to know his offensive game hasn’t regressed as much as it once appeared.
With Leonys Martin currently shelved with an ankle sprain, Craig Gentry has assumed the role of leadoff hitter, and while I can’t speak of the effect that may have in reality, Craig has been awesome since returning from the disabled list. In 70 plate appearances since July 19th, Gentry is hitting .339/.559/.492 with 6 doubles, 1 HR, 6 SBs, 5 HBP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7:10.
In no small way, Kitten Face has been a nightmare for opposing pitchers, which may be the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. But if I really wanted to blow your mind I would just say, aside Adrian Beltre’s +5.1 fWAR, Craig Gentry is 2nd on the Rangers with +2.2 fWAR. The real kicker, however, is that he’s done it in only 211 plate appearances, while most of his teammates are crossing over into the 500-PA threshold.
I’ve always been a firm Craig Gentry guy, and I know the majority of his production has come against left-handed pitching (.276/.400/.408 [120 wRC+]) as opposed to righties (.228/.315/.316 [73 wRC+]), but there’s just no way around admitting how valuable he is to this team.
Tonight Derek Holland duels against Hisashi Iwakuma in what looks like a 2-1 game on paper.
So expect the Mariners to win 10-3, or something.