Depth carrying Rangers in April
By CJ Berryman
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Just hours after a sweet, sweet sweep of those pesky — yes, a lot of times annoying – Oakland Athletics, it is hard not to take a look at the Texas Rangers’ lineup the past couple days and realize just how impressive that feat really is.
Not only did the Rangers sweep the Athletics without the likes of Adrian Beltre, Matt Harrison, Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto – guys who were supposed to be regulars when Spring Training broke – but they lost Shin-Soo Choo on Monday night and Kevin Kouzmanoff on Tuesday night.
Choo went out with an ankle injury that was serious enough for MRI evaluation, the results of which we are all still waiting on, and Kouzmanoff left with back tightness that he himself has declared minor.
The Rangers still managed to scratch out victories on Monday and Tuesday thanks to the likes of Alex Rios, Prince Fielder, Leonys Martin, Michael Choice, Donnie Murphy and Josh Wilson.
And starting pitcher Nick Martinez, who was starting in place of recently-injured Tanner Scheppers, was able to battle for five innings and keep the Rangers in Tuesday night’s game.
Taking two of three against the A’s with this scrap heap of a team would’ve been more than honorable, but those Texas Rangers just couldn’t settle and do what everyone expected them to do.
No, Martin Perez and those scrappy fellas just had to go out there and convincingly shut Oakland out, 3-0, in game three today and sweep those pesky – I’ll say it again, annoying – Athletics.
With Choice leading off the game in left field, Murphy manning second base and Wilson filling in for Kouzmanoff at third base — who was filling in for Beltre — the Texas Rangers stormed into first place in the AL West in convincing fashion.
Perez is now 4-0 this season with an ERA of 1.42. He has held opponents scoreless in 26 consecutive innings.
Those are numbers everyone was expecting one Yu Darvish to put up this early on.
To put the 23-year-old’s 2014 start into perspective, only Toronto’s Mark Buehrle – not David Price, Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright or Lance Lynn — has been able to match what Perez has done this year.
That’s right — of all pitchers in the entire league, no one can match what Buehrle and Perez have done.
And let’s not discount the efforts of the young Choice. He has certainly done his best impersonation of Choo, walking in each of his first two starts in left field.
Oh, that crazy game of baseball.
Kouzmanoff, prior to his back injury, was the American League Player of the Week last week. He started the year in AAA Round Rock and was only called up because the Rangers wanted to be cautious with Beltre’s balky quad.
Wilson likely would have made the team in the spring as the utility infielder, but Murphy is here simply because the Rangers were concerned about their depth at second base.
Since Monday, Murphy has been your full-time second baseman and Wilson has been your full-time third baseman.
If I said, when Spring Training began, that sentence above would occur on Apr. 21, DEFCON 5 would have reached among anyone involved with the Texas Rangers.
But that is the case, and the Rangers now sit at 14-8 on the season with a 1/2 game lead in the AL West.
Yes, it’s very, very early. But it’s hard not to be positive after all the injuries that have occurred to this team since Spring Training began, and you can even go as far back as the winter when Derek Holland’s dog — poor ol’ Wrigley – tripped him down his stairs.
Perhaps Wrigley was upset at not getting many treats or enough playtime, but Texas Rangers’ fans have been enjoying very surprising playtime and winning treats as of late.
The depth of the Texas Rangers is keeping them alive, but just wait until May and June.
The Rangers should be getting healthy, and the treats are sure to be plentiful.