Not a lot of time to put together anything today, but things should calm down considerably soon.
Great win last night, as Texas put together a six-run 6th inning to beat Tampa Bay 8-4. The Rangers are now 3-1 since their nightmare Anaheim series, and things seem to be really clicking right now. Thank the Lord.
Here's a quick rundown of Monday night's events on the pitching side:
- Brandon McCarthy had a rough start to his night, retiring the side in order in the first but giving up a pair of runs in the second. However, he settled down in a big way after that point, scattering two hits and a walk over four scoreless innings. His fastball was better than it was in his first game in Anaheim, ranging from 91-93 MPH for most of the night. The TV radar gun showed several 97 MPH readings, but I really doubt the validity of those. Anybody who watched the game will agree that it was McCarthy's breaking stuff that stole the show, though. Once he got his 12-to-6 curveball going, it proved to be a virtually untouchable pitch. All in all, a great outing from Brandon in his RBiA debut.
- Kameron Loe had some ridiculous movement on his pitches last night, but still got touched up for two runs in his inning of work. That's not to say it wasn't a solid performance, though: after two quick outs, Loe gave up a groundball single to right, and Carl Crawford cashed in on a mistake pitch with a line drive home run to right field. Kameron gave up a double after that, but that was more the fault of Kenny Lofton misreading a line drive that went over his head. You'd like to see him not give up any runs, but he had great looking stuff and I don't see any reason for concern.
- Scott Feldman and Bruce Chen each pitched perfect innings in the 8th and 9th to hold the 8-4 lead and not make it a save situation. Feldman forced three quick groundball outs, and Bruce Chen had a filthy little curveball working in the 9th that helped him close things out. Very nice, although both of their roster spots are in danger with Jamey Wright and Eric Gagne joining the team this week. I still wish Chen or Loe was the fifth starter, but I'm not going to go into that again.
The Rangers' offense finally cashed in on some big opportunities, going 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position on Monday night. After a ridiculous play from D'Rays third baseman Akinori Iwamura to kill a 3rd inning rally, the Rangers scored a pair in the 4th to tie the game at 2-2. Then, with two outs and no men on in the bottom of the 6th, Texas proceeded to string together six hits and two walks to blow the game open with an 8-2 lead. They wouldn't look back. Everybody in the lineup contributed...well, almost everybody. More on that in a minute.
- Big congratulations to backup catcher Chris Stewart, who picked up his first major league hit at a critical moment: his RBI single to center field put Texas up 4-2 during the 6th inning rally. He threw a ball into center field trying to catch Iwamura stealing in the 2nd inning, but cut him down four innings later when he tried to steal second again. Not a bad performance - I'd rather see him than Rod "Popup" Barajas as the backup catcher. Some comic relief was provided when Matt Kata pretended like he was going to throw the ball from Stewart's first hit into the stands, much to the horror of Ron Washington. Everybody got a good laugh afterwards, though.
- Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler combined to go 7 for 7 on the night, with Kinsler picking up the first four hit game of his career. Two words: absolute dominance. They won't both be batting in the bottom third of the order for long at this pace.
- Sammy Sosa was the only Ranger who failed to reach base, going 0 for 5. I wouldn't be so concerned about Sosa going 0 for 9 in his last two games, except that his swings looked really bad last night. After all the doubts about Sammy still being able to hit major league pitching, that's not something I like to see. Texas can't afford to leave him batting behind Tex if this continues.
There is some good news, though: Ron Washington hinted on Monday that Nelson Cruz may become the everyday right fielder in short order. That would mean Sosa, Brad Wilkerson and Frank Catalanotto competing for two spots - left field and DH. Sosa and Wilkerson would likely split time against right-handers, with Cat getting the other lineup spot. Against left-handers, Cat would likely be out of the lineup, so that leaves Wilkerson in LF and Sosa at DH. Anything that means less Wilkerson and Sosa in the lineup is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.
Jamey Wright will start tonight against Jae Sao at 7:05 PM CST on FSN Southwest. I'll be rooting for Jamey, but I'm not expecting too much. Here's my prediction from earlier today over at the Newberg Report forums of what I think Wright's pitching line will look like tonight:
4.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
Better keep the bullpen on call, Ron.