Well, two out of three ain't bad.
After a horrible season opening series in Anaheim, Texas seems to be getting things back on track, as they took 2 out of 3 in their weekend series against Boston.
Saturday's game was definitely the Rangers' best performance of the year to date, as they won 8-4 in perhaps the coldest home game in franchise history. It was 38 degrees at first pitch, but that didn't stop the bats from warming up to the tune of 14 hits. Kevin Millwood pieced together a 6 inning, 3 run quality start and the bullpen delivered three solid innings to close out Boston.
Of course, the huge story was Sammy Sosa hitting his first home run of the season, a 409 foot shot to left center field beyond the glove of the leaping Coco Crisp. It was his second home run as a Ranger, with the first coming on June 21st, 1989. I've been ragging on Sammy pretty hard for a while, but that was a really special moment to see.
Things didn't go quite as well on Sunday though, with Texas losing the series finale 3-2 on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Here's a quick rundown of the game in a segment I like to call "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
- Vicente Padilla threw seven quality innings, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out four. All three runs were courtesy of David Ortiz, as he launched a solo home run in the first inning and a two run shot in the third. Nonetheless, it was a very encouraging start, especially after his tough spring and poor first start in Anaheim. Padilla's stuff looked excellent (other than the pitches he grooved to Big Papi), as he worked in the mid-90's with his usual filthy breaking stuff. Needless to say, my worries about Padilla possibly being injured have lessened considerably.
- The bullpen seems to be really coming together, just as I hoped it would. C.J. Wilson looked excellent in his 1 1/3 scoreless innings; Aki was a bit shaky, giving up a pair of singles, but got the Rangers into the bottom of the 9th with no damage done.
- Frank the Cat replied to Ortiz's first inning shot with one of his own, snaking a Curt Schilling changeup around the right field foul pole in the bottom half of the frame. It was his first hit in 11 at-bats this year.
- Kenny Lofton's beautiful bunt in the bottom of the 8th inning to load the bases with nobody out. It was only intended as a sacrifice, with men on first and second, but the Red Sox defense was thrown completely off balance. Texas was down 3-1 at the time, so the stage was set to at least tie the game and hopefully take a lead.
- Texas's inability to cash in on their big rally. Nelson Cruz pinch hit for Catalanotto and scorched a Javier Lopez pitch off Youkilis's glove at first, robbing Cruz of extra bases. Lofton was cut down at second, but the Rangers scored on the play, leaving runners at first and third with one out and the Rangers down 3-2. Unfortunately, Terry Francona brought Jonathan Papelbon in for a five out save opportunity. He promptly blew Mike Young away on strikes and forced Teixeira to pop out. What a buzzkill.
- Speaking of Tex, he went 0 for 4 on the night, and is now hitting .211. That's not particularly concerning, but the fact he's failed to pick up an extra base hit yet is. The Rangers can't afford another mediocre first half out of Tex.
- Sammy Sosa, Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson looked about as overmatched by Papelbon in the 9th inning as I've seen any hitter look in a long time. It was pretty obvious none of them had the slightest idea what was coming. Papelbon's a great pitcher, but come on...
- Jon Miller and Joe Morgan's commentary. Enough said. Also, all the Red Sox "fans" at the Temple. I wonder how many of them existed before 2004?
Still, it's hard to rag on Texas after a nice series win against one of the better teams in the American League. They may be sitting at 2-4, but things look much better than they did four days ago. And with Tampa Bay coming to town for a three game set, hopefully the Rangers can move a bit closer to the .500 mark - or surpass it.
Brandon McCarthy will face Edwin Jackson Monday night at 7:05 PM CST. You can find it on KDFI/My27 - although that may not be the case for some, including myself, as numerous blackout issues have been reported regarding KDFI games in markets outside of Dallas/Fort Worth. Not to name names, but it sounds like Time Warner and Suddenlink are the biggest offenders.
I've got a very stressful week coming up, so Chip will likely take the reins for several days.
Hopefully he'll be writing about some Rangers wins.