For the first time this year, the Rangers are on a roll.
Texas crushed Houston 11-3 tonight for their 3rd win in a row, and their 6th win in eight games. In addition, the Rangers now lead the season series 3-1 over the Astros, and have virtually locked up the prestigious Silver Boot trophy, which goes annually to the winner of the season series. The series tiebreaker for the Silver Boot is run differential, and Texas leads in that department by a ridiculous 33-14 margin.
Well, okay, so it's not really that prestigious, but it's something.
Kevin Millwood put together a second consecutive solid start, giving up three runs on nine hits and no walks in six innings of work. He only struck out two, quite a dropoff from his 10 strikeout performance last Sunday in Cincinnati, but no walks is really nice to see. Millwood gave up a first inning solo shot to Lance Berkman, and gave up two runs on three straight hits to begin the 5th inning, but he pitched very well otherwise.
And tonight, the offense picked up Millwood. After the Astros took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 5th inning, the Rangers responded with eight runs in the bottom half of the frame to put the game on ice. Michael Young (who is now hitting over .290 for the first time this season) began the rally with a leadoff single, and Sammy Sosa followed with his 601st career home run, a ball which just barely carried beyond the outstretched glove of right fielder Luke Scott into the "Bermuda Triangle" wedge in the right field corner.
Marlon Byrd stepped up next, and proceeded to hit the 6th longest home run in RBiA history, a monstrous blast that traveled 449 feet to the back of the visitors' bullpen in left center field. Texas would go on to bat around in the inning, with Brad Wilkerson clubbing a two run homer of his own, Michael Young drawing a bases loaded walk, and Sammy Sosa hitting a two run single to right field for his 3rd and 4th RBIs of the inning.
By the time it was all said and done, Texas led 10-3, and even the Astros had to know they were done for the night.
The Rangers are now 10-9 in June, and their three game winning streak matches a season high, set when they swept Toronto May 4-6. Not only that, but Texas is 7-5 with Mark Teixeira on the disabled list. Now, given Mark's sparkling .302/.405/.554 line on the year, I doubt this is anything more than a total coincidence combined with the fact that Texas is playing some pretty lousy National League teams, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Sammy Sosa is now on pace for one of the most odd seasons, statistically speaking, that I've seen in a long time: ESPN's projected numbers on Sosa have him hitting .247/.307/.473 with 31 HR and 138 RBI in 577 AB this year.
Kevin Sherrington of the DMN has a piece out on Sammy, with Sosa apparently being insulted by the notion of being traded; he wants to finish his career here. I still find it very unlikely he's here next season, and I want to see the Jason Botts era begin as much as the next guy, but I'm going to really miss Sammy when he leaves. I've liked him as a player ever since he was on the Cubs, even through the corking incident and the steroids allegations; if that makes me less of a baseball fan, so be it.
First round draft pick Blake Beaven is reportedly not close to signing with the Rangers, and is threatening to go to Navarro College in Corsicana if a contract can't be reached. This seems like nothing more than a bargaining tactic, and I'd be stunned if Texas didn't come to an agreement with Beaven.
On a related note, Carlos Gomez of The Hardball Times doesn't like Beaven's mechanics, and feels he was a poor choice at pick #17. It's common knowledge that Beaven needs some mechanical adjustments, but Beaven was widely considered a low-mid first round talent coming into the draft, and I don't think I buy into the theory that he was taken too high.
BTiA favorite Matt Kata has been signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and assigned to their Triple-A affiliate.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes that the Tigers are unlikely to trade for either Aki Otsuka or Eric Gagne, and that the Jon Daniels extension "stunned" many in the industry, with some rival executives wondering whether John Hart could assume a greater role in the organization. Don't count on it.
It's been an incredibly strange 24 hours for former A's outfielder Milton Bradley, who was designated for assignment on Thursday by Oakland. After Rosenthal wrote that the Rangers could be a possible destination for Bradley due to the Ron Washington connection, Bradley was traded to the Royals on Friday for relief pitcher Leo Nunez.
Before the trade could consummated, however, the Royals learned that Bradley suffered an oblique strain in his final game with the A's on Wednesday, and voided the deal. This apparently came as news to Oakland, who had no knowledge of the injury when they DFAed him a day later.
Needless to say, this really hurts any trade value he might have, as the A's have 10 days to trade Bradley, try to get him through waivers, or release him. I find it entirely possible he's exaggerating the injury, if he has one at all, in order to gain his free agency and hand pick his next team. One thing is for sure: Billy Beane must be absolutely furious.
Jamey Wright will face off against Roy Oswalt on Saturday.
In other words, that winning streak sure was nice while it lasted.
Saturday, June 23rd Game Preview
Houston Astros (31-42) at Texas Rangers (29-44)
Roy Oswalt (7-4, 3.51 ERA) vs. Jamey Wright (0-1, 10.57 ERA)
2:55 PM CST in Arlington, Texas (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)
TV: KDFW Ch. 4 | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM