Here's today's later-than-usual post, with the obligatory song that you've likely never heard:
● Matt Harrison was about as bad as we've seen him all year yesterday (4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR), but his teammates picked him up by pushing their run total into the double digits, and the story that came out after the game was that Harrison pitched with a stomach virus, and required intravenous fluids after the game. The lineup produced at a high level from top to bottom, with Josh Hamilton and Elvis Andrus both turning in especially huge games, and with Nelson Cruz, Geovany Soto, and Mitch Moreland all going yard.
● Ron Washington crowned David Murphy as the Rangers' full-time left fielder for the foreseeable future before yesterday afternoon's game, which, for as long as that arrangement lasts, will likely limit Craig Gentry to pinch-running/defensive sub duties:
“Murphy is going to get the bulk of [playing time] until he proves me wrong,” Washington said.”I’m going on what he is doing right now. When I went to him and told him I planned to play him against lefties, he was hitting and we were struggling. I wanted to get as much offense as possible in the lineup. I’m going to put our best guys out there and not worry about matchup stuff.”
Murphy, for the record, sports a sub-.550 OPS since the beginning of the Royals series. I don't want to come across as denigrating Murphy or his accomplishments, because that isn't my intention (he is definitely enjoying his finest major league season to date), but as far as predictive value is concerned, I'm more inclined to believe in the 550-plus career plate appearances that show he isn't a good hitter against left-handers than the 40-something plate appearances this year where he has torn them from limb to limb (thanks, of course, to an obscene .533 BABIP).
I like Murphy, and I like that he delivered with a double/sac fly off Jon Lester the other night, but I would also like to see Craig Gentry continue to get starting playing time Murphy's platoon partner. That, for the time being at least, doesn't look like it's going to happen, and now I wonder about what it's going to take for Gentry to reclaim his former role; apparently, hitting very well this year -- not to mention sporting a good career triple-slash line vs. southpaws -- and being the best defensive outfielder on the team isn't enough, so I assume the only thing that will shake up this arrangement is Murphy hitting a major slump.
● The other big announcement before yesterday afternoon's game was that Joe Nathan, from this point forward, will only be utilized in save situations, as the Rangers harbor some concerns over his workload to this point in the season, and also got a scare last week when Nathan's shoulder began barking (a cortisone injection has since cleared that up). Nathan responded yesterday by collecting a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth-inning save, and with this new workload-related role restriction, I suppose this is the new status quo -- that is, Nathan appearing exclusively in the top of the ninth inning at home, or in the bottom of the ninth inning (or later) on the road.
● Yorvit Torrealba got launched into the sun yesterday, as the Rangers couldn't find a willing trade partner for the veteran catcher. For their total $6.25 million commitment over two seasons, the Rangers got roughly 600 plate appearances and 162 games of .262/.305/.382-caliber offense, and 1.1 fWAR.
● Mike Napoli (left quad soreness) is expected to return to the lineup on Friday. Mark Lowe (right intercostal strain) is expected to be activated on Friday. Koji Uehara (right lat strain) will hopefully be cleared to throw a bullpen session on Friday.