Texas keeps on rolling.
The Rangers defeated the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, 9-8, and the hated Athletics on Thursday, 7-6. They're now 5-2 on the spring.
A few highlights from the last two days:
- Sammy Sosa has gone 4 for 6 between both games, with two runs scored and three runs batted in, courtesy of a three run HR off Livan Hernandez on Wednesday. Botts only played on Thursday, but went 2 for 2 with a run scored and driven in. Since it's painfully obvious by now that Sammy's going to make the Opening Day roster, I suppose the best we can all hope for now is that he tears the cover off the ball once the regular season begins. Either that, or a disastrous collapse that forces him off the roster in short order. The absolute worst thing that could happen is Sosa starting strong and then falling off, choking the lineup with his mediocrity for an extended period of time until Daniels does something about it. See also: Phil Nevin, circa 2006.
- John Koronka bounced back in brilliant fashion in his start on Wednesday, pitching three no-hit shutout innings. He's still a long shot to make the rotation, but if recent history is anything to go off of, he'll probably end up making at least one start in the majors this year. Padilla got shelled on Thursday, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in his three innings of work.
- Nelson Cruz was sidelined on Thursday with shin splints, but managed to club a two run triple in a pinch hit appearance. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this guy.
- Ron Washington has pretty much set his rotation - well, for the outfield at least. Washington plans to use a combination of Kenny Lofton, Brad Wilkerson, Frank Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz and Sammy Sosa in a rotation this season.
- Speaking of Wash, Detroit manager Jim Leyland has invited Ron to coach third base in the 2007 All-Star game. Washington has accepted.
- The bullpen situation is beginning to become a little bit more clear. According to Evan Grant, Feldman has been the sharpest reliever in camp, and Benoit has been dominant thus far, which probably makes them the last two pitchers to join Aki Otsuka, Eric Gagne, Wes Littleton, Ron Mahay and C.J. Wilson. Apparently, baseball's new rule change that shortens the amount of time the pitcher has to deliver the ball from 20 seconds to 12 seconds has had a good effect on Benoit, who's notorious for taking his time on the mound. Frankie Francisco appears to be headed for AAA to start the season to work on his command, and Bauer's likely to be traded.
- The Gary Matthews Jr. situation is starting to get very, very nasty. According to today's L.A. Times, the Angels and Major League Baseball have discussed at least four ways of disciplining the center fielder unless he publicly addresses the HGH allegations surrounding him: suspending him with pay, suspending him without pay, converting his contract to a non-guaranteed one, or voiding his contract completely. Given that HGH was not a banned MLB substance in 2004, when Matthews allegedly received it, I seriously doubt the Angels can void his deal, but the organization could probably suspend him. In any event, an MLBPA/Angels showdown appears to be on the horizon, and it is not going to be pretty.
Brandon McCarthy makes the start today for the Rangers, who face the Chicago Cubs at 2:05 CST.