We've hit that strange nexus in the schedule where the Rangers play one final non-American League West league opponent before finishing the season with nothing but inter-divisional series. So, this is basically the final opportunity for the rest of the American League to get all Hulk'd out at the thought of beating the Champions of their league before the playoffs.
If the ol' "hunters becoming the hunted" saying in sports is in any way true, then the Rangers have been getting everyone's best shot every day. With these three games to go, the Rangers have gone 44-40 against the American League (not counting their 30-15 record against their own in the West) this season. That breaks down to 22-22 against the AL East and 22-18 against the AL Central. Conversely, the nearest competitor to take the Rangers entrance into the tournament to defend their AL title, the Angels, have gone 18-19 against the East, 25-18 against the Central, and are strangely under .500 against the AL West having gone 24-25.
As for these Indians, the Rangers have gone 6-1 against them with the only loss coming in a pre-Bengie Molina talk Neftali Feliz blown save back in early August. In that wild series against the Indians, the Rangers were in a string of games where they thought it was cute to spot their opponent several runs before storming back in the late innings.
The Rangers tied the first game in that series, in what would become one of the signature wins of the season, after trailing 7-3 into the 4th, on a two-out 9th inning two-run home run by Michael Young off of Indian closer Chris Perez. The winner came on an infield single by Josh Hamilton that scored Elvis Andrus from second base in the 11th inning. In the second game of the series, the aforementioned Feliz blown save happened only after the Rangers scored four runs in the bottom of the 7th after trailing 3-0. And in the finale of that series, Josh Tomlin was wearing the Rangers out Brett Cecil style before the offense magically turned it on and scored five runs in the bottom of the 8th after trailing 3-0 once again. This time, Mike Adams got the save and the Rangers won the series.
A couple of days later, Molina came to collect his AL Champions ring, stopped to tell Feliz to throw some damn breaking balls, and bounded off the parts unknown as Feliz then began to pitch his best baseball of the season ever since. When/if something truly special starts to happen around a month from now, I'll keep that August series against the Indians in the back of my mind but I'll never forget Bengie Molina; the closer whisperer.
For more on available tickets for this series, visit the LSB/TiqIQ page.
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League:
- Justin Masterson: 11-9, 6.69 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, .302 BABIP, 72.9% LOB, 2.93 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, 5.4 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
- Matt Harrison: 11-9, 6.00 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, .293 BABIP, 71.6% LOB, 3.62 FIP, 3.91 xFIP, 3.3 WAR - Last three appearances: 9 runs allowed in 14.0 innings
Advantage: Justin Masterson being a top 10 starter in the American League this season over Matt Harrison being a rung below Masterson
- David Huff: 2-4, 6.34 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, .246 BABIP, 71.1% LOB, 3.65 FIP, 4.64 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
- Derek Holland: 13-5, 7.14 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, .314 BABIP, 70.8% LOB, 3.85 FIP, 3.81 xFIP, 3.2 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 20.1 innings
Advantage: Derek Holland coming on strong in September over David Huff having seven starts this season
- Fausto Carmona: 6-14, 5.28 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, .290 BABIP, 62.0% LOB, 4.52 FIP, 4.12 xFIP, 1.3 WAR - Last three starts: 13 runs allowed in 12.2 innings
- Alexi Ogando: 12-8, 6.69 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, .272 BABIP, 70.5% LOB, 3.74 FIP, 3.97 xFIP, 3.0 WAR - Last three appearances: 6 runs allowed in 8.2 innings
Advantage: No one
Cleveland Indians (72-72, 3rd Place AL Central)
Rangers 2011 Record vs. Cleveland: 6-1 (2-1 at Rangers Ballpark)
Cleveland's Recent Results: 2-2 Series split vs the Chicago White Sox
Cleveland's Road Record: 33-39
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 119/114 - wOBA: 103/107
SB Nation Indians Blog: Let's Go Tribe
Match-up: (as of 9/13)
Base Running (RAR)
Overall RAR + UZR
Questions to Answer:
- What odds would you have placed on Jack Hannahan having a more productive 2011 season than Shin-Soo Choo before the season?
- Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in hits in this series? (I'm going with the heroic Mike Napoli.)
- Over/Under: 4.1 innings pitched by Alexi Ogando in this series?
- Over/Under: 4.1 innings pitched by Fausto Carmona in this series?
- Yay or Nay: Derek Holland finally puts together a third straight excellent start?