ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 28: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers beats the tag by Carlos Pena #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays Ballpark in Arlington on April 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Today is the rubber game of the series. The last regular season series that the Rangers lost? In Tampa, in September, 2011.
Gerry Fraley has his observations from last night's win at the DMN blog.
Richard Durrett has his Rapid Reaction to the game at the ESPN Dallas blog.
After Friday's game, where Matt Harrison gave up 14 hits, Harrison wondered if he had been tipping his pitches. Mike Maddux reviewed the tape and said no, he wasn't tipping his pitches.
At the ESPN Dallas blog, David Stein writes that the Rangers have one of the best defenses in the league, saying that the gloves have been a "pleasant surprise." However, he's using fielding percentage as the judge of the quality of defense, and implies that the Rangers' defense was one of the worst in baseball last year because they were 26th in the majors.
The reality is that the Rangers' defense has been one of the best in the league every year since 2009. If you look at just Defensive Efficiency Rating (percentage of balls in play converted to outs), which eliminates the alleged subjectivity of, say, UZR or +/-, the Rangers were 6th in the majors in 2009, 4th in the majors in 2010, and 2nd in the majors in 2011. They are 10th in the majors this year, so really, if there's a story about the defense so far, it isn't that it is a "pleasant surprise"...rather, it is that it is fallen off a bit from the elite level of last year.
We've made a lot of progress in terms of more sophisticated methods of evaluating performance being used by the mainstream media, but its still frustrating to see a major outlet like ESPN using fielding percentage as the benchmark to determine whether a defense is good or not.
Stein also notes that Colby Lewis has yet to give up a hit with runners in scoring position this season (hitters are 0 for 21 against him with RISP), which helps explain his sub-2 ERA despite a (still very good) 3.32 FIP. If you recall, Kevin Millwood was having great success preventing hits with RISP early in 2009, and there were some who argued that this was because of how he was pitching, and was sustainable. Millwood, of course, could not sustain that success, and struggled badly in the second half of the season, leading to his being dealt.
Lewis is better than Millwood was, but just as with Millwood, we should expect his performance with RISP the rest of the way to be about the same as it is overall, not better.
The S-T has a story on Neil Ramirez, who has gotten off to a strong start (or had, at least, before yesterday's 1 inning outing) at AAA after a poor spring training.
Jim Reeves has a column on offense being down across the league so far this season.
MLB.com's Mike Bauman has a column about the Rangers being in "a league of their own."
Sullivan's notes talk about Nelson Cruz's bad week, Harrison, Darvish, and the re-signing of Justin Miller, who was released earlier in the week.