Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Baltimore Orioles - City Of First Place

For Adam

These poor first place Texas Rangers just can't seem to catch any breaks. Weep for them, my spoiled baseball friends. The Rangers are in a stretch currently where they've played 13 of 16 games against teams that were in first place in their division at the time the Rangers played them. The only time they didn't play a first place team in the last three weeks was when they visited the Toronto concrete to play a Blue Jays team that would qualify for Bud Selig's Special Award For Participation Wild Card Playoffs if the season ended today.

Conversely, the Anaheim Angels, after this week, will have played the terrible Minnesota Twins nine (NINE!) times already with the season just barely a sixth of the way completed. Who are the scheduling wizards that come up with this stuff? The tough, lonesome road of being No. 1 continues this week for Texas. The Rangers will play four more games against a first place team. That team currently has the best record in all of baseball, in fact. That team is the Baltimore Orioles. That team is...wait. What? Baltimore? Best record, you say? This was supposed to be the cakey waltzy portion of the schedule! A time to mosey, really! Curse you, Showalter!

Instead of a leisurely saunter through Baltimore like so many summer's past, the Rangers have to, you know, actually try. And they have to try with 20% of the Orioles roster comprised of players that played in games for the Rangers in seasons the Rangers went to the World Series. Some even suited up for the Rangers in World Series games. These Orioles are even managed by the afore mentioned Buck Showalter who once managed the Rangers to the dizzying heights of coming close to being sort of near winning a division title in 2004.

Darren O'Day was born a Texas Ranger and fan favorite on the same day when he showed up in his Kason Gabbard costume. O'Day O'Day O'Day O'Day O'Day'd for the Rangers in the 2010 World Series. He's a Baltimore Oriole now. Tommy Hunter went to the University of Alabama but we didn't hold that against him--or at least Adam doesn't--because he was jovial with a big red face on the hottest Texas summer days like a svelte southern Santa Claus. Hunter started a World Series game for the Rangers. Imagine how rare a sentence that is. He is a Baltimore Oriole now.

Endy Chavez trolled his way into three games of 2011 World Series. He is a Baltimore Oriole now. Pedro Strop never played in a post season game for the Rangers but he did pitch in 20.1 innings during the 2010 and 2011 seasons while always evoking thoughts of Billy Squier. He is a Baltimore Oriole now. And then there is Chris Davis. CD, the original Beasticon, played in 73 games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons for the Rangers. He is a Baltimore Oriole now with an .869 OPS and more wins as a pitcher this season than Scott Feldman.

The Rangers will just have to continue trying to beat the teams with the best records in the American League. For now, that starts with the team with the best record and a team that is basically the Texas Rangers East Coast Patrol Unit formed from discarded parts of Ranger hope and desire now living charmed in Charm City.

Monday, May 07 6:05: LHP Matt Harrison vs. LHP Brian Matusz

Tuesday, May 08 6:05: RHP Neftali Feliz vs. RHP Jake Arrieta

Wednesday, May 09 6:05: RHP Colby Lewis vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen

Thursday, May 10 6:05: LHP Derek Holland vs. RHP Jason Hammel

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the charmed Baltimore Orioles:

  • Matt Harrison: 3-2, 5.70 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, .346 BABIP, 64.6% LOB, 3.69 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 17 runs allowed in 16.0 innings
  • Brian Matusz: 1-3, 6.00 K/9, 4.67 BB/9, .322 BABIP, 67.0% LOB, 4.63 FIP, 5.30 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 17.1 innings

Advantage: Matt Harrison being The Girl Who Cried Monster over Brian Matusz not being a left-handed Greg Maddux.

  • Neftali Feliz: 1-1, 6.23 K/9, 4.85 BB/9, .194 BABIP, 79.6% LOB, 5.31 FIP, 5.09 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 18.0 innings
  • Jake Arrieta: 2-2 7.75 K/9, 2.11 BB/9, .240 BABIP, 65.9% LOB, 3.38 FIP, 3.37 xFIP, 0.8 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 18.0 innings

Advantage: Jake Arrieta quietly having something of a breakout season so far over who knows what you'll get from Neftali Feliz right now.

  • Colby Lewis: 3-1 7.09 K/9, 1.14 BB/9, .298 BABIP, 88.1% LOB, 3.90 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 19.2 innings
  • Wei-Yin Chen: 2-0 7.06 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, .290 BABIP, 75.9% LOB, 3.51 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 18.1 innings

Advantage: This match-up seems fairly equal in terms of stats but I suspect Wei-Yin Chen will have a first-time-facing-Rangers-while-being-left-handed advantage over Colby Lewis probably giving up a home run to Chris Davis.

  • Derek Holland: 2-2 7.75 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, .281 BABIP, 63.3% LOB, 3.30 FIP, 3.95 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 13 runs allowed in 20.1 innings
  • Jason Hammel: 4-1 8.84 K/9, 2.56 BB/9, .255 BABIP, 82.4% LOB, 2.52 FIP, 2.76 xFIP, 1.3 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 19.2 innings

Advantage: Jason Hammel having a better season so far than Stephen Strasburg, David Price and Roy Halladay over Derek Holland having a pretty good season so far.

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Baltimore Orioles (19-9, 1st Place AL East)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. Baltimore: 5-1

Baltimore's Recent Results: 3-0 series sweep against the Boston Red Sox

Baltimore's Home Record: 8-4 (39-42 in 2011)

Camden Yards Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 118/123 - wOBA: 104/105

SB Nation Orioles Blog: Camden Chat

Match-up: (as of 05/06) Rangers Orioles Advantage
Batting (RAR) 25.4 (2nd) 5.9 (11th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) 0.3 (15th) 1.1 (10th) Orioles
Starters (RAR) 21.0 25.3 Orioles
Bullpen (RAR) 17.3 (1st) 10.4 (5th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 14.0 (2nd) -0.1 (17th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 78.0 42.6 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • If you could have any former Ranger from the Orioles back with Texas who would it be?
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in doubles in this series? (I've got a feeling that David Murphy gets on a hot streak.)
  • Over/Under: 1.5 games played by Adrian Beltre in this series?
  • On scale of 1-10: How likely is it, in your opinion, that the Orioles win a playoff spot this season? (I'm cheating and going with 0.5.)
  • On what date does the clock strike midnight for the Cinderella O's?
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