Really disappointing end to the homestand. Losing five of six -- particularly the last two games, to the struggling Twins, when the Rangers would seem to have a big edge in each of the pitching matchups -- really hurts.
But the Rangers are still in first place. Although Tim Cowlishaw says that the Rangers likely won't be there for long, due to their starting pitching not being as good as their competitors, and the offense not being as dominant as it has been in the past.
Cowlishaw says that Kevin Millwood's ERA needs to drop by "at least a run," although it is worth pointing out that Tuesday's awful outing blew Millwood's ERA up by about a run and a half. Millwood had been doing better than expected up to that point, and I think he'll rebound.
As with the Rangers' slow start to the season, the offense has been the real problem in this latest stretch. In the month of May, Phil Nevin has been horrible, Mark Teixeira is struggling, and Hank Blalock and Kevin Mench have both cooled off. Mark DeRosa, GMJ and Brad Wilkerson have been carrying the team offensively during this time.
The Rangers also have simply gotten some bad breaks in terms of when hits are coming...in May, they have posted a 782 OPS and a .347 OBP, versus a 692 OPS and a .331 OBP for their opponents. Still, the Rangers have been outscored in those 10 games, 53 to 47. That's simply a matter of luck, and hopefully, that will even out over the next few months.
The Nevin situation is the most worrisome to me right now. He has a 381 OPS in the month of May, and after getting off to a pretty decent start, he's now 9 for his last 54, and is hitting .212/.310/.404 for the season against righthanders.
No question, the Nevin-for-MVP bandwagon is up on blocks in a vacant lot in Grand Prairie, next to Randy Galloway's Dee-Dowis-for-Heisman bandwagon. The real question at this point is what the Rangers are going to do about the DH situation.
This offense cannot afford to have a black hole in the #4 slot against righthanders all season. The simplest solution would be to move Blalock to the cleanup slot against righthanders, but given how Blalock handled hitting 4th last year, and how he's hit in the #5 slot this year, my guess is that Buck isn't going to want to fool with that.
But the reality is, the Rangers can't afford to continue to have Nevin DH and hit 4th against righthanded pitching. If they expect to stay in contention, they are going to have to find some way to address this problem.
Jan Hubbard has more on the Lairding of Ian Kinsler:
Buck Showalter said that, if Ian Kinsler continues to be pain-free in Arizona, where he is rehabbing his dislocated left thumb, he could report to Triple A Oklahoma in the next few days. But with Mark DeRosa batting .381, it is doubtful that Kinsler will be a full-time starter at second base.
That makes sense. Because I'm sure Dumpmaster will continue to hit .381 the rest of the way.