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Series Preview: The Arlington Rangers @ Arlington's Vernon Wells

The Rangers are making a short three game sojourn to Toronto this weekend to face off against a good Blue Jays team before coming right back home for a set against the Angels. It seems strange to me to schedule a series in another country that is sandwiched between AL West battles in Texas. I assume the MLB schedulers just thought Michael Young would be missing his buddy Vernon Wells by now.

Friday, May 14 6:07: RHP Rich "Dreamboat" Harden vs. LHP Brett Cecil

Saturday, May 15 12:07: RHP Scott Feldman vs. LHP Ricky Romero

Sunday, May 16 12:07: RHP Colby Lewis vs. RHP Brandon Morrow

With the Canadiens improbably in the NHL Eastern Conference Finals will Toronto put their rivalry with Montreal on ice long enough to get excited about hockey or will they notice instead that their baseball team is pretty good this year? If not for the fact that Tampa Bay is loaded with talent at pretty much every position and that the Yankees have paid for talent at every position, the Blue Jays would seem like more of a burgeoning story. Instead, they have played themselves into the "Too bad you play in the AL East" position the third best team of that division seems to face each year.

The Jays are getting solid starting pitching, currently have a surprisingly outstanding bullpen, and are sporting above average defense. Offensively, the Jays are being carried at the moment by players they likely weren't expecting to contribute as much as they have so far. John Buck is walking about 2% of his at-bats but that's because he's swing for the fences. Buck is sporting a .340 ISO and a 22% Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio. Alex Gonzalez is tied for second in the American League in home runs, and Vernon Wells is playing like someone embarrassed that he's getting paid $16 million dollars should play. Wells is currently 3rd in baseball in RAR (sneaking in just ahead of Marlon Byrd.).

The Rangers get some good news in the form of Nelson Cruz coming off the D.L. The team weathered the loss of their best position player by going 12-4 without Cruz as the offense began to heat up a little. With Cruz in the lineup, the Rangers will essentially have what can be considered their optimal lineup (not counting the debacle at catcher) for the first time all year with both Kinsler and Cruz on the field at the same time. If Cruz can keep doing what he was doing before he got hurt, and the rest of the offense continues to improve, the offense might become less and less of a problem as the year goes by.

Rich Harden take the mound in the opener. He'll have the advantage of playing in his home country where presumably the maple syrup and Labatt's will be to his liking. The Rogers Centre is a pretty neutral park and the Jays strike out more than any other team in the AL while taking only the 9th most walks. Toronto swings more than any team and they make the least amount of contact of any team in the AL. You would hope in that scenario that Harden could give you a solid game. If he can avoid the home run ball, something he is prone to allowing, and something the Blue Jays lead baseball in producing, he should be OK.

Feldman follows after Harden and you'd hope to see the Feldman of even 2008 at this point. However, if Harden goes 4 1/2 innings and Feldman has another game where he doesn't have it, with noticeably slow velocity, you have to wonder if the team will try to split those two up so they aren't pitching back to back and gassing the bullpen every five days.


Toronto Blue Jays (20-16, 3rd place AL East)

Rangers' 2010 Record vs. Toronto: 1-2 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

Toronto's Recent Results: 1-2 Series loss against the Boston Red Sox

SBN Blue Jays' Blog: Bluebird Banter

     Match-up: (as of 5/13)


  Blue Jays















Blue Jays







Blue Jays

Overall RAR



Blue Jays

Defense Runs Saved



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Questions to Ponder:

  • Will Scott Feldman throw a pitch faster than 88 MPH?
  • Does Alex Gonzalez realize that he is neither Alex Rodriguez nor Juan Gonzalez?
  • Will Darren O'Day have to wear a Kason Gabbard jersey when he pitches in Toronto?
  • Will Justin Smoak get more than one hit in a game?
  • Will Michael Young and Vernon Wells finally consummate the relationship?