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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Minnesota Twins - Roadshow

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How quaint
How quaint

It's been said in baseball that if you win two of three at home and go .500 on the road, you will more than likely contend for a playoff spot. That's the recipe the Rangers used in three of the five times they've made the postseason. In 1996 the Rangers went 40-41 away from the ballpark. In 1998 the Rangers matched that 40-41 road record. In 2010, they went 39-42 on the road, including an 0-12 record at the other three playoff team's home ballparks. That under .500 record prompted everyone to believe the American League would make short work of the Rangers that year. Whoops.

The fact of the matter is, even when the Rangers have been a good team, they've never really been great on the road. Part of that reason is because it takes a special team to really be great on the road. Teams are better at home than on the road as a general rule. Pitchers are more comfortable on their home mound. Players are used to the peculiarities of their home park. And let's face it, with the Rangers, they've been built to succeed better at their home ballpark by way of roster construction for most the Ballpark in Arlington years. Just the fact that you get to bat last at home already helps tilt the game in your favor slightly.

Rarely have the Rangers been a special team. In 1999, the Rangers went 44-37 on the road. It's no wonder then that the 2011 Rangers broke the '99 team's total victory mark by finishing an identical 44-37 on the road. The best the Rangers have ever been on the road was in 1977 when they went 50-31 away from Arlington Stadium but Arlington Stadium was a much different kind of home back then. The Rangers probably won't break the '77 record for road wins this season, but to make it back to the playoffs, they won't have to.

Target Field thoughts:

Target Field is probably second only to Comerica Field in terms of "house of horror" for the Rangers. While the Rangers have done some work to exorcise those demons in Detroit, they own an all-time 1-9 record at Target Field. It is way up there on the built-to-beat-the-Texas Rangers scale. The place suppresses power which eliminates the Rangers' ability to put runs on the board via the home run. So far this season, 18 of the Rangers' 31 runs have come via the home run. That's a tick over half. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just easier to do that in Arlington.

Think of how important Nelson Cruz's three-run game-tying home run against the Mariners was on Monday as Yu Darvish was beginning to find a groove and Paul Nauert was being terrible. That's less likely to happen at Target Field. Plus, it's also cold and seemingly miserable. And they eat cod on sticks there. Weird.

Friday, April 13 7:10: LHP Matt Harrison vs. RHP Anthony Swarzak

Saturday, April 14 12:10: RHP Yu Darvish vs. RHP Nick Blackburn

Sunday, April 15 1:10: RHP Neftali Feliz vs. RHP Liam Hendriks

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the pesky home team Minnesota Twins:

  • Matt Harrison: 1-0, 4.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .211 BABIP, 100.0% LOB, 2.79 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, 0.2 WAR
  • Anthony Swarzak: 0-1, 1.80 K/9, 3.60 BB/9, .176 BABIP, 100.0% LOB, 6.19 FIP, 6.07 xFIP, -0.1 WAR

Advantage: Matt Harrison over I don't even know who Anthony Swarzak is.

  • Yu Darvish: 1-0, 7.94 K/9, 6.35 BB/9, .400 BABIP, 61.5% LOB, 3.68 FIP, 5.14 xFIP, 0.1 WAR
  • Nick Blackburn: 0-1 4.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .238 BABIP, 28.6% LOB, 2.79 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 0.1 WAR

Advantage: Yu Darvish over I do know who Nick Blackburn is.

  • Neftali Feliz: 1-0, 5.14 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, .200 BABIP, 100.0% LOB, 2.51 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, 0.2 WAR
  • Liam Hendriks: NO 2012 STATS (0.3 WAR in four starts in 2011)

Advantage: Neftali Feliz over Liam Hendriks being the Australian Jason Marquis.


Minnesota Twins (2-4, 4th Place AL Central)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. Minnesota: 3-5

Minnesota's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the Anaheim Angels

Minnesota's Home Record: 2-1 (33-48 in 2011)

Target Field Park Factors (last season) (LHB/RHB): HR: 91/95 - wOBA: 100/100

SB Nation Twins Blog: Twinkie Town

Match-up: (as of 04/12) Rangers Twins Advantage
Batting (RAR) 2.7 (10th) -6.7 (28th) Rangers (?)
Base Running (RAR) NO DATA NO DATA ?
Starters (RAR) 4.0 0.4 Rangers (?)
Bullpen (RAR) 5.1 (3rd) 0.4 (14th) Rangers (?)
Overall (UZR + RAR) 11.8 -5.9 Rangers (?)

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale between 1-10, how awesome is it that the Rangers' No. 1 & 2 starters won't pitch in this series but they still get to send Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, and Neftali Feliz to the mound?
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in relief innings in this series? (I'm hoping to see some more Robbie Ross.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 home runs hit by Texas Rangers at Target Field in this series?
  • On what date does Mike Adams take over the closer role from Joe Nathan?
  • Can you name three members of the Twins' bullpen?