Texas 4, Twins 1
- In the middle of April last year, I was mocking all the people who had been raving about how good Matt Harrison's stuff looked early in spring training, and was thinking the only question was whether Tommy Hunter or Scott Feldman would be the pitcher to replace Harrison in the rotation. I thought that Harrison was never going to have the consistency or the fortitude to be a successful major league starter, and that his inability to have his stuff translate to swings and misses was a fatal flaw. Instead, since Harrison seemingly turned a corner early last year, we've seen a guy who seems reminiscent of Andy Pettitte...not a lot of strikeouts, a few more walks than you'd like, but a lot of ground balls and the ability to get enough double plays to keep him out of trouble. Not an ace, but a solid #3 on a championship contender. And tonight was a perfect example of that...not overpowering, but throwing strikes (74 out of 112 pitches), pitching to contact (just 4 Ks and 2 walks), and getting ground balls in a very workmanlike performance.
- Elvis lives! Elvis Andrus came into the game with game with three hits all season. He doubled that total today, picking up 3 of the team's 9 hits on the day, raising his average all the way to .214.
- Nelson Cruz is continuing to struggle. Mitch Moreland is continuing to struggle. Mike Napoli is continuing to struggle. Cruz, Moreland, Napoli, and Adrian Beltre, none of whom are hitting better than .233 on the season, combined to go 2 for 16.
- Craig Gentry came into the game as a defensive replacement yet again tonight. He's now appeared in 7 of the Rangers' 8 games, and has fewer plate appearances (5) than he has games played.
- The Rangers are saying that Alexi Ogando pitched the ninth, instead of Joe Nathan, because the Rangers wanted to give Nathan two days off in a row. That's not unreasonable, but it makes me wonder why you'd want to commit to a guy as your capital-C "Closer" when he needs that much rest, and when there are questions about his ability to pitch on back-to-back days.
- Ogando and Mike Adams have now each pitched in five of the Rangers' first eight games. That's largely a product of the Rangers being either tied or ahead late in every game this season, generally without a huge lead, and Ogando and Adams being the key late inning pitchers. But that's also an unsustainable pace, an over 100 appearance pace, and Ron Washington and Mike Maddux are going to have to start using Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara more often, or risk burning Ogando and Adams out.
- Ogando hit a guy tonight. That means the bullpen now has as many HBPs (1) as it does walks (1) so far this season.
- Seeing Sean Burroughs pinch hit tonight for the Twins was very weird. Burroughs is, in my mind, forever linked with Hank Blalock. Burroughs and Blalock are both from baseball families -- Burroughs' dad is former Ranger and AL MVP Jeff Burroughs, Blalock's dad is a coach. They were two months apart in age. Burroughs was a first round pick in 1998, Blalock a third round pick in 1999. Burroughs was in Baseball America's top 10 prospects three times, including being ranked #4 in 2002, one spot behind Blalock, who was BA's #3 prospect in 2002. Burroughs, like Blalock, was viewed as a high-average, line-drive hitter, but he never really hit in the majors, and ended up getting dealt to Tampa Bay for Dewon Brazelton, another disappointing prospect, before the 2006 season. Burroughs played 8 games in the majors and 34 in the minors in 2006 and 4 games in the minors in 2007. He didn't play from 2008-10. And yet, he came back to baseball last year, was called up by the Diamondbacks, played a role for them off the bench, and now has a job with the Twins as a bench player. No one would have expected four, five, six years ago that, at this point, Sean Burroughs would be a major leaguer while Hank Blalock would be out of baseball. Its a funny game.