Coming into the 2012 season, the Texas Rangers were anointed the World Series favorites. After an incredible start to the season, the “best team in recent memory” talk started up. The Rangers were a juggernaut, sporting an incredibly balanced & powerful lineup, strong defense, and an underrated pitching staff. The Rangers finished April with a 17-6 record, jumping out to large division lead they held until the final day of the season (lol).
This year’s edition of the Rangers is different. Gone is Josh Hamilton, the preternaturally talented center fielder. Also gone is franchise heart and soul, the driving force behind the Rangers for years, Michael Young. Valuable swingman Scott Feldman bolted as a free agent, relief ace Koji Uehara and first baseman/DH Mike Napoli both signed with the Red Sox.
The Rangers came into 2013 with a much different look. They lost their martyr and their captain, opting for a defensively-minded center field platoon and a veteran DH in the oft-injured Lance Berkman. They signed 36-year old catcher A.J. Pierzynski fresh off a career year. They started Matt Harrison on Opening Day, though he’s only made one more start this season since the lid-lifter.
A rebuilding year for the Rangers? Hardly. If Yu Darvish and the Rangers can beat the White Sox tomorrow night, they’ll finish April 2013 with a 17-9 record. Much worse than last year. Wait, what?
Powered by incredible starts from Yu Darvish, Ian Kinsler, and Lance Berkman, the Texas Rangers are just behind the blazing start from a year ago. The Rangers strong record reflects their tremendous run prevention as a squad, as lineup stalwarts Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and even the great Adrian Beltre are all scuffling to begin the year. Mitch Moreland remains Mitch Moreland yet the offense presses on, unbowed.
The Rangers enviable pitching depth is the real hero of 2013, as not only Darvish and Derek Holland but Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch and Alexi Ogando are carrying the team through the first month. The bullpen, anchored by Joe Nathan, looks great as well – provided Derek Lowe is used properly aka rarely.
We’ve seen this movie before with the Rangers. Hot starts from a group of free swingers which tends to wilt in the Texas heat as the summer presses on. This smartly-built team with the top prospect in baseball knocking on the door looks to reverse the last three years of ugly finishes to very promising seasons. They have the talent, maybe a midsummer blood transfusion will push them back into the World Series? (That’s Profar. Profar is their blood. Weird simile, bro.)
The End of Orioles Magic
Two straight extra innings losses? One on a throwing error by their very sure-handed third baseman/future franchise cornerstone shortstop Manny Machado? Orioles magic is officially a thing of the past.
Poor Baltimore, now they have to rely on their group of good players and strong farm system instead of witchcraft and the dark Showalter arts. Too bad, welcome to the 99%, OrioLOLes.
Game Chart of the Week
From the very same game shown above, never a dull moment in Oakland. Welcome back, Yoenis!
Odd times in the Monastery
The San Diego Padres aren’t a very good baseball team. They have just nine wins this season against 15 losses. They don’t figure to compete in the NL West in 2013, thanks to injuries and too many bad players getting too much playing time.
If moral victories counted for anything, the Padres would feel pretty good about their 2013 season thus far. Of their nine wins, six came against the Dodgers and Giants. In two series!
The Padres swept the Dodgers at home two weeks back, battering Clayton Kershaw around the yard and generally having their way with the very wealthy neighbors up the coast. Then came this weekend. Losers of five of their previous six games, the Padres promptly swept the defending World Series champions from San Francisco at home.
The Padres got a terrific starting pitching on Friday night, eked out a bizarre extra innings win on Saturday and beat up on a struggling Ryan Vogelsong yesterday to complete the brooming. Moral victories don’t count for much but when you see scenes like the one depicted below, it has to feel extra special for Padres fans.
That is a shot from Friday night’s game between Tim Lincecum and Andrew Cashner. Remember: this game took place in San Diego, some 500 miles from the home of the Giants. All those yellow circles indicate a Giants hat, sitting in the good seats behind the visitors dugout.
Godspeed to those season ticket holders who wish to bankroll their year’s worth of tickets by selling to the Giants rabid fanbase at a tidy premium. So long as you can tolerate your home stadium turning into an orange and black party, you do what you gotta do.
Giancarlo Stanton Roars to Life
He’s back. Never in doubt, right very nervous fantasy owners? Giancarlo Stanton had himself a weekend at the expense of Cubs pitching, homering three times and generally asserting himself as we have come to expect of Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton’s outburst represents 25% of the Marlins homer total on the season. He’s good again, everything is as it should be.
The job of a sideline reporter is a difficult one. This gatorade bath was the second in two days for intrepid Nats reporter Julie Alexandria. It’s hard out there for an expensive haircut.
Round and Round
Break up the Pirates! Tony Cingrani, pretty good! The Yankees reanimation powers are scary and will be the downfall of our society. Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 BARVES on Friday night, which would be much more impressive if it weren’t the strikeout prone BARVES. Troy Tulowitzki left the Rockies game on Sunday with a left shoulder strain because the universe hates you and wants you to be unhappy.