Weekly Thoughts

Great offense and pitching leading surge in August

The offense has been the staple of the Texas Rangers for several years now. The pitching staff has been the only aspect holding the team back from making its mark on the AL West throughout the last decade. Last season, the pitching became a strength, and has continued to find success this season. In the last 11 games, the Rangers have been victorious 9 times. During this fantastic, pennant-deserving run, the offense has averaged 6.6 runs/game, while knocking around the opposing pitchers for 10 hits per game. The pitching staff has responded positively to being handed these leads, and has continually tossed quality starts, assured bullpen work, and minimal headaches for Ron Washington. The team ERA over the last week is 3.00. As a team known for their offensive prowess, a team ERA of 3.00 means that they are moving in the right direction. I guess Nolan Ryan has finally convinced the team that pitching wins championships.

Adams, Uehara living up to expectations

Both trade-deadline acquisitions have lived up to their lofty hype since coming over prior to the July 31st deadline. Uehara has secured his spot in the late inning rotation with 3 holds to this point. The crafty righty has had just two hiccups (HR allowed vs Detroit, loss vs. Seattle), but has showed that he, along with the rest of the bullpen, can secure the win and bring the 2nd straight AL-pennant back to Arlington. His fellow Japanese countryman, Hashinori Tateyama, has responded very positively to Uehara being brought to Texas, and has dropped his ERA to 2.62 from 3.47, in just 3 weeks. The two side-slinging relievers are quite the duo. Additionally, Mike Adams has been absolutely brilliant following his first outing with the Rangers. He has compiled 7.1 consecutive scoreless innings, and teams are beginning to think that if they do not capitalize on the Rangers starter’s errors, then a win will not be possible. Ron Washington now has the ability to throw Neftali Feliz 2 days in a row, without worrying about whom will close that 3rd game. He has so many weapons in the bullpen that the military has been inquiring about his ‘pen defending American monuments.

Big 5th inning on Monday vs Angels

Entering the most important series in weeks, the Rangers are glad to be on a tear, but hopeful that it will continue. Holding a 5 game lead in the AL West is good, but knowing that nine more games against the 2nd place Angels remain, nothing is set in stone. Small ball provided the spark in a huge 5th-inning for the Rangers during last night’s game. Elvis Andrus was asked to sacrifice the runners on 1st and 2nd to 2nd and 3rd, bringing the meat of the lineup to the plate with only 1 out. The Angels’ reliever botched the throw to third, leaving all men safe, and bringing a run home. Mr. Clutch, Michael Young, singled the two runners home, followed by Nelson Cruz and Mike “Bombs Away” Napoli homering back-to-back to close out the 6-run inning. While small ball started the inning, the long ball capped the inning in Texas-like fashion. In what seemed like a lost game for the Angels, following starter Garrett Richards’ injury in the 1st, they had kept the game close until the forgetful 5th-inning.

Shannon Stone Statue

A statue will be erected of the late Shannon Stone at the Ballpark in Arlington. Stone, of course, tragically died after falling 20 feet over the outfield fence trying to get his young son a game-used ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton. I think building a statue for a hardworking fan trying to make his child remember the game forever is the right thing to do. Stone represented what most baseball fans are: Hardworking individuals who come out to a ballgame for a night with the family. Too much of baseball, today, is directed at earning revenue and building relationships with corporations in hopes that they will purchase a season-ticket suite package. The typical baseball fan is being spurned by the high prices of tickets, concessions, and parking. A baseball game should be more affordable to attend, less dependent on advertising, and more directed at the fan’s overall game experience. If the current trend continues, the upcoming generation of fans will be far less populated than the current.

Beltre out until September

When the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a monster offseason deal, they knew he came with injury risk. He has produced tremendous numbers for the Rangers this year (when healthy), but he seems to always get injured when the games start to mean the most. With last night’s injury to Nelson Cruz (serious or not), the Rangers may be without two of their biggest bats for a stretch of games vs. the Angels, White Sox, and Red Sox.

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