The Rangers and Giants will probably both be playoff teams, but two other virtual locks for October, the Yankees and Nationals, made them look bad last night.
The Monday Takeaway
According to the playoff odds as of Tuesday morning, the Rangers are virtually certain to (99.5 percent) be dancing in October, and the Giants have more than a puncher’s chance (58.4 percent). Twelve hours earlier, the Yankees and Nationals, respectively, made them look like bona fide pretenders.
In the Bronx, Ryan Dempster retired the first six Yankees he faced, allowing the Rangers offense to build a 2-0 lead. Then, someone moved batting practice to the bottom of the third inning, and Nick Swisher highlighted the five-run session with a four-run missile into the second deck. The grand slam was Swisher’s 200th career home run, but it had nothing on this 441-foot, sixth-inning blast off the bat of Eric Chavez. And, as if those two bombs weren’t enough, Derek Lowe—fresh off the scrap heap and straight into mop-up duty—needed only 44 pitches to cruise through four innings and earn his first save since 2001. A game Texas led 2-0 ended 8-2 the other way, and the Yankees surged a half-game ahead in the race for the American League’s number-one seed.
Yu Darvish is taking a different approach with two strikes than he did toward the start of the season.
One way to look at how a pitcher attacks hitters is to look at what the pitcher throws in two-strike counts. In two-strike counts, pitchers often try to put hitters away with a breaking ball, induce weak contact with a sinker, overpower hitters with an extra-hard fastball, or throw a changeup with a bit of extra screw action.
He's no Josh Hamilton, but Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry might be better than you think he is.
“I’ve got a chance to be a solid everyday player. In years past, I’ve had to scratch and fight just to try and make the team.”—Craig Gentry, February 14, 2012
“That’s what Gentry’s job is, to be a defensive replacement and to play against left-handers. I want to allow him to do his job. … I want him to know what his role is and when that situation [presents] itself, he’s ready to do that.”—Ron Washington, April 29, 2012
The Orioles wrap up a bizarrely historic week with a start from Colby Lewis unlike any we've seen before.
The Orioles have had a bizarrely historic week. On Sunday, 1B/DH Chris Davis picked up the first pitching win by a position player in the American League since Rocky Colavito did it in 1968 against the Boston Red Sox. When the Sox sent Darnell McDonald (another former Oriole) to the mound after him in the top of the 17th inning, it was the first time both teams had used a position player as a reliever since 1925, and it was the first time two position players had gotten a decision since 1902. Until Davis's afternoon, a 0-8, 5K, GIDP day at the plate combined with a pitching win hadn't happened since 1905.
Stadium Tour continues with The Newberg Report in Texas
Baseball Prospectus, The Newberg Report and the Texas Rangers invite you to join us for a great day of baseball on Sunday, June 24 at Rangers Ballpark.Thanks to the fine folks in the Rangers front office, we are proud to be able to offer our guests the following:
While lot of what Jason sees in Arizona doesn't matter, and some of it's just shadows, there's still a lot to report from Surprise.
Day 8: 10:40 PM
It’s late, Patricia, and I’m sorry for not putting fingers to these keys earlier. The sun was magnificent today, like a big, glowing ball of headaches, disorientation, and fire. My eyes starting stinging early, and by noon I realized I was nearing collapse. After the morning workouts and the 1PM game at the big boy stadium–which I will tell you about in a minute–I bypassed a late lunch in order to cool my thoughts in a long shower. I rushed through step three of the showering process because the symptoms of heat stroke were still present and I didn’t feel confident standing in a slippery basin with my eyes closed while negotiating bouts of dizziness. It’s important to avoid cracking your head open.
Day 8: 11:00 PM
I had to drink a glass of flat water with a slice of cucumber gently floating on top. I would have preferred sparkling, but I’ve become particular about my sparkling water and I’m not about to rush into a sloppy water consumption decision just because the selection is limited and my body needs to fight off dehydration. It’s important to stay hydrated, with style when possible. I watched the Royals earlier today, as I tend to do out here in Surprise, and one player in particular caught my eye, as he has every spring since he was drafted. I sat in the scout section behind home plate, allowing the waves of Americana blasting from the stadium P.A. system to crash into my eardrums, waiting to have my eyes opened by a spectacular play or a spectacular player, when from the sky a heroic figure emerged and slowly lowered his human form onto the playing field and picked up a baseball bat. It was Eric Hosmer, and his face was bronze, and his body draped with the cloth of kings, and his skin was wet with the tears of innumerable virgins. His swing was delicious, with a robust finish that was assertive and aggressive, yet tender and passionate.
It might not be first time an international player's age was disputed, but that doesn't mean the case of Jairo Beras is typical.
The news broke this morning, and the firestorm didn't take very long to follow. When it was first reported that the Rangers had signed Dominican outfielder JairoBeras to a $4.5 million contract, the first reaction was confusion; he was generally seen as one of the top prospects, if not the top prospect for the upcoming international signing period that begins on July 2. Teams were not shocked as much as confused about how the deal could be consummated in February.
A look at the changing landscape of the AL West and how the Rangers and Angels are becoming the new Yankees and Red Sox
I touched on this briefly in my first piece back with BP (See “How Television Money and International Sponsorships Allowed the Rangers to Win the Yu Darvish Posting Fee Derby”), but while you weren’t looking, it happened: the AL West became the AL East. No, this has nothing to do with realignment or some West Coast tectonic shift resulting in the “The Big One.” No, this is about an arms race, and we ain’t talkin’ pitchers. It’s what I’ve coined “behavioral spending”—the impact of revenues increasing or decreasing quickly for a club and how it impacts roster construction.
It started, oddly enough, with a bankruptcy—the Texas Rangers’ bankruptcy, to be exact. Back when Tom Hicks owned the club and was floundering in red ink with his holding company Hicks Sports Group, he tried (just as Frank McCourt tried with the Dodgers) to get the league to let him use the media rights for the Rangers as a way to pay down debt. Selig said then (as he said again with McCourt), that the league doesn’t work that way. You can do media deals to advance a club, not to dig it out of a hole you foolishly made.