W2W4: Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Don't look now, but that object getting larger in the Texas Rangers' rearview mirror is the club many figured they'd be battling all season: the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels won their 10th consecutive road game last night, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, to pull within 2.5 games of the Rangers. The Rangers were off last night and have 16 of the next 19 at home, giving them a big opportunity to keep the Angels from getting closer. That starts with a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A few things to watch:
* Offense. The Rangers hit just .251 as a team on the 4-6 road trip, but they finished on a better note. Texas batted .283 in the series at San Francisco and averaged four runs per game. They also hit four home runs (they hit just six the whole trip).
* Arizona comes in a middle-of-the-pack in offense in the National League with 256 runs in 60 games, ninth in the league. The D-backs are hitting .262 as a team and are ninth in stolen bases with 40.
* Much like the offense, the pitching is middle-of-the-pack as well. The Diamondbacks have a 3.96 ERA, ninth in the NL. They have one of the highest opponent batting averages in the league at .263.
* Arizona plays solid defense. It has the second fewest errors in the NL (31) and is tied for the league lead in fielding percentage.
* The Diamondbacks have won five straight and eight of 10 to move to .500 (30-30), eight games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
* Texas is 35-26 overall and 15-11 at home. This is the Rangers' longest stretch of games at home all season with 16 of the next 19. They'll face Arizona, Houston, Colorado, Detroit and Oakland. Only a three-game series in San Diego keeps them from being in Arlington for the remainder of the month.
* Josh Hamilton is always one to watch. He leads the Rangers in nearly every key offensive category. And he's a real monster at home. Hamilton is batting .348 in Arlington with 10 homers and 26 RBIs.
* Rotation. We should get a better idea of the extent of Alexi Ogando's groin strain today and what the Rangers may decide to do in the meantime. Roy Oswalt also pitches tonight in Frisco and we'll update you on how he does.
* We will have chats every day this week but Father's Day. So join us here on the blog as we talk Rangers baseball.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.