Monday, June 11, 2012
Week ahead: Arizona, Houston at home
By Richard Durrett
The Rangers return home this week for a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and three more vs. the Houston Astros over the weekend. Here are a few things of note this week:
* Rotation. It's clearly an evolving thing thanks to all of the injuries. Neftali Feliz was the first to go on the disabled list and could be out until the All-Star break. Over the last week, Derek Holland joined him on the disabled list as he tries to put weight back on after losing 15 pounds in 2 1/2 weeks. Now, Alexi Ogando is the latest pitcher to get hurt as he's got a strained groin. We'll get the extent of the injury soon.
* Offense. The club went 4-6 on its latest 10-game road trip through Anaheim, Oakland and San Francisco and hit just .251 as a team in that stretch. They averaged just 3.1 runs per game, more than two fewer than their average. They scored two or fewer runs in six of the 10 games. The team hit into 12 ground-ball double plays and hit just six home runs.
Did the series in San Francisco get them going again? It's possible. Despite scoring just two runs in Saturday's game, the Rangers did win two of three from the Giants and hit .283 and averaged four runs per game. That's an improvement. They hit into just one ground-ball double play and had four homers in the three games. They also did a better job with clutch hits.
* Matt Harrison. He leads the club in wins with eight and has a 3.87 ERA. Harrison isn't flashy. You won't see him racking up a ton of fantasy baseball points. But he keeps his team in games and wins. And he's starting to have that ability to end slumps, which is critical on a contending team. Harrison pitches Wednesday against Arizona.
* Ian Kinsler. The leadoff hitter is the biggest sparkplug on offense and, like the rest of the bats, he struggled on the road trip. Kinsler hit .233 in the 10-game span. But he did have two multi-hit games in San Francisco, including a home run and four RBIs. Is it a sign that he's going to start hitting? Houston could be just what he needs. Kinsler has a career .343 average in 35 games vs. the Astros with nine homers and 19 RBIs.
* Adrian Beltre. The club's cleanup hitter was 8-for-41 (.195) on the road trip, but did finish with a four-game hitting streak (one hit in each of those games). He had no homers on the road and hasn't hit a long ball since May 27 vs. Toronto.
* Fielding. Texas had eight errors during the 4-6 road trip, uncharacteristically booting balls. The Rangers were much more crisp Sunday, but watch this week and see if they can find more consistent play on defense.
* Tickets. If you want to see the Astros, you better get your tickets fast. By last count, there wasn't much for the series, especially Saturday. There are good seats available for the Arizona series.