Friday, September 20, 2013
W2W4: Rangers at Royals
By Todd Wills
Texas Rangers (83-69, 2nd place/AL West) vs. Kansas City Royals (80-72, 3rd place/AL Central)
Friday: LHP Martin Perez (9-5, 3.64) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (9-9, 3.23), 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Matt Garza (9-6, 4.06) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (14-11, 4.08), 6:10 p.m.
Sunday: RHP Alexi Ogando (7-4, 3.15) vs. James Shields (12-9, 3.33), 1:10 p.m.
Here's what to watch for in this weekend's crucial series between the Rangers and Royals:
Second time around: The Rangers and Royals match up in a three-game series for the second time this season. Texas won two out of three games from Kansas City May 31-June 2 in Arlington. The Rangers are on a good run against the Royals, winning four of five games and 7 of the 10 dating back to last season. They are 20-9 versus Kansas City since the start of the 2010 season. Kansas City is a much improved team with a starting rotation topped by James Shields and Ervin Santana, a deep bullpen and a young and talented lineup.
Questions on Yost: Kansas City starts Friday trailing the Rangers and Tampa Bay by three games in the race for the American League final wildcard berth. But the talk heading into Friday's series against Texas is whether lame-duck Royals manager Ned Yost will return in 2014. Owner David Glass said Friday in The Kansas City Star that it is general manager Drayton Moore's call. While Yost's contract is up the season, Moore has one more year left. Glass praised the job both have done this season.
Hosmer is unstoppable: The Rangers will run across a dangerous hitter in Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. He was 2-for-5 on Wednesday with a single and a double, giving him 57 multi-hit games on the season, which is the most in the AL. He is batting .343 for September. Hosmer has 177 hits which is tied for seventh in the league.
More danger: Texas pitchers also will have to be careful with Kansas City designated hitters Billy Butler. He is batting .398 at home since the All-Star break. He has hit safely in 11 consecutive home games, going 20-for-42 with nine RBIs.
Top bullpens: The top two bullpens in the American League will be on display this weekend. The Royals have a 2.58 bullpen ERA, the best in the league. Texas is next with a 2.95 mark, allowing just two runs in the last 17 innings. The Rangers' 82.4 save percentage is the best in the major leagues. Kansas has several power arms in the bullpen, from closer Greg Holland to Louis Coleman, who has allowed one run in 27 innings. Rangers left-hander reliever Neal Cotts leads all major league pitchers with a 1.07 ERA.