Tuesday, June 3, 2014
W2W4: Familiar faces return to Arlington
By Richard Durrett
The Texas Rangers return home for a nine-game homestand, starting tonight with three games against the Baltimore Orioles. A look at some things to watch during the series:
Nelson Cruz's status for the series with the Rangers is unclear after he was hit by a pitch Sunday.
Nelson Cruz. His return to Texas is the big storyline of the series. But when might he play? Scott Feldman hit Cruz in the hand Sunday and he came out in the third inning. X-rays were negative, but Cruz didn't know if he'd be able to hold a bat and swing it in time for Tuesday's game. But you would think at some point he'll play and when he does, it will be interesting to see him back in Arlington.
Offensive momentum. Texas created a little of it during the recent road trip, scoring runs in bunches. The Rangers turned a one-run inning into two- or three-run frames, taking leads at crucial junctures in Detroit and Minnesota. But can they sustain it at home? Texas is hitting .280 as a team away from Arlington, but just .249 at home. The Rangers are scoring 3.8 runs per game at home and 4.5 on the road. To have a successful series and homestand, they must start hitting at Globe Life Park.
Alex Rios. The right fielder has been terrific with the bat, hitting .391 on the trip. He leads the team in RBIs. The Rangers will need him to post a solid June, starting with this series against the Orioles.
Colby Lewis. The veteran right-hander has been up and down of late. He gave up two runs in 5⅔ innings in Detroit (though he had five walks) in a blowout win. But Lewis surrendered five earned runs on nine hits in 5⅔ innings in a loss in Washington. He's expected to pitch twice on this homestand, so the Rangers need the Lewis who keeps his team in games, not the one who can give up early hits and runs and force Texas to play from behind.
Former Rangers. There are a slew of them on this Orioles team. Besides Cruz, manager Buck Showalter (a former manager of the year in Texas) brings some other familiar faces with him. Tommy Hunter is on the 15-day disabled list. But Darren O'Day will be available in the bullpen and, of course, Chris Davis will be at first base.