Texas Rangers: Colorado Rockies
What this means: Texas falls back to .500 and has dropped two of its last three. The 14 runs allowed tied the most in a single game this spring (Feb. 26 vs. Chicago White Sox).
Roughed up rookie: Starter Nick Tepesch had his most difficult outing of the spring, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five-plus innings. The rookie right-hander was on the cusp of earning the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, but after this performance, and allowing three runs in five innings to the Cubs on Sunday, the 24-year old will need to bounce back well in his final spring start next week.
|ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett in Surprise to discuss what to expect from the Rangers this season.
Rare air: Even LHP Joe Ortiz, who has been untouchable in 'A' games this spring, fell victim to the Colorado offensive assault, giving up a two-run home run and allowing one inherited runner to score. Ortiz was unscored upon in nine innings in 'A' games.
Still streaking: Elvis Andrus went 1-for-2 extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He is 15-for-34 during that span (.441) and is hitting .378 overall this spring.
Whoa, Nellie: Nelson Cruz continues to hit well this spring and sparked the Rangers four-run fourth inning with his two-run, home run to right field.
Four for four: Texas scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to continue its recent offensive onslaught. The Rangers had posted three of their highest hit totals in the last five games.
Four fifths: David Murphy and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back home runs in the Rangers four-run fifth inning. Murphy blasted a two run blast to right, followed by Pierzynski's shot that cleared the grassy area in right field and went well into the home run party tent that sits behind it. Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry followed with doubles off the wall as the bottom half of the Rangers order roughed up Rafael Betancourt.
What's next?: Texas will hit the road to take on the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT at Goodyear Ballpark. RHP Yu Darvish (0-1, 1.04) is the scheduled starter for Texas. RHP Mat Latos (0-0, 2.45) will take the mound for Cincinnati. The game can be heard live on ESPN 103.3 FM.
|Rangers outfielder David Murphy joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
DH Lance Berkman
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry
RHP Nick Tepesch
RHP Joe Nathan
RHP Jason Frasor
LHP Joe Ortiz
RHP Ben Rowen
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla
CF Eric Young Jr.
2B D.J. LaMahieu
1B Jordan Pacheco
DH Wilin Rosario
RF Tyler Colvin
3B Nolan Arenado
LF Charlie Blackmon
C Yorvit Torrealba
SS Reid Brignac
RHP Tyler Chatwood
RHP Rafael Betancourt
LHP Danny Rosenbaum
RHP Bobby Cassevah
LHP Christian Friedrich
LHP Josh Outman
LHP Rex Brothers
RHP Miguel Batista
|There are a couple misconceptions floating around about the Texas Rangers. Richard Durrett says if Ian Kinsler isn't switching positions, it's on the ball club, not Kinsler. Durrett also says we need to let things play out with Jurickson Profar.
"It is a big opportunity for me because they want to see how I throw on the mound and my body language," Perez said. "I'm attacking the zone and my breaking pitch was pretty good today."
Perez already impressed Rangers manager Ron Washington with his focus and command with multiple pitches early this spring and nothing changed following Monday's performance. The flawless outing was a welcome sight for Perez, who was hit hard during 12 appearances in 2012, including six starts, when opponents batted .297 against him.
"The little experience he had last year, he's taking that and he's trying to run with it," Washington said. "He's been in camp looking like a mature kid. You can see when he is out there he is all business."
Another positive result of Perez' performance was his ability to retire all four right-handers he faced. Last season, the left-hander struggled against righties who hit .324 against him in 108 at-bats. He also struggled against right-handers with Triple-A Round Rock where righties hit nine of the 10 home runs he allowed.
"Now, I throw more in against the righties," Perez said. "If you throw in, they don't have a chance and I have a good changeup, so I work it in."
Two other reasons why Perez may have the early advantage for the No. 5 slot is Monday's rough outing for Justin Grimm and the shoulder problems that have kept Kyle McClellan from taking the mound in a spring game. Both players are also battling for the last spot in the rotation. Grimm did himself no favors after allowing three earned runs on four hits in two innings in his spring debut.
Perez has long been considered a player destined for a successful Major League career, having been ranked among the Top 5 Rangers prospects by Baseball America for the last five years, including No. 3 this season. The Venezuela native was also ranked as having the best changeup in the organization.
What This Means: Texas has lost three consecutive games and is winless in all four spring tilts this season. Dating back to the end of the 2012 Cactus League season, Texas is 0-7-1 in its last eight spring games.
Plate Presence: Starter Martin Perez has consistently thrown strikes during the early part of the spring. During two perfect innings of work Monday, the left-hander threw 16 of his 27 pitches for strikes. This came on the heels of throwing all nine pitches for strikes during an intrasquad game last Tuesday.
Fast Start: Leonys Martin has been hitting well during the early portion of the spring slate, including back-to-back two-hit games. He is 5-for-9 (.556) overall and appears to be putting a little distance between himself and Craig Gentry, who is considered his biggest competition for the starting center-field job.
Slow Start: RHP Justin Grimm didn't get off to a good start in his quest to grab the No. 5 starter spot after allowing three earned runs on four hits and a walk in two innings of work.
Spring Sting: Rangers pitchers allowed two home runs Monday after giving up only two during their first three games of the Cactus League schedule.
Feeling Run Down: A crazy rundown saved the Rangers a run during the third inning, ending when Troy Tulowitzki was tagged out after falling inches short on his slide into third base, which was already occupied by Eric Young Jr. The play was scored 1-5-2-6-2.
What's Next? Texas returns to Surprise Stadium to face the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday at 2:05 p.m. CT. There is no radio or TV broadcast. RHP Yu Darvish is expected to make his spring debut for the Rangers. Chicago is slated to start RHP Nestor Molina.
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
3B Yangervis Solarte
DH Leonys Martin
CF Craig Gentry
LHP Martin Perez
RHP Justin Grimm
RHP Coty Woods
LHP Joe Ortiz
RHP Johan Yan
RHP Neil Ramirez
LF Eric Young Jr.
CF Dexter Fowler
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Michael Cuddyer
C Yorvit Torrealba
2B Josh Rutledge
RF Charlie Blackmon
3B Chris Nelson
DH DJ LeMahieu
RHP Chris Volstad
LHP Danny Rosenbaum
RHP Rob Scahill
RHP Manny Corpas
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Will Harris
RHP Jeff Manship
Ok. Let's start with a few disclaimers. First, it's unlikely the Colorado Rockies will trade Gonzalez. He and Troy Tulowitzki are the biggest selling points for the fan base and it's difficult to imagine they'd deal Gonzalez away before the season starts. But, as we've seen with other players, you never know. And it wouldn't be shocking to see them look at dealing him around the trade deadline.
The Rockies need pitching, both at the big league level and in the minor leagues. It might take dealing one of the club's current starters that still has some years under club control. Take Derek Holland, for instance. Add to that some pitching prospects, perhaps starting with Martin Perez, and you have something started. The other need for the Rockies? Third base. They were third-to-last in the NL in fielding percentage at third base. They were last in MLB in DRS (defensive runs saved) at the position and last in UZR.
Mike Olt could certainly help with that part of the equation. So there could be some pieces the Rangers have that would match up. It may depend on how high a price they are willing to pay in those assets to get Gonzalez.
For the Rangers, they'd be getting a 27-year-old who has played all outfield three positions in his big league career. He hit .303 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in 135 games in 2012. He has a career .299 batting average. He's a left-handed hitter and someone who could bat in the middle of the lineup. No, he wouldn't completely fill the shoes of Josh Hamilton. But he would sure help.
If there's one concern, it's probably his home and road splits from last year. Gonzalez hit .368 at Coors Field and .234 on the road. He's .258 on the road in his career. Gonzalez is 7-for-29 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his career.
Gonzalez also fits into the club's philosophy of looking for players that are under control for a few years and could become part of the core of the team. His contract goes through the 2017 season. He makes $7.5 million in 2013, $10.5 million in 2014, $16 million in 2015, $17 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017. He also gets $1 million if he's traded, but he doesn't have a no-trade clause.
If the Rockies insist on a big league pitcher, a few pitching prospects and Mike Olt, are you OK making that deal? Would that be enough for the Rockies to do the deal?
Fowler hit .300 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 2012 for the Colorado Rockies. That doesn't exactly provide a ton of power for the Rangers, but it would give them someone who showed they could get on base -- .389 on-base percentage -- and had a .863 OPS. He stole 16 bases last season as well. His 2.6 WAR was the best of his career, by the way. Fowler played 143 games in 2012 and 131 of those were in center field. He had a .978 fielding percentage and made six errors in center field.
He's switch-hitter, which certainly has some appeal, and he's under club control through 2015. But he'll get a raise through arbitration from his $2.35 million salary last year. ESPN.com's Jason Churchill guesses that's about $6 million.
Fowler could be one of those guys that is on the market after the other "bigger" center field free agents and trade possibilities head elsewhere. The Rockies, according to some reports, want pitching with upside. Perhaps something like Martin Perez or Cody Buckel, though it's unclear if that's enough to get a deal done.
Honestly, I question if Fowler is worth more than one top-flight pitching prospect. He probably has more upside than Craig Gentry, but how much more? Gentry had 214 fewer at-bats than Fowler and drove in 26 RBIs and had 13 stolen bases. With more playing time, Gentry's numbers could look similiar, except for the home runs. Gentry hit .304 this season, by the way.
I'm intrigued by the fact that Fowler is a switch-hitter and has more of a track record than Gentry, but I'm hesitant to part with some pitching prospects that could be keys in other deals for potentially better players. I'm more inclined to see what Leonys Martin or even Gentry could do with smoe more playing time. But that's just me. Perhaps I'm underplaying Fowler's upside.
What do you think? Judging from my emails, some of you are interested in Fowler as an outfield option. What are you willing to give up for him?
|ESPN MLB insider Jim Bowden on potential trade partners for the Rangers, how Mike Olt can help the team this year and more.
* Cliff Lee is fun to talk about, but that remains a big-time longshot for a gaggle of reasons. ESPN.com's Jim Bowden told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin that no deal with the Phillies for Lee will happen without Mike Olt. And we've seen how reluctant the Rangers are to move Olt. But beyond that, Lee is owed $25 million per season for the next three years and has a $27.5 million option for 2016 that includes a $12.5 million buyout (that option could vest depending on the innings pitched in the final years of the deal). The Rangers would want the Phillies to eat a large chunk of that. But if you're Philadelphia, part of the point of dealing Lee would be to shed some of that money. It just seems to make more sense for the Phillies to wait and reassess things at the offseason or beyond.
* Will things change as the clock ticks? You never know. Sometimes prices can drop and maybe that paves the way for something that wasn't a possibility the past few days, whether that's Garza or a deal that's been discussed or a deal that hasn't been talked about.
* The club still wants a reliever and is checking around on that. The names most commonly heard the past week: Jonathan Broxton and Rafael Betancourt. Broxton has rebounded from an injury and shown that he can get big outs late. Reports out of Kansas City indicate they like Justin Grimm. Is that too high a price to pay for what would be a setup man if that, in fact, is something that's being discussed? Betancourt is signed through next year, something we know the Rangers like. Last year, they traded for two relievers and a big reason they were willing to part with some prospects in those deals was because Koji Uehara and Mike Adams were under contract for 2012, not just rentals.
Stay tuned. The clock continues to tick.
The trade deadline is getting closer. Will the Rangers have a new player or two on the roster by Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT? Let's take a look at a few things to watch as things wind down:
* Starting pitchers. The club would still like one, but the question is whether there's a viable option out there. The market has thinned in recent days. The price has been high on Miami Marlins' Josh Johnson, who didn't help his stock with his performance on Sunday (two runs allowed, but six walks in five innings vs. Padres). Tampa Bay is right in the hunt and may not want to move James Shields, who also has a club-friendly contract. Matt Garza is still out there, but with a triceps issue and the fact that he's not pitching before the trade deadline, do you want to take a chance on him?
Reports have surfaced, including this one from our buddy Gordon Edes from ESPNBoston.com, that that Red Sox are shopping Josh Beckett. They are calling teams they feel would be interested, including Texas. Beckett is 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 17 starts this season and is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday. He has 10-5 rights, but several reports said it's believed he would waive those rights to come to Texas. The biggest issue may be money. With Beckett not pitching particularly well this season, it's likely that any team that consider Beckett would only do so at a big discount. That means Boston taking a good portion of the remaining dollars left on his contract. He's making $15.75 million this season, $15.75 million next year and $15.75 million in 2014.
It certainly seems like a longshot, but you never know.
* Relievers. The club has turned its attention more toward bullpen help in the past day or two as the starting market has dwindled a bit. They've shown interest in Jonathan Broxton and Rafael Betancourt with the idea that they could strengthen the bullpen and possibly move Alexi Ogando to the rotation.
* Bats. We saw last year how critical a bench can be down the stretch and in the postseason. That's especially true if the Rangers get back to the World Series. They could use a right-handed bat. Of course, with the Rangers' offense scuffling a bit, maybe a bat of any kind could provide a spark.
So stay tuned.
Nathan entered the ninth inning to preserve a 4-0 shutout that had been kept alive collectively by Matt Harrison, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams. But after a leadoff single, a walk and a hit batter, Nathan found himself in a bases-loaded jam. Then an RBI single from Marco Scutaro and RBI sac fly with no outs from Carlos Gonzalez -- a laser that only needed a few more feet to clear Josh Hamilton and the left-center field wall for a go-ahead grand slam -- put the Rangers in danger of choking the game away.
Nathan got more help when Scutaro was caught in a 2-3-6 rundown and was called out at second, but only after Scutaro was initially waved safe as he slid in under the tag of shortstop Elvis Andrus. However, Scutaro, apparently thinking he was out, popped up off the bag and Andrus tagged him to officially record the second out.
Nathan then was able to get Jason Giambi swinging on a 1-2 slider.
"I've always said it’s not going to be sharp all the time," Nathan said. "You’re going to have to go out there and fight and tonight was definitely a dog fight against very good hitters."
Nathan may not be sharp all the time, but he certainly has been most of the time. Before Sunday, Nathan had not allowed a run in the ninth inning since May 13 against the Los Angeles Angels (16 games). It was only the second time that he has allowed two runs all season -- the only other time coming when he allowed three runs against Seattle on April 11.
Nathan, who didn't get the save because it was a four-run lead when he entered, isn't stressing about Sunday's performance, his worse in a long time. He saw his streak of 16 scoreless innings in his last 16 appearances come to an end.
"I’m happy with what we were able to do," Nathan said. "We were able to walk away with the win, keep our lead where it is and we’ll come back tomorrow and start with Detroit.”
But after picking up 10th win, tied for the most in the American League, the left-hander said he’ll be ready for his next start.
“I saw the doc (Rangers team physician Keith Meister) and he said it was just a very mild stiffness in the lower back so he said see how it feels tomorrow,” Harrison said. “But I feel confident that I’ll be good to go.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he decided to remove Harrison, now 10-3 with a 3.24 ERA after the 4-2 victory, for precautionary reasons once Harrison told him and pitching coach Mike Maddux that he felt stiffness in his lower back.
Harrison said he felt discomfort at the start of the third inning and again following the fourth, after which he tried to stretch out his back. After the fifth inning, the third consecutive in which he faced just three batters thanks to a 6-4-3 double play, Harrison made it known that he was having issues with his back.
“Once he let us know that he was feeling a little stiffness we just took him out. We weren’t taking any chances,” Washington said. “Of course, Harry didn’t want to come out, but we weren’t taking any chances. He will make his next start.”
The diagnosis is excellent news for arguably the Rangers’ steadiest pitcher this season as well as for a rotation in which lefty Derek Holland (left elbow fatigue) and right-hander Neftali Feliz (right elbow inflammation) remain sidelined.
Harrison, a likely All-Star candidate, stranded five Rockies baserunners in the first two innings and used the double-play ball in the third, fourth and fifth to avoid trouble. He left having allowed five hits, all singles. He struck out three and walked two.
Harrison won for the sixth consecutive time and has been outstanding in June. He entered Sunday’s game tied with Cleveland's Justin Masterson and San Francisco's Matt Cain for the lowest ERA (1.24) in the majors behind only the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey -- before the knuckleballer's start Sunday night against the Yankees.
“I didn’t really have my best stuff working today, but I just kept telling myself when guys are on base, you’re one quality pitch from getting out of it. So I was able to bear down and get out of some innings where I got the leadoff guy on. Definitely want to just keep getting better, keep improving.
“I’m not very happy about being a five (innings) and dive guy today,” Harrison said, “but with the situation, I had to come out. I just hope to continue what I’m doing.”
In his fourth start of the year, the 24-year-old, second-year center fielder hit a two-out double and then a two-out triple to get Texas off to a 4-0 lead, including the first three RBIs of his career. He finished the game 2-for-4 and accounted for all four of the Rangers runs. He also scored on Elvis Andrus' double in the second inning.
Martin said that he spent a lot of time studying the pitchers for the game and that helped him succeed. He said his biggest challenge whenever he starts is taming his excitement.
"I just try to hold onto my emotions and do the best that I can," Martin said. "The more that I stay with the team, the better I feel. It is a big help with the guys that are here. What I have to do is concentrate.”
Going into Sunday's game, Martin was 1-for-8. All three of his hits have been for extra bases.
Martin complemented his offensive production with three flyouts on defense, but saw one sinking fly ball fall trickle out of his glove for a single in the first inning after he got off to a bad break.
Rangers manager Ron Washington was pleased with his performance, but said he has more work to do to become a balanced player.
"We know the kid can swing the bat," Washington said. "It's the other parts of the game that we're trying to work on: baserunning, defense, situations, throwing to the right bag. But, he picked us up tonight big time: two two-out big hits and they were beautiful."
Michael Young, a leader in the clubhouse, echoed Washington's satisfaction.
"He did great," Young said. "He came with two big hits for us and hopefully he can keep it going.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers took the rubber match of this three-game series, beating the Colorado Rockies, 4-2. A record 22nd sellout crowd was on hand to watch the Rangers victory. Some thoughts on the game:
What it means: The win tonight gives the Rangers their fifth consecutive series win. They have won all six of their series against the NL this year and have a MLB-best 14-4 interleague record this season. The Rangers are five games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, giving them the largest lead of any of the six MLB division leaders.
Attendance milestone: Tonight's crowd of 45,407 was the 22nd sellout of the year, breaking the club record for sellouts in a single season. The previous record of 21 sellouts was set in 1994. The Rangers have reached 1.5 million in attendance in 35 games, four games sooner than the previous record in '94. The Rangers are also second in average attendance in the MLB (the Philadelphia Phillies are ranked first).
Jam sesh: Matt Harrison pitched his way out of jams in the first and second innings. He had runners in scoring position in both innings, including loaded bases in the second after a single, walk, and hit batter. Robbie Ross also found his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. In all, the Rockies left 11 runners on base.
Double or nothing: The Rangers had three 6-4-3 double plays with Harrison on the mound tonight. Harrison missed out on his seventh-straight quality start, leaving after five innings because of lower back tightness on his left side. He got credit for his 10th win and finished with five hits, two walks, no runs and three strikeouts. Harrison's injury will be re-examined in the coming days.
A little help from my friends: After Harrison left the game, Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams picked up the slack. Each was solid, allowing no runs. Collectively, the three allowed four hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Harrison's fourth shutout of the season evaporated in a wild ninth inning, when Joe Nathan allowed two runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter. Nathan was able to preserve the win, thanks to a putout in a rundown at second, a sac fly and a strikeout.
I got this: Leonys Martin made the most of his start, going 2-for-4 and driving in three of the Rangers' four runs. He had a double in the second and a triple in the third. He also caught three flyouts. Elvis Andrus also had a solid night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a walk.
Hamilton delivers: Josh Hamilton made good on his word, coming through with a first-inning single and an intentional walk in the second. Hamilton rebounded from his career-tying seven strikeouts in the last two games to finish Sunday's game 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
The team to beat: The Rangers (45-28) have had sole possession of the best record in the majors for five straight days. It is the latest in a season that the club has ever held such a distinction. The win tonight also matches the Rangers' best 73-game record in club history, set in 1996.
Up next: RHP Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50) takes the mound for his second major league start against RHP Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95) to kick off a three-game series between the Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
The Rangers average attendance going into Sunday's game was 43,738, second only to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers also reached 1.5 million in attendance 35 home games into the season, four games sooner than in 1994.
"It just shows what kind of support we’ve had all year," Mitch Moreland said. "The fans have been great, been there for us the whole time and it’s a lot of fun playing in front of them and winning games for them."
Rangers fan support this season has not been limited to Arlington. In a phenomenon that some old Rangers fans may have thought they'd never see happen, fans around the country want to see the Rangers play ball.
"It's starting to spread throughout the league now," Michael Young said. "We were in San Diego and I was playing first and a guy got on first and I asked, 'Is this a standard crowd for you guys?' He said, 'No, this is a big crowd. They came to see you guys.' He asked me what our place was like. I told him we have 45,000 every night."
There's a certain team that wears a blue star on its helmet just down the street from the Ballpark that prides itself on being "America's Team." But the numbers say that there could be a new America's Team in the metroplex.
"It's awesome," Young said. "We are becoming the envy of other teams and the teams that come in here to play us know they have a lot to deal with. It's not just playing a good team in hot weather, but dealing with a hostile crowd and a pro-Ranger environment. It's definitely a big home-field advantage for us."
Ticket availability for the next series against the Detroit Tigers is 8,700 for Monday, 7,300 for Tuesday and 6,600 for Wednesday.
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.