Texas Rangers: Justin Smoak

Matchup: Martin Perez vs. Felix Hernandez

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
1:30
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers play the middle game of a three-game series against Seattle with left-hander Martin Perez matching up against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez at 7:05 p.m. Saturday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and ESPN Deportes Dallas 1540 AM.

PODCAST
ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly segment to discuss the Rangers and MLB replay.

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Perez (5-3, 3.44): Perez comes off the first complete game of his career, a 6-1 victory over Houston. ... The 22-year-old left-hander was one out from a shutout before allowing a home run to Astros catcher Carlos Corporan. ... Perez has bounced back after a rough stretch at the end of July with three straight strong starts. ... He is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in those three starts, which came twice against the Angels and once against the Astros. ... Perez has reached a career high in pitches his past two starts, throwing 111 against the Angels and 115 against Houston. ... Perez didn't allow an unearned run in 5 1/3 innings against Seattle on July 4, taking a no decision in a 5-4 Texas victory. ... He is 1-1 with a 1.75 ERA in four starts at home.

Hernandez (12-5, 2.28): Hernandez won his 12th game Sunday, pitching eight shutout innings as the Mariners beat Milwaukee, 2-0. ... King Felix had nine strikeouts and one walk while allowing four hits. ... Hernandez is back in the American League Cy Young discussion along with favorite Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. ... Hernandez leads the AL in ERA and in innings pitched (173 2/3). ... Hernandez is tied for first with 19 quality starts and he's third with 178 strikeouts. ... Hernandez is 12-18 with a 3.83 ERA in 37 career starts against the Rangers. ... He is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts against Texas this season. ... He allowed two runs in seven innings in his lone start at Rangers Ballpark, a 4-2 Mariners win.

Hitters: Justin Smoak has four hits in five at-bats against Perez. David Murphy (23-for-71, 3 HRs, 14 RBIs) has had success against Seattle.

W2W4: Rangers-Mariners

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
11:25
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers get another chance to do damage against the American League West over the next six days.

The Rangers, who welcome Seattle to town Friday and then Houston on Monday, are 37-14 against division opponents. That's the best intradivision record in the major leagues.

PODCAST
Adam Rosales joins Galloway and Company to discuss his experience on waivers and his excitement to be a part of the Rangers.

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It's helped the Rangers rally to take a 1 1/2 game lead on Oakland in the AL West with 41 games left in the regular season.

Here's what to watch for against the Mariners this weekend:

Final trip: Seattle makes it final visit to Arlington. The Mariners won two out of three games from the Rangers the last time they were here in early July. Texas swept Seattle in their other series at Rangers Ballpark in April. The Rangers are 8-5 against the Mariners this season, matching their record against Oakland. Texas is 31-14 against Seattle since 2009. The Rangers have won the season series five years in a row, and can win it again by taking two out of three games this weekend.

Pitching duels: Look for low-scoring games this weekend between the Rangers and Mariners. Seattle will throw its best two starters, All-Stars Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 2.96) and Felix Hernandez (12-5, 2.28) on Friday and Saturday. Young right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (4-0, 7.06) will start for the Mariners on Sunday. The Rangers counter with left-handers Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07) and Martin Perez (5-3, 3.44) and right-hander Yu Darvish (12-5, 3.14) in that order. The Mariners are 27-23 in the combined starts of Iwakuma and King Felix this season.

Age is just a number: Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez, 41, is the first player since Barry Bonds in 2007 to hit 25 or more home runs in a season age 40 or older, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Ibanez homered off Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb in the Mariners' 7-1 loss to the Rays on Thursday. Bonds did it twice in 2006 and '07. Darrell Evans hit 34 home runs in 1987 at the age of 40.

Smoakin' hot: There's another former Rangers first baseman that is on a tear. Former first-round draft pick Justin Smoak, traded to Seattle in 2010 for Cliff Lee, has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games. Smoak is batting .327 with three doubles, four home runs and 10 RBIS during that span. He has a slash of .376/.533/.910 since coming off the disabled list June 18. He has hit 10 of his 13 home runs.

Reliant on power: Seattle relies heavily on the home run ball, so it will be up to the Rangers to keep the Mariners in the ballpark after giving up five to Milwaukee in two games. Seattle is third in the major leagues with 144 home runs, trailing Baltimore (161), Toronto (146) and tied with Atlanta. The Mariners are the only team with eight players with at least 10 home runs. The Mariners have scored around 47 percent of their runs on the long ball, the highest percentage in the big leagues.

Matchup: Martin Perez vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

July, 4, 2013
7/04/13
1:30
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners finish a three-game series Thursday night when left-hander Martin Perez faces M's right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma at 7:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and ESPN Deportes Dallas 1540 AM.

PODCAST
ESPN senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.

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Perez (2-1, 2.37): The Rangers turn to 22-year-old Martin Perez to salvage a win in their three-game series against Seattle. … Perez has thrown 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. … He blanked the Cincinnati Reds for 6 2/3 innings Friday. … Perez's changeup has been his key pitch, helping to keep hitters off balance for 13 ground-ball outs. … He allowed six hits and walked one against the Reds in a 4-0 victory. … Perez is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his two starts since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock. … He is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA for 9 1/3 innings against the Mariners.

Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42): Iwakuma leads the American League in ERA and has pitched well against the Rangers. … He has allowed four earned runs in each of his last three starts, raising his ERA from 1.79 to 2.42. … He gave up four runs in eight innings in a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs. … Iwakuma is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA for his last three starts and hasn't won since June 10. … He's allowed five home runs in his last two games. … He has a 1-0 record and a 1.84 ERA in two starts against Texas this season, both coming at Seattle's Safeco Field. … He is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers.

Hitters: The current Mariners are 2-for-17 against Perez with a double by Justin Smoak. Ian Kinsler (6-for-12, 3 HRs, 3 RBIs) and David Murphy (5-for-15, 1 HR, 3 RBIs) have had success against Iwakuma. Jurickson Profar also has a home run against the Japanese right-hander.

Matchup: Justin Grimm vs. Joe Saunders

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
1:30
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers open a three-game series against Seattle on Tuesday night with right-hander Justin Grimm facing Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders at 7:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, ESPN Deportes Dallas 1540 AM.

PODCAST
Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news, including Yu Darvish bringing back his fastball.

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Grimm (7-5, 5.56): Grimm has won two straight starts, going five innings in each outing. ... The 24-year old picked up the win against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, allowing three runs in five innings. ... He held the Yankees to one run until the sixth inning, when he allowed two hits, was taken out and both runners later scored against Robbie Ross. ... Grimm has won five games since May 17, more than any other Rangers starter. ... He is 2-2 with 9.00 ERA in five June starts. ... He leads all American League rookie pitchers with seven wins and 62 strikeouts. ... Grimm has made three of his 14 starts this season against Seattle, including his first two starts this season when he went 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA. ... Seattle is batting .309 against him, but .167 with runners in scoring position.

Saunders (5-8, 4.98): Saunders lasted just 1 2/3 inning his last start, allowing six runs. ... He allowed three home runs as he tied the third shortest outing of his career. ... Saunders pitched well June 19 against the Los Angeles Angels, losing 1-0 despite throwing a complete game, allowing one run in eight innings. ... Saunders has nine quality starts to rank him third among Mariners starters behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. ... Saunders is 1-5 with a 6.46 ERA in eight road starts. ... He is 3-9 with a 6.60 ERA in 14 regular-season starts against the Rangers. ... His last non-playoff win against the Rangers was Sept. 28, 2008 with the Angels. ... He is winless in seven career regular-season starts in Arlington, going 0-7 with a 9.91 ERA. ... He beat the Rangers in last year's American League wild-card game in Arlington pitching for Baltimore.

Hitters: Michael Morse (4-for-8) and Justin Smoak (3-for-8) have had success against Grimm this season. Ian Kinsler (10-for-30, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs) and Nelson Cruz (8-for-27, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs) have hit for power against Saunders.

The Week Ahead: Mariners, Astros

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
5:00
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers get back into divisional play this week with three-game series in Arlington against the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros.

The Rangers are 22-10 overall against the American League West for the best winning percentage against division opponents in the major leagues.

PODCAST
Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news, including Yu Darvish bringing back his fastball.

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They are 7-3 against the Mariners, winning all three games at Rangers Ballpark in April. The Rangers are 5-1 against the Astros with all the games played at Minute Maid Park. So the Astros will make their first trek up I-45 this season.

Here's what to look for this week:

Seattle's finest: The Rangers won't catch a break with the Mariners this time around in Arlington. They'll face Felix Hernandez for the first time at Rangers Ballpark this season -- they have beaten King Felix twice in Seattle this season. Hernandez is 5-8 with a 4.35 ERA in 16 career starts in Arlington. Oddly, King Felix didn't pitch in any of the three series between the division rivals in Arlington last year. He was 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA at Rangers Ballpark in 2011. All three of Seattle's starters are quality pitchers. Tuesday's starter, Joe Saunders, is 5-8 with a 4.98 ERA, but remember he beat the Rangers while pitching for Baltimore last season in the AL wild-card game, ending Texas' season. Thursday's starter for Seattle is Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42), who beat the Rangers and countryman Yu Darvish back on April 12 in Seattle.

Ibanez is hot: Seattle left fielder Raul Ibanez hit 10 home runs in June, second in the AL behind Chris Davis' 12 homers for the month. Ibanez tied his career high for a month set in Philadelphia in May 2009. Ibanez has four home runs in the last seven games. He's hit 17 home runs since May 10. Ibanez handed Rangers closer Joe Nathan his only blown save of the season on May 29, hitting a home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. The Mariners eventually won that game 4-3 in the 13th inning.

Smoak on a good run: Former Rangers first-round draft pick Justin Smoak has three home runs in 10 games since returning from the disabled list with a right oblique injury. He has nine hits in his last 34 at-bats with five RBIs and four walks.

Astros sliding again: The Astros were just swept at home by the Los Angeles Angels, a team they've actually played well against during this dismal season. Houston has lost seven of its last 10 games. The Astros are 30-52 on the season, on pace to lose 104 games. But they don't have the worst record in baseball. That distinction belongs to the Miami Marlins, who started Monday with a 29-51 record.

Maxwell out with concussion: The Astros placed outfielder Justin Maxwell on the seven-day disabled list Sunday with concussion-related symptoms after he tried to make a diving catch Tuesday. Maxwell has made a handful of spectacular plays against the Rangers this season playing in center field. Houston called up outfielder Jimmy Paredes from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take Maxwell's place on the roster.

W2W4: Rangers-Mariners

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
8:46
AM CT
The Rangers make their second trip to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Mariners. The teams each won two games in the first series in April.

PODCAST
Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss a hypothetical Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee trade, how he would handle Profar's playing time with the Rangers and more.

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This time around the Rangers will see Mariners ace Felix Hernandez after missing him in the first series. Here's what else to watch for:

Mariners' offense scuffling:
Seattle has been shut out twice in the last four games, and also lost 7-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night. The Mariners have been shut out four times, second most in the American League behind Houston and Toronto with five.

Dynamic duo: The Rangers will face two very tough pitchers over the weekend with Felix Hernandez and Hishasi Iwakuma. The pairing comes in off a rough spot in the their last turn in the rotation, combining to allow 11 earned runs in 11 innings for a loss and no decision. Before that Hernandez and Iwakuma were a combined 10-3 with a 1.68 ERA. Hernandez is third in the American League with a 2.07 ERA and Iwakuma is fifth with a 2.37 ERA.

Smoakin' hot: Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak, the former Rangers' first round draft pick, had reached base in a career-high 15 starts before going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Wednesday's loss to the Angels. Smoak has a record of at least one hit in 16 of his last 23 games. He is batting .290 with 17 walks during the stretch.

Ibanez provided pop:
Raul Ibanez is having a flash back to his earlier years with the Mariners with six home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games. He has hits in 10 of his last 13 games, batting .333 during the stretch to raise his batting average to .222.

Shutting down righties: Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen is shutting down right-handers. They are 0-for-31 against him this season. Wilhelmsen has 11 saves and has allowed one run in 19 innings.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Mariners 3

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
12:39
AM CT


SEATTLE -- David Murphy and Nelson Cruz drove in the go-ahead runs off Felix Hernandez with two outs in the fifth inning, reliever Robbie Ross came up huge in the seventh and eighth behind slogging, fill-in starter Justin Grimm, then Joe Nathan finished the ninth for his 301st career save in the Texas Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on a cold Thursday night at Safeco Field.

PODCAST
Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss Nolan Ryan's statement that he is staying with the Rangers. It's good news, but will Ryan stay with the club for the long haul?

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How to topple a “King”: The Rangers spoiled the season home debut of Hernandez, who was pitching in Seattle for the first time since signing a seven-year, $175 million contract extension this winter. The Rangers ignored the gold “King’s Court” T-shirts, matching K cards and royal chants swirling from the 22,917 fans while whacking “The King” for eight hits and four runs in the first five innings.

Murphy’s two-out, RBI single broke a 2-2 tie. Then, Cruz golfed Hernandez’s split-fingered fastball into the left-field corner for a double that put Texas ahead 4-2 in the fifth.

The Rangers’ 10 hits in Hernandez’s 6⅔ innings were more than they had off him in all of 2012. He allowed them one run and nine hits combined in two victories last season.

The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner lost for the fifth time in seven decisions against Texas dating to the 0-4 season he had against them in 2011.

The Rangers hit Hernandez hard early by being aggressive. A.J. Pierzynski’s second home run as a Ranger, in the second inning, was on the at-bat's first pitch. Mitch Moreland drove the next pitch on a line to deep left field, where Raul Ibanez misplayed it for an error. And Elvis Andrus’ single that scored Moreland came on an 0-1 pitch. Texas had batted around just 1⅓ innings into the game.

Preserving Ross: The Rangers’ left-hander struck out Ibanez with the bases loaded on what appeared to be a slider at 86 miles per hour to end the seventh and keep Texas ahead 4-2. Ross allowed a bloop single by former Rangers’ No. 1 draft pick Justin Smoak, then a bloop double down the same right-field line by Jesus Montero to begin the bottom of the eighth.

After Robert Andino’s RBI ground out made it 4-3, Ross charged off the mound, fielded Brendan Ryan’s suicide squeeze on the run and flipped it option quarterback-style to Pierzynski in one motion. The catcher tagged out pinch runner Endy Chavez for the second out. Ross then struck out Franklin Gutierrez with a man on to end the threat.

Still buds: Adrian Beltre, who won two Gold Gloves as the Mariners’ third baseman from 2005-09, was the first Ranger to swing at a first pitch from Hernandez, four batters into the game. He lined it off third baseman Kyle Seager’s glove for an infield single. After Murphy struck out to end the first inning, Beltre and Hernandez laughed together in the infield grass before the Ranger playfully cuffed the back of the Seattle ace’s head. Hernandez and Ibanez are the only Mariners who were teammates with Beltre in Seattle.

Have we met? Pierzynski and other Rangers yukked it up from the on-deck circle throughout the game with Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. The two defensive backs were sitting in the first row of box seats just to the right of the visiting dugout, wearing matching Mariners game jerseys with their names and NFL uniform numbers.

Up next: Yu Darvish (2-0, 1.98 ERA) says the blister that cut his last start short after five innings is fine to start Friday against Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s the 10th major league game started by pitchers born in Japan. First pitch is at 9:10 p.m. on TXA21 and 660 AM.

Matchup: Martin Perez vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
1:00
PM CT
Newly-anointed fifth starter Martin Perez takes the mound for the Texas Rangers tonight in the opener of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners and right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA 21. A quick look at the matchup:

Perez (1-1, 3.38 ERA): The 21-year-old is the newest member of the rotation, taking over for the demoted Scott Feldman. ... In his last appearance Sept. 15, Perez tossed 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Mariners, walking one and striking out five. ... Has not made a start since July 24, when he surrendered one run in six innings against the Boston Red Sox. ... Has made three starts this season. ... Rangers have lost the last seven games in which he has appeared.

Iwakuma (6-5, 3.39 ERA): The 31-year-old rookie from Japan has a 2.84 ERA in 13 games since moving into the rotation. ... Has lost his previous two starts, including last week to the Rangers in Arlington. ... Has a 2.57 ERA at Safeco Field (compared to 4.57 on the road). ... Has allowed nine earned runs and 19 hits in 13 1/3 innings (6.08 ERA) against Texas.

Hitters: The Rangers are hitting .327 off Iwakuma. ... Ian Kinsler is 4-for-6 with two home runs and a double against Iwakuma. ... Josh Hamilton (2-for-6) also has a home run off Iwakuma, while Adrian Beltre is 3-for-8 with two RBIs. ... The Mariners have not recorded a hit against Perez. Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak have each walked against Perez, but Seattle is a collective 0-for-14 with five strikeouts off the rookie left-hander.

Up next:

Sat. at Seattle: Matt Harrison (17-9, 3.26 ERA) vs. Blake Beavan (9-10, 4.88 ERA), 8:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/FSSW
Sun. at Seattle: Ryan Dempster (11-7, 3.08 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (14-10, 3.92 ERA), 3:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3FM/FSSW

Deadline talk: 5 things to watch

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
11:00
PM CT
We're less than two weeks away from the July 31 trade deadline and the Texas Rangers are in position to make some moves if they choose. But with any deadline, the club must prioritize, get prepared and decide what kind of value it places on the prospective pieces on the market. With an additional playoff team in the mix, things may go even more down to the wire than normal as certain clubs could decide very late that they are sellers or buyers. And with the changes in compensatory picks, it could alter the value of rental players.

So let's pretend that I'm general manager Jon Daniels (he's way smarter than I am, but I'm taller and better looking) and I'm trying to figure out which deals I should do and which ones I shouldn't. Here are five things to consider at the deadline:

[+] EnlargeCole Hamels
Denny Medley/US PresswireIf the Rangers decide to trade for a starter, it needs to be someone like Cole Hamels who will slot in at the top of the rotation in the postseason.
1. If the Rangers trade for a starting pitcher, make it an impact one. You'll hear the names of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza this time of year. Maybe even Wandy Rodriguez. But it doesn't make sense for the Rangers to deal decent prospects for pitchers who aren't going to make the rotation appreciably better.

Should Texas decide to get a starter, it needs to be someone who slots in at the top come the postseason. The two biggest names that could be out there are Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. Personally, I like Hamels more than Greinke. And we'll see if he even becomes available now that the Phillies and Hamels' agents are intensifying talks. But this is where things get interesting. It's going to take a big package of premium prospects (and maybe even some major league players) to get it done. That would likely mean Mike Olt. I'm normally a guy who advocates dealing prospects for sure things. After all, they are called prospects for a reason. They might pan out, they might not. But with no draft picks coming back to Texas if Hamels (or Greinke) leaves, I think Olt (notice I'm not even mentioning Jurickson Profar, someone I can't imagine the Rangers even considering trading for a rental) is too high a price to pay to be included in the deal. If I'm Texas, I want Hamels. And I'm willing to fork over some solid prospects (Martin Perez, Cody Buckel or Justin Grimm, maybe even a combination) and even some big league pieces (yes, I'd consider dealing Neftali Feliz). But you don't trade the entire farm for someone who is here for a few months.

This is different from the Cliff Lee trade of 2010. With Lee, the Rangers not only knew they would get compensation picks if he left, but they knew they had to have someone at the top of that rotation to help them get over the hump of never winning a playoff series. Texas does not beat the Tampa Bay Rays without Lee, so the trade was a success (no matter what Justin Smoak does in the future). But the Rangers got something in return, too. Hamels is not the Lee of 2010, either. But he's the closest facsimile, if he's available. I'll pay a high price, just not as high as Olt. If that's not good enough to get Hamels, I'm not "settling" for Garza or someone else who doesn't have a big impact. It's just not worth it. So get a pitcher that can win Game 1 in the playoffs or don't get one at all and go with this current rotation, which I still believe is good enough, especially with the Rangers' bullpen, to win a title.

2. Get a right-hander for the bench. The AL's loss in the All-Star Game only reinforces this need. It means that if the Rangers return to the World Series, they open on the road without a DH and could play the deciding game -- should it go the distance -- in the NL park. St. Louis' bench was a big difference in last year's World Series and manager Ron Washington didn't have enough weapons at his disposal. There are some names that are intriguing, but contract situations may make it unlikely. Josh Willingham seems like a good fit, but the contract calls for him to make $7 million next year and the year after. But there are other, cheaper options that could help the bench. Carlos Quentin's asking price is likely to be too much. What about Shane Victorino? It's the final year of his deal at $12.5 million this season and he's hitting .254 overall. But the 31-year-old switch-hitter is batting .322 against lefties.

There are some bats out there and the Rangers need to try to see if they can find one to help that bench down the stretch and into the postseason.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireCatcher Mike Napoli is doing a nice job with the pitching staff but hasn't been producing at the plate.
3. Keep an eye on the catching market. Honestly, I'm not sure there are reasonable upgrades to the club's catchers on the market, but the club has to at least do some digging. Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba have done a nice job with the pitching staff and that's the first priority. However, the position is giving the club nothing at the plate.

The Rangers are one of the best teams in the league at checking on everything and leaving no stone unturned. That means at least seeing if there's anything worth pursuing on that front that can increase the offensive production at that spot.

4. See if there's a left-handed specialist for the bullpen. It might seem odd to do anything with one of the best bullpens in baseball, but let's not forget what Mike Gonzalez did for this club in the postseason last year. He got two very big outs -- one in the ALDS and the other in the ALCS -- that helped the Rangers win games in those series. He struck out Johnny Damon with two runners on in the eighth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS, a pivotal game in that series. The Rangers won that game by one run. He also came in late in Game 1 of the ALCS with the bases loaded and the Rangers up by a run and got Alex Avila to end the threat. Those two outs alone made the trade worth it. Texas has a strong left-handed pitcher in Robbie Ross, but he's someone they utilize for a full inning or two and is actually better against righties than lefties (though neither can hit the rookie these days). Still, the idea of having a veteran left-handed pitcher who can get a key out is appealing. It's worth noting that the Rangers picked up Gonzalez at the August trade deadline, so it's not something they have to do right now.

5. Keep an open mind for a trade no one expects. One thing this team does so well is that it stays prepared for anything and everything. That needs to be the case this year, too. Sure, it's unlikely that the Phillies would make Lee available or that the Seattle Mariners would put Felix Hernandez on the block (or want to deal him to Texas), but you never know. Maybe there's another impact player out there that Texas could get that no one expects right now. While we talked about not giving up Profar or Olt for a rental player, if there's a big-name pitcher with some years left on his contract, that's when those names might be discussed (still can't see Profar going unless it was something really big). Be ready to pull the trigger if that special opportunity (that Cliff Lee 2010-like chance) comes up.

What am I missing? What other deals would you try to make? What deals should the Rangers make?

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Mariners 2

July, 14, 2012
7/14/12
12:22
AM CT


The Texas Rangers started the second half of the season right with a 3-2 road win against the Seattle Mariners after the All-Star break. The Rangers halted a ninth-inning rally from Seattle, but failed to preserve a shutout. The Rangers got their offense going with nine hits, and Derek Holland got the win, throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings. Some thoughts on the win:

What it means: The Rangers are still tied with the New York Yankees for the most wins in the major leagues with a 53-34 record. With the win, they also improved their AL West lead to five games over the Los Angeles Angels.

Pitchers duel: Holland and former Ranger Kevin Millwood put on a show. The game was scoreless through the first four innings and both teams had a combined four hits through four innings. Holland had back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the second and third innings and again in the fifth and sixth. Holland also got out of a one-out jam in the fourth inning. Millwood retired nine straight after a leadoff single from Ian Kinsler in the first. Millwood's dominance dwindled in the fifth inning. In the end, Holland proved the better starter as he posted a quality start and came close to a complete game shutout. Holland finished with four hits, no runs, two walks and four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

The offense gets going: At first it appeared the offense was still in it's funk that began before the All-Star break, as the Rangers were scoreless with two hits through the first four innings. But the bats got going in the fifth inning with the help of a timely Mariners mistake. Michael Young and David Murphy hit singles to begin the inning and Mike Napoli hit into what should have been a double play, but turned into a fielder's choice when Dustin Ackley lost his grip on the ball after the putout at second. One out later, Kinsler hit an RBI single, but Napoli was called out at home to end the inning with the score 1-0. The Rangers scored again in the sixth after a Josh Hamilton single and an Adrian Beltre two-run homer to make the score 3-0. In the eighth inning, Nelson Cruz was inches away from a solo homer to deep center, but settled for a double. Seven Rangers finished the game with at least one hit.

Walking into danger: Holland narrowly avoided disaster in the fourth inning when he allowed a one out single and back-to-back walks to load the bases. Former Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak stepped up to the plate and worked a full count. After a 10 pitch battle, Smoak popped up to Elvis Andrus. With the bases still loaded, Miguel Olivo hit what looked like a single to right field, but Cruz caught up to it to end the inning and keep the score tied at zero.

Young stays hot: Young built upon his season-high four hit game in the series finale against the Minnesota Twins before the All-Star break with another solid performance. He went 2-for-4 and scored the first run of the game.

Napoli's struggles continue: Napoli had another hitless game accompanied by a familiar strikeout in the eighth inning. He managed to reach base twice on a fielder's choice in the fifth and a walk in the seventh. He also got credit for a stolen base in the fifth. He is 2-for-18 in the month of July and was batting .225 prior to Friday's game. He left the game after the eighth with a bruised right quad.

Nathan saves the day: Joe Nathan earned his 19th save of the season in stressful fashion. He failed to preserve the shutout when he had to pitch out of a jam to preserve the Rangers' win in the ninth inning. Kyle Seager hit a one-out single followed by two more singles from Smoak and John Jaso to load the bases. Michael Saunders hit an RBI single to erase the shutout, but was caught in a rundown between first and second base for the second out. Smoak then scored on a wild pitch to cut the Rangers' lead to one. The situation became more stressful when Nathan walked Carlos Peguero with a full count. Nathan finished the game when he struck out Ackley.

One-man show: The Mariners had only two hits through the first six innings, both off the bat of Casper Wells. Wells finished 2-for-4. The Mariners got their third hit from Seager, who hit a leadoff single in the seventh. Seattle finished with seven hits.

Up next:

Sat at SEA: RHP Yu Darvish (10-5, 3.59) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.13), 8:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

Sun at SEA: LHP Matt Harrison (11-4, 3.10) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.84), 3:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

Matchup: Derek Holland vs. Kevin Millwood

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
2:00
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers resume play for the second half of the season following the All-Star break with a three-game road series against the Seattle Mariners. The first game back features LHP Derek Holland vs. RHP Kevin Millwood at 9:10 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21. A quick look at the matchup:

Holland (5-4, 5.05): The 25-year-old will make his second start since returning from the disabled list, a stint which caused him to miss 28 games from June 5-July 7. ... In his last start, Holland pitched six innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs, one home run, two walks and four strikeouts in the Rangers' 4-3 extra-innings win over the Minnesota Twins. ...Has pitched the fourth-most innings for the Rangers at 73, is tied with Yu Darvish for the most earned runs on the team with 41 and is second in home runs allowed with 12. ... Has been at his best on the road this season, posting a 3.23 ERA and 3-1 record in five starts and 30 2/3 innings pitched. ... Is 6-2 in 12 career games (eight starts) against the Mariners, posting a 4.26 ERA through 57 1/3 innings pitched. ... Is 1-1 in two starts this season against the Mariners with a 10.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. ... He allowed eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched in his last start against the Mariners, taking the loss in a 21-8 home defeat that raised his season ERA from 4.05 to 5.11.

Millwood (3-6, 3.69): The 37-year-old former Rangers starter (2006-09) will make his 432nd career start and the 17th of the season against Texas. ... Is tied with Felix Hernandez for the most walks on the Mariners' pitching staff with 35. ... Has comparatively struggled at home this season, going 1-2 in seven starts with a 5.29 ERA through 34 innings pitched compared to a 2-4 record and 2.72 ERA on the road. ... Is 1-2 in six career starts against the Rangers with a 3.16 ERA through 37 innings pitched. ... Is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts against Texas this season, allowing 11 hits and two earned runs and tossing six walks and 14 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched.

Hitters: Mariners hitters are batting .274 (40-for-146) off of Holland. ... Ichiro Suzuki is .250 (7-for-28) with two doubles, a walk and a strikeout. ... Chone Figgins is .318 (7-for-22) with two doubles and six strikeouts. ... Dustin Ackley is 3-for-13 with a double and five strikeouts. ... Justin Smoak is 5-for-15 with two doubles, a walk and two strikeouts. ... Millwood has allowed a .251 batting average (46-for-183) against Rangers hitters. ... Michael Young is 5-for-18 with a home run, a walk and four strikeouts. ... Mike Napoli is 6-for-18 with four doubles, a home run, a walk and six strikeouts. ... Josh Hamilton is 4-for-10 with a double, a home run, two walks and a strikeout. ... Adrian Beltre is a career .247 (20-for-81) with four doubles, three home runs, three walks and nine strikeouts.

Up next:

Sat at SEA: RHP Yu Darvish (10-5, 3.59) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.13), 8:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

Sun at SEA: LHP Matt Harrison (11-4, 3.10) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.84), 3:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

Don Welke key in scouting Rangers talent

July, 3, 2012
7/03/12
11:09
AM CT
It’s no wonder the Texas Rangers have been to consecutive World Series and have a club record seven All-Stars when you put Don Welke’s words into perspective.

“We are never satisfied with where we are because we always want to be better. We always want our players to feel that way. That’s a big part of our emphasis,” Welke said during a conversation on Rangers Magazine (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM).

PODCAST
Don Welke discusses when he first scouted Rangers All-Star pitcher Matt Harrison for the Mark Teixeira trade.

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Welke is the senior special assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, and it’s a role he’s held since 2006. He previously has worked for Pat Gillick, a baseball executive who last summer was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Welke scouted for Gillick, who put together the back-to-back World Series winners in Toronto (1992/1993).

Welke plays a significant role for Daniels in scouting amateur talent for the June draft as well as this time of year when it comes to scouting possible trade pieces.

“We talk about different possibilities, different players. Try to be thorough in all regards ... regarding scouting pro: major league, minor league. I will be out seeing some guys that we might pinpoint as possibilities,” Welke said. “The trade type thing to me is we’ve got to have the player they want. We had Edinson Volquez, [the Cincinnati Reds] wanted him bad. We wanted Josh [Hamilton] bad of course, but we had the player they wanted. We had Justin Smoak, and [the Seattle Mariners] wanted him, so we got Cliff Lee. Those trade things are interesting the way they shake down, and we just try to be thorough.”

It is interesting. The Lee deal was made knowing that he would be a free agent after that 2010 season, but the Rangers would get draft picks when he didn’t sign and they would have reliever Mark Lowe beyond that season. Last year, the Rangers made trades for relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara knowing they would have them beyond 2011.

Welke also discussed when he first scouted All-Star Matt Harrison for the Mark Teixeira trade, what led him to recommend the Rangers sign Martin Perez, honoring area scouts, his theory on free agents, the definition of “special,” Josh Hamilton’s talent, his involvement in the June draft, and the shared qualities of Gillick and Daniels. Listen to the podcast for part one of this two-part interview with Welke.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers take on the Mariners in Game 2 of this three-game set at Rangers Ballpark. It's Scott Feldman taking on Jason Vargas.

Here's a breakdown:

Feldman (0-2, 4.66): Feldman looks for his first victory of the season as he makes his fourth start. Feldman, 29, moved into the rotation when Neftali Feliz was placed on the disabled list May 24. In Feldman's last start, also against the Mariners, he was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings when he gave up a grand slam to Alex Liddi. Feldman gave up a season-high five earned runs on just three hits. But the threw 73 pitches in the outing. Manager Ron Washington said Feldman isn't pitching for his spot on the rotation. Feldman is 3-4 in 10 career starts versus Seattle, with three consecutive losses.

Vargas (5-4, 3.39): He lost his last start, to the Los Angeles Angels, when he gave up three earned runs in seven innings of work. Vargas has lost two of his last three starts. He picked up his last win May 19 at Colorado, when he also went seven innings. In 13 career appearances against Texas, he's 3-5 with a 4.62 ERA. Vargas is making his 12th start of the season and has lost only once at Rangers Ballpark in his career.

Hitters vs. Feldman: Chone Figgins .229, Ichiro Suzuki .290 and Justin Smoak .400.

Hitters vs. Vargas: Elvis Andrus .208, Josh Hamilton .150 and Ian Kinsler .435.

Up next:
Wed. vs. Sea.: LHP Derek Holland (4-3, 4.05) vs. RHP Blake Beavan (2-4, 4.38), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW
Thu.: Off day
Fri. at LAA: RHP Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.58) vs. RHP Jerome Williams (5-2, 3.81), 9:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/Ch. 21
Sat. at LAA: RHP Yu Darvish (7-2, 3.25) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (6-4, 2.77), 9:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW

Matt Harrison with a strong performance

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
10:41
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At the end of a hot night at the ballpark, Texas Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison was smiling.

Harrison pitched one of his best games of the young season, eight strong innings where he allowed just two runs on seven hits. He struck out five and threw 98 pitches.

Harrison moved to 6-3 on the season as he led the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

Harrison has beaten the Mariners twice in the last seven days and picked up eight consecutive wins against the team from the Pacific Northwest.

He's now 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA against the Mariners lifetime.

And Harrison did it by mixing up his pitches, mainly his curveball and changeup, and by spotting his fastball in the strike zone.

"I've been a little sluggish in the first couple of innings and I was just trying to hit (Mike) Napoli's glove and make them put the ball in play," Harrison said. "We were on the same page pretty much the whole game. I shook him off twice. We just kept going and make them put the ball in play and the defense was outstanding behind me and we ended up scoring some runs late."

Harrison noted he needed to pitch better in the first inning. He's allowed nine unearned runs in the opening frame this season and his objective was to get his pitches down in the zone. Harrison tends to overthrow early in the game and that gets him in trouble. He can still attack the strike zone, but must mix up his pitches more and not overthrow.

If he does that, he believes he'll have success.

Monday night, he retired leadoff hitter John Jaso on a bouncer to first, but Chone Figgins doubled down the left-field line. After Ichiro Suzuki reached on a fielders choice, Jesus Montero drove him home with a hard hit single to right for a 1-0 lead.

But Harrison didn't let the first inning bother him. He was able to get out of the inning by retiring Justin Smoak on a groundout to second. Harrison would go on to retire eight consecutive hitters until a Montero single in the fourth.

"There were a lot less pitches than the last game," Harrison said of his pitch counts in the first inning the last two games. "I was just staying with that approach the whole game and it worked out. Unfortunately I gave up that run in the first but I was able to battle back and keep it right there."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Mariners 1

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
11:52
PM CT
Matt Harrison pitched seven strong innings and Joe Nathan collected his 10th save as the Rangers evened the series with the Seattle Mariners at a game apiece with a 3-1 win Tuesday.

How it happened: Pitching was the key. Rangers starter Matt Harrison needed 35 pitches to get through a seven-batter first inning in which he gave up one run. Harrison needed just 26 pitches in the next three innings combined. He also had a stretch of nine straight batters retired end with a one-out double in the fifth inning. Harrison pitched into the eighth inning, and he left the game after giving up singles to the first two batters. Mike Adams inherited those two runners and retired the next three to hold the lead at 3-1. Joe Nathan closed the game for his 10th save.

PODCAST
Rangers manager Ron Washington talks with Bryan Dolgin immediately following the Rangers 3-1 win in Seattle.

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Seattle's finest: Harrison is now 7-1 in his career against the Mariners. His line Tuesday: 7-plus innings, seven hits, one run, two walks and six strikeouts on 114 pitches (75 for strikes). He is the Rangers' third five-game winner, joining Yu Darvish (6) and Robbie Ross (5).

Messing with Texas: Ichiro Suzuki’s first-inning single gave him 291 career hits against Texas, and his single in the eighth inning moved him past George Brett for the most hits against the Rangers.

Smoak signals: Former Ranger and current Mariner first baseman Justin Smoak drove in the Mariners' first-inning run with a single.

Not in the box score: Josh Hamilton made a great catch with his back to home plate while running down Casper Wells' drive on the warning track in center field to close out the bottom of the first inning and leave the bases filled with Mariners. Hamilton made another catch up against the center-field wall when Alex Liddi led off the third inning.

Walk through: Mariners starting pitcher Hector Noesi was perfect through two, but then he walked the leadoff man in the third and another Ranger with one out. Later that inning with two outs, Elvis Andrus drove in both of those walked batters with his third triple of the season.

In the box score: Hamilton swung on the first pitch following the Andrus two-RBI triple, and he delivered an RBI double for a 3-1 Rangers lead. Prior to that hit, Hamilton was 3-for-18 since his 16-game hitting streak.

Gold glove & off glove: Adrian Beltre made a sweet diving stop of Dustin Ackley’s grounder in the fifth for the second out, but Liddi followed with a grounder off Beltre’s glove for an error. Shockingly, Brendan Ryan, who moved up from second base to third base on that play, did not try to score as the ball rolled toward shallow left-center field. The score stayed at 3-1 with the Rangers leading.

HR drought: Ian Kinsler has not hit a home run in the last 24 games. He has just one RBI in his last 15 games.

Bullpen: Adams has appeared in five of the six games the Rangers played against the Mariners this season.

Rotation: The Rangers starting rotation stays in the same order, which means everyone gets an extra day of rest in between starts thanks to Thursday’s scheduled off day.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182