Texas Rangers: Kevin Millwood
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.
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.
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.
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.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mike Napoli was busy for the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
|Rangers catcher Mike Napoli talks about the play he made at home plate in the eighth inning against the Mariners, what exactly Craig Gentry was doing and more. |
After a 4-2, Rangers win, Napoli was sought after by reporters in the clubhouse.
He seems to be breaking out of his slump. He was mired in a 3-for-25 spell before his two-hit game Sunday and then his three-RBI night against the Mariners.
But leave it to Ron Washington to bring everything to reality.
"That was a big hit for us. We certainly needed it and he needed it for his own well being," the manager said. "But you don't come out of a slump in two days. You just got to keep swinging. I think he'll let you know in the next week or so if he's out of a slump. He's starting to feel much better up there at the plate and (what) we got out of him tonight, we certainly needed."
What almost gets lost with the Napoli homer is his play at the plate.
With the Rangers leading 4-1 in the eighth, Seattle's Brendan Ryan hit a shot to center that was misplayed by center fielder Craig Gentry, who dived for the ball and let it skip past him to the wall.
"Don't leave your feet," Washington said. "If you're off your feet you need to catch it."
The hit drove in one run, but Nelson Cruz tracked the ball down against the wall in center and threw a strike to Ian Kinsler, the cutoff man. Kinsler said before getting the throw he peeked to see Ryan round second and get the go sign from third-base coach Jeff Datz.
"I was going to make the throw regardless," Kinsler said.
The throw was where Kinsler wanted it, slightly up the line and high. Napoli blocked the plate with his left leg and placed a tag on the left arm of a sliding Ryan, who was called out at home.
"I just trying to block the plate. I knew it was going to be a close play," Napoli said. "I was able to stick my foot in front and Ian gave me a good throw and I was able to block the plate."
Napoli's night started off slowly as he struck out twice against Kevin Millwood, who pitched well against his former team. Millwood allowed one run over five innings. He struck out five but left after throwing 97 pitches.
Napoli came up in the sixth inning with a chance to make a mark against reliever Steve Delabar. With two on and one out, Napoli sent a fastball that hit the facade in right for a 4-1 Rangers lead.
"Those are over and done with," Napoli said of his strikeouts. "I keep moving on, even if I have a good at-bat or not. It's past and you just try to build of the previous at-bat and in this game you have to let things go and move on to the next. Just trying to go up there and give a tough at-bat every time."
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yes Matt Harrison gave up another first-inning run, but that's fine. He's been able to settle down the rest of the way in previous starts and he did it again Monday night. The left-hander went eight innings in leading the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The Rangers have now won four consecutive games. Harrison also beat Seattle in his last start with a seven-inning effort.
In a close game where the Rangers had trouble scoring runs against former teammate and Mariners starter Kevin Millwood, the bats came alive against reliever Steve Delabar with a three-run sixth inning.
How it happened? To put it simply, Mike Napoli. With two strikeouts on his ledger, Napoli came up with two on and one out in the sixth inning against Delabar. Napoli stroked a 2-0 fastball belt high that hit the front of the upper deck in right to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. It was Napoli's ninth homer of the season. After a 3-for-25 slump, Napoli is 3-for-6 with two home runs, three RBIs and four runs the last two games.
Harrison's day: The Rangers' starter allowed his ninth first inning-run of the season but settled down and pitched a wonderful game. His final totals for the evening: eight innings, seven hits, two earned runs and five strikeouts on 98 pitches. He didn't walk a batter. Before the game, Harrison talked about getting his sinker down in the strike zone and challenging the opposing hitters. Harrison didn't get into much trouble outside the first inning. He retired eight in a row until a fourth-inning single by Jesus Montero. It was a solid outing by Harrison (6-3).
Play of the night: Napoli's homer was impressive, but the play he made at home plate in the eighth inning was pretty special. Brendan Ryan tripled to center when Craig Gentry's dive was well short of a ball that bounced to the wall. Michael Saunders, who reached on an infield hit earlier in the inning, scored easily. Nelson Cruz's strong throw to cutoff man Ian Kinsler setup up the play at the plate. Napoli blocked the plate with his foot and placed a high tag on Ryan's left arm as he slid into home plate. Instead of a one-run game, the Napoli's block and tag kept it a two-run game.
Memorial Day stuff: The Rangers are now 17-20 on Memorial Day have won their last two games on the holiday. The Rangers are also 10-11 at home on Memorial Day. Among those in attendance were former president George W. Bush and former Cowboys and University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.
What's next?: Game 2 of the series has Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66) taking on Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.39). CF Josh Hamilton could return to the lineup after missing Monday night's game with an upper respiratory infection.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers start a three-game series versus the Seattle Mariners tonight at Rangers Ballpark. Former Ranger Kevin Millwood starts for the Mariners against the Matt Harrison.
Harrison (5-3, 4.72): The left-hander has failed to find consistency the last six starts. He's got an ERA of 6.68 and a 2-3 mark in those games. In the first inning of games, opponents are hitting .306 off Harrison and he has an ERA of 7.00. Harrison said he has to get his sinker down in the strike zone at the start of games and challenge hitters to gain success. He's working on five days' rest due to last week's day off. Left-handed batters are hitting just .148 against Harrison.
Millwood (3-4, 3.72): He's 1-0 in two starts this season against the Rangers with a 0.75 ERA. The Mariners won both games. In his last start, May 23, Millwood shut out the Rangers over six innings, allowing three hits with one walk and two strikeouts. The veteran right-hander has been a much better pitcher on the road, compiling a 1.78 ERA with a 2-2 mark. Opponents are hitting just .190 against home away from home.
Rangers vs. Millwood: Adrian Beltre .253, Josh Hamilton .400, Mike Napoli .375
Mariners vs. Harrison: Ichiro Suzuki .257, Dustin Ackley 0-15, Miguel Olivo 0-14.
Tue. vs. Sea.: RHP Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.39), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW
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
Feldman (0-1, 3.00 ERA): Feldman will pitch on eight days rest as he fills in for Neftali Feliz in the rotation. … He’s 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA in nine career starts against the Mariners. …In two previous starts this season, he’s 0-1 with a 2.00 ERA. ...Feldman became the first Rangers pitcher to get a losing decision without allowing an earned run since C.J. Wilson on July 21, 2011 in his last start. He allowed two unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals on May 14. … Feldman is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts at Safeco Field.
Millwood (2-4, 4.17 ERA): The former Rangers pitcher will make his ninth start with the Mariners. …He pitched a two-hit complete-game shutout in his last start against the Colorado Rockies on Friday. It was his 22nd career complete game and sixth career shutout. …He’s 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers. …Millwood allowed a run on four hits in six innings in his first start against the Rangers this season on April 11. …Millwood is fourth in innings pitched (2,609.0), strikeouts (2,011) and games started (423) among active pitchers.
Hitters: Mike Napoli (6-for-16), Michael Young (2-for-4) and Josh Hamilton (3-for-7) have hit well against Millwood. …David Murphy (0-for-6), Mitch Moreland (0-for-5) and Nelson Cruz (0-for-2) are hitless against Millwood. …Ichiro Suzuki has the most hits among Mariners against Feldman (9-for-29). …Michael Saunders (1-for-7) and Justin Smoak (2-for-4) each have hit a home run off Feldman. …Miguel Olivio (0-for-6) and Chone Figgins (8-for-35) have struggled against Feldman.
Thu.: OFF DAY
Fri. vs. Tor.: LHP Derek Holland (3-3, 4.27) vs. Brandon Morrow (5-2, 2.63), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540/TXA-21
Sat. vs. Tor.: RHP Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.30) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (3-4, 3.30), 2:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540/FSSW
Sun. vs. Tor.: RHP Yu Darvish (6-2, 3.05) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (4-4, 3.27), 2:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW
He takes a simple approach to his success this season: Get ahead of the hitter and make sure the fastball location is up to snuff.
“I’m just going out there and doing it," Lewis said. "The last couple of years I’ve tried to improve. It’s not a different mindset. I’m trying to make them earn it.”
In the process, Lewis' control has been consistently good. He has one walk this season and 24 strikeouts. Lewis hasn't walked anyone in his last 24 2/3 innings, the seventh-longest mark in club history. It's the longest since Kevin Millwood had 26 2/3 innings of walkless baseball in 2008.
"I just think three years of competing, three years of learning who he is, three years of learning the league has made him be exactly what he is," Ron Washington said. "Any baseball player that wants to be good or wants to be better makes the adjustments he has to make. I think he’s going through the transition that good pitchers go through."
Lewis has a 2.03 ERA and is 2-0 this season. His last start was a no-decision, though the Rangers won in extra innings in Detroit on Sunday. He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings.
Lewis is looking forward to facing the Tampa Bay Rays lineup, which came into the series fourth in runs scored in the AL.
“It’s a good matchup," Lewis said. "It’s the same situation with the Yankees coming in here. They’re a good club. They have a good record. It’s a good matchup.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers will say it's not a crisis, but closer Joe Nathan blew a save, his first of the young season, as the Mariners rallied for three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night. It's the second time this season Nathan has cost the Rangers a game, and both have come when he pitched on consecutive nights.
Here are the highlights:
What it means: You want to see what Nathan and Ron Washington have to say about this one. Nathan hasn't looked good when pitching on consecutive days and Washington doesn't want him pitching more than one inning. The Rangers might have some issues with their closer. The Rangers' pitchers had a 23-inning scoreless streak snapped in the eighth inning. Colby Lewis pitched well and deserved a better, fate but Nathan didn't close the deal.
Nathan issues: When the new closer walked to the dugout, he was greeted with boos and his head was down when he walked down the steps. Nathan allowed three runs on four hits, blowing his first save of the season. It started with a leadoff single by Justin Smoak with the Mariners down 3-1. Kyle Seager doubled down the right-field line to put runners at second and third. Jesus Montero hit a sacrifice fly to deep right to cut the Rangers' lead to one. Michael Saunders' double tied it and despite a strikeout of Brendan Ryan, Nathan failed to keep the game tied. He allowed a single to center to the No. 9 hitter John Jaso for the go-ahead run. Nathan is responsible for both Rangers' losses this season. In the first loss Saturday, he allowed a go-ahead homer in the ninth to the Chicago White Sox's Alex Rios.
Colby Lewis is dealing: Colby Lewis shut down the Mariners on Wednesday night. He gave up five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, striking out six on 109 pitches. Nathan's blow save cost Lewis a chance to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2010. Lewis dominated the Mariners by mixing his pitches and finding different parts of the strike zone. At one point, Lewis retired 11 in a row until Saunders two-out double down the right-field line in the seventh. That hit forced Washington to take Lewis out for Alexi Ogando.
Kevin Millwood is just as good: Former Rangers ace Kevin Millwood was almost as good as Lewis in his season debut. Millwood didn't have a dominating fastball, but was efficient enough with 103 pitches to shut the Rangers down with the exception of the first. Josh Hamilton reached on a two-out double to left on a ball that just got under the glove of a charging Chone Figgins. Adrian Beltre walked and Michael Young drove in his third run of the season with a single to center. Millwood wasn't out of danger. He walked Nelson Cruz, but struck out David Murphy to end the inning.
Where are the runs? The Rangers' bats came alive, slightly, in the seventh inning. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus hit back-to-back home runs to break open a one-run game. Kinsler hit a 1-1 belt-high fastball to left field for a 2-0 advantage and Andrus sent Steve Delabar's 3-1 pitch to left center for a 3-0 lead. When Andrus, who has just 12 career home runs, got to the dugout, Ogando squeezed his biceps. The home runs were the Rangers' first back-to-back shots of the season, and they came with two outs. The Rangers were held to just one run with Millwood on the mound and left six runners on base, including the bases loaded in the first and a runner at third in the fifth, before breaking through against the Seattle bullpen.
What's next? The Rangers finish this four-game set Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Derek Holland takes on Jason Vargas. Expect shortstop Alberto Gonzalez to make his season debut in place of Andrus. It's also the last game of the homestand as the Rangers will begin a nine-game road trip starting Friday night at Minnesota.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The third game of this four-game set features RHP Colby Lewis and RHP Kevin Millwood. A look at the matchups:
Lewis (1-0, 3.00 ERA): In his first career Opening Day start, Lewis allowed two runs on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts in the win over the Chicago White Sox. ...His nine strikeouts tied Nolan Ryan's Rangers Opening Day record (April 8, 1991 vs. Milwaukee). ...This is the fifth time Lewis has started a season in the Rangers' rotation, and he's won his first start each time. ...Gave up a solo home run to Adam Dunn on Friday. He surrendered an AL-high 35 homers in 2011. ...He is 6-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 17 career games (13 starts) against Seattle, including a three-hit, 10-strikeout performance in nine shutout innings on April 30, 2010.
Millwood (0-0, 0.00 ERA): The 37-year-old former Ranger makes his first start for the Mariners in his 16th big league season. ...He was 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in five Cactus League games (four starts) this spring. ...He made nine starts for the Colorado Rockies in 2011 after the club signed him as a free agent on Aug. 10, and he was with the Yankees and Red Sox organizations the first four months of the season. ...He is 163-140 with a 4.10 ERA in his career, which includes 415 starts. ...Among active pitchers, he ranks fifth in innings pitched (2,559 1/3), strikeouts (1,976) and games started (415). ...He's 0-2 with a 4.95 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers. He's making his first start against Texas since Aug. 10, 2010 with Baltimore and his first start vs. Texas in Arlington since June 8, 2002, when he was with the Braves.
Hitters: Adrian Beltre has 74 career at-bats off Millwood and is batting .257 with three homers and five RBIs. ...Josh Hamilton is 2-for-4 with a homer and Mike Napoli is 6-for-16. ...Alberto Gonzalez, David Murphy and Mitch Moreland are a combined 0-for-8 off Millwood. ...Ichiro Suzuki is 18-for-48 (.375) against Lewis. ...Franklin Gutierrez (6-for-16) and Chone Figgins (5-for-16) have had success off Lewis and Miguel Olivo has not (0-for-14 with 6 Ks).
Thursday vs. Sea: LHP Derek Holland (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (1-0, 2.31 ERA), 1:05 p.m. on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM
Weather permitting, the Rangers expect starter Neftali Feliz to pitch a simulated game, 60-65 pitches, at the Ranger Ballpark this morning. The session should end around 9:30 a.m., and then Feliz will join his teammates at a banquet.
Feliz is scheduled to pitch Tuesday vs. Seattle.
Manager Ron Washington said the young starter's simulated game should be the finishing touches to make sure he's ready for the 2012 season.
"Yes because last time he did close to 90 [pitches] and we got him where we wanted to get him," said Washington, alluding to Feliz's last start of the spring. "I think he did a good job of making adjustments. He's coming along. The first inning, last time out, he had out there was rough. He got out of it with minimal damage, and then the next three innings he [looked] pretty good using his stuff."
Here's the rotation to start the season, with the opposing pitcher:
Friday-Saturday, Rangers vs. White Sox
- Friday: Colby Lewis vs. John Danks
- Saturday: Derek Holland vs. Jake Peavy
- Sunday: Matt Harrison vs. Gavin Floyd
Several baseball officials walking through the lobby said they feel length of the contract, maybe even more than the actual dollars on average per season, will determine where Lee goes.
The Rangers appear willing to talk about five years. But what about six? This week is when we should start seeing some offers for Lee. And which team steps up with that sixth year could have a huge edge in landing the free-agent pitcher.
But does that mean the sixth year has to be guaranteed? We'll see. Maybe there's a way to structure the contract so that sixth year is an option that vests based on innings pitched or other measurables in the fifth year of the deal (much like the club did with Kevin Millwood's contract). Maybe there's a considerable buyout of that sixth year so that Lee gets more guaranteed money that way.
Or maybe one of the teams simply decide to guarantee that sixth year to land the 32-year-old. Stay tuned.
Dec. 8: Rangers president Nolan Ryan makes public his partnership with Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg. They are part of a group of investors hoping to buy the club. Greenberg attends part of the Winter Meetings as does Dennis Gilbert, another prospective buyer. Houston businessman Jim Crane is also a bidder.
Dec. 9: General manager Jon Daniels completes trade with the Orioles, sending Kevin Millwood and $3 million to Baltimore for reliever Chris Ray and a pick in the Rule 5 draft. The move frees up about $9 million in the budget.
Dec. 11: Rangers make official the signing of Rich Harden to a $6.5 million deal.
Dec. 15: Owner Tom Hicks chooses the group headed by Greenberg and Ryan as the one he will enter into exclusive negotiations with to buy the club. The decision comes after a flurry of activity, including resubmitted bids by Crane and the Greenberg-Ryan group. The hope then was to get a deal done by Opening Day.
Dec. 19: The proposed deal to send Boston’s Mike Lowell to Texas falls apart after Lowell fails a physical and needs surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament
Dec. 22: Texas agrees to terms with reliever Darren Oliver on a one-year contract with a vesting option for the second year.
Jan. 11: Rangers sign Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year deal with a mutual option to be their designed hitter.
Jan. 19: Colby Lewis, the former first-round pick of the Rangers, signs a two-year deal after spending two previous seasons in Japan.
Jan. 21: Club makes signing of utility infielder Khalil Greene official.
Jan. 23: Hicks Sports Group and Rangers Baseball Express, the name of the group headed by Greenberg and Ryan, strike a deal to complete the sale of the Rangers, pending approval from MLB and HSG’s creditors.
Jan. 31: Rangers expect pitchers Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando, who were held up from entering the United States on visa issues stemming from their part in a human trafficking scandal, to be allowed to arrive in time for spring training.
The Rangers have taken a 6-0 lead over the Astros.
Things started pretty nicely for the Rangers. Pitcher Scott Feldman stroked a one-out double down the right field line against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez.
It was the first extra base hit for a pitcher since Kevin Millwood did it on June 26, 2008. Millwood had a double.
The Rangers inning continued when Elvis Andrus drew a walk, and when Michael Young moved the runners over with a bounce out to third. Ian Kinsler walked to load the bases.
Vladimir Guerrero drew a walk to bring in the first run of the night. That's when the bats heated up. Josh Hamilton, on a 1-2 pitch, smashed a single past a diving Geoff Blum into left field to drive in two runs.
Justin Smoak, who has struggled during his nine-game road trip, had his third hit (he's 3-23 on the trip) with a double to the wall in center, bringing in two more runs.
A RBI single by Matt Treanor made it 6-0 Rangers and this is where we stand.
Millwood returns to the place he called home for four seasons with the Orioles. He won't pitch in this series. He still has a home here. His kids, however, go to school in Georgia, and he has no hard feelings about the trade.
"No, it’s a business," said Millwood, who went 48-46 with the Rangers with four Opening Day starts. "The game is a business. Nothing I can do about it, no reason to whine about it. I just move on and go on about my business."
Millwood said he enjoyed his time in Texas and is getting used to life in Charm City. He joked about learning a lot about America because of how close Baltimore is to Washington, D.C.
This season, Millwood is 0-4 with a 3.65 ERA in nine starts. In his last four starts he's gone into the seventh inning, yet is still winless for the Orioles (13-27).
"There's nothing I can do about it," Millwood said of his 2010 stats. "All I can do is pitch, and whatever happens, happens. I think I've done a good job of keeping us in ballgames."
Then, Feldman was vying for a rotation spot but ended up in the bullpen. He was simply trying to improve on his 6-8 record and a 5.29 ERA. He was an important innings eater in 2008 and the Rangers expected him to handle a big role as a long man and spot starter in 2009.
"I tried not to get too frustrated when I was in the bullpen," Feldman said. "I wanted to be starting, but it's not going to do any good to complain about it or pout around. I tried to keep a positive attitude and once I did get the chance, I was ready to do it. It's what I wanted to do. "
He got that chance on April 25. After the Kris Benson experiment failed, the Rangers turned to Feldman. He made an immediate impact, coming out of the pen to start and give the club five innings (allowing one run) in a win against Baltimore. It was his first of 17 wins in 2009.
"I think probably at the begining of the year I didn't think I'd win 17 games," Feldman said. "That had a lot to do with the team being good. I felt like if I could just keep improving on 2008 that I'd be OK. I thought if I had an ERA around 4.00, it would have been a good year."
Feldman was a road warrior. He was 12-4 with a 3.56 ERA away from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The 12 wins were tied for the most in the majors in 2009 and set a club record. His road ERA was the lowest for a Rangers pitcher with at least 81 road innings since Ken Hill in 1996.
Feldman had a solid arsenal of pitches in 2009: sinker, cutter, curve and changeup. Feldman will spend the spring refining those pitches and making sure they are ready to make an impact again in 2010.
The big question with Feldman: Can he repeat his 2009 success this season?
In terms of record, that's probably unrealistic. But the Rangers see a pitcher who is still learning and still improving. They think he can be even better as an overall player. Feldman isn't spending any time this spring thinking about how many wins he might have in 2010.
"I think you try to build on last year," Feldman said. "I want to go out there and compete and have fun during the games in spring training and try to refine all my pitches and get my location back. I did that last year, too. I think that's part of spring. You go out there and get the feel of playing again."
One other difference for Feldman this spring is that he looks around the clubhouse and sees younger pitchers looking to him for leadership. He was the Rangers' top starter last season, and with that comes even more respect from others, not to mention questions about how he goes about his business.
"Last year, pitchers followed Kevin Millwood around," general manager Jon Daniels said. "This year, I see them following Scott Feldman around."
Feldman remains the same humble guy. He's confident, certainly. But he just goes about his business, works hard and does everything he can to help make the team better. We'll see if that translates into another solid season on the mound.
How do you think Feldman will do this season?
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