Texas Rangers: Louis Coleman
Friday: LHP Martin Perez (9-5, 3.64) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (9-9, 3.23), 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Matt Garza (9-6, 4.06) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (14-11, 4.08), 6:10 p.m.
Sunday: RHP Alexi Ogando (7-4, 3.15) vs. James Shields (12-9, 3.33), 1:10 p.m.
Here's what to watch for in this weekend's crucial series between the Rangers and Royals:
Second time around: The Rangers and Royals match up in a three-game series for the second time this season. Texas won two out of three games from Kansas City May 31-June 2 in Arlington. The Rangers are on a good run against the Royals, winning four of five games and 7 of the 10 dating back to last season. They are 20-9 versus Kansas City since the start of the 2010 season. Kansas City is a much improved team with a starting rotation topped by James Shields and Ervin Santana, a deep bullpen and a young and talented lineup.
Questions on Yost: Kansas City starts Friday trailing the Rangers and Tampa Bay by three games in the race for the American League final wildcard berth. But the talk heading into Friday's series against Texas is whether lame-duck Royals manager Ned Yost will return in 2014. Owner David Glass said Friday in The Kansas City Star that it is general manager Drayton Moore's call. While Yost's contract is up the season, Moore has one more year left. Glass praised the job both have done this season.
Hosmer is unstoppable: The Rangers will run across a dangerous hitter in Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. He was 2-for-5 on Wednesday with a single and a double, giving him 57 multi-hit games on the season, which is the most in the AL. He is batting .343 for September. Hosmer has 177 hits which is tied for seventh in the league.
More danger: Texas pitchers also will have to be careful with Kansas City designated hitters Billy Butler. He is batting .398 at home since the All-Star break. He has hit safely in 11 consecutive home games, going 20-for-42 with nine RBIs.
Top bullpens: The top two bullpens in the American League will be on display this weekend. The Royals have a 2.58 bullpen ERA, the best in the league. Texas is next with a 2.95 mark, allowing just two runs in the last 17 innings. The Rangers' 82.4 save percentage is the best in the major leagues. Kansas has several power arms in the bullpen, from closer Greg Holland to Louis Coleman, who has allowed one run in 27 innings. Rangers left-hander reliever Neal Cotts leads all major league pitchers with a 1.07 ERA.
|Ben and Skin were granted exclusive access to an extended cut of Kansas City's broadcast, featuring the scuffle between the Royals and Rangers.
When play resumed, Michael Young did his talking with the bat, launching a two-run homer to give the Rangers an 8-4 lead, which became the final margin.
“I know they hit me on purpose,” Cruz said. “They can say whatever they want. If you’ve played the game as long as I have, you know when it’s on purpose.”
Royals catcher Brayan Pena tried to tell Cruz that Coleman was not throwing at him.
“I got mad at him (Pena) because he lied to my face,” Cruz said.
Coleman maintained he was simply trying to come inside with a setup pitch before going away.
Television replays showed Cruz jogging slowly around the bases after a sixth-inning home run off Bruce Chen. That prompted questions about whether the Royals thought Cruz had admired his homer too much.
Asked why he thought the Royals were throwing at him, Cruz said: “Probably because I hit the homer and I see the ball. Everybody does that.”
Young said he wouldn’t comment on what was being said between the lines. His homer was important, Young said, in the context of the ballgame.
“It was a two-run game,” Young said. “The game wasn’t out of hand at all. We still had work to do.”
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.