Texas Rangers: Mark Hamburger
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Alexi Ogando reminded everyone of the Texas Rangers' starting pitching depth Friday.
Let's not forget that Ogando was an All-Star in 2011 as a starter. And while he's destined for the bullpen if everyone is healthy, he and Scott Feldman are important insurance options should someone get hurt.
With Neftali Feliz still nursing a stiff right shoulder, Ogando went out and pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball in the Rangers' 4-1 win against the San Francisco Giants in front of a sellout crowd at Scottsdale Stadium. Ogando had three walks and three strikeouts.
"I was trying to work both sides of the plate," Ogando said through a translator (Julio Borbon).
Manager Ron Washington said Ogando's command was a little off at times, but was pleased the right-hander got his innings. Ogando said he'll continue to pitch and be ready for the season -- whatever role that may be.
"I'm ready for anything," Ogando said. "They have me starting in case anything comes up. I'm ready if they need me."
Speech time: Even in spring training, Washington isn't afraid to go to the mound and get a message across. Mark Hamburger came in with a 4-0 lead and allowed a run. He got a double play and then walked two straight batters. That got Washington out of his chair just outside the dugout and out to the mound.
"He just got himself out of trouble with a double play and he walked the next two guys -- what was he trying to do?" Washington said. "Just get outs. That's all."
Hamburger did just that, throwing two quick strikes to the final hitter he faced and getting a ground ball out.
Sliding toward Posey: Mitch Moreland had the distinction of being the first player to slide at home plate with Buster Posey catching. There was no collision as Moreland was safe in the fifth inning with the game's first run.
"There were two outs and I was doing everything I could to score," Moreland said. "He gave me the plate, so I slid on the outside line and got in."
Hamilton in center: Josh Hamilton had two hits and was pleased that his timing is starting to come around. He said he wants to play a few more games in center to get his legs under him. Washington said that's likely to happen in a few games before the club leaves Arizona. But the skipper also noted he still has to see more of Borbon, Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin.
5-4-5 double play: Yep, that's right. You don't see a 5-4-5 double play often, but with runners on the corners and one out, Nelson Cruz hit a hard ball to third that was bobbled by Ryan Theriot. He threw to second for the out and Hamilton was then straying too far off the third-base bag and threw behind him to get him for the third out. Odd.
Rope: It didn't result in a double play, but Cruz made an impressive throw to third base in the second inning. Brandon Belt tagged up on a fly ball to right and Cruz threw a bullet to third base. Adrian Beltre wasn't quite able to catch it and tag Belt, but Cruz made it a close play. It's another reminder of the kind of arm he possesses out there.
Caught: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw out Emmanuel Burriss with a solid throw to second base in the third. He then caught Brandon Crawford in the fifth. Torrealba has done a tremendous job of getting would-be basestealers this spring. He's had six runners attempt to steal on him and he's thrown out five.
Hit streak: Michael Young singled in the sixth to extend his spring training hitting streak to 11 games. He's 12-for-25 with four doubles, four walks, five runs scored and two RBIs in that span.
"I didn't even think about it, to be honest," Hamburger said. "I was just so glad to pitch because it had been a while. But to go out there and get my first win and help us was great."
Hamburger came in for the start of the third inning, relieving C.J. Wilson, who threw 38 pitches in two innings just to stay sharp for his Friday start in Game 1 of the ALDS. Hamburger gave up one run in 3 2/3 innings and left with the Rangers in front. It was good enough to get the victory.
"I don't know if you saw his first pitch, but it was high and went to the screen," Wilson said. "But then he struck out [Peter] Bourjos. We're all happy for him. He's a good guy. We made sure we kept the ball for him."
Hamburger hadn't pitched since Sept. 10. He said his fastball command wasn't great, but was pleased with his slider and splitter. So was manager Ron Washington.
"He was awesome," Washington said. "He hadn't pitched in three weeks, but went out there and gave us what we needed."
Hamburger continues to learn valuable lessons from some of the veterans on the team as he gets his first taste of the majors. And he's hungry for more.
"To know that I've got a job right now at this level, it makes me work so much harder," Hamburger said. "It makes me know that it's not going back to another minor league level. It's like the top of the top and now you want to go higher. It makes me want to push it more and more."
One thing he needs to learn: Remember to grab your stuff. Hamburger started to walk out of the clubhouse without his game ball. He quickly went back to retrieve it.
ANAHIEM, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3, ending Los Angeles' hopes at a longshot wild-card berth and allowing Texas to keep in front of the Detroit Tigers in the race for home-field advantage in the ALDS. The Rangers are one game up with two to play but must finish ahead of Detroit as the Tigers have the tiebreaker. Some quick thoughts on tonight's game (more to come from the clubhouse soon):
* Michael Young was 1-for-3 and his now hitting .338 on the season. He delivered as he seems to do with runners in scoring position (hitting .376 with RISP), getting an RBI single in the eighth to give the Rangers an insurance run. He's now five points behind Miguel Cabrera, who was 3-for-5 to push his average to .343. Adrian Gonzalez stayed at .338.
* C.J. Wilson pitched just two innings Monday and threw 38 pitches. He didn't give up any runs and left four runners stranded in scoring position. Wilson finishes the season with a 2.94 ERA. He had two walks and no strikeouts Monday, but ends up with 206 Ks in 223 1/3 innings, a career-high and by far the most on the team this season. He didn't have best stuff Monday, but was a horse all season.
* Wilson's ERA (2.94) is the 7th-lowest in team history and the best since Nolan Ryan's 2.91 ERA in 1991.
* Mistakes by Angels catcher Jeff Mathis led to a Ranger run in the first. Ian Kinsler singled and then a passed ball got him to second. When Elvis Andrus bunted, Mathis threw wildly to first, allowing Kinsler to score and Andrus to get to second. Starter Dan Haren did a nice job of getting out of the inning after that.
* Andrus, after getting two straight days off, looked refreshed and ready Monday. He was 4-for-5 with a double and three singles. The four hits tie a career-high for Andrus (he's done it seven times).
* Adrian Beltre continued his power surge. His 2-run homer in the fourth made it 3-0 Rangers. It was his 11th homer in his last 14 games and his 6th in the last 8 games. He has 31 homers on the year, tying Kinsler for the team lead.
* Darren Oliver struggled. The lefty couldn't get an out when he came in with one on and two outs in the sixth. He gave up an infield single to Alberto Callaspo, a single to left by Mike Trout and then walked Erick Aybar and Bobby Abreu. The Angels scored on the Abreu walk. LAA made the decision to pinch-hit with a left-handed hitter despite a lefty in Oliver on the mound and it worked as Abreu drew the walk.
* Koji Uehara continued his solid September. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by getting Maicer Izturis to pop up to first. And he came back out for the seventh and got a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He has allowed just one run in his last 9 outings (1 ER in 6.1 IP) with 11 Ks. He's got lots of confidence.
* Mark Hamburger pitched well Monday in relief. He came in for the third inning and allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 3 2/3 innings.
* Mike Adams needed just 12 pitches to get a strikeout and all three outs in the eighth.
* Washington wanted to get Neftali Feliz some work and got a chance in a tight game. He came in and gave up a single to Aybar, who went to second on a passed ball. After getting the next two batters, Peter Bourjos singled to score Aybar and make it 4-3. But Feliz struck out Howie Kendrick to end the inning.
The plan, Washington said, remains to go with a four-man rotation that appears to include Wilson, Colby Lewis, Holland and Matt Harrison. Washington has named Wilson as the Game 1 starter, but has yet to decide on an order after that. Wilson will leave Anaheim early to arrive either in New York or Arlington in proper time to prepare for his start.
"We know what we want to do," Washington said of his rotation. "We're not ready to say it yet."
A significant focus on the mound will be the relievers battling for spot on the ALDS roster. Those include Yoshinori Tateyama, Scott Feldman, Michael Kirkman and Darren O'Day. There will be plenty of innings for an intriguing competition to take root.
Tateyama helped his cause Saturday with a bounce-back performance in his first appearance since Sept. 10 when he joined a minuscule list of pitchers to give up a grand slam to consecutive batters faced. Tateyama pitched a hitless seventh inning against the Mariners with a couple of strikeouts. Meanwhile, Feldman allowed three runs on four hits and a walk over four innings.
* Nelson Cruz returns to right field today for the first time since he strained his left hamstring nearly a month ago. He's played seven games as the designated hitter. Cruz will play six or seven innings today, Washington said. Washington said his postseason outfield will is set with Cruz in right, Josh Hamilton in center and either David Murphy, Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in left field.
Washington said his decision in left on a per-game basis might not necessarily be dictated by the starting pitcher being a lefty or right. Chavez and Murphy are left-handed hitters and Gentry is a righty.
"You could see Gentry, you could see Murphy. You could see Chavez. There is no set. The only thing that's going to be set is Hamilton and Cruz. The rest of it is flexible. You see Hamilton out there and you will see Cruz out there."
* The beef of the Rangers bullpen will get today off. Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz will not pitch today. Washington did not say who he plans to use as the closer if that situation occurs. He mentioned the possibility of taking a look during today's game at Michael Gonzalez, Mark Hamburger and Darren O'Day.
* The Rangers enter today's game one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the ALDS. The No. 3 seed will open the postseason Friday night at the New York Yankees. While winning games remains a priority, Washington said resting his players properly to prepare them for the postseason is the top priority.
"The important thing is, for me, they need to be ready to go," Washington said. "They grind for me the whole year, the same guys, they need a break and I'm going to give them a break. I want to win and we expect to win, whoever we put out there, but I got to get them ready. I don't want to go into Friday and we're still feeling lag. I want to go in Friday mentally fresh, as physically fresh as we possibly can be at this point and see what happens."
* With a win today, the Rangers would match a team record with 52 home wins (also 1978) and finish with the best home winning percentage in club history at 52-29 (.642, the current best is .634 in 1978 when finished 52-30). It would also give the Rangers a seven-game win streak to end the home slate and a club-record 15th win over Seattle.
Mark Hamburger was kind enough to chat with me for about 5 minutes prior to Wednesday's game at Tropicana Field.
Hamburger is more than just a reliever with a great story (he started his professional career thanks to an open tryout with the Twins at the Metrodome in 2007). He has a memorable last name that provides loads of fun for opposing fans (and even his home teams when it comes to fun ad opportunities).
He can also sing, thanks his days in a choir. The Rangers discovered this talent by accident on the team charter from Boston to Tampa Bay on Sunday. You'll see what I mean when you watch the video.
* Lewis got some breaking and off-speed pitches up in the zone (a few sliders, for example) and worked with runners on base all through his outing. He managed to give up just one run as the Red Sox left six on base in first three innings. But in the fourth, Boston got to Lewis. With a runner on and no outs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a home run to right to tie the score at 3-3.
* Lewis had three walks and did not benefit from a small strike zone from home plate umpire Gary Darling. The Red Sox hitters stayed patient, got the counts in their favor and took advantage. Lewis is now 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA in his last three starts. He's given up 32 homers, the most in the AL, and five of those have come in the last three starts.
* The fourth inning didn't get any better after Lewis left. Tateyama came in and couldn't get the left-handed hitters out. Lefties were hitting .242 off Tateyama coming into the game. The lefties in the fourth off Tateyama: Adrian Gonzalez walked, David Ortiz walked and Carl Crawford hit a grand slam. All seven homers that Tateyama has allowed have come by lefties.
* The Red Sox pinch hit Mike Aviles for Jed Lowrie with the bases loaded in the fourth, and he got a single to drive in what was then the go-ahead run.
* By the time the 36-minute bottom of the fourth ended, the Rangers had allowed eight runs, used three pitchers and given up eight hits. The eight runs matched the season worst for the Rangers.
* Lewis worked around some of the tougher lefties in the Red Sox lineup in the first. He walked Gonzalez with first base open and, with two outs and two on, issued a free pass to Ortiz. But he got Lowrie to line out to end the inning. Lewis needed 27 pitches in the inning but got out of it with no damage. The Rangers scored in the next half inning.
* The Rangers took advantage of walks. Erik Bedard walked three Texas batters in the first three innings, and all three scored. Two walks in the third helped build the Rangers' early lead. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus walked and Michael Young delivered a one-out hit to center to drive in a run. Andrus ran hard to get to third and was in position to score when Adrian Beltre hit a ground ball to short.
* Texas couldn't take advantage of a scoring chance in the first. With Andrus and third and Hamilton at first with out one, Young hit a bullet to Gonzalez, who gloved it and stepped on the bag. Hamilton ran as soon as Young made contact and had no way to get back.
* Saturday was a day game, though late in the day, and Hamilton got a single through the hole on the right side in his first at-bat. He came into the game batting .173 in the day, but has hit better in day time games recently.
* David Murphy continues to fill in tremendously for the injured Nelson Cruz. He came up against left-hander Bedard in the second and got an RBI single. It was just Murphy's second hit off Bedard in nine at-bats. Murphy is 10-for-17 with five RBIs since Cruz has been out. He has a nine-game hitting streak too.
* Craig Gentry failed on two attempts to get a bunt down on the squeeze play in the fourth. With Yorvit Torrealba at third, the Rangers tried a squeeze on the first pitch to Gentry and he fouled it off. They didn't try it on the second pitch, and the Red Sox pitched out. On the third pitch, the Rangers tried it again and Gentry popped it up to first baseman Gonzalez, who tagged Torrealba to get the double play. Rangers play-by-play voice Eric Nadel said the Rangers are 5-for-7 on squeeze attempts put in play this season. The bottom line: Gentry couldn't execute it. I like the call, but he didn't get it down.
* Mark Hamburger came in and retired his first four batters. But he then ran into trouble in the sixth. A three-run double for Dustin Pedroia with two outs made it a 12-3.
* Beltre likely pleased manager Ron Washington when he hit a single in the eighth and did not try to stretch it into a double. Clearly, Beltre is making a note of not pushing it, which is exactly what the Rangers want him to do.
* Esteban German hit a home run to left field, and it was very deep. It's his first homer since Sept. 28, 2007, and it came on his first big league at-bat of the season.
Right-handed relief pitcher Mark Hamburger was wearing a big grin after making his major league debut.
Hamburger worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, getting two groundouts sandwiched around a soft fly to right field. He threw 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes.
The 24-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., was the fifth Rangers reliever of the night and the fourth to not allow a run.
“Every time the phone rang in the bullpen, I thought they might call my name, but it was ‘not this time.’ When the call came before the ninth it was ‘all right, we’re about to do this.’ ’’
Hamburger, called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday, said he didn’t want to change his mindset from what has been working for him.
“I wanted to focus on the game I was playing and have fun,’’ he said.
He said he was a little in awe by it all.
“Michael Young throwing me the ball after an out, I mean, wow,’’ Hamburger said.
Several of the Rangers players watched Hamburger's inning from the top step of the dugout.
Upon entering the dugout after his inning of work, manager Ron Washington greeted him with a high-five.
“When it comes from the manager, that’s a great feeling,’’ Hamburger said.
You can read about Hamburger's journey to he majors here.
The club also purchased the contract of pitcher Mark Hamburger, but the move is pending a 40-man roster move. Reliever Darren O’Day has been placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Story to come.
Laugh at Hamburger's name if you want, but he's put up solid numbers. The 24-year-old is 8-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 82 1/3 innings at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock this season. He was moved into the starting rotation on Aug. 12 and has responded. He's 2-0 and has given up two runs on nine hits with 14 strikeouts and three walks. That's in four starts, though one was the 1-inning outing last night (had a K and no hits in that inning).
Hamburger is not on the 40-man roster, so the club would need to make a move (that's not difficult in that someone could go on the 60-day DL or be put on waivers).
Hamburger came to the Rangers when the traded Eddie Guardado to the Twins in August, 2008. Hamburger has a great story, BTW, signing a contract with the Twins on an open tryout. I talked to Hamburger about that before the season started and it's an interesting story.
He’s 7-4 with a 3.94 ERA in 30 games (three starts) and 1.20 WHIP. His last three appearances are starts. In that time, he is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA, 13 strikeouts and three walks.
Terry Clark is the pitching coach for Round Rock. He was a guest on Rangers Magazine (Saturday at 10-11 a.m. on 103.3 FM ESPN) the day after Hamburger’s first start. I asked him why Hamburger was moved from a relief role to the starting rotation.
“I think the organization wants to take a look at him. And, when you have an arm like his and you can throw the ball 95-96, throw strikes and have good sink on your fastball. It’s interesting. So, you want to take a look at him and see how he plays out.”
Click here to read more about Hamburger.
|Rangers GM Jon Daniels details the team dynamics that have unfolded as the season begins. |
"I couldn't believe I was traded," Hamburger said on Monday at RoughRiders Media Day. "Then again, I couldn't believe I was in pro ball to begin with."
Hamburger had just completed his second year of junior college in June 2007 and because of an issue with one of his core classes, he didn't play baseball at college that year. He and a buddy decided they might as well go to the Twins' open tryout at the Metrodome.
"We thought it'd be fun and you never know," Hamburger said. "My dad wanted me to do it too. He thought it was a chance to be seen. I hadn't pitched in a game since the previous year when I went 14-0 with a 0.67 ERA. I didn't really know what to expect."
Hamburger threw off a mound and was clocked at 93 mph for six straight pitches. That got the attention of a few scouts, including one that had seen Hamburger in high school when he wasn't throwing nearly that hard.
Hamburger was told to come back the next day. He then threw three innings in a simulated game. He said the first one went well, he struggled some in the second, but figured it out and went 1-2-3 in the third.
"A scout called me into the dugout and asked me if I'd like to play for the Twins," Hamburger said. "He said, 'Here's $1,200 and a plane ticket to the Gulf Coast League.' I left three days later. It was a shock to me."
Hamburger was 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA in eight games that season and then was traded to Texas midway through his second season with the Twins. The 24-year-old right-handed reliever split time in 2010 with Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. He went a combined 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA with 21 saves and 69 strikeouts.
His goal this year: Be known for more than just his name.
Hamburger was fourth in a minor league name contest last year and hears comments from fans all the time.
"In the Frisco program it said, 'How do you like your Hamburger?'" Hamburger said. "I hear it from opposing teams too. Can he 'ketchup' to the competition? Hope he doesn't get grilled? But when I went to Puerto Rico this past year to pitch a little, the whole stadium was chanting 'Burger King.' That was pretty cool."
Hamburger is focused on becoming more consisent in his approach and mechanics.
"I want to go out there and get to the point where everyone knows I'm going to do my job," said Hamburger, who throws a fastball, two-seamer, curve and changeup. "I think I was aiming too much with my two-seamer. I just need to go out and throw it and I did that in spring training and had success after some ups and downs."
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