Texas Rangers: Matt Wieters
May, 7, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
BALTIMORE -- The Texas Rangers will play four straight nights at Camden Yards, home off the Baltimore Orioles, otherwise known as the Rangers of the AL East.
Texas should feel right at home seeing some familiar faces wearing Orioles jerseys. Buck Showalter, the Rangers' manager before Ron Washington was hired in 2007, is the club's skipper. And he has a gaggle of former Rangers on his team. Some things to watch:
* How tired is the Baltimore bullpen? The O's used seven relievers in Sunday's 17-inning win over Boston at Fenway Park (that doesn't include Chris Davis, who won't be pitching again this season unless it's an emergency, though he did throw two scoreless innings to get the win). Six of those relievers threw at least 20 pitches, and four of them pitched two innings. We'll see what kind of toll that takes as the series begins.
* Davis appears to be figuring things out. He's hitting .299 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the season (and that's despite an 0-for-8 game with five strikeouts Sunday). Davis, a Longview native, has seen limited at-bats against lefties but has hit them well (6-for-18). He has 20 strikeouts and seven walks on the season, but that's actually an improvement in the strikeout area. Davis had 150 strikeouts in 391 at-bats in 2009 for Texas and another 40 strikeouts in 120 at-bats in 2010 before he was sent down. It's good to see Davis getting it together. I still think he needed a change of scenery to make that happen.
* Tommy Hunter pitched in Baltimore's second game of the season and pitched Sunday, so the Rangers won't face him in this series. He's 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA so far in 2012.
* Darren O'Day (2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings) and Pedro Strop (3-1 with two saves and 1.59 ERA) are important members of the Orioles bullpen.
* Endy Chavez is on the bench and is 7-for-55 so far this season.
* As for players that aren't former Rangers, Texas could see closer Jim Johnson this series. He's 8-for-8 in save opportunities this season.
* Catcher Matt Wieters has seven home runs, second behind Adam Jones (eight) for the team lead. Wieters also has a team-high 18 RBIs to go along with his .301 average.
* Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland had three hits Saturday and may be coming into the series feeling much more comfortable. He was 5-for-9 in the first two games of the series against the Indians and is 13-for-29 (.448) in his last nine games. That includes two homers.
* Keep an eye on Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. Hamilton played in Cleveland and Beltre had the big pinch-hit homer Saturday and appears close to becoming an everyday player again as he pushes through sore hamstrings.
* Baltimore won't see Yu Darvish in this series after he pitched Sunday. He's slated to start Friday against the Angels in Arlington.