Tag Archive | "American League"

Get Your Own Antlers Ranger Fans


Chevrolet and Chevy Texas Baseball have brought Ranger fans an interesting site.  AntlerYourself.com allows Ranger fans to upload pictures of themselves and then post antlers on yourself.  It’s a great concept that I know a lot of Ranger fans are going to jump onto.  The antlers and claws have really taken over in Arlington and rightfully so.  If you want a picture of yourself, head on over to AntlerYourself.com.  I’d be interested in seeing some. I did a photo of myself.  You can see it below.  If you do one, send me a link so I can post it here.

Get Your Own Antlers at AntlerYourself.com

Chris Wilson from FreshPeel.com pointed this site out to me.  Thanks Chris.

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Hello Win Column – Texas Rangers Style


I have never been more excited to be a Texas Rangers fan. Then again there has never been a better time to be one.

I remember the days of old — lots of offense and no pitching. Those were some fun times spent at the Ballpark watching what amounted to home run derby. But what the Rangers have been able to put together this year is something magical. I have so many great memories of not only the Ballpark in Arlington, but old Arlington Stadium as well.  All of my childhood memories of going to baseball games are from the old stadium to see the likes of Buddy Bell, Tobby Harrah, Gary Ward, Pete O’Brien, and the great Nolan Ryan.

There may be better times ahead with more memorable moments, but for now and the foreseeable future, Eric Nadel’s call of the final out will be etched into my memory.  The call come courtesy of Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report and Mike Disen of KRLD Radio.

Rangers/Rays Game 5- Final Out

I really only get goose bumps when I hear one other call from baseball — the 1992 NLCS Game 7 call from Skip Carey.

I was happy for a lot of people after the win.  Josh Hamilton who has fought back after derailing his career with drugs and alcohol.  Manager Ron Washington who earlier this year was put on the hot seat after the report came out that he tested positive for drugs.  Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg who took over control of the team from former owner and perhaps the most hated man in Dallas, Tom Hicks. But there is no doubt that I am happiest for Michael Young.  He is the quintessential professional, and through his career in Arlington he has been through a lot.  He moved to SS when they traded Aroid.  He moved to 3B when the team felt Elvis Andrus could help the team, and through it all he has not only been a professional but one of the best hitters in the game.

I don’t really even know what to say.  I really wish I was still in Dallas so I could go to the airport to greet the team when they come home.  It’s just not the same watching the games here early in the mornings by myself.  I do at least have Twitter (@baseballjourney), and I am able to text some friends from home during the game.  But I would love to be in Dallas soaking up the atmosphere.

Now the Rangers must take on the hated Yankees, and I think this series will be a wild one.  I have to say I have never been more confident of our ability to win a series, and that all comes from the pitching staff.

Game 1 starts Friday.  Get your antlers, claws, and boomsticks ready!

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Hello Win Column – Texas Wins 2nd Postseason Game Ever


Texas Rangers 5, Tampa Bay Rays 1

Cliff Lee is ridiculous.  What else can you say?  Today he goes 8 innings allowing 5 hits and only 1 run while striking out 10.  He was simply amazing on the mound in Game 1 of the ALDS leading Texas to its 2nd postseason win ever.

Texas was able to jump on Tampa Bay ace David Price early.  The late season pickups of Jeff Francoeur started the scoring off with a RBI double in the second.  He was then promptly driven in by the other late season pickup Benji Molina.  The Rangers continued to pour on the runs with a single run in each the 3rd, 4th, and 5th to extend their lead to 5-0 where it would stay until the 7th.  Tampa Bay would get their lone run on a Ben Zobrist solo home run.

It was a shaky start for Lee as he loaded the bases in the top of the first with only 1 out.  But Cliff Lee was Cliff Lee the rest of the inning striking out Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli to end the inning.  There was a controversial call in the at bat with Carlos Pena.  With the count 2-1, Cliff Lee ran the ball inside on Pena’s hands.  Pena checked his swing but the umpire said he tipped the ball for strike 2.  Watching the replay it did not look like it hit anything, but you could definitely hear it hit something.  That made the count 2-2 instead of 3-1, which was a huge advantage for Lee.

On the offensive side of things, Nelson Cruz and Benji Molina used their “Boomstick” for solo home runs and Vlad Guerrero hit a 2-run double driving in Josh Hamilton who had gotten on base and stolen 2nd.

Over all it was a great game for Texas and just what they needed going into Game 2.  They will throw CJ Wilson against Tampa’s James Shields.

In other Postseason action:

Philadelphia 4, Cincinnati 0

Philly defeated Cincinnati 4-0 in Game 1 of the NLDS.  Roy Halladay outdid even Cliff Lee throwing his 2nd no-hitter of the year.  He pitched a complete game no-hit shutout of the Reds striking out 8 and walking only 1.  He is simply the best pitcher on the planet right now.  Along with Oswalt and Hammels, the Phillies pitching looks stout going into the postseason.  They are the team to beat in the NL.

New York Yankees 6, Minnesota Twins 4

The Yanks take Game 1 of their series with Minnesota as they come back late to beat the Twins on a 2-run home run by Mark Teixiera.

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Hello Win Column: Wild Walk Off Strikeout in Texas


I have seen walk off walks, home runs, singles, and many others.  But a walk off strikeout where the winning team struck out?  This was a first and it came in Arlington on Wednesday.

In the bottom of the 9th with Mitch Moreland on first base and two outs, Nelson Cruz swings at a wild pitch that gets away from the catcher.  Cruz realizes it got away and starts to run to first as the Mariners catcher retrieves the ball and promptly throws it into right field.  Still running on the play, Mitch Moreland continues around the bases scoring all the way from first with the winning run.

You have to see it to believe it.

Walk Off Strike Out Win for Texas Rangers

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Hello Win Column: Rangers with Walk Off Wins


As the rangers has hit a tailspin in September and looked to blow their 9.5 game lead in the AL West, the Evil Empire came into town.  Things were not looking good for Texas since they are only 1-4 against the Yankees heading into the weekend series in Arlington. There has been talk, even in Dallas, about the possibility of Oakland coming back to win the division as the Rangers fail miserably down the stretch.

Players are hurt, the pitching is struggling, and the hitters can’t seem to get timely hitting which has led to a meager 4-6 record in their previous 10 games.  Even with winning 2 straight against the Blue Jays prior to the dreaded Yanks heading to town, the Rangers were in coast mode, which is not good.

Then something happened that many, including me didn’t expect.  The Rangers win 2 in a row on walk-offs versus the Yankees.  Not only did they win both in walk-off fashion, but Mariano Rivera blew one of the games.

On Friday night, the Rangers went down early as the Yankees took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  This was not looking good for the Rangers as CJ Wilson go the hook early after only 3 innings.  The Rangers would battle back and tie the game in the 8th inning at 4-4 with a Nelson Cruz home run off of Jaba Chamberlain, and Cruz wasn’t done.  The game continued into the night, until Nelson Cruz came up again in the 13th to face Chad Gaudin.  Cruz only needed one pitch to send the fans home happy into the night as he hit the first pitch of the 13th inning over the right center field fence for a walk-off home run.

Nelson Cruz Walk Off Homerun in 13th

Now with 3 wins in a row, the Rangers came back Saturday night to face off with the hated Yankees again.  This time the Rangers sent out Tommy Hunter in search of his 13th win.  Hunter would last 5 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hits but would not factor into the decision.  The Rangers would wind up throwing 7 pitchers into the game on Saturday night, as they took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning.

Standing in their way of a 4th straight victory was former Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez.  With the bases loaded facing Matt Harrison, Arod doubled down the left field line clearing the bases and putting the Yanks up 6-5.

The Rangers would come roaring back in the 9th once again.  With Mariano Rivera on the hill, the Rangers fought back.  Vladimir Guerrero led off the inning with a walk, and was quickly replaced with a pinch runner as he was the tying run.  Nelson Cruz again came through with a single to right putting runners at the corner for Ian Kinsler.  Kinsler came through with a huge double over the 3rd base bag to tie the game and giving Rivera his 3rd blown save of the year.

Next up was Chris Davis who was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up the double play.  With Blanco pinch-hitting for Treanor and the bases loaded, Rivera coaxes Blanco to pop up for the first out.  Next up was recently acquired Jeff Francoeur.  Mariano Rivera did the rest of the work for the Rangers as he hit Francoeur with a pitch to bring in the winning run extending the Rangers win streak to 4 games.

Now this does not automatically send the Rangers into the playoffs, but it does 2 things that are huge for Rangers and their fans.  First of all, it helps stop all the talk of a Rangers complete collapse in September.  Sure there are still a few weeks of baseball left, and it is still possible for a total collapse, but winning games like this gives the Rangers so much confidence heading into the rest of September.  The second thing that it does is give the Rangers confidence if and when the Rangers face the Yankees in the playoffs.  This might be the most important factor.

No matter what happens Sunday night versus the Yankees, the Rangers have a new found confidence heading into perhaps the most critical part of the season as they prepare for a possible run at the World Series.

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Playoff Predictions


With a month left in the season, it is nice to still see there are some races left for division titles. In 4 of the 6 divisions, the lead is 3.5 games or less. With so much baseball to be played a lot could happen. I am going to attempt now to predict what will happen by the end of the season as I take a look at each division.

AL East
The lead for the Yankees is at 1.5 games over Tampa Bay. This has been a close race all year, and I don’t see that changing the last month of the season. Regardless of who wins the division, the other will win the wildcard unless one or both have a complete nosedive the last month of the season. Of course, that can happen (See 2007 Mets), but I don’t see it happening this year. What I do see happening is the Yankees holding onto a narrow victory for the division title, and Tampa Bay winning the Wild Card.

New York wins AL East
Tampa Bay wins Wild Card

AL Central
Minnesota has a 3.5 game lead over Chicago. Can Manny help reignite the White Sox to overtake the Twins? I don’t think so. I really don’t see Manny providing much down the stretch. He seems to be a pale image of his old self, which after what he did to the Red Sox, I am happy to see. Anyone who acts like he does I really don’t want to see succeed. I have the Twins winning in the Central by 3 games or so.

Minnesota wins AL Central

AL West
This division is about wrapped up. Texas leads Oakland by 10 games and even if Cliff Lee has to miss some time, the Rangers have too much for the West. The only question that remains in the West is how will the Rangers prepare themselves for the playoffs. Yes I know they could still collapse in the heat of Texas, but I see this happening about as much as I see the Red Sox overtaking Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. Its just not going to happen.

Texas wins AL West

NL West
San Diego leads San Francisco by 3 games. This one is a tough one to call since nobody thought the Padres would be in first, let alone so much of the season. I am actually going to say San Francisco comes back to take the division late in the season by a game or two. I think Lincecum and Cain will lead the Giants back to the playoffs. This will lead the Padres to battle it out for the wildcard.

San Francisco wins NL West

NL Central
This is another surprising division with the Reds up on the Cardinals by 8 games. I don’t see Cincinnati faltering down the stretch. The division might get a little closer, but I see the Reds winning by 4 or 5 games.

Cincinnati wins AL Central

NL East
This one is a tough one to call, especially since I am such a huge Braves fan. Call me a homer if you want but I am calling for the Braves to take the division in Bobby Cox’s last season. It will go down to the wire, but I like the Braves chances with their pitching staff. That is why I am calling for them to win the division and the Phillies to take the Wild Card. I just think Hudson, Hanson, and the staff will take them to the playoffs.

Atlanta wins NL East
Philadelphia wins Wild Card

NL Division Series
Atlanta vs San Francisco – Atlanta wins in 4
Philadelphia vs Cincinnati – Cincinnati wins in 4

AL Division Series
Texas vs Tampa Bay – Texas in 5
New York vs Minnesota – New York in 4

AL Championship Series
With Texas finally winning a playoff series, they must go to Yankee Stadium to face the evil empire. I think they match up fairly well but I am not sure they can get by the Yankees, so as much as I hate to I am picking the Yankees to win.

Yankees win in 6 games.

NL Championship Series
A series pitting upstart Cincinnati against Atlanta I think would be a good one. I really like the Braves pitching, but I think Cincinnati has the offense and enough pitching to take the series. I am going with the Reds in 7 games.

Cincinnati wins in 7 games.

World Series
I think this could be a good one, and while I am not calling for a repeat of 1990 when the Reds swept through the mighty A’s, I see the Reds finishing the miracle season atop the world. Reds in 6 games.

I am going out on a limb. How far out is a question of your loyalties in baseball I guess. I am saying the Reds win the World Series. Of course, I would love to see the Braves and Rangers in the series, but I am not sure that will happen.

World Series Champs – Cincinnati Reds

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Rangers Fans – Party Like It’s 1999?


Last year was only the 2nd season since 1999 that the Texas Rangers finished a season above .500.  Even with a 2nd place finish in 2009, the Rangers finished 10 games back of Anaheim.  Ranger fans have seen a lot of great players since the last division winner in 1999, but the one thing they haven’t seen is a playoff victory.  The Rangers have only made the playoffs 3 times in franchise history with only 1 win in the postseason to show for it (that came in 1996).

So what is different about this team?  I will give you one word, pitching.  Through 97 games the Rangers have an ERA of 3.81.  The last time Texas has had an ERA under 4 was 1990.  That team had the likes of Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Bobby Witt, Kevin Brown, and Kenny Rogers (who led the team in saves).  The pitching staff even included a young 27 year-old named Jamie Moyer who is still going strong 20 years later.

Surprisingly they are doing this with Rich Harden (3-3 5.68 era) and Scott Feldman (5-8 5.48 era) having horrible years. Instead it has been the likes of Colby Lewis (9-6 3.52 era), C J Wilson (9-5 3.03 era), and Tommy Hunter (7-0 2.09 era) anchoring the rotation.  And this year the big addition was not a mediocre end of the rotation starter but one of the best pitchers in baseball, Cliff Lee.  For the first time in years, the Rangers have a legit ace on the staff.  Not only an ace, but one with solid playoff experience and success.

Throw in the success of the bullpen this year, and the staff has been solid all year long.  Neftali Feliz has been lights out in the 9th closing down games converting 27 of 29 save chances.  But a closer is only as good as his setup men.  If you can’t get the ball to your closer with the lead, he won’t be effective.  The Rangers have done that well all year long.  The ageless wonder Darren Oliver (42 IP, 1.29 era) has returned to Texas in a big way.  Anchoring down the pen with Feliz and Oliver is Darren O’Day and Frank Francisco.  Throw in Matt Harrison who has been in the pen and in the rotation along with youngster Alexi Ogando and the Rangers are poised to make a run at the playoffs.

The only concern I have about the pitching staff is the work load some of them will face.  C J Wilson has been in the bullpen for 93.5% of his MLB career and has already pitched 50 innings more than last year.  So how he will hold up come late August and September is anyone’s guess.  Colby Lewis pitched in Japan last year where they throw every 6 days.  Nobody is sure how that will effect him come late in the season.  They are also relying on Tommy Hunter who is young.  The good thing is Cliff Lee.  He is a work horse who will eat up innings which will help the bullpen as well.  That is the last worry point, the bullpen.  They have been well used so far this year with the struggles of Harden and Feldman.  Will they get enough rest to pitch well down the stretch remains to be seen.

As the Offense goes, it has been impressive.  Josh Hamilton (23/71/.354) is hitting out of his mind right now.  He has been unbelievable so far this year, and he has protection.  Hitting in front of him is Bad Vlad Guerrero (20/76/.313) and behind him Nelson Cruz (12/52/.329).  Not to mention the solid seasons that Micheal Young (14/57/.302) and Elvis Andrus are having.  There are two spots of worry for the offense, firstbase and catcher.  These areas really need an upgrade before the postseason, but it looks like that will depend on what happens with the ownership situation.

Any Ranger fan has to be excited about the prospects in the postseason this year.  With a solid offense, a new ace in Cliff Lee, and 3 solid #2 starters for playoff series in Wilson, Hunter, and Lewis, the Rangers are poised to make a run at their first World Series appearance.  The question remains how will they deal with the dog days of summer.

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Hello Win Column! – What a Game This Is


With all the crap that we see in our day to day lives, sometimes we need to be reminded that there are genuinely good people out there.  Unfortunately this normally takes a bad event to occur (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc…).  But today we got to see something special, and nobody died or was injured in the process.  Of course, I am talking about Jim Joyce and Armando Gallaraga.

Both men acted like adults and nobody got out of control.  The situation, as bad as it was, was handled with incredible maturity.  I have gained a lot of respect for both parties involved.  I found the link below through Brent Mayne’s Blog, and it is quite the moving video.  I think Mayne said it best when he said, “This is why baseball is the greatest sport on the planet and this is why we should leave it alone.”

So watch the video below.  Shed a tear or two (I did).  Then take a moment to remember just how great this game really is.  Oh and while you’re at it, go check out Brent Mayne’s site.  I really enjoyed it.

Clip of Joyce and Gallaraga

Jim Joyce and Armando Gallaraga shake hands prior to game.

I felt this deserved to go under the headline of Hello Win Column!  After all, this is a good story in the end, and that is what I want to bring to you with this segment.

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Around the Horn


I wanted to weigh in on the happenings from yesterday. There were two significant events of the day.

First of all, let me quickly mention the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. I know Griffey hasn’t been the same player for quite some time, but it’s still a sad day knowing one of the all-time greats of the game is retiring. I don’t think I have ever seen a player that played with such joy and emotion while at the same time being one of the best, if not the best, in the game. In my mind he is the greatest center fielder of his era, and easily the best one I ever got to see play. He is 5th on the all-time home run list, and what is unique about that is he has never been linked to steroids. A 13 time all-star, 10 time gold glove winner, and the AL MVP in 1997 (.304/56/147), Griffey will definitely be missed in the baseball world.

Perhaps overshadowing the Griffey retirement somewhat is Armando Gallaraga. Gallaraga was 1 out away from the 3rd perfect game of the year and 21st in history when umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base. I have to say in the aftermath that I was pleasantly surprised at how well both Gallaraga and Joyce handled the situation. Joyce understood after seeing the replay that he blew the call and requested to talk to Gallaraga personally. Gallaraga himself has been quite understanding of the whole situation by not getting bent out of shape with Joyce. He said he understood that it was a difficult call and that Joyce was human. It is reassuring in a day and age when many baseball players can be demanding prima donnas to see someone with a level head in a situation as big as this one.

So will anything happen in the end? I don’t think Gallaraga will get his perfect game, but I do think baseball will look at expanding instant replay. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable and will be debated, but I am not sold one way or another. What do you think? Should commissioner Selig do anything about the situation? If so, what? I’d love to hear what others think.

You can also join the conversation on twitter by following me there @baseballjourney or on Face Book.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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June 1 Surprises


I was looking at the standings and box scores from June 1st and a few things stood out to me. I can’t really decide what is the most surprising out of all of this too, so I want your help. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

1. Teams in 1st place include Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Diego, Texas and Tampa Bay
or
2. Troy Glaus’ stats .277/9/40/.452 vs. Ryan Howard .280/9/35/.454
or
3. Anything else that has really surprised you. There seem to be quite a few.

On a Braves related note, just how good can Jason Heyward be? He is already in the top 10 in RBI, slugging, OPS, and OBP. He is a star in the making and I am glad there is someone to take over for Chipper when he is gone. The Braves have been lacking that person ever since Chipper started his decline.

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New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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Who Will Win the 2014 World Series?

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