Friday: Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles, 6:05 p.m.


Friday Pitching Matchup

RHP Colby Lewis (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Zach Brittain (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Stark contrast in matchup, here, with Lewis going against Brittain in the series opening game Friday night. The Texas starting rotation is fairly young so if there was one guy who you’d consider to be the seasoned one of the bunch it’d Lewis, who despite being in only his second year with the Rangers pitches with the composure and confidence of a veteran. Lewis threw six innings, surrendered three earned runs and got the win in his first start of the season Saturday against Boston.

Brittain, on the the flip side, is a hard-throwing rookie who’ll be making just his second start of his career. The 23-year-old was impressive in his first start, though, throwing six innings of one-run ball and strking out six against winless Rays squad Sunday afternoon. He’ll have a much tougher test Friday night, though, against a Texas offense that has hit 13 home runs and scored 42 runs through their first six games.

Key for Lewis: Limiting damage done by the top and bottom of the Oriole lineup– Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters. Roberts bats leadoff, has eight RBI and has scored five runs while Markakis, batting out of the two hole, leads the team with a .353 batting average. After that, the rest of the lineup – Derek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Adam Jones, etc. – kind of thins out until you get to Wieters who’s hitting .294 with a .333 on-base percentage. Don’t let the middle of the lineup do much, limit Roberts, Markakis, and Wieters, and let your offense do the rest. If Lewis does that, Texas should win their seventh straight.

Key for Brittain: Keep EVERTHING down. That’s about all he can try to do to limit the Ranger offense. Texas proved Opening Day they’re not afraid to go up against, and hit, tough lefties. Jon Lester is perhaps the best southpaw in the American League and the Texas bats roughed him up for five runs in 5 1/3 innings. With that said, Friday night will be the Texas’ first road game so there’s no telling how going from one environment – perfect weather in a hitter’s friendly park— to another—on the road where the forecast is calling for sub-50 tempatures—will affect their offense. Plus, Seattle rookie Michael Pineda limited Texas to three runs Tuesday night. So, there is a chance Brittain could limit the Ranger offense Friday night but he’ll have to do it by staying down in the zone and hopefully catching Texas on an off night.

News and Notes

-Nelson Cruz leads Texas in every major offensive category—average (.350), home runs (4), RBI (6), runs (7), and OPS (1.435)—and is third in the majors in OPS.

-Ranger pitcher Alexi Ogando and a pair of Oriole starters—Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman—share the American League lead with a clean 0.00 ERA.

-With the Reds’ 3-2 loss to Houston Thursday afternoon, Texas now stands as the lone undefeated team in baseball. The Rangers also hold the biggest division lead in MLB, three games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.

-Texas closer Neftali Feliz should be available Friday night. The right-hander last threw Tueday when he got the save in the Rangers’ 3-2 win over Seattle. So far, Texas’ decision to keep Feliz in the bullpen has payed off. The 22-year-old has a 0.00 ERA and two saves in four innings of work and has yet to give up a hit while striking out four.

-Texas’ starting lineup for Friday night should be posted sometime tomorrow afternoon, but expect to see a lineup similar to the one Ron Washington rolled out Opening Day with Mike Napoli playing first and Michael Young at DH. Napoli hit a home run against Lester last Friday and has a history of hitting lefties well. Also, Julio Borbon should return to centerfield after getting a day off Wednesday, which more than likely means David Murphy will be available to pinch hit.

-We’ll have full pitching matchup previews before Saturday and Sunday’s games but here’s the projected starters for those days:

Saturday: LHP Matt Harrison (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Sunday: LHP Derek Holland (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 0.00 ERA)