The Texas Rangers (17-8) have lost 4 of the last 6 games including consecutive losses for the first time this season on Monday and Tuesday in Toronto. The Rangers still have best record in baseball and this 6 game stretch should not have fans panicking, but its interesting to see how much of a factor injuries and pitching are to a team that is still stereotyped as winning with their bats
Josh Hamilton/Adrian Beltre
The Rangers player of the month for April, Josh Hamilton, was off to a smoldering start to the season; he hit an RBI single in Sundays game before being taken out in the 1st inning with back pain. Hamilton has been no stranger to injuries since becoming a Ranger, and his goal this season was to play more than 150 games. Manager Ron Washington said that Hamilton is day to day but they hope he will be back Friday, but this is just the type of thing that could land him on the DL and send him into another injury-plagued season.
Adrian Beltre joined Hamilton on the bench for Tuesday and Wednesday’s losses to Toronto with an apparent non injury, Washington said that they were keeping him off of the artificial turf in the Rogers Centre because of the strain of the turf puts on players.
Having both of them out of the lineup obviously hurts the Rangers offense, but the biggest problem is that it hinders them defensively. During those games the Rangers only had 2 errors, but the Michael Young/Alberto Gonzalez combination at third base can’t be relied on for the too long; neither Young nor Gonzalez have have the arm strength, range, or fielding ability of Beltre, and they will allow more balls to go into the outfield and runs to be scored. Ranger fans have been spoiled by Beltre’s ability to make gold glove plays over and over at third. The game changes drastically when he’s not on the field. He’s already missed a few games this season with a hamstring injury, so the Rangers will be cautious going forward and will need other players on the team to step up.
Matt Harrison Struggles
Harrison entered Friday’s start vs. Tampa Bay leading the AL in ERA (1.66), but his success ended there. He has allowed 14 ER during his last two starts against Tampa and Toronto. Thiswas a major part of the Rangers skid over the last two weeks, as the offense couldn’t keep up with the opposing teams. Going back to last season Harrison had only allowed two home runs in the last 76.0 innings, but he gave up two in his last two starts. Although he only walked three batters over the two starts, Harrison threw so many strikes that the two strong offenses were able to make lots of hits. We can only hope that Harrison can fix whatever has been wrong over the last week because he was putting of some great numbers and looked like he was continuing on the great season he had last year.
The Rangers will have a seven game road trip coming up in Cleveland and Baltimore before coming home to face the hated Angels. C.J. Wilson will make his first start again the Rangers in the ballpark that he called home his entire career, and in an ironic twist of fate he will face off against Yu Darvish. I’m going to go ahead and predict that If Albert Pujos’ homerless streak is still climbing when he comes to Arlington that Koji Uehara will be pitching when the streak is broken.
I wrote about Hamilton’s injury concerns a few weeks ago, if you missed it go here. Do you think that he will bounce back and continue to play at the same pace? Will Harrison fix his problem on the mound? What are you looking forward to most about the Angels series?