"How the hell are we winning this season series?" he asked himself about theand a few days ago. Well, that righted itself in a jiffy. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, Texas can't be too mad that we took 9 of 19 from LAnaheim, especially since we're just 4-9 against the , but even so, that sweep could not have been timed any worse. On the plus side for them, at least they can also focus on the wild card.
The last time these two teams met, they were pretty evenly matched. Since then the Rangers have gone 20-16 with a +31 run differential while the Mariners have gone 18-18 with a -13 run differential. While Seattle's only bright spot over the past ~month has been defense, Texas has been about average or better at everything, turning itself into a more legitimate contender. They've been able to stay with Boston, and while no one would tell you that Texas is the better team, it's no longer a laughable suggestion, and the completely retarded decision to drop John Smoltz (and Brad Penny) and add Paul Byrd didn't do the any favors. Even if the Angels maintain their buffer zone, the Rangers have plenty reason to hope. They've made up two games in nine days, and with a lot of Seattle and Oakland left on the schedule, they could rocket up in a hurry.
Game 1: Brandon Morrow vs. Kevin Millwood
Game 2: Doug Fister vs. Derek Holland *
Game 3: Felix Hernandez vs. Tommy Hunter
The Mariners may not be a lot of fun to watch right now, but at least all of their starters are interesting. There's no telling what we should expect from Morrow, and my inclination is to suggest that he'll still be the same inconsistent conundrum he's always been, but on the other hand Millwood kinda sucks, so the first game isn't totally hopeless. I can't tell you how nice it would be to have Russell Branyan back. Jose Lopez should never be a team's biggest power threat. It's a shame about Griffey's sorry carcass.
I'd say game 2 should be Fister's greatest test, but then he did already take care of the, so who knows. It won't be easy. Opposing him is the 22 year old Holland, who's put up good K and BB numbers as a starter but gotten slaughtered by dingers. A quick glance at his splits reveals an oddly better K/BB against righties than lefties but also an extraordinary righty home run rate, so I'm not yet sure what to make of his changeup. I bet it's "presently inconsistent but promising." As a man who makes his living standing on a hill and throwing balls at another man in a mask, he should have what it takes to toss six or seven strong innings.
Tommy Hunter's a big sweaty fat guy who spends a lot of time in the high 80s. Though right-handed, his numbers across the board are a virtual carbon copy of Jarrod Washburn's. Well isn't that something.