Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Encouraging performance.

Last night's game against Seattle was encouraging on several fronts. First, it was a win and got the Rangers back to .500. With the current pitching and hitting problems .500 is an achievement.

Robbie Ross made the start and got the W. I can't find a card of him or he would get today's card. Robbie hurled 7.2 scoreless innings to get his first win and lower his season ERA to 1.00. Not too shabby for a guy making the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Ross is a bright spot on the mound for Texas.

Taking over for Ross was Alexi Ogando, shown here on card US190 of the 2011 Topps Gold set. Alexi only pitched a third of an inning but he did not allow the runner he inherited from Ross to cross the plate. Considering some of his early struggles this season, that is a good sign. Perhaps the old Ogando is back. Neal Cotts came in to finish the game off because it was no longer a save situation. He did not allow any runs to score either. A good night from the pitching staff and a combined shutout of the Mariners.

On the offense side of things Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the season in the second inning. It ended up being his only hit of the night but it gave the Rangers a lead they never gave up. Hopefully Fielder's bats will heat up soon. Coming up right behind Fielder, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit his first long ball of the season. Kouzmanoff has been on fire since the Rangers called him up. It would be great if he can keep it up at least until Adrian Beltre returns from the Disabled List next week.

The offense put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth to run the final score to 5-0. Very nice to see the late inning outburst. If they can repeat tonight against Felix Hernandez, and Yu Darvish keeps his momentum going, things could end up looking real good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1977 Topps - Jeff Terpko.

A quick programming note before we get on to today's card. Starting yesterday, the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty hectic for me. As such I will be posting when I have time. That means some posts will be pre-scheduled and others will not. If it appears I am not paying attention to the current Rangers team, I am. The posts just may not match up.

Jeff Terpko, shown here on card 137 of the 1977 Topps set, came to the Washington Senators in April of 1971 as part of the Curt Flood trade. He was still in the minors when the team moved to Texas.

Jeff got a cup of coffee with the team in 1974. In 1976 he appeared in 32 games - all in relief. Over the 52.2 innings he pitched, Terpko compiled a 2.39 ERA and a 1.348 WHIP. The ERA looks acceptable but the WHIP is high for a reliever.

Apparently Texas decided Jeff wasn't going to get any better with more time. After all, he'd been playing in the minors since 1968. On March 15, 1977 the Rangers sent Terpko to the Montreal Expos for Rodney Scott. Jeff would appear in just 13 games for the Expos before his Major League career ended.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking for company.

Feeling pretty frustrated by all the injuries the Rangers are facing this year. Looking at this 2003 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection dual game-used jersey card helps a little.

Looking at Hank Blalock I am reminded that an injury, or a series of them, can be career threatening. Hank had his career derailed by repeated injuries. At least most of the players the Rangers are currently missing are expected back.

Former Ranger Mark Teixeira is on the disabled list right now for the Yankees. It's a reminder that the other teams are also struggling with their share of injuries to key players. The Rangers aren't alone in the American League.

The Angels are going to miss Josh Hamilton for 6-8 weeks with thumb surgery. The A's don't have A.J. Griffin, or Craig Gentry. The Blue Jays are doing without J.A. Happ and Jose Reyes. The Orioles are missing Manny Machado. Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore aren't pitching for Tampa Bay. Boston is short Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino. Detroit is doing without Jose Iglesias. The Yankees are missing Mark Teixeira and I just saw a headline that indicates Jacoby Ellsbury may be following him to the DL.

While the Rangers seem to be among the hardest hit, it does help a little to take a glance around the American League at the other teams losses. I guess misery does love a little company now and then.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good news, Bad news.

Last night's game in Boston was full of good news and bad news.

First on the good news side was that the Rangers won. Bad news was the 10-7 score. Starter Martin Perez went 6.1 innings in the game and got the win. That was good. He allowed four earned runs and that was bad. Also bad was the three runs coughed up by closer Joaquin Soria in the bottom of the ninth.

The offense finally seemed to come alive and that was good. Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, shown here on card MVP28 of the 2012 Prizm set, found their bats. That was good. Manager Ron Washington lifted Beltre from the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left quad muscle. That's bad. The team flew Beltre back to Texas after the game to get further evaluation for a possible muscle strain. That's real bad.

Today the Rangers called up Kevin Kouzmanoff from Triple A and designated pitcher Seth Rosin for assignment. That indicates they expect the news on Beltre to get worse. I guess when the injury bug bites, he just keeps chomping away.

On a bit brighter note, Matt Harrison made a rehab start in Frisco yesterday. He went 4.2 innings and apparently looked real good. The club says he's still on track for a late April return. Colby Lewis also appears to be on track. The Rangers are expected to call him up in the next couple of days. It's looking like he will start Saturday when the Astros come to town.

Obviously the loss of Beltre will be a huge blow to the Rangers. Hopefully the pitching staff can get the kinks worked out and the re-enforcements plugged in to hold the line until Adrian can return to bolster the offense.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1977 Topps - Jim Sundberg.

A slightly out of focus Jim Sundberg appears today on card 351 of the 1977 Topps set. In 1977 Sundberg was the Rangers first string catcher.

Jim appeared in 149 games for the Rangers in 1977 and made 533 trips to the plate. Not known for his bat, Sunny was not doing a lot of hitting heading into July. The heat seemed to warm his bat up though and he hit .343 for the rest of the year. That brought his season batting average to .291 and his on-base percentage to .365. He walked 53 times and hit 20 doubles, three triples, and six home runs. That gave him 65 RBI and 61 runs scored of his own.

While turning in an above average season at the plate, Sundberg continued to be average behind it. Average for him that is. Above average for the rest of the catchers in the Majors. Jim put in 1214 innings behind the plate and saw 909 chances. He committed just five errors to end the season with a .994 fielding percentage. That was a full six points higher than the league average. Those numbers came with a range factor that was also above the league average. 43 runners stole on Sunny and lived to tell the tale. He gunned down 55 more would-be thieves though for a 56% caught stealing. The league average was 39%. Of course Jim padded his numbers by picking six runners off first and four off second during the year. Running on Jim Sundberg was risky business.

The Rangers looked to have found their starting catcher for the foreseeable future. If Sundberg could keep his bat working at a reasonable level he was going to continue to nail runners in Arlington for a long time. In seeming confirmation of that, Jim received some MVP consideration and took home his second Gold Glove.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Andrus did what?

The Rangers lost the series in St. Petersburg two games to one. They would have got swept if they didn't pull out the getaway game yesterday. Joe Saunders got hammered in the first game and is now on the 15-day disabled list. Not sure I am looking forward to him coming back.

I was looking forward to Yu Darvish coming back. He made his first start of the season yesterday and was as advertised. Struck out six in seven innings of scoreless ball. Got his 500th career Major League strikeout in the first inning. He also got the win thanks to Elivs Andrus, shown here on card 12 of the 2011 Topps Lineage set.

Elvis came up to bat in a scoreless game in the top of the eighth inning with Shin-Soo Choo on base. To my (and probably everybody else's) amazement he shot a line drive into the bleachers for a two-run homer. It was the team's second of the season and gets Elvis 25% of the way to his total for last season. He now has 19 in his career. Of all the guys to punch a long ball, Andrus is the last on my possibility list. Glad to see him do it and give Yu the win.

The bullpen took over in the bottom of the eighth and held the Rays scoreless for the final two frames. Texas tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth but it wasn't needed. On to Boston tonight where Tanner Scheppers gets his second start of the season. Hopefully he will do better than his first one and lower that 15.75 ERA he's carrying.

Great to see the Rangers take a pitcher's duel. The Rays usually have a pretty good pitching staff and this year seems to be no different. To beat them in a close game like last night is something to be happy about. Darvish pitched in and out of trouble the last couple of innings he was in and probably would have gotten beat if he wasn't on when he needed to be. Hopefully he can iron out any last bugs and be a real workhorse for Texas this year. For now though, I'll take the win and run with it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Joy from Jim.

The Rangers had last night off. Probably good with the patched together rotation and lineup they have going right now. Any day off is a day closer to some of the regulars returning. Tonight they kick off a series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Saunders is going to be pitching for his spot in the rotation.

Towards the end of March I posted a list of the team sets I was down to one card to complete. A few days later I received an email from reader Jim. Jim wasn't able to hit any of the holes I listed but he'd taken a look at my wantlists and had a few other cards for me. I wasn't able to come up with anything from Jim's wantlists but he was gracious enough to offer the cards he had as a gift.

A few days ago a small package showed up in the mail. In the package was a group of Senators and Rangers cards. All hit holes on my wantlists. This 1993 Stadium Club #133 of Jeff Frye was one of the cards included. The whole package deserves the high five Frye is handing out. Jim knocked out several Rangers wants and around 13 cards off my Senators wantlists.

It's a rare occurrance to receive Senators cards in trade, even more so as a gift. Thanks a ton Jim, you really made my day with your generosity. Hope I can attempt to repay the favor someday.