ON TO BOSTON

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas completed its first sweep of the Twins since 1999 with a 4-3 win Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis. The three-game sweep moved the Rangers’ record to 8-2, the best in the American League. Robbie Ross struck out three batters in two innings in relief of Neftali Feliz Sunday and was credited with the win, his second in two days.

Perhaps of even better news for Ranger fans is the state of Los Angeles at this juncture. The Angels have lost two of three games in all three series they have played and trail the Rangers by 4.5 games with their 3-6 record. The general culprit is thought to be the Halos’ bullpen, but it is notable that one of the bullpen problems is having to throw too many innings as starters are getting knocked out early.

A year ago, the Angels problem was offense, as the Rangers outscored them by almost 200 runs. The addition of Albert Pujols and the return of Kendry Morales was supposed to take up the slack. It’s still very early in the season, as the Angels have played barely 5% of their games, but there are some pitiful batting averages going into their Monday night game. Pujols is hitting .243, with no home runs and four RBI’s. Starting left fielder Vernon Wells is hitting .229, starting shortstop Eric Aybar .219 and Morales an even .200. So far, pitching is good in the majors and offense is down, but those are four extremely underperforming hitters.

The schedule toughens markedly for the Rangers at this point. Today is the first off day of the season, and they open a three-game series in Boston tomorrow. Those will be the first three games of a 12-game stretch against four of the teams considered among the top six in this year’s American League. Texas is in Detroit this weekend for three, then return to Arlington next week for three-game series against the Yankees and Rays.

One change that is being contemplated by Ranger manager Ron Washington is switching the order of pitchers Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish in the rotation. The off day accomodates the move without a starter going on short rest. For some reason, there seems to be sentiment to split up the left-handers in the rotation. There is an old saying that seems to apply to the situation: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Ranger starters have thrown seven quality starts in the first 10 games and collectively have a 6-0 record and league leading starters’ ERA of 2.42. WOW! Why mess with that?

Washington has said they will let everyone know tomorrow.

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