Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Texas Rangers

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Did you know the Cleveland Indians are 4-15 since Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio visited them in Cleveland? I’m not saying it’s all their fault, but I don’t have much else to go on. Whatever it is, the Tribe is playing downright terrible right now – the pitching has been solid for the most part, but the offense has just gone off the rails. It’s tough enough to face the Detroit Tigers like that, but now a trip to Texas to face the Rangers looms, and those boys can lower the boom. Who knows, maybe a jaunt to a launching pad is the cure for what ails the Tribe.

Something has always bothered me about the Rangers. Yeah, they’ve always been fun to watch because of all the offense, and it’s kind of neat to see them becoming an unstoppable force of nature the last couple years, but there’s just something missing. They’re not very… rangery. Maybe it’s because I watch so much Walker, Texas Ranger, but I have this idea that rangers need beards, sweet hats and karate skills. Outside of perhaps Elvis Andrus, they aren’t all that karate-esque, if that’s a word. Though the wizardry of Adrian Beltre at third cannot be denied. The biggest problem has to be the hats though – there’s gotta be some kind of dispensation for teams in certain situations.

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I can only hope the clubhouse spread is almost exclusively meat, mostly cow. I’m convinced that’s the biggest reason for the pitching turnaround since Nolan Ryan showed up to run things, not just a simple change of philosophy.

As it ever was and probably will be until the end of baseball (and thus, the world) the Rangers sure can club the ball. They’re second in the AL in homers, fourth in OPS, and they have the fourth least amount of strikeouts as a team, 100 less than the Indians. It’s not any one guy doing it either – definitely not Andrus. Beltre is probably their  best hitter, he’s  got an .891 OPS with 14 homers, while Nelson Cruz leads the team with 15 homers. Ian Kinsler has been having another sensational season, but injury shelved him and they called up Jurickson Profar. You remember Profar, he saw his debut against the Tribe last season and homered in his first at-bat. He did not keep that home run rate up, sadly.

Quick sidebar – a guy like Profar, a do everything shortstop with a good bat and glittering glove, even with all his talents, I don’t understand how he could be the top prospect in baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I see the good of him, but I’d expect the best prospect to be able to dominate offensively as well as on the diamond. Prospects are weird when you really start thinking about them – WAY more often than not, they’re nothing. He’s still going to be good, I just think some prospect hounds are going to be a little let down by his output.

The worst part about this series will be seeing A.J. Pierzynski. He’s just the worst, and the one thing I’d hate about them winning the World Series this year would be him winning a ring. Sure, that’s spiteful and a little small-minded, but I don’t care. He’s having another wonderful offensive season though, a .298/.329/.437 slash line really great for a catcher. He’s not quite Mike Napoli, but the Rangers are surely happy to have him. That, and all those intangible “clubhouse” “grinder” words that Ron Washington and his old school ilk love to bandy about, they just describe A.J. perfectly. You’d think Wash would have learned something from Brad Pitt.

Can the Indians handle this? Probably, depending on how the pitching holds up. Their offense really DOES need to wake up, this cannot be said enough. I don’t live in Cleveland, but I bet it’s getting said there on Sports Talk Radio a lot. It’ll certainly be mentioned in the podcast this week.

I like the Rangers red uniforms though.

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