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Indians Indians Archive Series Preview: Rangers at Indians
Written by Cris Sykes

Cris Sykes
Will Eric Gagne (pictured) still be a part of the Texas Rangers when they take the field tonight at the Jake for the first of three with the good guys?  Who knows ... Texas has already dealt Kenny Lofton and Mark Teixeira and are said to be shopping Gagne and others.  Do the depleted Rangers still pose a risk to the Tribe, who is stil chasing the Tigers in the Central?  Cris Sykes previews the series for us.  

Hey Kenny, you know anything about these guys?  I believe they play their home games in the state of Texas, historically have lacked pitching but always managed to hit their way into scaring the bejesus out of the opposition.  Instead, I would like to welcome you to the 2007 Texas Rangers.  They still play in Texas and they still can't pitch, but they are trying to overcome that with their lack of an imposing lineup.  

The series will start three hours after the Major League Baseball trade deadline, so there is a chance at least one of these two teams look different by the first pitch.  The Rangers have already dealt Kenny Lofton and Mark Texiera, and still have Eric Gagne as a chip.  The Indians have acquired Kenny Lofton and still have a bunch of minor leaguers as a chip.

Hey, I got an idea!  Since he is already in town, maybe the Indians can send a couple of those prospects to Texas and Eric Gagne can wander across from the visitor's clubhouse to the home teams! 

Tuesday, July 31st, 7:05 PM

Fausto Carmona (13-4, 3.31 Earned Run Average) vs. Brandon McCarthy (4-7, 5.52 ERA)

Hay, Fausto...I Love You Man!  That is all that is left to say, and hopefully I don't have the same effect as Mr. Buffman when I proclaim my admiration for an Indian starter!

Carmona gets to make one more start in the month of July, before everyone else changes the calendar over to August.  Fausto will just flip it back to July 1st and start the month over again.  How is this for a months worth of work, five starts, five wins, 34 1/3 innings, 27 hits, six earned runs?  How many times have teams scored six times in an inning this year?  A lot.  That works out to a fancy little 1.57 ERA.  Obviously bored with simply getting people to look dumb by hitting weak ground balls, Carmona has decided to take hitters manhood away as well by adding the strikeout to his repertoire.  Each month, his strikeout per inning total has improved.  It started at one K every three innings in April, to one in two and a half in May, to one in two in June and in July Fausto has averaged pretty close to a strikeout per inning.

This will be Fausto's second start against Texas in as many weeks.  On July 20th, Fausto walked into the Texas Rangers house, ate all of the food in the fridge, drank all of their beer and urinated on their couch.  In defeating the Rangers, Carmona pitched eight shutout innings, allowed three hits and struck out seven. 

Once again drawing the short straw for the Rangers will be Brandon McCarthy.  He matched up with Carmona back in Texas and he gets the match up once again.

McCarthy has been pitching more like the player the Rangers thought they were getting when they traded for him in the off season lately.  He has taken almost a full run off his ERA over his last six starts by allowing four runs in a start only once in that stretch.  He still does not work deep into games, taxing the Rangers bullpen, but he definitely has been keeping them in games.

McCarthy pitched well last time out against the Indians, allowing three runs in his five and two-thirds innings.  That is right up to the point Travis Hafner tried to hit one through the hole in the roof of the Cowboys stadium for a two run home run in the sixth.  For his career, McCarthy has faced the Indians 11 times (mostly out of the pen) and has three victories in five decisions, with a 5.84 ERA.  At Jacobs Field, McCarthy has won both decisions, but still posts an ERA of 5.27.  Wonder if any of those wins came in a Jason Johnson start last year?

Wednesday, August 1st, 7:05 PM

Paul Byrd (9-4, 4.40 ERA) vs. John Rheinecker (1-0, 3.18 ERA)

Paul Byrd, all I got to say to you is, keep on doing whatever it is you are doing.  Forget all of those people who make fun of you for throwing like a little girl.  Don't take any heat from people that make fun of your 1940's windup.  Don't listen to those who say you can't be good, while looking so bad.

Since bottoming out at six wins and three losses and an ERA of 5.05 on June 16th, Byrd has gone three and one with a 3.58 ERA in seven starts.  Even better, the Indians have gone six and one in those seven games as Byrd continues to give quality starts and allow the team a chance to win each time out.

One of those starts was a victory over these Texas Rangers.  Byrd allowed two earned runs in five and two thirds innings on only three hits.  Byrd did walk three batters in that game and has walked seven in his last three starts, after only walking six in his first 16 starts.  Some bases on balls are not necessarily a bad thing for Byrd, as he had gotten into trouble by throwing too many pitches over the plate during his bad stretch of starts.

That start against Texas was a role reversal for Byrd, who has been hit pretty hard in his career by the Rangers.  Of course, the Ranger teams from previous years were a much more intimidating offense than this current bunch.  In eight starts, Byrd has won three and lost five times against Texas, with a 6.56 ERA.

John Rheinecker will be making his third start of the season.  The left-hander did make 13 starts for Texas in 2006, going four and six with a 5.86 ERA.  In 2006, he was pretty much your typical left-handed soft tosser, as he was either very effective or not around long. 

That trend has continued in 2007.  In his first start, he lasted three innings and allowed four runs against Detroit.  In his second, he pitched seven innings and only allowed one unearned run against Seattle. 

He has made two appearances against Cleveland in his career, both out of the bullpen.  He has only allowed one base runner, a walk, and struck out three in one and two thirds innings.  With the Indians struggles versus finesse lefties, this is a game to watch out for.

Thursday, August 2nd, 12:05 PM

Jake Westbrook (1-6, 5.85 ERA) vs. Jamey Wright (3-3, 4.57 ERA)

Business Man Special!!!!!

OK, Jake.  That was better.  Now let's keep it going.  You are just about the most important member of this team right now.  Have a Jake Westbrook finish and we could be looking at a division title, have a close to Jake finish and we can be the wild card, have a Cliff Lee finish and we are finished.

We have now passed the three-month anniversary of the last Jake Westbrook win.  Sure he missed half that time on the disabled list, but he still has not won a game in over three months.  He has not pitched like a goat in all of his starts, and even had a couple which caused you to think the momentum was changing.  However, he still has not won in over three months.

This seams right up Jake's alley.  The Texas Rangers are historically a team he does not pitch well against, but wins against.  In his nine career starts, he has won four and only lost once, in spite of owning a 5.30 ERA against them.  He has only beaten them once at Jacobs Field, in five starts, but his ERA is one half run lower at home.

In three starts in 2006, Westbrook won both decisions, allowing 11 earned runs 18 innings.

Opposing Westbrook will be the Jamey Wright, which is the best news Jake has probably gotten since his contract extension became official.

Jamey Wright likes base runners.  He has to, that is the only explanation for why he finds it necessary to allow almost two of them per inning.  I am pretty sure he would find a way to allow me to reach first base at least once in a game, and anyone who remembers me at the plate from the good old days knows exactly how hard that is to do.

Wright was as bad as ever when the Indians went down to Texas a couple of weeks ago.  He only lasted three and one third innings despite allowing one hit and one run.  He was yanked in the fourth, because it took that long for Ron Washington to work up the strength to talk to him.  It required 82 pitches to get 13 outs, because he managed to walk an Indian six times.  That is one walk for every two outs.  For him to have completed the game, he would have had to throw about 246 pitches, only allowed three runs on three hits, but walked 18 guys. 

In his only other start versus Cleveland, back in 2005, Wright was on his way to looking like a pretty good pitcher.  He took a tough luck loss; only allowing 2 runs in seven innings but being outpitched Kevin Millwood.  Ironic?


Up Next: At Minnesota for a four game wrap around series.


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