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1. These days it’s rare that Texas plays such a tight game with a playoff atmosphere, but that’s what we got when they beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 yesterday. Derek Holland worked through some rough patches and brought home a quality, but most impressively, the heart of the order brought David Price to his knees.
The Rays starter had allowed six runs in his last seven starts, spanning 51 innings. And yet Price gave up six earned runs in just four innings of work against Texas. Seven of the Rangers 10 hits came from Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, and Adrian Beltre, with Beltre having the biggest game going 3-3 with four RBI’s and a homer.
Beltre’s recent surge has him ranked as the best hitter for Texas in August as far as OPS is concerned. He’s got an outrageous 1.011 this month, which is also ranks him among the best in the majors. We’ve talked a lot about the offensive resurgence of the Rangers this month with different players, but the team overall is playing great. Five different players have an OPS of .900 or higher this month and five regular players have pushed their OPS above .800 for the season.
This game is indicative of exactly how Texas is hoping to win in the playoffs, especially against a team that they might face in October. Holland worked a quality start, the bullpen nailed the win down, and the heart of the order delivered against a great pitcher. After taking their lumps against the New York Yankees, we can finally see in this series what Texas is capable of in the playoffs.
Photo by Javi Perez/Playmaker Magazine
2. Will Roy Oswalt be along for the ride into the postseason? We don’t know because Oswalt just cleared waivers, meaning that he’s eligible for a trade. It seems hard to believe that Texas would want to dump him. Right now, the best trade for Texas would be for a better starting pitcher. With the rotation still dealing with injuries and Scott Feldman shaky at best, the 4th and 5th spots in the order are in need of stability.
It’s surprising to hear that Oswalt would be on the trading block. Although he had a shaky period that saw him demoted to the bullpen, he proved his value with his spot starts and could serve as an asset should another injury occur. With Oswalt only set to make one million dollars the rest of the season, the only reasonable trade would be for a younger, stronger starter. We’ll see if they can spark a deal. But note that the deal needs to be made by Friday or the new acquisition will not be eligible for the team’s playoff roster.
3. The Houston Astros were off yesterday and they start a new series with the San Francisco Giants tonight in Houston. If you want to be more engaged with this Astros team, I highly suggest you vote in the Astros Radio Apprentice Contest. My friend Alex Del Barrio, a talented sportscaster, is among the semifinalists and today is the last day that you can vote for him to reach the finals.
As I’ve said before, with so many bad sportscasters on the air, we should take an opportunity to put a good one on the air when we have an opportunity like this. We’ll let you know if he’s among the four finalists for the contest. If people are voting based on the pure talent of the participants, I’m confident that “ADB” will make the top four.
4. The kicking competition is over in Houston. Sadly, it’s because one of the kickers got injured. Gary Kubiak announced yesterday that rookie kicker Randy Bullock, drafted out of Texas A&M, has been placed on injured reserve. Shayne Graham will be the starting kicker the rest of the year.
Gary Kubiak wasn’t in a good mood over that one. While losing your potential starting kicker even though you’ve got a solid guy already on the roster seems like something that wouldn’t sour your mood too much, Houston had actually gone through an entire preseason without news like this. Initially, it was thought that if Bullock and Graham were close going into the season that the tie would go to the rookie. After all, the Texans drafted him for that job. Instead, we’ll have to wait a year to see if Bullock will be the kicker of the future in Houston.
The Texans also announced that Derek Newton will start at right tackle with Rashad Butler still set to see plenty of playing time at both right and left tackle. Again, tie goes to the rookie. And in practice and preseason action, there wasn’t much difference between the two. The offensive line has looked strong and whoever starts doesn’t seem to be as important as keeping everyone healthy because the line looks much better than people thought they would coming into training camp.
Photo courtesy Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
5. Speaking of roster moves, the Buffalo Bills have cut Vince Young and the Arizona Cardinals are the last team in the NFL that has yet to name a starting quarterback for the regular season.
Vince Young was given a chance to prove himself, but against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past week, he finished 12-26 for 103 yards and two interceptions, completely erasing the solid game he’d had the previous week.
It appears that Young’s NFL career is over. Given the chance just to be a backup, a fairly low-risk move by Buffalo, Young couldn’t succeed. He couldn’t even look mediocre. He just looked bad. Young could still be picked up before the season starts or even mid-season by a desperate team looking to add an experienced quarterback to their roster if they’ve been decimated by injuries. But it’s hard to see a path where Young is ever a starting quarterback in the NFL again.
As for the Cardinals, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t named a quarterback, but then again with all the money that they’re paying Kevin Kolb, he’s going to be given every opportunity to win the job over John Skelton. The El Paso native Skelton has more than earned the job through his performance in the preseason and previous regular season appearances. But, as we noted last week, Kolb’s roster bonus this year is worth more than the entirety of Skelton’s contract.
We’ll see what happens in the preseason finale against Denver on Thursday.
6. Finally, among the other roster cuts made this week, the Baltimore Ravens cut veteran kicker Billy Cundiff in favor of a rookie: Texas Longhorns kicker Justin Tucker. Of course, we mention this announcement not just because Tucker is from Texas, but because it gives us an excuse to play this video again.
The Ravens make the playoffs every year and play in a lot of close games that come down to single possessions. Tucker is clearly no stranger to big kicks. He’ll fit well in Baltimore.