Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter: @PlaymakerOnline
1. The Texas Rangers got a big 6-2 win last night over the LA Angels. Not only was it big to bounce back after a tough 11-3 loss to open the series, but they did it with Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre getting the day off to nurse injuries. Both should be back in the lineup for tonight’s rubber match, but it was still big for Texas to be able to produce offense without their two best offensive players.
And among the reasons that Texas is feeling good is that Derek Holland is on a roll. Holland got his 11th win of the season (11-6) thanks to a start in which he gave up just two runs and six hits in seven innings of work. His last four starts, all in September, have all been similar: at least seven innings giving up two runs or less. Those are better than quality starts. It’s just a shame that he hasn’t won all of them. He’s 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in the month leading up to the playoffs. This is perfect timing for a No. 2 starter and gives Texas confidence going into October.
Of course, what made this win so much sweeter is that the offense was able to get the victory over former Ranger CJ Wilson. In our Halfway Awards we talked about how sweet it is for Texas to face and beat a guy that was such a big letdown last year in the playoffs for them. And they just keep hammering away at him. Last night Wilson didn’t get out of the 3rd inning, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks. Wilson’s numbers against Texas are staggering: 5 starts, 0-2, 7.65 ERA, .333 BAA, 13/19 BB/K ratio.
Wow. It’s just a shame that the Angels aren’t in the playoff race. Texas would love to face him in the postseason… much like how every other team wanted to play Texas while Wilson was on the hill last season in the playoffs.
As for the offense without Hamilton and Beltre, Michael Young is playing better than he has all season. He went 2-5 with an RBI and two runs scored in this game, upping his September OPS to .885. He’s riding an eight game hitting streak and there are just three games this month in which he hasn’t reached base. Mike Napoli is also making his way back from injury nicely. Napoli was 1-3 with an RBI double and is 5-12 with five RBI’s in the four games he’s played in.
Photo courtesy Jeff Curry/Getty Images
2. The Houston Astros lost again last night, a 5-0 shutout at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals that went very much like their previous loss. The Cardinals were hardly dominant. Houston got five hits and two walks and threatened constantly throughout the game. But they finished just 1-10 with runners in scoring position, so the Cardinals got to bring home a goose egg.
It’s a shame that Lucas Harrell had to take the loss. He finished just one out short of a quality start, just like his last outing. Houston had actually won his last three starts, but he didn’t get the win in any of those games. In fact, the Astros offense has been shut out in six of Harrell’s starts, which leads the team. His ERA in those game is 4.60 which means that he’s basically averaging a quality start when the Astros produce ZERO run support for him.
The Astros have 13 games left including this afternoon’s series finale against St. Louis. Their last four series are all against division opponents with the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in the hunt for the wild card. Their only respite will be games against the collapsing Pittsburgh Pirates and a road series finale against the Chicago Cubs, the 2nd worst team in the league.
Photo courtesy Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
3. It’s hard to believe now, but TCU had one of the best running games in the country coming into this season. No other school had three running backs slated to come back who each had more than 700 yards the previous season. Two games in, two of those guys are gone. One never even played. Ed Wesley left TCU (and briefly joined the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason) after he was declared ineligible because of academic issues. And now Waymon James, their leading rusher who’s averaging 9.9 yards per carry, is done for the season with a knee injury.
And then there was one.
All that’s left is Matthew Tucker. Luckily, he’s very capable of carrying the load. Roughly 10% of Tucker’s carries last year were for touchdowns and he’s the toughest runner of the group. Head coach Gary Patterson admitted that Tucker actually had the best spring among all the returning running backs so they’re not exactly panicking.
Tucker is a senior leader and Casey Pachall will be fine if they have to pass more. Besides, as we said in our college football preview, TCU’s schedule is so backloaded that (with Oklahoma State out of the rankings) they won’t have to play a ranked team until early November. So there’s plenty of time for the Horned Frogs to make adjustments.
Photo by Javi Perez/Playmaker Magazine
4. Also in college football news, college football presidents and the NCAA are looking to make another money-grab. Right now, the four-team playoff set to begin with the 2014 season will rotate among six bowl games. Right now there are five BCS bowl games including the national championship game: Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar. A 6th, yet to be named bowl game between the Big 12 and SEC will be a part of the mix. But now conference commissioners want to add a 7th bowl game and 7th site that will become part of the rotation.
Houston’s Reliant Stadium and Arlington’s Cowboys Stadium are in the running for the site. But those two are also likely candidates for the site of the new Big 12-SEC BCS bowl game. It’s quite ridiculous that with all the college football tradition in the state of Texas that there isn’t a BCS bowl game regularly scheduled in the Lone Star State. Jerry Jones has expressed interest in hosting the very first national championship game that comes as the result of a playoff, but he may be more interested in hosting a yearly BCS bowl game.
Houston’s Reliant Stadium would also be a great site as the location and city are gaining momentum after successfully hosting the NFL playoff last season. Reliant Stadium has also been host to the Big 12 Championship Game and even Wrestlemania XXV (Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, anyone?) so Houston is very capable of taking on such events.
5. Last night on the latest episode of Sound FX, we got a little taste of what it’s like on the other side of a Houston Texans dominant victory when Paul Posluszny of the Jacksonville Jaguars was mic’d up for Houston’s 27-7 victory last Sunday. Posluszny is a really smart player and has been since he came to the NFL out of Penn State, which is why Jacksonville signed him to big money.
In the Sound FX segment, you can see how frustrated he was throughout the game. He was 2nd on the team in tackles, but had trouble sealing the edges on the run game, was constantly marked well by Texans offensive linemen, and Posluszny was frustrated in his pass coverage as Houston receivers were able to find soft spots in the zone.
Posluszny’s segment wasn’t posted at NFL.com, but you can check out former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who was mic’d this past week as he helped the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Baltimore Ravens. Ryans was always a vocal guy for the Texans defense and is entertaining to listen to in this game.
6. Finally, Green Day is set to release their newest album “Uno!” next Tuesday, but you can listen to it in full already by logging in to the Green Day Facebook page and clicking on the link that says “hear Uno now.”
We’ve had a few previews of this album already as some singles have been released. After listening to the album, my favorite song so far is “Fell For You,” but as we all know when we listen to bands that we like and their albums over and over again, the first song you like often isn’t the one that ends up being your favorite. Among the singles that were released, my favorite was “Oh Love,” but I also enjoyed the song “Let Yourself Go” which was performed and recorded live at Red 7 in Austin for the band’s YouTube channel.
A lot of people are saying that this album is a throwback to Kerplunk, which they released in 1992, and that it’s vastly different from their previous two rock operas American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. But while the instruments used in those albums were different, I honestly feel like their style didn’t change that much. Their philosophy and story-telling changed as they got political, deeply personal, and produced concept albums, but I always felt like their sound stayed true.
I would say that this album is more similar to Warning, with a pop sound featuring a positive feel throughout the album. I enjoyed it. You should check it out.