On May 15th Rangers 2nd baseman, Rougned Odor, socked Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista in the jaw with a right hook that cemented Odor’s place in the heart of Rangers fans. Come back wins, one run wins and that punch became the topic of conversation all season long for the Rangers and it even is widely considered the most solid knockout blow in Major League Baseball brawl history. That’s right, Rougie’s fist-to-jaw landed better than any blow delivered by Nolan Ryan while whaling away on Robin Ventura. The entire state of Texas, as well as most of baseball, have been laughing at Bautista ever since. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time to put that delicious piece of history where it belongs, in the past, at least for right now.
As of today the only right hook that’ll mean anything is a Yu Darvish curve ball. Granted, you’ll need a left hook from Cole Hamels to win game one, which begins Thursday, Oct. 6th at 3:38pm CT. As for Rougie, he’s struggled as of late, hitting .250 in the last month. We can only hope he plays like he did in July when he hit .311 with 12 of his 33 hits for the month going for extra bases. Banister has counted on Odor by hitting him in a run producing spot in the lineup and for the most part, you have to be pleased with his overall body of work. After all, he led the team with 33 homers, and 304 total bases and was second on the team with 88 RBI. Let’s get a tad more specific, shall we? Odor might’ve provided the more iconic moment of the season, but in all actuality, he’ll need to play better against the Blue Jays. Against Toronto this year, Rougie hit a mere .194 with an on-base percentage of the same count. When you broaden the picture even further, however, Odor has hit .328 in his career against the Jays. Which Rougie do we get tonight?
Speaking of which will we get, what are we going to get out of Cole Hamels tonight? You can’t really shake it any other way, Hamels has not been himself over his past six starts. In that time, Rangers ace 1A has an ERA over six. In four of those six starts he’s given up five or more runs. Obviously, this is a slump that needs to end yesterday, however, we are talking about a guy with solid post-season history. Hamels has a 3.03 career ERA in the playoffs, including a 2.70 mark last year in his first season with the Rangers. He was dominant in 2008 with the Phillies, throwing 35 innings in the playoffs and sporting an ERA of 1.80. Now that is the kind of guy Texas needs in the mound for October. Rangers ace 1B, also known as Yu Darvish, has one playoff start in his career back in 2012 and pitched well going 6.2 innings, giving up two earned runs and a 0.75 WHIP. Considering the struggles from the rest of the rotation both Darvish and Hamels are going to need to be at the tip top of their game.
There’s plenty of talent throughout the lineup to lead the Rangers. No one player has to be David Ortiz in order to win. No pitcher needs to be Madison Bumgarner. What is needed is a solid contribution throughout the lineup and either Colby Lewis or Martin Perez stepping up to take the pressure off Hamels and Darvish. Toronto’s public enemy number one (Odor) can help by knocking baseballs out of the ballpark rather than knocking teeth out of jaws.