Friday newsletter time: Rangers, Mariners this weekend for a lot of the marbles
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
This isn’t it, but it’s pretty close to being it.
The Rangers and the Mariners will play three games this weekend at Globe Life Field as they try to put the other out of commission in the American League playoff race. They enter play tied for second place in the AL West, a half-game behind the Astros, and tied for the third wild-card spot, a half-game behind the Blue Jays.
No team, it seems, wants to win the West, but someone will. At least one will be a wild-card team, and there’s a chance that all three make it into the postseason. There seems to be a better chance that one of them spends October at home.
The Rangers and Mariners bot have 10 games remaining, seven against each other. Their final four games of the season are head to head at T Mobile Park in Seattle.
Judging by the way things have been going, that will be it.
The Rangers will start right-hander Dane Dunning tonight in the series opener, and left-hander Jordan Montgomery and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will start Saturday and Sunday. The Mariners will counter with right-handers Bryce Miller, Logan Gilbert and Brian Woo.
That trio will face one of the best offenses in baseball, though the Rangers haven’t looked the part the past month. They did last week at Toronto and the past two games against Boston, but haven’t been immune to long weekends off like last weekend at Cleveland.
The Mariners have the edge on the mound, especially in the bullpen. Not breaking news there.
What’s going to happen? Anyone who says they know is full of it. Even Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said that he has never seen anything like has happened with this team over the past month.
His team is capable of playing like one of the best in the game and quickly turning around and playing like one of the worst.
But here the Rangers are in playoff contention with 10 games to go. That trumps anything else that has happened around here the past six seasons.
Gonzalez coming home
A news release hit reporters’ inboxes Thursday afternoon with big news: Juan Gonzalez is returning to Arlington.
The two-time American League MVP and member of the Rangers Hall of Fame will sign autographs, receive his Hall of Fame jacket and throw out the first pitch before the series opener against the Mariners.
The response from fans has been overwhelmingly supportive, with some even urging the Rangers to retire Gonzalez’s jersey number 19.
The ceremony will highlight Hispanic Heritage Night, but it’s one of the highlights of the Rangers’ season.
Gonzalez hasn’t been back to Arlington for several years. He didn’t even attend his own Hall of Fame ceremony in 2015, instead having his son accept the honor on his behalf.
Gonzalez was one of the best players in baseball in the 1990s. Signed out of Puerto Rico, he played for the Rangers from 1989-99 and in 2002-03. He is the club’s all-time leader in home runs (372), RBIs (1180) and extra base hits (713). He’s in the top 10 in several other categories.
T.R. Sullivan is planning to write about Gonzalez this morning in T.R.’s Memoirs.
Don’t miss it.
Class A first baseman Abi Ortiz was selected as Player of the Year and Class A right-hander Jose Corniell was picked as the Pitcher of the Year as the Rangers announced their minor-league award winners.
Ortiz and Corniell opened the season at Low A Down East before graduating early in the season to High A Hickory. Ortiz hit a combined 33 home runs, and Corniell went a combined 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA.
The Reliever of the Year is left-hander Antoine Kelly, who dominated at Double A Frisco before a recent promotion to Triple A Round Rock. The Defender of the Year is Hickory outfielder Daniel Mateo, and Round Rock first baseman Blaine Crim was selected for the True Ranger award for “representing the core values of the organization in a positive light both on and off the field.”
The group will be honored Saturday before the second game against the Mariners.
Card of the Week
The Rangers might have had the night off, but that didn’t mean the Wilsons weren’t without baseball to watch.
We’re in documentary mode right now, and it was time for Hall of Shame on Netflix. It’s the story of the Bay Arizona Laboratory Co-Operative, better known as BALCO.
Victor Conte, the man behind the biggest PED scandals in sports history, talks and talks and talks and insists that he never gave steroids to Barry Bonds. The clear and the cream? Not illegal.
Depends on the definition, I guess.
Anyhoo, the Card of the Week is the 1987 Donruss Bonds rookie card, which at one point was going to help me retire early along with his other rookie cards and Mark McGwire’s rookies.
The ’87 Donruss set is full of good rookie cards, beginning with Greg Maddux and Bo Jackson. Mike Maddux’s rookie card is also in the set, along with Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Larkin, Will Clark, Wally Joyner, David Cone and Kevin Brown, among others.
As for the documentary, the most compelling story was that of sprinter Tim Montgomery, who talks at length about his time with Conte and his desire to use PEDs to become the fastest man on earth.
He doesn’t hide from it. He seems to resent it, but only to an extent. He still cherishes the feeling of breaking the world record in the 100 meters, even though it was disqualified after he was linked to BALCO.
Money, fame and jealousy have always been the drivers of PEDs. And they’ve ruined my retirement plans.
Everyone should have a friend like this Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) September 16, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com