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Category: Texas Rangers

World Series managers differ on 'Moneyball,' too

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa is not a big fan of the "Moneyball" philosophy that Billy Beane brought to Oakland, one that emphasizes statistics such as on-base percentage over traditional metrics like batting average and home runs.

"On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think it's all about getting on base by drawing walks," La Russa said. "The fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone."

Despite his reservations about the concepts, La Russa said Wednesday that he would take advantage of the postponement of Game 6 of the World Series and go see the Brad Pitt movie version of "Moneyball," which is based on Michael Lewis' book about Beane's time as general manager of the Oakland Athletics.

"I think Brad Pitt is a great actor," La Russa said, smiling.

Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington has a slightly different take on the subject. Washington was in Oakland during the period depicted in the film and was supposed to appear as himself in the movie, but the timing didn't work out and his part was played by actor Brent Jennings.

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Game 6 of World Series postponed because of bad weather


The Texas Rangers will have to wait at least one more day to try to win their first World Series title after Wednesday's scheduled Game 6 was postponed because of threatening weather.

Major League Baseball had an afternoon meeting with representatives of the Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals and announced at 2:15 p.m. CDT -- less than five hours before the scheduled first pitch -- that the game would be pushed back a day.

The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two

A 50% chance of rain was forecast for game time. And though the skies were overcast and threatening Wednesday afternoon, no rain had fallen since a light morning mist. The protective tarp remained on the Busch Stadium infield.

"Given the desire to play a game of this magnitude without interruption, and an outlook with better conditions over the next two nights, Major League Baseball, along with the Cardinals and the Rangers, determined that making the decision early would be the most prudent course of action to allow fans enough time to plan accordingly," MLB said in a release.

Clear skies but low temperatures are forecast for Thursday.


For Texas and St. Louis, relief is a phone call away

Cardinals' bullpen moves also deserve credit for success

Bill Plaschke: Jamie McCourt's Dodgers' legacy is one of taking and not giving

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

Photo: The tarp covers the field before Game 1 of the World Series. Threatening weather has caused the postponement of Game 6. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images.


Nowitzki delivers the heat for Rangers

Dallas Mavericks center Dirk Nowitzki threw out the first pitch before the Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday, delivering a low strike –- which was better than his performance in July after the Mavs won the NBA title.

“This time they told me to throw a four‑seam fastball,” said Nowitzki, who wore a blue Rangers jersey and cap. “I still don't understand what that means.  But I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two‑seam fastball? I forgot.”

As for the NBA lockout, Nowitzki said he’s disappointed there hasn’t been more progress in talks between the league and the players.

“We were all hoping with the mediator that something was going to happen, and just talks broke off, so it's very unfortunate,” he said. “Hopefully we can get something going here anytime soon. But it doesn't look good.

"I've just been keeping in shape, working out, doing lots of cardio and lifting a little bit and running. If the season will start any time soon, I think I'll be ready.”

Nowitzki grew up in Germany, where baseball is a minor sport. Still, he was asked if he would consider an offer to try out for the Rangers if the NBA lockout continued.

"I  would love that," he said before turning serious.

"If there's no settlement I'll probably go back home soon, start training with my coach again," he said.  "It's time to really get back in the routine. Got to keep the options open, maybe see what's going on overseas."


Where NBA owners stand on the lockout

A Game 7 in World Series could boost ratings

Ex-Dodger Rafael Furcal played his cards right in joining St. Louis

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Arlington, Texas

Photo: Dirk Nowitzki throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

World Series notebook: Rangers' repeat appearance not enough


The Texas Rangers are the first American League team to make consecutive appearances in the World Series since the New York Yankees in 2000 and '01. But Texas General Manager Jon Daniels said Saturday he has no intention of resting on those laurels.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment: just making the playoffs, winning a division, obviously advancing to the playoffs and advancing into the World Series,” he said. “We talk a lot about [how] we didn't want to be known as a one-hit wonder. We don't want to look back 10 years from now and say it was a nice accomplishment but we weren't able to build on it.

“We’re not happy with getting there twice. We want to win it and try to build something where we look back after 10 years and we’re not just comparing, you know, who’s better, 2010 versus 2011? But 2011 versus 2015, 2013 versus 2018. Obviously that’s the dream for every club. We’re definitely motivated, and the bottom line is the players have to get it done on the field. And they have.”

What’s in a name?

For the record, it’s pronounced zep-CHIN-skee. But Cardinals reliever Marc Rzepcynski said only two people have gotten his surname right the first time they tried and both were teaching assistants at UC Riverside whose families were from Poland.

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Rangers' lineup is feeling Josh Hamilton's pain in World Series

Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington said outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has been bothered by a left groin strain for about six weeks, was far from 100% during the American League Championship Series. And despite three days off before Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday, the injury appears to have worsened.

Hamilton, the AL's most valuable player in 2010, winced after taking a swing a couple of times during an 0-for-4 night in Game 1. And he appeared to have trouble pushing off to make a throw from center field.

But he was back in the Texas lineup, batting third and playing left field, for Game 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

PHOTOS: Rangers v. Cardinals in World Series

"One game," Washington said. "He'll figure it out. I have no doubt about it. He's come up big for us, and I expect him to do the same.

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Cardinals' Jaime Garcia hopes to make Mexico proud

Jaime3When left-hander Jaime Garcia takes the ball for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday, he will become the first pitcher born in Mexico to start in a World Series since the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

And though Garcia said Wednesday that the distinction is an honor, it was not something he was shooting for.

"I just found out yesterday," Garcia, who was born in the border town of Reynosa but grew up in Texas, said of the milestone. "I'm thrilled to hear that and I'm going to go out there and represent the team, my family and not only my hometown, but the whole country of Mexico."

He might have to do a lot to match Valenzuela's performance. In his only World Series appearance, Valenzuela pitched a complete game and beat the New York Yankees in a series the Dodgers won in six games.

Be it ever so humble ...

Garcia got the Game 2 start partly based on his statistics in home games, which include a 9-4 record and an earned-run average of 2.55, more than two runs lower than his road ERA.

"He's pitched well at home, so you go with that," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said. "There isn't any reason why he can't pitch well on the road. He's got that kind of composure. But when you're trying to find an edge, that's one of the angles you play."

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Cardinals make all the right moves, win World Series opener

Lance Berkman
Tony La Russa played a hunch Wednesday. Or perhaps he was just managing by the book.

Then again, maybe it was really an educated guess from the most educated of baseball managers.

Whatever word you choose to define the moves the Cardinals manager made in Game 1 of the World Series, there is only one way to describe the outcome: successful.

St. Louis rode pinch-hitter Allen Craig's two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth inning and a parade of relievers to a 3-2 victory against the Texas Rangers, drawing first blood in the best-of-seven series before a sellout crowd on a frigid night at Busch Stadium.

Photos: Rangers vs. Cardinals in World Series

The two previous postseason series in the American and National leagues were slugfests that averaged nearly 10 runs a game. But playoff baseball was back in vogue Wednesday, when managing and pitching -- some of it done from a tightrope -- dominated the World Series opener

C.J. Wilson, who hasn't won a game since the Rangers clinched their division last month, started for Texas and struggled early, throwing five of his first six pitches for balls, walking batters in each of the first two innings and giving up a single to start the third. But the left-hander, wearing short sleeves despite a 43-degree wind chill -- five degrees colder than it was at the start of the NHL's Winter Classic on Jan. 1 in Pittsburgh -- didn't allow any of those runners to get past first base.

That all changed in the fourth when he hit Albert Pujols on the foot to start the inning, gave up a double to Matt Holliday, then watched both runners score on Lance Berkman's single.

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Texas Rangers grew into winners, Ron Washington's way


The Texas Rangers had just one winning season in the seven before they hired Ron Washington  as manager. And that's turned out to be a pretty good hire: They entered Saturday night's sixth game of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers just a win away from their second consecutive World Series appearance.

But turning the team into a winner wasn't accomplished quickly or easily, Washington said.

"It all comes down to three things: It comes down to the attitude, comes down to commitment, it comes down to effort," said Washington, who was the third base coach in Oakland before getting his first big-league managerial job in 2007.

"We certainly had to learn how to pitch. We certainly had to learn how important defense is. We had to learn how to run the base paths. We had to learn to take advantage of the talent we have and let them go out there and expose itself and find out what it can do and what it can't do."

What the Rangers found out was the talent it had was mostly of the "can't do" variety. As a result, just two of the starters from Washington's first game -- Ian Kinsler and Michael Young -- are still with the team. Only right-hander Scott Feldman and left-hander C.J. Wilson remain from that season's pitching staff.

Yet the team has gotten slightly younger as it has gotten better.

"We've given many opportunities to young kids that, maybe in other organizations, wouldn't have had that opportunity," Washington said. "We nurture our players. We certainly support every one of them throughout the whole organization.

"That's what it's about when you talk about success."

And, says Young, that change in philosophy has led to a change of mentality in the clubhouse.

"We come to the ballgame expecting to win," he said. "Makeup-wise, this team is off the charts. It’s really a blue-collar professional group. And it’s fun to be part of something like that."

Just happy to be here

Detroit Manager Jim Leyland on Saturday hardly sounded like a guy whose team was a loss away from elimination. In an afternoon meeting with the media he teased about benching slugger Delmon Young for a game after he homered twice, praised the players on both teams for their toughness and used the words "great" or "exciting" six times to describe the first five games of the ALCS.

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Angels fall further back in playoff chase


The finish line, just nine days away, is almost close enough to touch.

The goal, a playoff berth, is also within reach. But despite all that, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia admits his team’s destiny is no longer in its own hands.

“At this point, right now, we need help,” he said.

They didn't give themselves any Monday in Toronto, when four poor fielding plays allowed the Toronto Blue Jays to escape with a 3-2 win in 10 innings. All three Toronto runs were unearned.

The winning run scored when Torii Hunter, playing as a fifth infielder, backhanded Adam Lind's ground ball toward second base, then threw wildy to the plate, allowing Mike McCoy to scored.

That dropped the Angels five games back of the idle Texas Rangers in the American League West, their largest deficit in the division race since Aug. 19.

They’re four games behind Boston in the wild-card race, pending the outcome of the Red Sox’s night game with Baltimore. And since they have only three games left with Texas and they don’t play the Red Sox at all, neither deficit is one the Angels can make up on their own.

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Angels chasing history as well as Rangers

After a day off, part of which was spent traveling from Oakland to Baltimore, the Angels resumed their pursuit of the division-leading Texas Rangers on Friday, sending Dan Haren to the mound against the Orioles in the opener of a three-games series.

Angels_logo But the Angels, who began the day trailing Texas by 3 1/2 games in the American League West, aren't chasing just the Rangers. They're chasing history as well since no AL team has ever overcome a 3 1/2-game deficit in the final 13 games to win a division or league title, according to Stats LLC.

It's been done five times in the National League since 1964, most recently by the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers also erased a 3 1/2-game deficit to win the NL title in 1965, a year after the St. Louis Cardinals pulled off the greatest pennant-race chase in history, overcoming a 6 1/2-game deficit in the final 13 games to edge out Philadelphia.

"So it's doable," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But that doesn't change our focus. We need to win games."

That is what Haren has done in his last two starts. In his most recent outing, in Anaheim, the right-hander shut out the New York Yankees on four hits, raising his season record to 15-8. What's more, he's unbeaten in Baltimore, going 3-0 with 2.43 ERA in five career starts while holding the Orioles to a .193 average.

The lineups:

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Rangers rally against Weaver, Downs to beat the Angels, 9-5


If there’s been one constant to the Angels this season, it’s been inconsistency.

Twice they’ve had winning streaks of five or more games. And three times they’ve had losing streaks that long.

They’ve gone into hitting streaks and fallen in hitting slumps.

But through all the ups and downs, there were two things on which the Angels could depend: the right arm of Jered Weaver and the left arm of Scott Downs.

Sunday night, in perhaps the Angels’ biggest game of the summer, both came up lame, allowing the Texas Rangers to rally for a 9-5 victory that pushed the Angels three games behind the first-place Rangers in the American League West, one game further back than when they arrived in Texas on Friday.

Only now they have three fewer games in which to make up the deficit. The Rangers took two of three in the series.

Pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Weaver had one of his worst outings of the season, giving up a seven runs and a season-high eight hits in six innings. He also walked a season-high four batters.

Weaver left the game with the score tied, 5-5, after giving up three consecutive hits to start the seventh. The Angels then turned to Downs, who has had 25 appearances in which he hasn't allowed a hit this season, stranding 21 of 25 inherited runners.

That lasted all of one pitch Sunday when Josh Hamilton greeted him by singling in the go-ahead run. The Rangers made it 8-5 a couple of batters later on a two-run pinch single from Endy Chavez, then tacked on an eighth-inning insurance run on Elvis Andrus' single.

For the next month the Angels and Rangers will be watching each other on the scoreboard since they don’t meet again until the final three games of the season. And the paths they’ll be following to that final series have wildly different degrees of difficulty, with the Angels seemingly enjoying the easier schedule.

Although the Angels will play 26 games in 28 days before seeing the Rangers again in Anaheim, the six teams they’ll meet have a combined winning percentage of .467. And just one -- the Yankees, who come to Angel Stadium for a three-game series next month -- currently has a winning record.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have two fewer games and two more off days than the Angels, but the five teams they’ll meet have a .509 winning percentage. And just two -- Oakland and Seattle -– have losing records.

What’s more, the Rangers, who have lost seven of their last 11, could enter the season’s final weeks missing two of their biggest offensive threats.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has 20 homers and 76 runs batted in, has been on the disabled list with a sore left hamstring for three weeks, and outfielder Nelson Cruz, who leads the team with 28 homers and 84 RBIs, came up lame running out a sixth-inning double Sunday. He'll have an MRI test Monday.

The Angels, who once led 4-1, took a 5-4 lead into the decisive seventh thanks to Howie Kendrick's fifth-inning home run, his fifth homer in his last six games.

Earlier the Angels scored on Bobby Abreu's RBI single in the first, and Abreu scored in the third when he doubled and came home on Mark Trumbo's double. The other two runs scored on singles by Jeff Mathis in the second and Vernon Wells in the third.

The Rangers got their first run in the second when Yorvit Torrealba hit a two-out solo home run off Weaver, and got even in the third when they scored three times, on Andrus' RBI triple and a two-run home run from Hamilton.


Angels-Rangers box score

Angels' gamble and hit jackpot against Rangers

Russell Branyan cuts it too close for comfort for Peter Bourjos

-- Kevin Baxter, from Arlington, Texas

Photo: Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver turns away from the plate as Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton rounds third base after hitting a home run in the third inning Sunday. Credit: Tim Heitman / US Presswire


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