Mariners @ Rangers September 22 Free Play


We lost our first play of September earlier this week in a game between the Rays and Rangers. Somehow, I didn’t realize the day was during the day and the ball was flying at the ballpark in Arlington. It’s nice to think I would have stayed away from any under in that hot Texas sun, had I been aware the game was to be played in the afternoon, but I probably would have played it anyway.

Yohander Mendez did let Tampa Bay string together hits and even gave up the long ball to, predictably, Tommy Pham. That guy is still absolutely raking and I’ve still been backing the Rays just about every night in plays outside of what I post here, including tonight with Tyler Glasnow on the mound in a redeem spot after getting blasted at the Rodgers Centre just a couple of weeks ago.

But tonight’s play is going to be back at Globe Life Stadium in Texas, where the Rangers play for the second time under interim-manager Don Wakamatsu.

Wakamatsu still isn’t well-known now with the casual fan because he never amounted to anything much as a player and has had a relatively inconspicuous career as a professional coach. He was even lesser known in 2009 when he got his first opportunity to manage a big league club, which was the Mariners. He lasted 274 games there and hasn’t had a second chance, until now.

Free Play

Texas won on Friday night in Wakamatsu’s debut. Did they win because Jeff Bannister is gone and Wakamatsu is in charge? No. Will they win tonight because Jeff Bannister is gone and Wakamatsu is in charge? No.

Just because the Rangers’ front office fired their manager with a week left in the regular season doesn’t make the team some unstoppable force, playing for its new manager, in games 154-162. It does, however, breathe some new air into what would have been a monotone trudge to the finish line of a last-place finish in the NL West.

That’s a good place to start. I also like Texas because Mike Minor has been great just about all season and hasn’t shown any signs of pulling up before the finish line. He’s gone just about thirty innings over his last five starts and allowed just seven runs.

He pitched well against Seattle once in April but poorly twice in May. This is a different Mariners team now than it was in the first two months of the season, though. Seattle’s body language coming down the home stretch indicates it’s the sort of team I’m looking to fade in the eleventh hour.

Then there’s the evidence that Marco Gonzales has come back down to Earth in the last two months after a fine few months to begin the season and that he’s not tough of left-handers.

Gonzales split aren’t typical of a left-handed pitcher, which will be a sigh of relief for guys like Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. The latter slugger has been hot with three homers in his last four games, including last night.

Play: Texas (PK)

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