R.J., Pujols, a gem by Ranger Rookie  Rheinecker

Randy’s Not Back

Don’t get over excited. Randy’s still dormant. Regardless of Randy Johnson’s great pitching today, I don’t think we can expect that the ace of our rotation is back. Fans are happy that he’s finally shown up for the ’06 season at the end of May by shocking everyone with the incredible no-hit dominace that made Randy the Intimidator in his heyday. People are announcing, Randy is back! But I wonder, which Randy is back? Don’t get me wrong, I think what he did today was great: 6 shut out, two-hit innings against the AL’s best team no less. I’m glad we won and that Randy might revive himself as a winning pitcher. But today he was more than just a winning pitcher, he was a dominant pitcher, sweeping aside the Tigers like he would’ve a few years ago, cool under pressure, chugging along with a no-no startling an unassuming team of young but dangerous hitters. Don’t forget he’s still 42. Today’s win doesn’t change that. Maybe today’s win marks a turning point for him, but I don’t expect anything this good for the rest of the year. 6 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs is too good to be true. 6 or maybe 7 innings, 6 hits and 3 or 4 runs will probably be the Randy we’ll see most often from now on. I’m excited he pitched this spectacular against a dangerous Detroit offense, the AL’s 7th best in runs scored, and that we won the game, but come on, do you really think he could duplicate an outing this good? I don’t want to get my hopes up so I say no. However, I could definitely be proven wrong. What do I know? He somehow managed 8 innings of 1 run ball in an April start against Baltimore, so maybe he really is capable of better things. Maybe he has just enough left to toss a perfect game. I have no clue, but I’m waiting until after the All-Star break to believe that a 42 year old Big Unit can revitalize his stuff from Seattle and Arizona. The stuff that got him 372 Ks in ’01. That would warrant excitement, but that’s not happening. At best he’ll be the Randy of last year, but I’m still waiting to know for sure.

Best Player in the Game

So, Pujols is already the NL MVP, right? Do we all agree? I can’t think of anyone who makes it a contest. Unless Pujols gets injured or has some slump, which he won’t, no one can catch him. He has 25 of the Cards’ 53 home runs and 64 RBIs. Without his 3 run homer today the Cards’ lose 1-0. I’m currently reading Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger and Tony La Russa, without actually saying it, implies that yes, Pujols is the greatest player he’s ever managed. He doesn’t want to single out anyone or disrespect his players by labeling one as the best. Tony says Pujols has that rare inner-teamwork of talent and heart that continually pushes him to greater and greater places in the game, something that Tony says he’s only seen in a handful of players. So, I’m collecting as many of his baseball cards as possible because 30 or 40 years from now he’ll be legendary.

Holy Rheinecker

In his 2nd major league start John Rheinecker of the Rangers pitched 8 1/3 innings against the Mariners, struck out 6, allowed 4 hits (none to Ichiro) and a walk, and ended up with the W and a standing O at home. He put two men on base in the 9th so Buck brought in Bauer to finish it off. Rheinecker’s first start in the bigs was in April against Tampa and less than noteworthy: 4 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, a no decision. But what he did tonight was fantastic news for the Rangers who probably need a more consistent rotation to keep up with Oakland in the second half. They might cycle Rheinecker around for another start in five days. Seattle’s very own "phenom" King Felix hasn’t graced the team with a game that good yet in the young stages of what’s supposed to be a Hall of Fame career. I wonder if Felix Hernandez will ever pitch as good as scouts suspected. Anyway, Rheinecker’s counterpart on the Seattle side was Washburn who gave up 2 runs in 7 innings and got awarded his 6th L. He made just one mistake, a pitch that Teixeira took over the fence for only his 6th HR and 25th RBI.

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