The Texas Rangers capped off a productive day on Monday and snapped a three-game losing streak behind a solid performance from starter Yu Darvish, with a 3-0 win over the visiting New York Yankees.
In his first start since July 6th, Darvish went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four, while leading the Rangers (55-44) to their first win of the second-half.
Looking like the pitcher we saw in early April and May, Darvish improved to 9-4 and gave Texas a win they desperately needed in order to keep pace with the first-place Oakland Athletics (58-41), who topped the Astros in Houston on Monday night and currently own a three-game lead on the Rangers in the A.L. West.
Perhaps more importantly, Texas confirmed the recent rumors of their interest in an additional starting pitcher and pulled the trigger on a deal that sent right-handed, rookie starter Justin Grimm (7-7, 6.37 ERA), minor league pitcher CJ Edwards, top-prospect (3B) Mike Olt, and at least one player to be named later, to the Chicago Cubs for starting pitcher Matt Garza (6-1, 3.17 ERA).
With the successful return of Darvish on Monday night, the acquisition of Garza, and the very recent activation of starting pitcher Alexi Ogando (4-2, 2.93 ERA) from the disabled list, the Rangers are now, more than at any other time yet this season, prepared to make a serious run at a World Series Championship this fall.
Unfortunately, the dark cloud of alleged PED use that has continued to hang over baseball recently, made its way to Milwaukee on Monday, resulting in a season-ending suspension for Brewer’s slugger Ryan Braun and according to numerous reports, Ranger’s star outfielder and resident slugger Nelson Cruz (.275 BA, 23 HR, 70 RBI), may soon experience a similar fate.
While not completely unexpected, Ranger’s General Manager Jon Daniels may now be forced to shift the focus of the front office towards finding and then acquiring, an adequate replacement for his All-Star outfielder. The going rate for a comparable power- hitter however, may just be more than Texas can afford without jeopardizing the Ranger’s current plans for a post–season run in 2013.
In terms of young prospects, Texas still has highly-touted infielder Jurickson Profar to trade in return for a possible Cruz replacement, despite various reports that he was likely to be included in any deal that brought a quality starting pitcher to the Rangers prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
After clinching the opener of their four-game set with the Yankees Monday, the Rangers will call on starter Alexi Ogando (4-2) to face New York’s Phil Hughes (4-9) in game two on Tuesday night in Texas.
Newly acquired starter Matt Garza (6-1), was pulled from his last start as a member of the Chicago Cubs on Monday night and will make his debut for Texas on Wednesday when he is scheduled to oppose veteran Yankees starter Andy Pettitte (7-7) in game three, followed by a potentially intriguing matchup on Thursday between the Ranger’s Derek Holland (8-5) and New York’s Hideki Kuroda (9-6) in the series finale.
Next up for the rejuvenated Rangers after the Yankees leave town will be a three-game road trip that starts on Friday in Cleveland, which will be immediately followed by a short trip back to Texas where they will host the third-place Angels for three games beginning on July 29.
The true test for this ballclub however, begins on Friday, August 2 when the Rangers are scheduled to play the first game of a 10-game, divisional road trip that includes stops in Oakland (3 games), Los Angeles (3 games), and Houston (4 games).