I know there are many differing opinions amongst fans and writers when it comes to the subject of interleague play in baseball. Purists hate it altogether. Some hate it because it means no designated hitter in National League parks. Then some, me included, love it. It gave me a chance to see the Texas Rangers play other teams that they normally wouldn't unless it was their opponent in the World Series. And let's face it, when Interleague Play was established there was little chance that Texas would ever go that far. Like it or not it is here to stay especially with the Houston Astros coming to the AL next season. Two fifteen-team leagues means more frequent interleague play in order to balance out the schedules.
Now with that being said and my opinion being known it's time to discuss just how good interleague play has been for Texas so far this season. Okay minus the Alexi Ogando injury.
Before last weekend's series in San Francisco the Rangers three out of four games to the inferior Oakland Athletics. The Rangers were victims of a struggling offense, one that had been struggling for a couple of weeks. In that series Texas managed to average just two runs per game. Then came interleague play.
The Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks last night by a score of 9-1 and have gone 3-1 in their last four games against the Giants and D-Backs. In those four games they have seen a resurgent offense that is averaging 5.25 runs per game. That's a big difference from just a week ago. Craig Gentry has been hitting the ball well lately and now leads the team with a .340 batting average. Okay I know he's had 130 fewer at-bats than most of the guys but he has still looked impressive nonetheless. Mitch Moreland was finally given a chance to hit against a left-handed pitcher last night and he responded with an RBI single. Maybe Ron Washington will give him more chances. I know I hate every time I see him pinch-hit for Brandon Snyder who usually ends up striking out anyway.
Now some people will continue to point out that the Rangers are leaving a lot of men on base. They left ten on in last night's game. That's not something that worries me and I'll explain why. The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the majors with the fewest average men left on base. The Rangers are ranked 23rd. The Rangers have the highest team batting average in baseball. The Pirates rank 29th just above the A's. Fewer men on base means fewer men left on base. The Yankees have the sixth highest team average and leave the most men on base yet have the best record in the American League (by mere percentage points over the Rangers). Don't waste too much time worrying about it. I know I'm not.
Going into tonight's game against the Diamondbacks the Rangers are 140-133 in interleague play and 5-2 this season while averaging 5.14 runs per game. This may be just what the doctor ordered as Texas looks to keep the offensive momentum going in light of the recent rash of pitching injuries. And things should get better as the Rangers head to San Diego next to play the Padres who are struggling both with their offense and their pitching. As long as Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis continue their great pitching, Yu Darvish gets his command back and Feldman and the other guys step up everything will be fine.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, the founder of clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can follow him on Twitter where he waxes poetic about all things baseball @SDIJamesHolland.
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- Interleague Play