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Open Thread: Game #27 - Texas Rangers @ Oakland Athletics, 1st Place @ Stake

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He's just happy he's in first place: no subtle drug references are intended. Honest.

26658835v1_225x225_front_mediumA copy of Rangers starter Rich Harden's autobiography has leaked out, in preliminary mousepad form for some reason.

Hi A's fans, it's me, Kara! I'm here in Havana, Cuba because Stomper and I have just defected! We both realized that if I am going to get the 24-hour-a-day teeth-whitening care I need, and if Stomper is to get treatment for his elephantiasis (don't ask), well let's just say that Uncle Fidel has all our needs covered way better than the health care we would receive in Cignalopolis Aetnatopia Kaiserania America. That, and from what he's told us Fidel can still gobble up those grounders at SS and 3B... if (Che forbid) Cliff Pennington gets injured we both think the A's oughta give the old man a look, seeing as how (like a good communist) he has offered to play for the league minimum. Listening Comrade Billy Beane?

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Effects from the toxic Rangers bullpen (5.25 ERA) have spread throughout the state, with disaster areas declared by Gov. Rick Perry in hundreds of counties.

The back end of Texas' relief corps have been suspect as that Icelandic volcano lately, with fully half of the Rangers' total losses as a team coming after the 7th inning of games in which they are tied or have led. Maybe this has something to do with the idea that the stadiums stop selling alcohol after the 7th and the relief guys need a drink to perform, or perhaps they'd do better as a team if The Ballpark at Arlington went to cocaine sales after the beer runs out, I do not know.

Of course, with a pitcher like Rich "My Elbow's Soft but My Head Is" Harden out there, this bullpen stuff is significant because let's face it, if you're his manager and he keeps it under 100 pitches through 5 IP you're getting a good deal from him. The key to this game and series is going to be exactly this, IMO: whose 'pen coughs it up at crunch time.

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Athletics' starter Dallas Braden contemplates how many years of physical therapy it will take for the next MF'er who sets foot on his pitching rubber to ever walk again.

The A's counter with their most effective pitcher so far, sending Dallas out to mess with Texas this evening with his gutty combination of decent fastball, devastating change-up and "bloody stump" determination. It also helps that of all the A's pitchers to this point, Dallas seems to be the one who gets more than any of them that the only way for him to succeed is to pitch to contact, letting the leather behind him scoop up whatever nuggets that find their way to the opposition's bats. What I love about our Bulldog (make no mistake: he is the soul of this team) is that, even with his big badass attitude and aggressive stance, you'll never see him pitch out of his skill set and try to blow guys away like he's Nolan Ryan out there (and gosh, Nolan Ryan is kinda out there, isn't he?). Did I mention that Dallas Braden also has the best pickoff move in all of baseball? If you reach base against him, that's where your misery is only beginning.

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Mets mascot Mr. Met thinks about trying to steal 2nd on Dallas Braden's pickoff move and decides to defect to Cuba with his friend Stomper instead.

So here we are, it's May and if we win tonight we can reclaim our rightful place atop what must surely be the worst division is sports history at this point. When I lay down to go to sleep last night, I had this vision that all 4 teams in the AL West would somehow finish with identical 82-82 records, necessitating some sort of playoff elimination bracket just for our division. Either that or the AL West would get no representative in the playoffs and the winner would just get to play the Sacramento River Cats for the Pacific Coast League title and just leave it at that... I'm sure if the winner turns out to be Oakland, Commissioner Joker Penguin Riddler Mr. Freeze King Tut Egghead Bud Selig will find a way to turn it all around so we really lost and it means that Lew Wolff must move the team to a gazebo in the backyard garden of 1960s pop sensation Dionne Warwick as a result.

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The four American League West powerhouses are already working hard for a shot at October this year

Good news and glad tidings: Michael Wuertz is back at last, with Brad Kilby sent down to AAA today to make room! Of course, as with any homocide investigation worth its weight in Dennis Franz's mustache hairs, you need lineups... up against the wall, fellas!!


Lineup

Texas Rangers @ Oakland Athletics

05/03/10 7:05 PM PDT

Texas Rangers Oakland Athletics
Craig Gentry - CF Cliff Pennington - SS
Michael Young - 3B Daric Barton - 1B
Josh Hamilton - LF Ryan Sweeney - RF
Vladimir Guerrero - RF Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B
Ian Kinsler - 2B Eric Chavez - DH
Ryan Garko - DH Adam Rosales - 2B
Justin Smoak - 1B Eric Patterson - LF
Matt Treanor - C Josh Donaldson - C
Andres Blanco - SS Rajai Davis - CF

First pitch is at 7:08 or so and I am here with the additional threads and ridiculously juvenile pictures... this is a big series and wins vs. our utterly craptastic division are worth two, redeemable in September when the other teams can't catch up to us cuz we thumped 'em in the early going here and they are desperately playing from behind for the coveted playoff spot. You hear me AN? Let us cheer our scrappy bunch on to a thrashing of the Rangers as fat as a ZZ Top power chord and as large as a rack of Texas ribs tonight.

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LET'S GO, OAK-LAND!!!!