Six up, six down. After the first two series of the season, the Texas Rangers are undefeated at 6-0 for the first time since 1996. What a pleasant surprise.
The sweeps came against Boston, which nearly every baseball analyst had winning it all this year, and Seattle. As a Rangers fan, you can't be anything but elated after these first six games. Boston is Boston, with the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, plus the usual Red Sox talent. Seattle pitched 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard and up-and-coming Michael Pineda, and we still swept the Mariners.
This tells me we're going to be extremely difficult to beat in Arlington. Texas was a solid 51-30 at home last year. This year, I expect something comparable.
• Nelson Cruz and baseballs apparently don't get along too well, because he likes to annihilate them on a consistent basis. Cruz opened the year with four home runs in his first four games. He became only the third player in MLB history to do that (the other two are Willie Mays and Mark McGwire).
• The starting pitching has been consistent. C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis have been the steady forces they've needed to be. Matt Harrison has to easily be the biggest surprise. He looked great against Boston, throwing seven innings, allowing one run, two walks and striking out eight. He looks like a different pitcher this year, and if Harrison can pitch even remotely like he did against a potent Red Sox lineup, I like our chances to repeat in the West. Alexi Ogando sparkled in his starting pitching debut, lasting six innings, and giving up two hits, no earned runs, and striking out two (vs. two walks) against Seattle. Derek Holland also pitched well enough to earn a victory.
• Ian Kinsler looks great in the leadoff spot with his steady production of power and on-base percentage. Kinsler has already belted three home runs. I also like looking at his five walks in six games.
• Newly-acquired Adrian Beltre hasn't been spectacular at the plate (only batting .125 so far), but he's offered a unique set of highlight reel plays already. The grand slam he hit in the second game against Boston was arguably the most memorable part of the series. And I finally saw him in defensive action at third base. Wow. This guy can man the hot corner. Beltre made an all-world defensive play on Wednesday late in the game against Seattle, fielding an odd hop from near his knees, regaining his balance and firing to first base to complete the out. It was a 'wow' moment. The left side of the infield with Beltre and Elvis Andrus is spectacular.
• Neftali Feliz looks pretty darn unhittable so far: four appearances, four innings pitched, no hits, no earned runs, no walks, four strikeouts, two saves. I'd say good call, so far, by management to put him in the bullpen.
• Welcome to the Rangers, Mike Napoli. In splitting time at first base and catcher, Napoli played in only three of the six games, but smacked two home runs, four RBIs and hit .500 in the process.
• I'd say we're the clear favorites in the AL West. Seattle won't contend. Oakland can pitch, but its offense is spotty. And Anaheim's bullpen has struggled mightily.
The defending AL West champions have started the year like they have unfinished business to take care of. Here's to the streak continuing as long as possible.