Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish pitches against the Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, Texas

Josh Hamilton rebounds, but Rangers beat Angels 7-3


Even though Josh Hamilton finished his return to Texas by going 3-for-5, the Rangers claimed the series Sunday night, beating the Angels 7-3.

Unfortunately, Hamilton failed to come through when it would have made the biggest difference. After Yu Darvish opened the top of the first with a walk, a hit by pitch and another walk, Hamilton stepped up with the bases loaded and none out. He swung at both pitches he saw and hit a routine grounder on the second, resulting in a 4-6-3 double play that nonetheless gave the Angels their first run.

The Angels finished the top of the first up 2-0, only to see Jered Weaver give up three runs on back-to-back homers from Lance Berkman and David Murphy in the bottom of the inning.

Both Darvish and Weaver later left with injuries. The blister that Darvish developed in Tuesday’s near perfect game knocked him out after five innings, while Weaver was removed with a sprained left (non-pitching) elbow, the result of an awkward fall trying to get out of the way of a comebacker. Weaver is iffy to make his next start.

With the starters gone, the Rangers won the battle of the bullpens. Ian Kinsler hit a three-run homer off former teammate Mark Lowe in the bottom of the sixth, putting the Rangers up 7-3 and finishing the scoring for the night.

Kinsler finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBI and a walk. He has three homers already this season.

Hamilton’s average bottomed out at .048 before he collected a double and two singles in the middle of the game. He got one more at-bat in the ninth and grounded out to end it, leaving him at .160 (4-for-25) through six games.

Of course, it means next to nothing right now, but with the Angels’ strength supposed to be the top five or six hitters in the lineup, it’s funny to see none of those guys hitting above .280, while Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos are all at .300 or better from the seventh-through-ninth spots.

Terry Francona sets Indians’ World Series rotation for first three games

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 18:  Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game four of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 18, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Indians manager Terry Francona has set his starting rotation for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs. Corey Kluber will start Game One, followed by Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for Games Two and Three, respectively.

Kluber, the ace of the staff, has had a terrific postseason. He’s made three starts with a 0.98 ERA and a 20/7 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings. The Indians won two of his starts — Game Two of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS.

Bauer was unable to make it out of the first inning of his ALCS Game 3 start against the Blue Jays after the stitches on his pinky opened up and caused blood to pour out. He suffered the injury repairing one of his drones, which he builds as a hobby. Bauer insists he’ll be good to go in Game Two, though he also insisted that the injury wouldn’t be an impediment against the Jays.

Tomlin has made two solid starts for the Indians, allowing a total of three runs over 10 2/3 innings. The Indians won both games he started, Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the ALCS. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes that if Bauer can’t go in Game Two, Tomlin will be moved up to start in his place.

Alex Rodriguez credits Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein with Cubs’ turnaround

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 13:  Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, celebrates after the Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League Division Series to win the NLDS 3-1 at Wrigley Field on October 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals with a score of 6 to 4.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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It isn’t difficult to see the fingerprints left by Cubs’ president Tom Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein on the club’s remarkable 2016 season. In a piece for FOXSports.com, former Yankee Alex Rodriguez highlighted the duo’s effectiveness in liberating the Cubs from a five-year losing streak and six-year postseason drought, citing both the unrelenting work ethic and passion that Ricketts and Epstein brought to the club as major factors in their success.

Rodriguez’s first brush with sabermetric savant and all-around baseball wizard Theo Epstein came in 2003, when the then- 27-year-old All-Star was eyeing a deal with the Red Sox. The Major League Baseball Players Association eventually nixed the trade, and the Rangers’ young shortstop was sent to the Yankees shortly thereafter, but not before Rodriguez glimpsed the inner workings of Epstein’s mind.

What I remember best about that time was watching Theo furiously scribbling out the Red Sox lineup for the upcoming season on a room-service napkin. That’s when I saw Theo’s baseball mind at work. I saw he had a passion for the game, a depth of knowledge, and a thirst to be great. Theo’s passion was contagious. We were three 20-somethings convinced we were about to turn baseball upside down together. Though I never got a chance to work with Theo, I knew then that he was going to be a force.

A-Rod also referenced Ricketts’ thorough approach to rebuilding the organization. Ricketts, who purchased the franchise for $875 million in 2009, first made it his mission to transform Wrigley Field into a comfortable and enticing playing environment, then targeted top-tier management to run the show behind the scenes. With Ricketts fully backing Epstein’s transformative approaches — including an overhaul of the Cubs’ farm system, investments in international player development, and a comprehensive understanding and practical application of sabermetric advances — the Cubs’ path to a 97-win season in 2015 seemed a natural consequence of the pair’s hard work.

This year, the attention has been even more intensely focused on the Cubs’ elusive third World Series title. Rodriguez, however, believes that winning a championship is secondary to the strides Ricketts and Epstein have taken with the club.

Together, Ricketts and Epstein have built one of the greatest franchises in baseball and transformed 1060 W. Addison St. It’s a task that no one could quite get right for a hundred years. While four more wins would put a giant exclamation point on five years of focused work and determination, I won’t worry if this team doesn’t win the World Series in the next nine days.