- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
You might think they didn't play any meaningful baseball in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday, because Mother Nature intervened to stop the Oakland Athletics-Texas Rangers blowout, but let me tell you, as someone who listened on the radio to 3.5 innings of a game that wouldn't count, stuff happened!
For those unaware, the Rangers held a 7-0 lead and were coming to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, but it started raining, it didn't stop and eventually the game was postponed. Because five innings were not played, the rule is that the game is not official, and it will be replayed in its entirety later in the season. So, if you own Rangers first baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and lose this week by a few RBIs, blame the weather. If your opponent beats you in ERA this week because the Gio Gonzalez outing didn't count, it's the same thing. I heard things happen in the game ... even if they didn't officially happen. It doesn't mean we can't learn something from a fantasy angle, though.
Moreland hits lefties: A few weeks ago, fantasy owners on the fence about owning Moreland could use the excuse he was sitting against left-handed pitching, generally for catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli or versatile Michael Young. That's not a problem anymore. After starting the season 1-for-18 against southpaws, Moreland would have been seven for his past 10 against them had Wednesday counted, as he singled and he crushed a grand slam off the lefty Gonzalez to break Wednesday's non-game open. Alas, he's back to 6-for-27 against lefties now, a .222 mark and no RBIs, but we know better!
It's a shame Moreland is still stuck on five home runs and 12 RBIs, when it could have been six and 16, but that's baseball. It doesn't change the fact he is eligible at first base and right field -- knowing how deep first base is, I'd use him in the latter spot, where he ranks better -- and is not a liability against one side of the plate. Gonzalez has officially permitted four home runs this season, and lefties have half of them, so he's not technically a lefty killer, but still, this was a good sign. Baseball can erase the grand slam, but Moreland did hit it. Currently owned in 96.2 percent of ESPN standard leagues, I trust Moreland is on his way to at least 20 home runs and 80 RBIs.
Gonzalez gets a reprieve: I love the postgame quotes from the 25-year-old lefty. "I just want everybody to know I'm buying lottery tickets. Seven lottery tickets," Gonzalez said. "It's safe to say I can play the lottery today. Was there even a game today? I guess it was a live session of BP. One apology I want to make is to Mitch. Sorry, buddy. I'll definitely sign you over a check or something, whatever you want. I got away with one and I admit it."
Fantasy owners don't often get a second chance, and those enjoying Gonzalez's season stats have to be pleased his ERA didn't rise from 2.68 to 3.88, because that would have happened. Gonzalez allowed six hits and five walks, and all seven runs scored in the messy third inning that he wasn't able to complete. Athletics manager Bob Geren cited location as the reason Gonzalez was tagged, noting his pitcher wasn't sharp, but that it's just one game. In a way Gonzalez did throw a batting practice session, since the numbers didn't count, and he can work on ways to avoid a repeat performance Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels. Gonzalez will likely not officially pitch this week, but after seeing what he would have done Wednesday, his owners aren't complaining. Stick with Gonzalez; he's No. 36 on the Player Rater among starting pitchers, proving last season wasn't a fluke, and I view Wednesday's struggles as just a bad, and for fantasy owners, lucky day. Don't curse the rain!
The other starting pitcher: Lost in this rainout was the improved performance by Rangers lefty Matt Harrison, a pitcher I couldn't wait to jettison off one of my rosters before the week. Harrison started the season in terrific fashion, beating the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees in succession, allowing one run in each performance. He entered Wednesday having lost four consecutive starts, with his ERA rising to 4.35. Walks were certainly a problem, as Harrison's shoddy command seemed lost. His last outing against the Yankees seemed to signal progress, with only two earned runs in six innings, but I watched the game and there were runners on base constantly. Harrison threw 119 pitches in those six innings, walking five, and I felt lucky, as a Harrison owner, that he didn't get lit up.
On Wednesday, Harrison didn't allow a run in four innings, but he did issue a pair of first-inning walks, three overall, and struck out three. I got the feeling at some point he was going to allow runs, but he didn't. Fantasy owners might be inclined to trust Harrison now, but I can't. He and fellow lefty Derek Holland scare me, from the walks to the inconsistency, and let's face it, the home ballpark isn't generous for pitchers. Harrison is owned in 15.9 percent of leagues. I have to leave him unowned for now, even knowing Wednesday's outing -- had it counted -- was a positive one.