The Texas Rangers dealt away Edinson Volquez to obtain Josh Hamilton back in 2007. It's a move that has paid off handsomely for the Rangers, who expect to finally have Hamilton back in the lineup as they face Volquez - now with the San Diego Padres - for the first time Tuesday night at Petco Park. Texas (41-27) dealt Volquez (3-6, 3.70 ERA) and outfielder Danny Herrera to Cincinnati in December 2007 for Hamilton. Since that trade, Hamilton has helped the Rangers franchise reach its first two World Series. He is a leading AL MVP candidate this season, with 22 homers and a major league-best 62 RBIs.
Volquez, whom the Reds dealt to San Diego (24-44) last December, is now getting ready to face the organization that signed him as an 18-year-old in October 2001. He went 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA in 20 games - 17 starts - with Texas between 2005-07. The right-hander had gone 0-4 with a 5.86 ERA over a five-start span before Thursday, when he yielded one run over 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 victory at Seattle - his first win since May 12. Hamilton, who has been suffering from an intestinal virus that he said caused him to lose 10 pounds, entered Monday's series-opening 2-1 Rangers win in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.
Hamilton ranks second among active players with a .351 interleague batting average, and his .638 slugging percentage is the best all-time in interleague play. How Texas fares Tuesday, however, could be determined more by how Scott Feldman (0-6, 6.50) performs. Feldman will try to avoid becoming the first Rangers pitcher to lose his first seven decisions as a starter in a season since Rick Honeycutt in 1982. The right-hander dropped his sixth straight start Thursday as he gave up six runs over five-plus innings of an 11-3 defeat to Arizona. He has yet to last through the sixth inning in seven starts this season. Texas leads the majors with 5.29 runs per game while San Diego is last at 3.32. Neither team scored after the first inning Monday in the Rangers' fourth straight victory.
Now most may think I'm crazy selecting one of the traditionally lower echelon of offenses in a first half selected game, but given the matchups and price we receive this evening one can only side with me that we have a fair shot. While the Rangers swept Houston over the weekend revamping their offensive explosion, the return of Hamilton only makes things even more daunting for a struggling Voloquez. The Rangers are amongst the leaders in batting (.281) along with HR (87) while Beltre (.305 11 43) is having another solid season second on the team in hitting. Mike Napoli (.238 11 29) and Nelson Cruz (.253 9 29) might be struggling a bit along with missing Mitch Moreland (.274 10 25) due to injury for some significant time, however we see a big night for the middle part of this lineup. Meanwhile don't let the numbers mislead you despite it being the punchless Padres not just because they play in Petco Cathedral Park, however Carlos Quentin (.400 6 13) coming off the DL for the first time since 5/28 has paid off some dividends. Couple that with your leader in production Chase Headley (.267 7 32) and some timely hitting from Will Venable (.265 5 18), and Feldman may need to bear down behind some run support in order to earn his first win of the season. The odds may be against us, but given the competitive board this evening we're willing to give the two contrasts a whirl. Best of luck however you play!