Let's start this off with a bad-good-bad news sandwich.
Bad News: Vicente Padilla was scratched from Wednesday start due to the flu and Matt Harrison is likely lost for the rest of the season with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Bad News: The Angels have won seven straight games and still lead the AL West by 3.5 games.
Now let's break each of these down a little more.
Padilla was slated to pitch in the final game of the series against the Red Sox, but was a late scratch due to an illness. The organization stated that it was simply a flu bug that had made its way into the Rangers clubhouse.
However the team was told and announced on Friday that Padilla had tested positive for H1N1 Type A influenza, better known as "Swine flu".
Padilla is already stating that he is feeling much better, even threw a bullpen session later that day in Kansas City before taking an early flight home back to Arlington. The organization also announced that he is slated to make his next regular start on Tuesday in Texas against the Tigers.
Along with the news of Padilla's illness the Rangers got worse news that Harrison was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his left shoulder, an injury that sidelined Kenny Rogers (2002) and Hank Blalock (2007).
Harrison will need to have surgery and the minimum recovery time after this surgery is two months. The surgery could be done as early as Monday. The diagnosis was discovered following tests after Harrison experienced some discomfort while pitching in a rehab assignment in Frisco on Wednesday.
Even though Texas was hit with both of these bad news the team has been winning, currently on a five-game winning streak going into Saturday's game in Kansas City.
The highlights during this current winning streak has been the effectiveness of the pitching staff.
On Monday the Rangers avoided being swept by the Twins with eight shutout innings from the bullpen, they only allowed two hits, two walks, and struckout nine on the way to a 12th inning walk-off home run from Ian Kinsler.
During the sweep of the Red Sox the Ranger starting pitchers all had quality starts:
Kevin Millwood - Win, 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Tommy Hunter - Win, 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Dustin Nippert - Win, 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K
And finally on Friday Scott Feldman took on the ERA leader in the American League, Zack Greinke. Greinke pitched seven solid innings, allowing only three hits, three walks, 10 strikeouts, and one run on a Marlon Byrd home run.
But Feldman outdueled him. Scott pitched eight shutout innings, giving up only four hits and three walks.
With the loss of Harrison the Rangers first solution is to reinstate Derek Holland into the starting rotation. Depending on what the front office does over the next few days at the trade deadline will determine what the next step will be towards the starting rotation going into the final months of the regular season.
I don't know exactly what the team is planning to do, there is very little chance that Roy Halladay will be a Ranger and it's looking unlikely that Cliff Lee will join the team, but I do know that if the pitching staff continues to do what they are doing right now then this Rangers team still has a very good chance of winning the AL West.
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