Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Okay, so nobody is saying that you can print World Series tickets just yet for the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers but ...
These were officially the first two Major-League Baseball teams to get to double-digit wins this year with triumphs last night and so let's get you some quick-hitter comments on both sides here while heading into tonight's action:
WASHINGTON (10-3) - The National League East leaders gun for the four-game home series sweep this evening against a dreadful Houston Astros team but give the Nationals extra credit for finding new ways to win: In last night's 3-2 victory, the Nats scored twice as they drew three walks off three Houston relievers and OF Jayson Werth's free pass forced home the game-winning run.
The bigger story continues to be the Washington pitching staff - the Nats now have allowed just five runs in the first three games of this set to Houston - and last nighty RHP Jordan Zimmerman gave Davey Johnson's club seven innings of one-run, no-BB ball. Don't look now but on a team that seemingly only gets "pub" when phenom RHP Steven Strasburg is on the hill, the Nationals rank first in the senior circuit in team ERA (1.91) and the likes of Strasburg (1.42 ERA), Zimmerman (1.29 ERA) and LHP Ross Detwiler (0.90 ERA) have been true lights-out stars out of the 2012 starting gate.
Throw into the mix the fact Philadelphia's hurting, Atlanta looks like nothing special so far this year and Florida may or may not have a starting rotation that can stand the test of time and - yes, we know it's just 13 games into the current campaign - but the Nats have reason to click their heels and now just have to keep closer Brad Lidge (vertigo) healthy the rest of the way.
TEXAS (10-2) - The franchise that used to call D.C. home now is a legit juggernaut even if folks continue to think New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox first when it comes to AL powerhouses (not anymore, you AL East guys and gals!). The Rangers have been two-time World Series losers these past couple of years but give manager Ron Washington lots of early-season credit for having this bunch ready to roar - who said anything about a "hangover"? - and last night there were the Rangers banging out a 6-3 win in Boston's Fenway Park behind Mike Napoli's four-RBI game that included his fourth home run in the team's last three games but it's been some snazzy pitching that's propelled Texas to great heights so far - how about 12 runs allowed in the last five games?
The Rangers now roll into Motown for a most important early-season four-game series with a hot Napoli and a starting rotation that still may not include many household names (see Holland, Harrison, Davrish, Lewis and Feliz) but the first-to-10 wins in the AL is on fire and won't let any killjoys rain on their parade.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock this 2012 Major-League Baseball season and remember there's still lots more NBA Regular-Season Winners too this spring and so sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily/nightly winners. Remember the NBA Playoffs begin a week from Saturday, and you can sign up today for all the winnin' hoops action right through June.
THE NFL DRAFT - THE TOP OFFENSIVE TACKLES & CENTERS
Our official NFL Draft coverage at Jim Sez continues today as we bring you our position-by-position analyses - here it's the top Offensive Tackles and Centers. Note that we will have our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft Preview on Wednesday, April 25th. The NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 26-27-28:
MATT KALIL, OT, USC - Let's just say this 6-foot-7, 305-pound behemoth has great genes as his dad played in the NFL, his older brother Ryan is a star center with the Carolina Panthers and his mom was Miss California - not bad! No doubt that Kalil is the hands-down best O-lineman in this 2012 NFL Draft and most draftniks believe he will be snapped up with third overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings although there is some talk that the Vikes might be willing to trade down with Tampa Bay at pick #5. Kalil was a two-year starter at left tackle for the USC Trojans and keep in mind he has great value as a kick-blocker on special teams.
RILEY REIFF, OT, IOWA - This 6-foot-6, 315-pounder is a sure-shot Top 20 pick in next week's draft. Reiff played two seasons at left tackle after seeing time with the Hawkeyes at guard, tight end and on defense first. Possesses quick feet but has shorter arms than NFL folks would like in a LT and has been occasionally pushed around by bigger/stronger defenders. Gut feeling is Arizona at #13 or Philadelphia at #15 will land Reiff who can be bumped to guard for a year or two if need be on this next level.
PETER KONZ, C, WISCONSIN - There have been injury and/or health concerns with this 6-foot-5, 315-pound snapper but look for him to land up inside the draft's top 25 picks providing he can "sell" an NFL team on the premise that he will stay healthy. Among the medical issues is a dislocated ankle that caused him to miss some action in 2011 plus he had blood clots in both lungs back in 2009 and a sprained ankle in 2010. Konz is a high-character guy who started 30 games for the Badgers who always send monstrous O-linemen into the pros and providing he can stay in one piece could be a real steal in Round One. Where's he going? We've seen his name attached to Baltimore at pick #29 but don't be shocked if Cleveland at pick #22 zooms up and gets 'em.
JONATHAN MARTIN, OT, STANFORD - One of QB Andrew Luck's main protectors the past few years and the key blocker at the left tackle (blind side) spot, this 6-foot-5, 312-pounder probably has seen his off-season value drop a few pegs after sitting out the NFL Combine with a reported illness and than looking rather ordinary in the school's Pro Day. Martin has great footwork and note he was a finalist for last year's Lombardi Award but instead of being the second blocker in this draft he's liable to fall some behind the OT/C candidates here along with Stamford teammate G David DeCastro and possibly Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler. Let's consider Martin a good fit with Houston at pick #26.
MIKE ADAMS, OT, OHIO STATE - Your typically huge 6-foot-7, 323-pound Buckeyes offensive lineman has a rather nasty on-field disposition and can flash that mean streak on occasion although his detractors claim his work ethic isn't great and he needs some major fine-tuning when it comes to technique. Still and all, Adams likely won't last past Round One as he was a three-year starter in Columbus (missed some time last season, however, as part of that infamous school-related memorabilia mess) and week-in and week-out faced some imposing defensive ends who rarely got the best of Dublin (OH) native. Inclined to believe that the Ravens will go with Adams late in the first round.
BEN JONES, C, GEORGIA - Don't overlook this powerful 6-foot-3, 303-pounder who started all four years for the Dawgs and was rightly named to the school's all-decade team. Jones - a Rimington Award finalist - is quick and typically gets to the second level where he can overpower LBs/DBs. Most draft board don't have Jones going in Round One but he might slip in there with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants at pick #32.
NOTE: There's more NFL Draft coverage plus NBA and MLB News & Notes all week/weekend long in these Jim Sez columns.