<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News, Analysis, and Scores for the Giants, Jets. Patriots, Huskies, Knicks and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:35:17 -0500 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:35:17 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants Edged by KC, Down 2-1 in WS]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:12:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/457810112.jpg

Sparkling defense, a stingy bullpen and just enough timely hitting. That same winning formula of fundamental baseball put the Kansas City Royals on top in the World Series.

The San Francisco Giants were edged by the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 3 of the World Series and are now down 2-1 in the best of seven.

Down 3-0 in the sixth inning, the Giants rallied for two runs on a Michael Morse double and a Buster Posey groundout, but the Royals bullpen shut out the Giants for the final three innings.

But Jeremy Guthrie outpitched fellow Series newcomer Tim Hudson and four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings, as Kansas City beat the San Francisco.

"This is the way our games have gone all year,'' said Royals manager Ned Yost, who made several lineup changes that paid off. "I'm getting really good at protecting a one-run lead because a lot of times that's exactly what we have to deal with.

"But I have the necessary tools to be able to do that. It's not me doing it. It's the guys that we put out there that are doing it. We have the type of pitchers in our bullpen that can accomplish that,'' he said.

Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double and Lorenzo Cain made two slick grabs in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work. All night long, Kansas City looked perfectly comfortable playing in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.

Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against lefty Javier Lopez. It was the first World Series hit for Hosmer _ on his 25th birthday.

Cain drove in the first run with a groundout after Alcides Escobar's leadoff double in the first.

Game 4 is Saturday night, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong scheduled to pitch for the Giants against lefty Jason Vargas.

"We've got to keep grinding. It's going to be a tough series,'' said Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson, added to the starting lineup in Game 3.

Yost moved Cain from center field to right in place of Nori Aoki for a defensive boost in the expansive outfield at AT&T Park. Cain chased down Buster Posey's slicing line drive in the first for a pretty catch from his knees, then snagged Travis Ishikawa's sinking liner in the second.

Gordon was moved up from sixth to second in the lineup and came through with his RBI double following Escobar's single in the sixth.

On a night that began with a remembrance of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Kansas City produced just enough offense even without designated hitter Billy Butler. The Series shifted to AT&T Park and National League rules for three games.

The Giants had their six-game home winning streak in the World Series snapped. The unbeaten run dated to the 2002 wild-card club of Barry Bonds and Co. that lost in seven games to the Angels.

The Royals seemed unfazed by the fanfare and tough conditions in improving to 5-0 on the road this postseason. Of the first 56 times the World Series was tied 1-all, the Game 3 winner went on to win in 37 of those instances and four of the last five.

A cast of Giants Hall of Famers were celebrated on the field in a star-studded pregame featuring a "Play Ball!'' chant by Huey Lewis.

Pinch-hitter Michael Morse hit an RBI double with none out in the sixth to chase Guthrie. Yost turned it over to his fantastic bullpen, and Kelvin Herrera immediately walked Gregor Blanco.

With the hard-throwing Herrera clocking 99-101 mph on the radar gun, Joe Panik had a tough time attempting a sacrifice bunt. His high-bouncing grounder still did the trick to advance both runners, and Buster Posey pulled the Giants to 3-2 on a groundout.

Then, the Royals shut down San Francisco the rest of the way.

"I don't know if there's a better bullpen, because that seventh, eighth and ninth inning, and you get a tough go when you're facing those guys,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Hopefully you get some runs early, but Guthrie did a great job on us.''

Herrera worked 1 1-3 innings, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs in his World Series debut, and Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Greg Holland got three quick outs for the save.

The four hitless innings of relief were the most in the World Series in 22 years.

"Our bullpen's been lights out. We've got 100 percent confidence in (those) guys getting their job done,'' Dyson said. "From an offensive standpoint, we're just trying to put runs on the board and get them in position.''

Guthrie, who attended nearby Stanford, retired 10 straight during one stretch and combined with Hudson to retire 20 in a row. That was the longest Series streak since the Yankees' Don Larsen and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Sal Maglie retired the first 23 batters during Larsen's perfect game in 1956, according to STATS.

"What a gutsy performance,'' Royals teammate James Shields said. ``He went out there and pitched his heart out. He did a phenomenal job.''

As a gorgeous Bay Area afternoon turned into a breezy night along the water, the 39-year-old Hudson left in the sixth to a rousing ovation from the orange towel-twirling sellout crowd.

Hudson waited 16 years for his first World Series chance only to watch Escobar hit the game's first pitch for a double. Escobar scored on Cain's groundout, and Hudson settled in nicely after the second. The right-hander retired 12 in a row before Escobar's one-out single through Hudson's legs in the sixth. Gordon followed with his RBI double.


In a quirky stat, Guthrie became the fifth starting pitcher in World Series history to not record a walk or a strikeout through five innings and the first since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 2 of the 1996 Series for Atlanta against the Yankees.


Royals: Vargas, an 11-game winner who pitched the ALCS clincher against Baltimore, attended Game 1 of the Giants' 2010 World Series at AT&T Park against Texas with his wife as a fan.

Giants: Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis. ... Bochy said he and pitching coach Dave Righetti discussed going with ace lefty Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on short rest if trailing something they know he can handle physically despite his heavy workload.

The Giants will look to even up the series tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong taking the hill.

Full Giants coverage here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Big Game Friday Night - 5 p.m. - October 24, 2014]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:34:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-0000123.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney reports from AT&T Stadium in Arlington where there's a high school football double header Friday night. Arlington Martin takes on Fort Worth Paschal and Arlington High takes on Arlington Bowie in back to back games.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Was "Concerned" Over Romo After Opener]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:27:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/454952346.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has had nothing but high praise for quarterback Tony Romo over the past six weeks, but he admits that early in the season--particularly after the first game, a loss to the 49ers--he had some concern over Romo’s back.

Romo, of course, suffered a herniated disk in his back in Week 16 of last year. The injury required surgery in December, and Romo was limited in practice all offseason and throughout training camp.

I knew what we were doing in training camp,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We were being advised by our medical people that he was continuing to improve. His arrow was going up, so to speak, with not only his strength but also with his ability to torque his back. So it really was not something I would let myself think about--not having him at full, 100 percent as we got into the season.

“It bothered me, though, when we had his time as limited in training camp as it was and then it really made me not second-guess, but made me concerned the way we stepped out and played against San Francisco as to his readiness or as to his ability to be ready quick enough. In other words, we’re in the middle of it now, or we’re at the beginning of the middle of it, and we need him to be playing strong. And so I’m glad after that San Francisco game, he’s really responded.”

Through seven games this season, Romo has 1,789 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Big Game Friday Night - 4 p.m. - October 24, 2014]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:11:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/BGFN+4p+102414.jpg NBC 5's Pat Doney reports from AT&T Stadium in Arlington where there's a high school football double header Friday night. Arlington Martin takes on Fort Worth Paschal and Arlington High takes on Arlington Bowie in back to back games. ]]> <![CDATA[Okoye: "Mixed Emotions" in Return to Practice]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:15:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amobi-okoye-master-splinter.jpg

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Amobi Okoye practiced on Thursday after missing over a year with a rare and serious brain disease, and said the session stirred up a lot of feelings in the former Chicago Bear.

"It was good, it was worth it," Okoye said, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas. "It was mixed emotions. It felt like it naturally was coming back. I've played six years in the league [and], it doesn't take too long for stuff to come back to you."

Okoye, who missed all of 2013 with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and even spent a few months in a medically-induced coma, will be eligible to come off the non-football injury list in three weeks. He was signed to a one-year deal by Dallas this offseason, reuniting him with former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

"He's been through a lot," said linebacker Bruce Carter. "His story is amazing. A guy like that who works real hard, I see him all the time working [with strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Woicik] one-on-one. Just to see him actually working with [us] and see it pay off is a great thing. I think he's going to do great things for us."

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[Place Your Bets: Week 8]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:05:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457509430.jpg

If you live in Nevada, Oregon, Montana or Delaware, you're in luck. Otherwise, go to Canada or Europe and get your bet on for the NFL weekend! All games are Sunday unless otherwise noted.

1. Baltimore (-1.0) at Cincinnati — The Ravens are really, really hot behind the play of Joe Flacco and the Ravens' rejuvenated defense. The Bengals have done a 180-degree turn over the past few weeks and look lost offensively without A.J. Green, which culminated with a shutout loss to the Colts last week. In what is basically a pick 'em, give me the Ravens.

2. Detroit (-3.5) vs. Atlanta, in London — In a rare 8:30 a.m. kickoff, the Lions will be too much for the Falcons to contain, especially up front in the trenches where the Lions have one of the best, most active defensive lines in the league and will give Matt Ryan fits. Away from home, the Falcons are pretty terrible. And they're quite a ways from home.

3. Oakland (+7.0) at Cleveland — The Browns looked awful last week in a loss to Jacksonville, and the Raiders looked like a potential upset in the making against the Arizona Cardinals. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is having a nice rookie season with the Raiders, and the Brian Hoyer luster seems to be wearing off in Cleveland. Could this be Johnny Football's week?

4. Indianapolis (-3.0) at Pittsburgh — Andrew Luck is worth a touchdown by himself, as the third-year quarterback is playing at an unbelievable level right now. This ain't your older brother's Steelers, much less your dad's.

5. Washington at Dallas (-9.5) — Everything is lining up for a blowout by Dallas here, and to make matters worse for Washington, the Redskins have resorted to calling Colt McCoy their starting quarterback. Divisional games are always a concern, but this one seems like a rout waiting to happen.

Last week: 3-2. 2014 season: 15-15.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Colt McCoy Being Flooded with Ticket Requests]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:28:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/colt-mccoy-cowboys.jpg

In all likelihood, University of Texas product and Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy will start against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, and that news has a good deal of Mccoy’s friends and family reaching out for tickets.

“I was going to get a few tickets before I wasn’t playing and now it has turned into a laundry list,” McCoy said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t want it to be too big of a distraction though. I am excited about going back to Dallas. It is going to be a lot of fun.”

McCoy led the Redskins to a victory over the Titans last week after taking over for Kirk Cousins, who was benched. Washington coach Jay Gruden has said McCoy will start unless Robert Griffin III is 100 percent recovered from the dislocated ankle that has kept him out since Week 2, and it’s looking like he won’t be.

It will mark McCoy’s first NFL start since 2011, when he was playing for the Browns.

“Yeah, it’s really unbelievable,” McCoy said. “I can’t even sometimes take my mind there. But, I’m really just trying to approach this as a professional and know that this is our next game, this is our next opponent.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[Romo To Face 'Skins for First Time Since Injury]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:15:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158824164.jpg

The last time Tony Romo faced the Washington Redskins, in Week 16 of last year, it was one of his best days and one of his worst days.

On the one hand, Romo led the Cowboys on a game-winning drive for a 24-23 win to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive going into Week 17. On the other, late in that victory, Romo suffered a herniated disk in his back that would force him out of the win-and-in game against the Eagles and require surgery. Per ESPN Dallas, Romo says of that game, “sometimes I cringe thinking about it.

Romo added that he didn’t think his season was over when the team left the field after that win.

“Just part of playing professional sports, you’re playing in a game and you’re hurt or banged up or whatever and you just kind of play through it,” Romo said. “As a competitor you kind of feel like, ‘I’ll worry about it after the game,’ and you do everything you can. It felt like the season was on the line at the time so you kind of lay it on the line and you let the chips fall after the game. But definitely wants to feel playing like that every week. That would be a little more difficult.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carter's Return Marks Healthy LB Corps]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:01:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305854.jpg

Since his Week 4 groin injury, Bruce Carter has been on the sideline for the Dallas Cowboys after a really solid first few weeks to his NFL season as part of the Cowboys' patchwork, yet very effective linebacking corps.

Now, it seems, that unit will be back to full strength for the first time since Week 1 with Carter, Justin Durant and Rolando McClain all in the starting lineup for Monday night's primetime matchup with the Washington Redskins and Colt McCoy.

“With all three of us, we’ve played a lot, and so we’ve got a lot of experience. We know what we’re supposed to do,” Carter told the team's website. “I think it’ll be a great thing once it’s all on one page and we’re able to go out there and showcase it. I think it’ll be a good thing Monday night with all three of us back.”

Isn't that the truth. Carter, despite missing the past three games, is still fourth on the team in tackles with 29. He had played a couple of his best games before the injury late in the Cowboys' convincing Sunday night win over the Saints last month.

“My confidence was real high, and the big thing for me is I was just out there having fun,” he said. “So I’m going to get back to doing that leading right off. I’ve just got to make sure my quad is full strength and I’ll be good to go.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hatcher Not Surprised by Cowboys' Defensive Turnaround]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:55:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Jason-Hatcher-Defense-Fault.jpg

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Jason Hatcher isn’t surprised that the Dallas Cowboys defense is looking much improved this year, Rod Marinelli’s first as defensive coordinator.

“Coach Marinelli, I knew from the day he got the job he was going to change things around,” Hatcher said. “I know what kind of guy he is, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before those guys were playing well.”

In 2013, Hatcher’s last season with the Cowboys, Marinelli served as the defensive line coach under Monte Kiffin. With Marinelli as his position coach, Hatcher recorded 41 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.

“[Marinelli] did a great job of just getting me believing back in myself, my ability and just going out there and playing fast and pass-rushing--he taught me a lot about that,” Hatcher said. “I can’t credit nobody but him. He did a great job of just coaching me every day, coaching me hard, working me every day as hard as he could, and it paid off.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

<![CDATA[Beltre Named Gold Glove Finalist]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:44:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/175*120/tlmd_148134907.jpg

Adrian Beltre just keeps being awesome despite his escalating age and ailing body, and his hard work in an otherwise awful 2014 for the Texas Rangers was recognized when he was named a finalist for the American League Gold Glove for third basemen.

He was joined on the finalist list by Oakland A's star Josh Donaldson and up-and-coming Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who is a noted Rangers killer.

Beltre is a four-time winner of the award, given to the best defensive player at each position and won back-to-back awards in 2011 and 2012 — his first two seasons in Texas. He had a .967 fielding percentage — two points better than his 2011 mark — with 12 errors in 2014.

Another name of local interest named a Gold Glove finalist was Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is joined by Robinson Cano and Kinsler's former college teammate Dustin Pedroia as finalists at second base.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pleasant Surprises: Young Outfielders]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:19:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rua-smolinski.jpg

In a season-ending countdown, we'll weigh in on some of the pleasant surprises for the Rangers in what was arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.

No. 6: Ryan Rua/Jake Smolinski, OFs

2014 stats: Rua — .295 batting average, .321 on-base percentage, seven doubles, two home runs, 14 RBIs in 28 games; Smolinski — .349 batting average, .391 on-base, five doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs in 24 games

One of the positives of having an awful season is getting a chance to get a look at some young players in September, and these two were the brightest spots down the stretch for the Rangers. In fact, Smolinski made his name known over the summer before hitting the DL and then returning down the stretch.

Both players had success at the plate, and Smolinski also made some spectacular diving catches in left field as memories of Rusty Greer danced through Rangers fans' heads. The two are essentially the same player and it's unlikely both will be on the Rangers' Opening Day roster to start 2015, but there's a great chance one will be used as either the fourth outfielder or potentially as a starting left fielder with Shin-Soo Choo moving to right field.

Previous entries: No. 9 Leonys Martin, No. 8 Nick Martinez, No. 7 Roman Mendez

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magadan Will Return as Hitting Coach]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2014-rangers-dave-magadan.jpg

Just a few years ago, Dave Magadan was the hottest name on the hitting coach market in professional baseball after his successful run as the Boston Red Sox's hitting coach and their patient approach at the plate that was made famous by the great New York Yankees teams in the recent past.

Now, a major chunk of Texas Rangers' fans are unhappy about the fact that new manager Jeff Banister has decided to keep Magadan on board after meeting with him Thursday in Arizona. Magadan had been in discussions with the Yankees, New York Mets and Oakland A's for their vacant hitting coach jobs, but ultimately decided to stay on with Banister and honor the final year of his contract.

The Rangers have worked under Magadan for the past two years after his successful stint with the Red Sox, and they've struggled in those two seasons at the plate, perhaps due to approach but more likely due to a lack of firepower (2013) and injuries (2014).

It'll be interesting, and telling, to see what Magadan can do in 2015 with a more powerful lineup that is actually healthy. If the Rangers' bats falter again, it might be time to find a new hitting coach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lewis: Rangers Offered Contract]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:35:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rangers090914.jpg

It's not news that the Texas Rangers want to bring back veteran starting pitcher Colby Lewis after his surprisingly good comeback last season following more than 18 months away from a big-league mound after two separate surgeries — elbow surgery and an unprecedented hip resurfacing procedure.

But what is news is that the Rangers have actually extended a contract offer to the right-hander, who is far and away the Rangers' best postseason pitcher in club history and had a career resurgence over the second half of 2014 after it looked like he had lost his touch.

Lewis told the Bakersfield Californian, his hometown newspaper, that the Rangers have made an offer for the 2015 season, but didn't disclose any terms.

It's hard to imagine any other big-league team wanting Lewis any more than the Rangers do, as he'd be a great veteran piece to fill out the back end of their rotation and help mentor some of the club's younger pitchers.

In 2014, he finished the year as the Rangers' leader in innings pitched (170 1/3) and tied Yu Darvish for the team lead with 10 wins with a 5.18 ERA. However, his ERA over the season's second half was a much prettier 3.86.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Potential Target: Russell Martin]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:13:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/Tigers+Pirates+Baseball.jpg

In an ongoing series, we'll take a look at possible free-agent and trade targets for the Texas Rangers this winter.

Target: Russell Martin, C

2014 stats: .290 batting average, .402 on-base percentage, 20 doubles, 11 home runs, 67 RBIs, .994 fielding percentage

Give Robinson Chirinos credit for stepping into a bad situation having to replace both an injured Geovany Soto and a horrible J.P. Arencibia, and doing very well for himself, especially behind the plate. The Rangers could do worse than Chirinos as their starting catcher in 2015, but they could also do better, and that's where Martin comes in.

He's a Gold Glove caliber catcher and also has a nice bat for the position. He's a seasoned veteran and by all accounts is a great clubhouse guy. Oh, and he has a nice history with new Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who was his bench coach in Pittsburgh the past two seasons.

The Rangers have courted Martin before and have fallen short in landing him, but having Banister in place now could only help their chances if they choose to go after him in free agency, and they should.

<![CDATA[On Deck: World Series, Games 3-5]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:14:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2014-ws-royals-giants.jpg

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every postseason series during the 2014 season. 

The Teams: The 2014 World Series is a history-maker in the fact that both contestants were forced to play the one-game Wild Card play-in. In fact, the Royals hadn't lost a postseason game this year until dropping Game 1. The Giants are back in the Fall Classic after winning it all in 2010 and 2012 while missing the postseason in 2011 and 2013. Even-numbered years are their friends.

Past 2014 Meetings: The teams actually met in Interleague play, with the Royals winning the regular-season series 3-0, outscoring them 16-6 over the three games. The Giants took Game 1 of the World Series, but the Royals came back and won Game 2.

Pitching Matchups: Friday — Jeremy Guthrie (13-11, 4.13) vs. Tim Hudson (9-13, 3.57); Saturday — Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.71) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (8-13, 4.00); Sunday — James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98)

What's Hot: Bumgarner has been the star of this postseason, and if things go well for the Giants he could be on the hill to close the series out at home. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, who's accustomed to World Series heroics, are a combined 7-for-16 with four RBIs.

Billy Butler is batting .500 through the first two games but will be at the mercy of Ned Yost's lineup decision for the next three games without the benefit of the designated hitter, and he might just be relegated to serving as a bench bat. The Royals bullpen, minus Danny Duffy, has tossed shutout ball through two games. The Royals' bullpen is a wild card in this series and is a big advantage, even though the Giants' is solid, too.

What's Not: Reliever Hunter Strickland has probably pitched himself out of any more work this season with his episode on Wednesday night of yelling at Salvador Perez after he crossed the plate on a home run. It was the fifth homer Strickland has surrendered in 5 1/3 innings this postseason.

Shields was awful in his Game 1 loss, allowing five runs in just three innings of work giving him an unsightly 15.00 ERA in the World Series. Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer, two of the stars of the postseason leading into the World Series are a combined 0-for-13 through the first two games. Hosmer has walked twice.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Sports]]>
<![CDATA[Pleasant Surprises: Roman Mendez]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:13:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rangers072514.jpg

In a season-ending countdown, we'll weigh in on some of the pleasant surprises for the Rangers in what was arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.

No. 7: Roman Mendez, RHP

2014 stats: 0-1, 2.18 ERA, 22 strikeouts, 17 walks, 33 innings

Mendez kind of came out of nowhere as a replacement thanks to several injuries to the Rangers' bullpen. With a great looking frame at 6-3, 190 poounds, Mendez looks the part but hadn't really shown much to go along with it at Triple-A Round Rock when he had compiled a 4.02 ERA in his 31 1/3 innings of work in the minors before his call-up.

But from that point, the 24-year-old righty impressed, despite a bit of a control problem from time to time and the tendency to walk a few too many folks. Mendez didn't allow a run until his ninth appearance of the season and started his big-league career with an 11-inning scoreless streak. He also closed the season with six straight scoreless outings.

Mendez will be a guy to watch in 2015 and the Rangers are likely hoping he can have a good spring training and prove he belongs on the opening day roster as a high-leverage reliever.

Previous entries: No. 9 Leonys Martin, No. 8 Nick Martinez

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Hawg Heaven Bacon Nachos" Coming to TMS]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:52:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/nachos-tms.jpg

Fans at Texas Motor Speedway will soon be in "Hawg" Heaven.

That's because the folks who brought you the bacon-infused beer milkshake are back at it once again.

TMS and its official concessionaire, Levy Restaurants, will tempt fans' taste buds starting Halloween weekend with a new creation - Hawg Heaven Bacon Nachos.

This meat lover's delight consists of tri-color tortilla chips sprinkled with bacon powder, topped with white cheese bacon nacho sauce, candied bacon, jalapenos, black beans, pico de gallo and sour cream.

"We serve thousands of orders of nachos over a race weekend and we wanted to give our race fans a more compelling alternative to our biggest-selling item while extending our Hawg Heaven brand," said Levy Restaurants Chef Lincoln Engstrom. "Nothing goes better with racing than bacon, bacon, bacon and more bacon!"

Hawg Heaven Bacon Nachos will debut at TMS during AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend, Oct. 31 - Nov. 2.

You can get all the bacon goodness for $8 at the concession stand on the concourse inside the Gate 4 main grandstand entrance.

Photo Credit: Texas Motor Speedway]]>
<![CDATA[Royals Flex Muscle With Bullpen]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:48:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/KansasCityBaseball.jpg

It's always good in baseball when you have the personnel to shorten the game, much in the same way football teams like to do the same thing by running the football ala the 2014 Dallas Cowboys.

In baseball you do accomplish that goal with a stellar bullpen to back up even decent starting pitching.

On Wednesday night as the Royals were staring down an 0-2 deficit in the World Series in a 2-2 dogfight, the Kansas City offense got to Giants starter Jake Peavy in the bottom of the sixth inning and continued an onslaught on reliever Hunter Strickland en route to a five-run sixth inning.

And at that point, it was all over but the crying for the Giants thanks to the Royals standout bullpen.

The Royals had already turned the game over to Kelvin Herrera, who ended up throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings before giving way to arguably the league's best setup man Wade Davis, who struck out two in a scoreless inning. Then closer Greg Holland came in to pitch the ninth and struck out the side in yet another scoreless frame despite it not being a save situation.

That's the thing about the Royals' relievers with a finite amount of games remaining this season. They can go all out and pitch just about every day with the built-in off-days during the World Series. And if they Royals have a lead in the sixth inning, the Giants can pretty much forget about it.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ventura Shows Brilliance in Big Atmosphere]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:34:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/tlmd_yordano_ventura_royals.jpg

All season long on this blog, we've been touting the greatness of Yordano Ventura, the Kansas City Royals' fireballing 23-year-old starting pitcher who will be in consideration for AL Rookie of the Year honors when postseason awards start rolling out next month.

Ventura, who draws comparisons to his much older countryman Pedro Martinez thanks to his stature and his delivery that produces a much faster fastball than someone his size should be able to crank out, was on the big stage on Wednesday night as the Royals' starter in Game 2 of the World Series.

Though Ventura didn't get the win, he kept the Royals in the game before an offensive explosion on in the sixth inning led to a runaway Royals win. Ventura's final line read 5 1/3 innings with two earned runs allowed on 87 pitches.

The righty got in trouble a couple of times but pitched out of it and stood tall with his back against the wall. Now, we get to count down to a possible Game 6 to see him take the mound again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Potential Target: Jake Peavy]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:18:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/456603358_8.jpg

In an ongoing series, we'll take a look at possible free-agent and trade targets for the Texas Rangers this winter.

Target: Jake Peavy, RHP

2014 stats: 7-13, 3.73 ERA, 158 strikeouts, 63 walks, 202 2/3 innings

Peavy is another classic case of a guy with much different splits in the American League and National League after a midseason trade. Most of the time recently, it's been guys going from the NL to the AL and then stumbling, see Jason Hammel, Ryan Dempster, etc. In Peavy's case, he went from being a pretty awful American League pitcher to the San Francisco Giants as a rental player and did really well in his new National League home.

His ERA with Boston was approaching 5.00 and he was 1-9 before a deal sent him to the Giants and he proceeded to go 6-4 with 2.17 ERA. He's still relatively young at 33 years old and has been solid but hasn't had a really good season since 2012 with the White Sox.

Peavy could be a nice, relatively cheap piece to fill out the middle of a rotation for the Rangers, but it'd seem he'd be more likely to want to stick around the National League after his success with the Giants and earlier in his career with the San Diego Padres.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bruce Carter, Brandon Carr Feeling Good]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:49:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/455882040.jpg

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr is feeling fine after suffering a minor hamstring injury in last Sunday’s 31-21 victory over the New York Giants.

I’m good,” Carr said this week, per the Dallas Morning News.

Along with linebacker Bruce Carter, Carr returned to practice on Thursday. Carter missed three games with a quad strain but will return to the lineup in Monday night’s matchup with the Redskins.

Carr has played in all seven games this season, and has 21 tackles and five passes defensed.

Carter has played in four, but was having a nice year before the injury, with 25 tackles, a sack, four passes defensed and an interception.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Give Dez Credit Despite Lack of Stats]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:43:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457517702.jpg

Don't get me wrong, Dez Bryant isn't having a bad year, but when you went into this season, you had to expect a huge season from Bryant as the Cowboys' offense looked to be unstoppable even back in July.

Through seven games, Bryant has 590 yards and four touchdowns. Those aren't the numbers we quite expected from Dez, but they're not really pedestrian either. It's what Dez hasn't done that has been so commendable this year.

You haven't heard a peep from Dez about wanting the ball more, and to be fair it's easy to be happy when your team is winning and riding high like the Cowboys are. But Bryant has also played a key role in the emergence of Terrance Williams, who has 338 yards but six touchdowns. Even Gavin Escobar has emerged as a red-zone target and has three touchdowns in the last two weeks.

And you know what else? Bryant has had a big part in DeMarco Murray's MVP start, opening up running lanes with defenses being forced to choose between stacking the box and trying to contain the Cowboys' passing game.

Again, Bryant's numbers are very solid, but they aren't quite the 700 yards and six or seven touchdowns we might have expected from him at this point in the season. Yet, the results have spoken for themselves.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crawford: Jason Hatcher Like a Big Brother]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:38:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyrone-crawford-2014.jpg

Tyrone Crawford says Jason Hatcher was a major influence on him in the two seasons they spent as teammates in Dallas.

Just how big of an influence?

"Big enough I call him big brother," Crawford said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "Just the way he played, the way he came out to practice, everything he told me inside and outside about the NFL, he just helped me out a lot. The way he treated us young guys, he didn't come in and wasn't like cocky at all. He was just great to us."

The Cowboys let Hatcher walk in free agency in the offseason, and he joined the rival Washington Redskins. Replacing Hatcher is little brother Crawford, who has 15 tackles, including one for a loss on the season. He’s still looking for his first sack.

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<![CDATA[Top 10 All-Time Cowboys-Redskins Games]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:08:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-redskins--%28150.jpg

Cowboys vs. Redskins. Still a rivalry?

Ol’ antagonist George Allen used to try to rile us up in the ‘70s by declaring the days before a Cowboys-Redskins game “Dallas Week.” Back then it barely raised an eyebrow, much less the blood pressure, as Dallas routinely had loftier goals than simply dispatching of a finger-licking, hand-clapping coach hopped up on the early ancestors of Red Bull.

And, to be honest, even though it’s Monday Night Football it doesn’t exactly feel like “Washington Week.” Blame Colt McCoy for that. And the fact that the most intriguing Redskin storyline this season is whether they should remain the Redskins.

The Cowboys are 6-1 and the best story in the NFL this season is playing on the biggest stage in Arlington. When it’s Cowboys-Redskins it always feels important.

The Top 10 Most Memorable Games in Cowboys-Redskins History:

10. Cowboys 24, at Redskins 23 — Dec. 12, 2013 — Playing with a back injury that would require season-ending surgery, Tony Romo finds DeMarco Murray for a 10-yard touchdown in the final minute as Dallas keeps its playoff chances alive.

9. Redskins 14, at Cowboys 13 — Sept. 19, 2005 On a night supposedly belonging to the induction of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin into the Ring of Honor, Santana Moss poops on the party with two long touchdown catches in the final four minutes.

8. Redskins 31, at Cowboys 10 — Dec. 11, 1983 — In a showdown of 12-2 powers, the Cowboys trail 14-10 in the fourth quarter when Danny White audibles to a handoff that is snuffed on a key fourth down. On the sideline CBS cameras catches coach Tom Landry wincing “No Danny! No!”

7. at Redskins 14, Cowboys 7 — Oct. 8, 1973 — In an epic struggle that seems to go on for minutes, Washington safety Ken Houston finally wrestles Walt Garrison down at the 1-yard line as time expires on Monday Night Football.

6. Cowboys 31, at Redskins 30 — Sept. 5, 1983 — White rallies Dallas from a 23-3 halftime deficit with four second-half touchdown passes on Monday Night Football.

5. at Redskins 22, Cowboys 19 —  Nov. 5, 2006 — After Washington’s Nick Novak misses a 48-yard field goal in the final minute, Dallas drives for a game-winning 35-yard attempt by Mike Vanderjagt. But the kick is blocked and returned by Sean Taylor, who is brought down by Kyle Kosier with the help of a face mask penalty. Novak re-enters and nails a 47-yarder on the game’s final play.

4. Redskins 13, at Cowboys 7 — Oct. 19, 1987 — Washington’s team of picket-line crossing “scab” players shock a team of Cowboys led by White, Tony Dorsett, Too Tall Jones and Randy White in a game that spawned the movie, The Replacements.

3. Cowboys 41, at Redskins 35 — Sept. 12, 1999 — After trailing 35-14, Dallas wins a dramatic season-opener in overtime on Troy Aikman’s 76-yard touchdown pass to Rocket Ismail.

2. at Cowboys 24, Redskins 23 — Nov. 28, 1974 — Trailing 16-3 and with Roger Staubach knocked out of the game with a concussion, unknown backup Clint Longley authors an improbable Thanksgiving miracle with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds remaining.

1. at Cowboys 35, Redskins 34 — Dec. 16, 1979 — In Staubach’s final colossal comeback he rallies Dallas from a 34-21 deficit in the last two minutes, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill that clinches the NFC East. After the game Dallas defensive end Harvey Martin tosses a funeral wreath into Washington’s somber locker room.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Land: Studs and Duds, Week 8]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:07:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457517418.jpg

A two-time champion in a hardcore keeper league, including some know-it-all media "experts," Adam Boedeker gives his fantasy expertise on a weekly basis.

Stud of the Week

Tony Romo, QB, DAL — Romo has consistently been very good against the Redskins, and now he gets to face them without their best defensive back Deangelo Hall, who's out for the season. Romo will also benefit from the injury last week to top pass-rusher Brian Orakpo, who's pestered Romo in past games. That coupled with the Cowboys' standout offensive line and running game should allow him to sit back and pick Washington apart with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and even Gavin Escobar. Look for a big game from Tony.

Honorable mention: Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. ATL); Joique Bell, DET (vs. ATL); Ronnie Hillman, DEN (vs. SD); Jeremy Maclin, PHI (at ARI).

Dud of the Week

Andy Dalton, QB, CIN — The TCU-ex is having a rough go as of late, thanks partly to the fact that A.J. Green has been battling an injury and not able to play. Add in the fact that Dalton has to deal with a Ravens defense this week that is playing really well right now and the fact the Bengals were shut out last week, and it doesn't seem to be shaping up too well for Dalton.

Honorable mention: Cam Newton, CAR (vs. SEA); Alfred Morris, WAS (at DAL); Steven Jackson, ATL (vs. DET); DeSean Jackson, WAS (at DAL).

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rod Marinelli Calls for More Sacks]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:58:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rod-marinelli-week-one.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys defense has looked much improved through seven games under first-year defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, but they’re struggling to find sacks, with just six on the year.

Obviously Marinelli isn’t happy about this, and he met with his defense on Wednesday to discuss the issue, Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas reports.

"He's never just calm but he gets his point across," Anthony Spencer said of Wednesday’s meeting with Marinelli. "He exerts himself in a way that he means we need to get it done."

It’s not that the Cowboys haven’t applied pressure on quarterbacks, just that they’ve struggled to get there in time to finish the play, and bring the quarterback down.

"In places we are (getting pressure) but we still got to work on it," Spencer said. "It's something we want to improve. Just probably winning the one-on-one rushes, we talked about it (Wednesday). We're working on it.”

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<![CDATA[Garrett: Crowded D-Line Led to Sam's Release]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:45:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GERRY_MCCARTHY__1409761483_39578161-620x503.jpg

Michael Sam’s release from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad this week came as the result of an increasingly crowded stable of defensive linemen, head coach Jason Garrett said.

Sam, who is attempting to become the first openly gay player on an active NFL roster, was cut on Tuesday after the team signed linebacker Troy Davis and defensive tackle Ken Bishop, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye are getting close to returning from injury.

A number of different defensive linemen have been waiting in the wings and we felt good enough about Bishop to keep him on the active roster,” Garrett said, per the Dallas Morning News. “He’s played in games and then when we made that move to release him last week, we wanted to bring him back.

“We felt like getting him back on the practice roster would be a good thing for us and you just got to be careful on the practice roster having too many of one position. You’ve got to function in practice. So we have a lot of defensive linemen and we have more coming.”

Sam, selected by the Rams in the seventh round of the draft in May, spent about a month and a half with the Cowboys.

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Photo Credit: Gerry McCarthy / Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer]]>
<![CDATA[Murray Thanks O-Line with New Computers]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:28:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457133882.jpg

It pays to block for DeMarco Murray.

After getting off to a historically hot start to the 2014 season behind a young, strong offensive line, Murray showed his gratitude this week by getting iMacs for each of the front five. Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Doug Free found the $1,300 computers in their lockers when they arrived at Valley Ranch on Wednesday.

"Yeah, pretty nice," Martin said, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas. "We just walked in and he gave it to us. It's pretty cool."

As you’ve probably heard, Murray is flourishing behind the rebuilt line. Last week, he became the first player in NFL history to open a season with 100-plus rushing yards in each of his team’s first seven games, and he currently leads the NFL in rushing yards and carries.

"It's really a collective team effort which is the coolest thing," Martin said. "DeMarco is the guy with the numbers and all that and doing a lot of the work. Up front, tight end, receivers, quarterbacking us in the right looks, it’s really a full team effort."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[War of the Words: Battle Heats Up Between SF, KC Librarians]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:07:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Juan+Marichal+and+Dan+by+Jim+Hart.jpg

The war of words is heating up between two public libraries 1,500 miles apart, as dueling librarians do their part to boost their hometown baseball team's quest to win the World Series crown.

Sounding a bit Shakespearean, Liesl Christman, the Twitter czar for the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted on Wednesday morning, hours after the San Francisco Giants crushed the Royals in Game 1 on Tuesday, 7-1: "'Tis but a flesh wound - @Royals will rally! Tonight, #LetsThrowFire!"

If the Giants win it all, Christman promised Wednesday her library will buy and shelve San Rafael author Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

If the Royals win, Christman hopes the San Francisco Public Library will be forced to stock George Brett's "From Here to Cooperstown," which is about the Royals, on its shelves.

Michelle Jeffers, the digital guru at the library in San Francisco, said she'd consider the request, but from what's she's heard, that book is out of print.

"Even better!" Jeffers joked, adding that under different circumstances she and Christman might be very good friends.

Then Jeffers tweeted: "Guess we'll see what happens tonight when the Giants shhhhhhh-ut you down in Game 2."

No one is happier about the librarian smack talk than Fost, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who is now a full-time author and freelance writer. Each time the Giants make it to the World Series – this is third time in five seasons – he is asked to write a new edition. "This is a mutually symbiotic relationship," he said on Wednesday.

As for the baseball book bet, Fost is also genuinely enthralled Kansas City readers may be flipping through pages he wrote.

"What a great idea to promote reading," he said. "I'm so moved."

Photo Credit: Jim Hart
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<![CDATA[Jerry Has "No Issue" with Redskins' Nickname]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:16:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-camp-2014-day0-01.jpg

A lot of folks around the country are of the opinion that the Redskins is a highly offensive nickname, a slur by the word’s very definition, and one that should be changed. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not one of them.

Jones stood by fellow owner Dan Snyder with some specious reasoning in an appearance on 105.3-FM The Fan on Tuesday. Namely, he doesn’t see much of a difference between the Cowboys’ name and the Redskins’--which, even for Jerry, is crazy talk.

I don’t have an issue with it,” Jones said, via Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I know it’s not meant in any way to denigrate… It’s like Cowboys to me. We should all feel that way about it. It’s a great part of the tradition of the league.

“If Snyder wants to keep it they should keep it. It’s pretty pointed that this name is one of pride. This name is one of competition. This name is one of a lot of great things that have happened with that franchise and should be looked at that way.”

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Photo Credit: Jose Sanchez, NBC 5 Photojournalist]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett: James Hanna "Under-appreciated"]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:08:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/454598417_1.jpg

Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna has had a quiet season where the stat book is concerned, but that doesn’t mean he has a very real impact on the offense, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

This impact has been felt exclusively in the blocking game, as Hanna has no catches on just one target in 2014.

I think he’s a good player in the run game and a good player in the pass game," Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. "I think he’s under-appreciated athletically, and I think he’s getting better technically as blocker.

“He’s a young player who continues to grow. He wants to be a good player and there’s a reason he’s playing. He’s worthy of having opportunities. We ask him to do a lot of things and some of it’s not fancy stuff that’s glamorous -- it’s some of the dirty work -- but he embraces it and gets better at it.”

Hanna was drafted by the Cowboys out of Oklahoma back in 2012 and, to date, has 20 catches and is still looking for his first career touchdown.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pleasant Surprises: Nick Martinez]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:20:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456001396.jpg

In a season-ending countdown, we'll weigh in on some of the pleasant surprises for the Rangers in what was arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.

No. 8: Nick Martinez, RHP

2014 stats: 5-12, 4.55 ERA, 140 1/3 innings, 77 strikeouts, 55 walks

You may look at those numbers above and say "wait a second..." and you'd be right to do so because the numbers aren't good for a starting pitcher. But you have to realize Martinez's season was one of ups and downs. He had good stretches, and he had bad ones, and the final result was some mediocre numbers.

Then take into consideration what Martinez was doing in 2013 before he was thrust into the Rangers' opening day rotation when Yu Darvish started the season on the disabled list. In fact, Martinez had pitched just five games at Double-A to close the 2013 season after spending most of the year in Class-A ball. He wasn't a candidate to be anywhere near the Rangers' rotation at that point, but a strong spring training upped his standing in the minds of the front office.

When the opportunity came about thanks to several starting pitchers being injured to start the season, Martinez answered the call. The most promising thing about him was that when he had a bad start, he always seemed to bounce back and be better — a rare trait for a young, inexperienced starter.

The Rangers said all year they were fans of Martinez and his potential as a big-league starter, and if all goes well in 2015, he'll likely start the season in Triple-A, which would be great for his development. If not that, he could start the season as a bullpen piece in Arlington but the club's affinity for Martinez as a starter makes it likely they'll want him to start every fifth day in Triple-A.

Previous entries: No. 9 Leonys Martin

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>