Buzz: For Beltre, September 'an adventure'
"An adventure," Beltre said.
The man who carried the Rangers for long stages this season is batting .253 for the final month with two extra-base hits. He hasn't homered and has six RBIs.
Beltre isn't the reason the Rangers are 5-14 in September, that's more about ineffective starting pitching, an overall erratic offense and a six-game winless homestand. But Texas has missed his thunder.
So what's up?
"I'm not getting hits like then," said Beltre of his summer run when he was American League Player of the Month in July and also a repeat winner in August.
He does have hits in five straight games and had a key RBI single in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Royals, getting the break he probably needed when a sharply hit ground ball up the middle caromed off the second-base bag and through the legs of Kansas City second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.
Beltre still leads the American League in hits with 190. He needs 10 more in eight games to reach 200 for the first time since 2004, the only time he's reached that mark. He had exactly 200 hits for the Dodgers.
Beltre said physically he's fine and that the September swoon isn't a product of hamstring issues he had earlier this season.
It's just baseball, manager Ron Washington said. Beltre got off to a slow start to the season, had an MVP-type summer and has cooled off, much like Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who was chasing his second consecutive Triple Crown. Cabrera has tailed off in the final month, batting .264 with a homer and six RBIs, very similar numbers to Beltre.
"He's missing pitches," Washington said of Beltre. "He's getting good passes at balls and just missing it."
Gentry plays on: Craig Gentry was back in the starting lineup Sunday for the second consecutive game against a right-handed starting pitcher. Gentry has started three of the last four games with the last two in left field.
He's earned the playing time. He had a four-hit game on Thursday in Tampa Bay, and after a day off Friday, had three more hits in Saturday's 3-1 win.
"He's doing a good job," Washington said. "It's a case of riding the hot hand."
Gentry downplayed his production of late, but did say he's thrilled to be starting in meaningful games in September.
"It's only two games," Gentry said. "I'm just going to try to keep it going and contribute in any way I can."
Astros in Arlington: The Rangers head home for their final seven games, all at Rangers Ballpark, the first three against a Houston Astros team that they've beaten 14 out of 16 times.
The Astros have struggled against wild card contender Cleveland, losing the first three games of a four-game series to the Tribe entering Sunday. But Washington said the Rangers can expect to see a better Houston team than the one they've dominated so far this season, mainly because of an up-and-coming young starting rotation.
"They've come a long way this year," Washington said. "They've been competitive."
Short hops: Gentry has four steals in his last two games, giving him 18 for the season to match his career high set in 2011 ... Matt Garza's eight-plus innings thrown Saturday night means the Rangers' bullpen is fully rested with Sunday starter Alexi Ogando only expected to throw 80 pitches. Close Joe Nathan in the only reliever who pitched Saturday.
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Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
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Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.