Getting starters to pitch deeper a priority

ARLINGTON, Texas -- High on the Texas Rangers’ second-half agenda is getting starting pitchers to go deeper into games.

Spot starter Scott Baker gave the Rangers only four innings in Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

If one of the team’s five starters has a short outing, a solid bullpen could possibly make up the extra innings. But when all the starters fail to go less than seven innings -- as has been the case in an eight-game Texas losing streak -- the bullpen becomes overly taxed.

“We have to figure out a way to get our starting pitches to go deeper in ballgames,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said afterward. “Get ahead and make pitches. That’s what they have to do.’’

Because, as Washington points out, in the American League there are many quality hitters that “every time you make a mistake, they make you pay.’’

Over the four-day All-Star break, Washington’s message is for the players to enjoy themselves, get away and then get ready to go in the second half.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus, encouraged by the Rangers' more aggressive play in the Angels series, expects a much better second half from the team.

“The whole team needs a break to clear our mind and enjoy family time,’’ Andrus said. “Then come back for the second half. After three or four days, we’ll realize we can come back and play the right way. I know we can play a lot better. I believe in myself and in my teammates.’’