Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ian Kinsler trying to do more
By Calvin Watkins
HOUSTON -- At the lowest point, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler had just gone 0-4 vs. the Cleveland Indians on June 5 to cap an 0-23 stretch during which his batting average had sunk to .220.
This was not the Ian Kinsler that Rangers fans had grown to love -- the player that hit for average, scored runs and drew walks.
It wasn't happening.
But through hard work in the batting cage and natural ability, things changed for the better. Since then, he's gotten a hit in 14 of his last 17 games, drew a walk in his last six, and scored a run in four of the last five games.
Kinsler had a triple, home run, three RBIs, walked twice and scored once in the Rangers' 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night. His average is now .240, the second time he's reached that mark this month. His on-base percentage is .359, the highest since April 28.
"It always makes a big difference when you can get your leadoff hitter on the bag," manager Ron Washington said. "He's the one that sets the tone."
Maybe Kinsler, who is hitting just .171 on the road this season, has finally started to find a groove during the Silver Boot Series.
The Rangers might have sluggers -- Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre -- but it is Kinsler who is responsible for getting the team going offensively.
"Average is going to take care of itself because there's a lot of games to play," Kinsler said. "Those numbers are difficult to talk about. It's not where I want it to be, but I'm going to continue to work. Hopefully I can get in a zone here pretty soon."
The season is not slipping away from anybody, and the only real milestones are the halfway point and then the All-Star break. The Rangers would like to see Kinsler hit more for average, especially at Minute Maid Park with its massive alleys. Kinsler stroked a triple to the gap in right center on Tuesday.
"He needs to do that more often," Washington quipped.
Kinsler would agree, but he also understands getting on base via any means necessary -- be it a hit, walk or reaching on an error -- is just as good. He's sixth in the AL in runs scored (53) and walks (49).
"Average is something that fluctuates throughout the season," Kinsler said. "Runs scored doesn't fluctuate, RBIs don’t fluctuate. That’s something that adds up and it's something that you want to continue to do. That's the most important thing: runs scored. You got to score runs if you want to win. I feel like if I’m doing that, I'm helping this team."