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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Quick recap of a full Saturday of baseball

By Richard Durrett

DETROIT -- If you're the Rangers, it's difficult to be too disappointed by Saturday's doubleheader. They dominated the first game, pounding out eight runs in the first inning on the way to a 10-4 win. And they had chances in the second game. Some thoughts:

* When this team loses, it isn't by much. All three losses have been by one run. And on Saturday night, they had chances to beat Justin Verlander, the top pitcher in the American League. Verlander showed why he's so good, getting through six innings despite not having a good fastball. His curveball got better as the game went along and he mixed speeds. The Rangers did a good job of working the count and got opportunities, but Verlander did his thing.

* Even without Mike Napoli in the starting lineup and Adrian Beltre out with a strained left hamstring, the Rangers clawed back. They got a run in the eighth and had Josh Hamilton up with the tying run in scoring position in the ninth. It just didn't happen.

* It's clear Hamilton prefers hitting when he's playing the field. He was the DH on Saturday night and will have to DH some this season in an effort to get him off his legs. But he said after the game he was doing the best he could "in that spot," meaning DH. He's a career .272 hitter as a DH, so it's not as if he can't hit doing that. But he was hitless and had four strikeouts.

"That's not the first time I've had four strikeouts and it won't be the last," Hamilton said.

It was just the sixth time in his career he's struck out four times, the last coming in June 25, 2011, against the Mets. That was the only time it happened in all of 2011.

* The home run streak is over for Napoli. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning for Craig Gentry and struck out looking against closer Jose Valverde. He had homers in five straight games (including one in the first game of the doubleheader).

* The Rangers thought about pinch-hitting Napoli for Yorvit Torrealba with two runners on in the eighth inning. But Washington didn't want to risk something happening where Brandon Snyder would have had to catch in extra innings (should Napoli have gotten hurt). Plus, he thought there might be a chance to use Napoli in the ninth and there was after Mitch Moreland walked.

* Texas' versatile offense means it is never out of a game. They knocked Rick Porcello out three batters into the second inning and had a 9-0 lead. Then, hours later, they moved runners around, got two-out hits and fought all the way to the finish. But because they have so many good hitters, the opponent knows they can strike at any time.

* The Rangers played two games Saturday and thanks to good starting pitching, they used only Koji Uehara from the bullpen. They did have Scott Feldman, Robbie Ross, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan warm up in the second game but didn't need them. They should be fresh and ready for whatever goes Sunday in the series finale.