Saturday, April 27, 2013
Extra bases: Moreland finding his stroke
By Todd Wills
Right-handed hitting Jeff Baker is expected to return Saturday from a sore knee and may be the starter at first base against Minnesota left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
But if Mitch Moreland starts again Saturday against a lefty, he'll be confident against Hernandez.
Moreland had two doubles in three at-bats Friday against Twins lefty Scott Diamond, helping the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over Minnesota. The left-handed hitting Moreland had a double in the second inning and another one to lead off the seventh.
Moreland has five hits now in 30 at-bats against left-handers and is 4 for his last 12 at-bats. He fell behind 0-2 to Diamond in the second inning and ripped an 88 mph fastball for a double to the opposite field. Moreland, whose approach is to grind out at-bats, had a leadoff double against Diamond in the seventh inning as he grinded out an at-bat and hit another fastball down the right-field line for a double.
It's a small sample for Moreland -- just like the first 18 at-bats were -- and Baker's .364 batting average against lefties so far makes it difficult not to play him. But the panic about Moreland vs. lefties can be tempered.
Some other Rangers' note going into Saturday afternoon:
1. Grimm's first inning: Justin Grimm's ability to work his way out of the first inning keyed his entire outing Friday night. The rookie right-hander was able to work around an Ian Kinsler error that would have been the second out of the inning. Josh Willingham's double to left field put runners at second and third. Grimm was able to wiggle his way out of the inning, using a fastball to get Chris Parmelee to fly out to right field.
2. Staying aggressive: The Rangers are an aggressive baserunning team under Ron Washington. That's one of their trademarks. But they have to be smart too. The Rangers made two outs at home plate Friday night with no outs at the time. Elvis Andrus's risky move to go home on a throw that got away from Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe wasn't worth, not with Adrian Beltre coming up.
3. Little Joe: Washington must be careful in not pitching rookie reliever Joe Ortiz too much. Opponents have been hitting Ortiz this week. He allowed two hits to start the ninth inning Friday with the Rangers leading 4-0, forcing Washington to go to closer Joe Nathan in a save-situation. Ortiz has five straight outings where's he allowed a hit and two straight where he's given up runs.