Monday, May 20, 2013
Extra Bases: Rangers' depth on display
By Todd Wills
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's the Oakland A's turn to take their best shot at the Rangers.
Ask the Detroit Tigers how difficult that is.
Miguel Cabrera crushes three home runs and Detroit can't outlast the Rangers. Texas knocked out two Detroit starters in the third inning in the four-game series, including Justin Verlander, who took an eight-run pounding.
The Rangers cruised past the quarter pole of the season with the best record in baseball and upped that mark to 29-15 with Sunday's 11-8 victory. They start Monday with a 6 1/2 game lead -- every other division lead is 2 1/2 games or less.
And so much for the Rangers building the franchise's best record through 44 games against Houston and other losing teams. They swept Boston, who came to Arlington with baseball's best record at the time, and they just took three out of four against Detroit, the defending American League champs.
Depth has been the answer. The Rangers have proved again they are the deepest organization in baseball. They'll start Monday with three pitchers in the rotation who haven't made double-digit starts in the big leagues yet -- Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Josh Lindblom.
A.J. Pierzynski goes down and Geovany Soto starts hitting. Ian Kinsler hits the 15-day disabled list and the top prosect in baseball, Jurickson Profar, is waiting in the wings.
The buzz in the ballpark should be high Monday when Profar starts at second base. Manager Ron Washington, reluctant to play Profar in key games last season with the division title on the line, said Sunday that Profar will play.
The deepest team in baseball gets to show off again Monday night.
Beltre belting: Don't look now but Adrian Beltre's batting average is up to .291. He had four more hits Sunday for his third straight multi-hit game. He's batting .447 in his last eight games. He has eight extra base hits (five doubles, three home runs) in the last nine games.
Bullpen matters: The Rangers have an interesting decision to make Monday when Lindblom is activated to start against Oakland. A roster move will have to be made. Right-hander reliever Cory Burns has impressed in two outings and the Rangers could use a another righty in the bullpen. Look for Burns to stay. That could mean left-hander Joseph Ortiz, who has options, could get more work at Triple-A Round Rock.
Rotation matters: The Rangers still haven't decided what they'll do as far as adjusting the starting rotation with Thursday's off day. They have three off days coming up in the next two weeks, so they'll be able to adjust and push back or skip starts by Grimm and Lindblom.