Friday, August 16, 2013
Extra Bases: The magic number is 4
By Todd Wills
ARLINGTON, Texas -- ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' magic number is four runs.
General manager Jon Daniels said it a few weeks ago after bolstering the pitching staff with Matt Garza, and at the time not adding a bat -- the Rangers did so later acquiring outfielder Alex Rios.
If the Rangers can score four runs a game night in and night out, Daniels said, they would be in position to win every game.
Well, here they are. They've won 14 of their last 16 games. The Rangers have scored at least four runs in 12 of the games. They are 12-0.
What's the secret? The starting pitchers have allowed four runs or less in 18 straight games. They're keeping their team in games, allowing the offense time to get to four runs.
The bullpen has been terrific. Take Wednesday's 5-4 victory over Milwaukee. Matt Garza left after 5 2/3 innings trailing 4-2. Neal Cotts, Jason Frasor, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan shut down the Brewers the rest of the way.
That allowed for the seventh-inning rally with clutch hits from Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler after Milwaukee pitchers had gift-wrapped a comeback chance by walking the bases loaded.
Another character win for the Rangers, who have the 37 comeback wins this season, second to the Atlanta Braves, who have 38 of them and also the best record in baseball.
"We have a lot of guys in here who have been through a bunch of hard fought games," Kinsler said. "We've gone through adversity this year and we never feel like we're out of a game. We're going to play all nine innings. When you have a bullpen like we have, we know we're going to have a lot of opportunities."
WHAT'S UP NOW: In case you missed it, don't run on Leonys Martin.
ON DECK: The Rangers open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners and three tough starting pitchers. On Friday it's Texas left-hander Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07) against Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 2.96) at 7:05 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Should the Rangers activate Lance Berkman after four rehab games in which he was 4-for-11 with a home run?