Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Extra Bases: Rangers aren't pressing
By Todd Wills
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The magic word -- not number -- came up Tuesday night after the Rangers lost again to Pittsburgh, 5-4, dropping their record to 2-7 in September.
Are the Rangers, specifically the hitters, pressing?
"I haven't sensed anything different," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We're just going out and trying to play. We're running into some teams that are playing pretty well right now."
In the defense of anyone who believes they are pressing, the Rangers did bang out seven hits in the final two innings and had the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings. That doesn't look like a team pressing at the plate.
Jeff Baker and Adrian Beltre both struck out to end rallies, preventing the Rangers from making an improbable rally. Texas has gone 11 straight games scoring five runs or less. That hasn't been a worry the way the starting pitching has been for the Rangers, but that has started cracking in this final month.
It's difficult to point to any specific players that might be pressing. Beltre has two hits in last 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but he had two hits, including an RBI single on Tuesday night. Beltre's not "pressing."
The Rangers did have 13 hits. It's not like they went quietly into the night with weak ground balls to second base.
Pierzynski, a 15-year veteran who has been a part of a team that won a World Series in 2005 after a seven-game losing steak in August cut the White Sox lead in half in the division race, was asked what he's seeing.
"I can't speak for anyone else," Pierzynski said. "I can only speak for myself. I know I go about it the same every day. There's no change for me. There's no change in anything I do."
THE PLAYOFF RACE: The Rangers remained two games behind Oakland, who lost to Minnesota 4-3. Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cleveland all lost as the Rangers remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Rays for the first wild card spot and four games ahead of the Orioles and Indians for the second and last one.
Is it important for the Rangers to keep their focus on the division race and not worry about the five teams chasing them in the wild card race?
"Our focus is on the Pittsburgh Pirates," manager Ron Washington said. "We're not thinking about Oakland. Our club thinks about Oakland on off days. We're thinking about the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not what's going on ahead of us or behind us."
WHAT'S UP NOW: Rapid reaction from Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates. Plus, a post-game blog on the Rangers and where exactly their morale is after losing eight of 11 games.
ON DECK: The Rangers will try to avoid a sweep with right-hander Matt Garza (3-3, 4.31 for Texas) facing Pirates righty A.J. Burnett (7-10, 3.31) at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
QUESTION OF THE MORNING: Will Garza bounce back after allowing four earned runs or more in six of seven starts?