Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Extra Bases: Bats aren't making any noise
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers, poised before the season to be a run-scoring machine, can't seem to find any offense these days. On Monday, against a Seattle Mariners team that came into the game riding a 17-inning scoreless stretch itself, the Rangers managed one run long after the outcome was decided.
Texas has scored one run in three of its past four games and is averaging 3.5 runs per contest -- but that's inflated thanks to two 10-run efforts, one of which was a 14-10 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day.
The Rangers grounded into four double plays Monday, including the one that forced out Elvis Andrus in the first inning.
The biggest reason for the lack of runs on this homestand: an inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Texas is 4-for-39 in that situation over the past four games at Globe Life Park. The Rangers can't seem to get multirun innings going, or generate much momentum with the bats.
Are they frustrated?
"No, we're not," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It's too early. I don't like that word, not even when you have 200, 300 at-bats. We have to keep our head up and just keep playing. We know we'll start hitting again. We have to keep fighting and keep playing hard."
It doesn't help that a major piece of the offensive puzzle is out due to injury. Adrian Beltre was placed on the disabled list Sunday, despite the fact that he disagreed with the decision and wanted to play. The club wants to be sure the third baseman stays healthy for the long term -- which even Beltre concedes was "probably smart." But it doesn't change the fact that this lineup misses him greatly.
Alex Rios was moved to the 3-hole, and he hasn't been hitting this homestand (2-for-17). Prince Fielder, batting cleanup, has struggled all season, and now doesn't have the protection of Beltre behind him. Fielder did have a bloop double and a single off the end of the bat Monday. The Rangers hope the soft hits can get him going.
But it's a lineup that didn't score much against Houston, and couldn't solve young Mariners starter Roenis Elias on Monday.
Glove gems: Utility infielder Josh Wilson, who is now seeing plenty of time with Jurickson Profar on the 60-day DL with a torn muscle in his shoulder, has impressed teammates and coaches with his glove.
"He knows how to play," manager Ron Washington said. "He stays within his abilities. Because he's been around a while, he's not fazed by anything. He never lets adversity affect him, and that's experience. That's what I've seen from him."
Wilson can play a variety of spots, making him an important bench player.
Jackie Robinson Day: On Tuesday night, every Rangers and Mariners player will be wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, a celebration Major League Baseball has had on the calendar since 2004.
"I think it's nice that Major League Baseball put this day in the baseball season," Washington said. "It's a compliment to how far the game has come. It's a recognition for one of the greatest players in the game."
Now that Mariano Rivera has retired, no player will ever wear that number -- except on April 15 every year.
"We get to wear it one day in honor of Jackie Robinson," Washington said. "That's nice. That's very nice."