Texas Rangers: AL

ARLINGTON, Texas -- You see the smiles on the field and the hustle.

You can tell the Texas Rangers care about what’s happening to them, mired in a seven-game losing streak, 12½ games back of first place in the AL West, 6½ out of the second wild-card spot.

This isn’t going well.

[+] EnlargeTexas Rangers
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez"It's definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak," Ron Washington said. "We just got to score some runs, and we got to pitch better."
Some games, the Rangers get excellent pitching and no hitting; others, great hitting and no pitching.

There’s no consistency, however.

On Wednesday night, they didn’t have a quality start on the mound from starter Joe Saunders in a 8-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park.

Tuesday night, the Rangers got a quality start from Colby Lewis but not enough hitting in an 8-2 loss to Detroit.

The season-high losing streak could grow as the Tigers look for the three-game sweep Thursday evening.

"It’s definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It is what it is. We know why: We just got to score some runs, and we got to pitch better."

One of the men expected to produce, Prince Fielder, is out for the season because of neck surgery. All he can do is visit and encourage his teammates.

Rangers left-hander starter Derek Holland can’t pitch right now because he’s recovering from knee surgery. He’s expected back after the All-Star break.

Will the season essentially be over by then?

Washington’s options to fix this problem are limited due to injuries and ineffective play from several players.

"They battled and they’re leaving their heart out there on the field, and they come out to the ballpark every day and they prepare," Washington said. "We just got to get consistent in a few areas. And once we get consistent in a few areas, we’ll start putting things back together."

Washington is being patient and hopeful his squad produces a little bit at a time.

Carlos Pena was called up to the big club on Tuesday and went 0-for-4. He didn’t hit one ball out of the infield. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-5 with a home run.

In the ninth inning, Pena struck out swinging on a Joe Nathan fastball to end the game. He represented the tying run.

Washington said Pena will be fine because he’s got a track record of success. The Rangers need his previous seasons of that to crop up now.

Adrian Beltre is on a tear, going 9-for-12 over the past three contests.

But Beltre needs help.

Alex Rios struck out with a man on in the fourth, Shin-Soo Choo scored twice and struck out in the seventh with a man on. Elvis Andrus went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored.

The bullpen continues its struggles. In the past five games, the Rangers produced just 11 runs.

Things improved on Wednesday.

"It got better; that’s a good thing for us," leadoff man Leonys Martin said. "Everybody is trying to focus on every single at-bat and hit a good pitch. That’s a key."

Martin said this club isn’t frustrated.

Before the game, Beltre was asked about holding a team meeting. He said it wasn’t necessary.

The season is long and here we are in the latter part of June talking about the team's losing streaks and attempts to dwindle a double-digit deficit in the standings.

"I have no complaints about the way they go about their business," Washington said. "We just have to score some runs, and we just got to pitch."
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are sending a franchise-record seven players to the All-Star game July 10, but right-handed starter Yu Darvish is in the running to make it eight.

Darvish was on the bad end of the Rangers' 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday evening. Darvish (10-5) gave up three runs on five hits in seven innings of work. He tied his season high with 11 strikeouts, but he let the go-ahead run score on a wild pitch in the sixth inning and gave up an insurance run on a leadoff homer by Brandon Moss in the seventh.

The AL and NL each have one roster spot left, with fans voting online through Thursday. The five candidates for the final AL roster spot are all right-handed pitchers: Starters Jake Peavy of the White Sox, Jason Hammel of Baltimore and Darvish along with relievers Jonathan Broxton of the Royals and Ernesto Frieri of the Angels.

"Just being selected among those other guys, they're all good pitchers," Darvish said through an interpreter. "Just being among them is an honor."

Darvish has downplayed a possible appearance in the All-Star game, and on Friday said he wasn't deserving of the honor. Yet, he won't get another chance to show fans he should go.

His next start is scheduled for Saturday, but it could move up to Friday should the Rangers decide left-hander Derek Holland is ready to return to the rotation from the disabled list.

Darvish didn't do any campaigning for votes after Sunday's game.

"The fans get to vote for the last spot," he said. "There's nothing much I can say on that. I'll just stay quiet and see what happens."

Tanner Scheppers gets first save

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
10:31
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Nathan, the Rangers closer, had pitched three consecutive days, and setup man Mike Adams had pitched in four of the last five games.

It left manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux with an issue. Who closes out Friday night's game against Oakland?

After the Rangers rallied from a two-run deficit to score four in the eighth inning, Washington turned to Tanner Scheppers, who despite allowing a ninth-inning home run, picked up his first career save in the 4-3 victory.

Scheppers said he was pumped to get an opportunity, with two veteran pitchers sitting out.

"I was just happy we were able to take the lead and get ahead," Scheppers said. "The guys have been working on having good (at-bats) all game long. I'm just real happy I got the opportunity to show what I had."

Scheppers, in his ninth appearance, became the first Rangers pitcher to record a save this early in his career since Yoshinori Tateyama earned a three-inning save, in the third game of his career last year.

Washington, meanwhile, had confidence in Scheppers to take care of things in the ninth inning. If things got hazy, Washington said Michael Kirkman would have entered the game. Kirkman was warming in the bullpen in the ninth.

Scheppers retired Brandon Inge on a ground out to short and got Derek Norris to pop out to the catcher. But Chris Carter homered to left, silencing the crowd as the A's cut the lead to 4-3.

"I had to make it interesting, I guess," Scheppers said. "I just got to attack back and it's still a one-run game and I got to go back and focus on the next guy."

Pinch hitter Seth Smith came on and bounced out to second to end the game.

"My first few pitches I was a little nervous out there," Scheppers said. "I just had to settle down and throw the ball down and trust my stuff."

The homer and the block for Mike Napoli

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
11:02
PM CT
RangersAP Photo/Brandon WadeMike Napoli holds up the ball after tagging Seattle's Brendan Ryan out at home.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mike Napoli was busy for the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

PODCAST
Rangers catcher Mike Napoli talks about the play he made at home plate in the eighth inning against the Mariners, what exactly Craig Gentry was doing and more.

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He smashed a three-run home run to right field, breaking a 1-1 tie, and his block of home plate in the eighth inning kept the Rangers with a little more cushion against Seattle.

After a 4-2, Rangers win, Napoli was sought after by reporters in the clubhouse.

He seems to be breaking out of his slump. He was mired in a 3-for-25 spell before his two-hit game Sunday and then his three-RBI night against the Mariners.

But leave it to Ron Washington to bring everything to reality.

"That was a big hit for us. We certainly needed it and he needed it for his own well being," the manager said. "But you don't come out of a slump in two days. You just got to keep swinging. I think he'll let you know in the next week or so if he's out of a slump. He's starting to feel much better up there at the plate and (what) we got out of him tonight, we certainly needed."

What almost gets lost with the Napoli homer is his play at the plate.

With the Rangers leading 4-1 in the eighth, Seattle's Brendan Ryan hit a shot to center that was misplayed by center fielder Craig Gentry, who dived for the ball and let it skip past him to the wall.

"Don't leave your feet," Washington said. "If you're off your feet you need to catch it."

The hit drove in one run, but Nelson Cruz tracked the ball down against the wall in center and threw a strike to Ian Kinsler, the cutoff man. Kinsler said before getting the throw he peeked to see Ryan round second and get the go sign from third-base coach Jeff Datz.

"I was going to make the throw regardless," Kinsler said.

The throw was where Kinsler wanted it, slightly up the line and high. Napoli blocked the plate with his left leg and placed a tag on the left arm of a sliding Ryan, who was called out at home.

"I just trying to block the plate. I knew it was going to be a close play," Napoli said. "I was able to stick my foot in front and Ian gave me a good throw and I was able to block the plate."

Napoli's night started off slowly as he struck out twice against Kevin Millwood, who pitched well against his former team. Millwood allowed one run over five innings. He struck out five but left after throwing 97 pitches.

Napoli came up in the sixth inning with a chance to make a mark against reliever Steve Delabar. With two on and one out, Napoli sent a fastball that hit the facade in right for a 4-1 Rangers lead.

"Those are over and done with," Napoli said of his strikeouts. "I keep moving on, even if I have a good at-bat or not. It's past and you just try to build of the previous at-bat and in this game you have to let things go and move on to the next. Just trying to go up there and give a tough at-bat every time."

Matt Harrison with a strong performance

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
10:41
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At the end of a hot night at the ballpark, Texas Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison was smiling.

Harrison pitched one of his best games of the young season, eight strong innings where he allowed just two runs on seven hits. He struck out five and threw 98 pitches.

Harrison moved to 6-3 on the season as he led the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

Harrison has beaten the Mariners twice in the last seven days and picked up eight consecutive wins against the team from the Pacific Northwest.

He's now 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA against the Mariners lifetime.

And Harrison did it by mixing up his pitches, mainly his curveball and changeup, and by spotting his fastball in the strike zone.

"I've been a little sluggish in the first couple of innings and I was just trying to hit (Mike) Napoli's glove and make them put the ball in play," Harrison said. "We were on the same page pretty much the whole game. I shook him off twice. We just kept going and make them put the ball in play and the defense was outstanding behind me and we ended up scoring some runs late."

Harrison noted he needed to pitch better in the first inning. He's allowed nine unearned runs in the opening frame this season and his objective was to get his pitches down in the zone. Harrison tends to overthrow early in the game and that gets him in trouble. He can still attack the strike zone, but must mix up his pitches more and not overthrow.

If he does that, he believes he'll have success.

Monday night, he retired leadoff hitter John Jaso on a bouncer to first, but Chone Figgins doubled down the left-field line. After Ichiro Suzuki reached on a fielders choice, Jesus Montero drove him home with a hard hit single to right for a 1-0 lead.

But Harrison didn't let the first inning bother him. He was able to get out of the inning by retiring Justin Smoak on a groundout to second. Harrison would go on to retire eight consecutive hitters until a Montero single in the fourth.

"There were a lot less pitches than the last game," Harrison said of his pitch counts in the first inning the last two games. "I was just staying with that approach the whole game and it worked out. Unfortunately I gave up that run in the first but I was able to battle back and keep it right there."

Buzz: Josh Hamilton, Alexi Ogando out

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
5:07
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers will not have slugger Josh Hamilton for the first game of the three-game series versus the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark on Monday night.

Hamilton is out due to an upper respiratory infection. He is available to pinch hit if necessary.

PODCAST
Nolan Ryan joins ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Co. to discuss the Rangers' successful weekend, the pitching situation, Yu Darvish and more.

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"The last couple of days has been a little weird," Hamilton said when he arrived at the stadium Monday. "Anytime you have sinus or chest stuff it all goes back to me not feeling quite right. I just feel off. I stayed home from the event (Sunday) night went to bed at 8:15 and got up at 1:30 today. Rolled over twice maybe, just when I got up, I felt off. I called Wash and told him I probably needed a day just to be sure. Just try to get more rest."

The Rangers will also miss reliever Alexi Ogando, who has a bruised right hand. He was hit on the hand in the eighth inning of Sunday's victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ogando did some throwing Monday afternoon.

"It's good, pretty good," Ogando said after a pitchers meeting. "Only one day off."

Ogando said he iced his hand to help with any potential swelling.

Notes: Washington said Tuesday's starter Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66) isn't auditioning for his spot in the rotation. In his last start, Feldman lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up a grand slam to Seattle's Alex Liddi among his three hits allowed. He also gave up a season-high five earned runs. "I think we know what Feldman can do," Washington said. "He doesn't need to audition, he just needs to be effective." ... Yu Darvish, who battled some stomach issues which caused back stiffness Sunday, did some side work Monday and is OK. ... Former Dallas Cowboys and University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer was in the clubhouse before the game with his two grandsons.

Lineups: No Josh Hamilton

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
3:23
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers will give center fielder Josh Hamilton the day off on Memorial Day. Hamilton has been battling an upper respiratory infection and went 0-for-4 on Sunday. Hamilton, as you know, hit the game-winning homer on Saturday.

RANGERS

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
DH Michael Young
3B Adrian Beltre
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry

LHP Matt Harrison

Rangers reach 1 million in attendance

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
6:47
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- When you have success, the fans will come.

Sunday's attendance of 46,637 marked the 16th sellout of the season at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and moved the total attendance to over one million fans -- 1,010,249.

It's the fastest the Rangers have reached the mark in club history -- 23 home dates. The previous mark was in 1994, when the Rangers reached one million fans in 27 dates.

Fourteen of the last 16 Rangers home dates have been sellouts, including the last five games. That's the second-longest streak in club history.

The Rangers, who are 12 games over .500, are one of just four clubs to reach at least one million fans this season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' attendance of 33,306 on Sunday pushed them to over a million fans on the season (1,005,891). Philadelphia (1,078,496) and the New York Yankees (1,023,740) have also reached one million in total attendance.

Update: The St. Louis moved over one million in attendance with Sunday's crowd. The Cardinals have amassed 1,010,311 fans at home this season.

Buzz: Bullpen availability is an issue

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
12:41
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After a 13 inning victory Saturday afternoon, the Rangers bullpen was taxed. Manager Ron Washington used six relievers, including Koji Uehara for two innings and Robbie Ross for 40 pitches in 1 2/3 innings.

So just who is available for Sunday afternoon's game against Toronto?

"There's some questions," Washington said. "I'm not going to specify (who is available) but there are some questions."

Washington did say setup man Mike Adams and closer Joe Nathan will pitch if needed today.

Toronto used six relief pitchers as well, and it seems their situation is a little rough. Relief pitchers, Casey Janssen and Darren Oliver, each threw over 30 pitches Saturday.

"We're in good shape as long as Yu (Darvish) can get us deep in the ballgame, we're fine," Washington said. "We certainly have our best pieces available. We'll run into some problems if we have to play another 13 innings like we did yesterday, no, we're in good shape."

Notes: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is going to throw out the first pitch Wednesday to Adams, who is a Cowboys season ticket holder. ... Rangers didn't take BP outside, instead working in the indoor cages. ... Washington said he's been pleased with the recent work of backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba. He has two home runs, two runs and two RBIs in the last two games. ... Washington said Scott Feldman will pitch Tuesday as scheduled, but said the rotation is on a start-to-start basis because Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list. If the Rangers move Alexi Ogando into the starting rotation, he might need a minor league start first. Washington said the organization hasn't had those discussions.

Nelson Cruz breaks out

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
7:20
PM CT
HOUSTON -- Over the last three games, Nelson Cruz had struggled.

He was 2-for-13 in that span.

He broke out of his slump Sunday.

Cruz finished with three hits, including a two-out two-run single as part of a five-run first inning.

"I think my approach has been good the last few games," Cruz said. "I'm seeing a lot of good pitches and wait for the right pitches."

Cruz also took off his batting gloves, something he does when he's struggling. He did it Saturday night, too.

"I don't know the last time I did it," Cruz said. "I felt the bat better."

Said Ron Washington on Cruz's day: "Did a lot for his confidence."
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers Nelson Cruz was credited with a single in the ninth inning of Sunday's 6-1 victory over the Astros.

With Michael Young at first and one out, Cruz hit a ball that was caught, then dropped by center fielder Justin Maxwell. The third base umpire, Tim McClelland ruled Maxwell dropped the ball.

It appeared Cruz and Young didn't know the ball was dropped in center field. The relay throw to the infield got a little crazy. Cruz passed Young between first and second base. So first baseman Carlos Lee tagged Cruz. Young was also tagged, but he stood on first base when it happened.

The ruling on the field was Cruz was out but Young was safe because he got back to the bag at first and didn't touch second base. The thinking is Young was OK because he was standing on a bag and Cruz wasn't.

Houston Astros officials called Elias Sports Bureau to determine if should Cruz get a hit. He was credited with one, his third of the day, but he was tagged out 3 unassisted.

It was Cruz's seventh three-hit game of the season.

Buzz: Mike Adams needs one more day

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
11:46
AM CT
HOUSTON -- Right-handed reliever Mike Adams has missed the first two games of the Rangers-Astros series with a respiratory infection. Adams said Sunday morning he feels better and is ready to pitch, but manager Ron Washington wants to give him one more day off.

"If we can stay away from him, we will," Washington said.

If Adams is out, Washington will use Koji Uehara, who has a 10 1/3 scoreless inning streak going.

It was a serious health issue for Adams who went to an area urgent care clinic on Friday afternoon and didn't get to the ballpark until 30 minutes before first pitch.

"I'm getting better," Adams said. "I told [the coaching staff] I'm good to go. It was kinda bad. I never had a respiratory infection before. It was zapping all my energy."

Adams said he had some shortness of breath and was checked for pneumonia.

"I feel a helluva lot better than I did the last four days," he said.

Notes: Nelson Cruz is starting in right field today after coming out of the ninth inning on Saturday night due to tightness in his right quad. Cruz and Washington don't believe the leg is a big deal. Washington said he wanted more speed in the outfield as the reason for taking Cruz out and inserting Craig Gentry in center, Brandon Snyder in left and moving Josh Hamilton from center to right in the ninth inning.

"It's good," Cruz said of his quad. Later he added, "Sometimes I don't feel it at all. Game starts, I feel it because I got to get a little more loose." Cruz said he's getting treatment and doing stretching exercises to keep his legs loose.

Closer Joe Nathan is available to pitch after getting Saturday night off. Nathan had pitched four consecutive days. Reliever Alexi Ogando will not pitch because he went two innings Saturday. Robbie Ross, the lone lefty in the bullpen, will pitch today if needed. ... Washington said Mike Napoli will catch Yu Darvish Monday night in Seattle. Yorvit Torrealba starts at catcher today. ... Adrian Beltre could move to DH when the Rangers go to Seattle.

Lineups: Nelson Cruz starts in right

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
11:29
AM CT
HOUSTON -- Good morning. Or is it good afternoon. Either way the first leg of the Silver Boot series ends today at Minute Maid Park. Nelson Cruz, who was taken out of Saturday night's contest with a tight quad, is in the lineup today. Also, Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer is out of the lineup after spraining an ankle Saturday night.

Here we go.

Rangers

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
C Yorvit Torrealba
P Colby Lewis

Astros

2B Jose Altuve
SS Jed Lowrie
RF Brian Bogusevic
1B Carlos Lee
LF Travis Buck
3B Chris Johnson
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
P Jordan Lyles

Matchup: Colby Lewis vs. Jordan Lyles

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
10:00
AM CT
HOUSTON -- The first leg of the Silver Boot series concludes Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park and the Texas Rangers will have righty Colby Lewis, their opening day starter, facing Jordan Lyles.

Here's a preview:

Lewis (3-3, 3.63): The right-hander has lost his last three starts and hasn't earned a victory since April 28. He's given up 14 earned runs in the last three starts after just giving up a total of seven earned runs in five April starts. During this tough stretch, Lewis' ERA has risen from 1.93 to 3.63. Lewis' last start resulted in him committing two throwing errors, leading to five unearned runs. Lewis said he didn't do anything differently between starts, just two bullpen sessions and feels he will get out of this funk.

Lyles (0-0, 3.00 ERA): In his last start, May 15, he drew a no-decision against Philadelphia, a 4-3 loss. Lyles gave up one run on six hits in six innings of work. He was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make that start. Last year he pitched in two games against the Rangers, going 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA. The last time he faced them was June 28, 2011, when he was credited with the loss after allowing five runs on 10 hits in six innings.

Hitters vs. Lewis: Carlos Lee 5-for-19, Jed Lowrie 3-for-5 and Matt Downs 1-for-3.

Hitters vs. Lyles: Josh Hamilton 3-for-6, Nelson Cruz 2-for-6 and Ian Kinsler 2-for-4.

Up next:
Mon at Seattle: RHP Yu Darvish (6-1, 2.60) vs. RHP Feliz Hernandez (3-3, 3:02), 9:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540/FSSW
Tue at Seattle: LHP Matt Harrison (4-3, 5.21) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (2-4, 5.61), 9:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW
Wed at Seattle: RHP Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.16): vs. RHP Kevin Millwood (2-4, 4.17), 2:40 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3/1540/FSSW
HOUSTON -- Saturday afternoon, Colby Lewis was stretched out in front of his stall in the Rangers clubhouse relaxing. He looked like a man without a care in the world.

But he does have some worries.

Lewis, who starts Sunday afternoon's Silver Boot finale against the Houston Astros, has lost his last three games.

"Wins and losses don't really (duplicate) sometimes on how you pitch," Lewis said. "In 2010, I went though it. Sometimes when things are not going your way it seems it all comes in bunches. So it's like when I started the year with quality starts, everything happens in bunches. You want to eliminate the ones that are bad, that's it and try to get on a roll."

Lewis won three of his first five starts but now hasn't won a game since April 28.

In his last start, May 14, two throwing errors led to five unearned runs. In the previous start, May 10, he struck out 12 over seven innings, but gave up six earned runs.

"I threw the ball great (May 10), and then I beat myself the last start," Lewis said. "So it's not about any common denominator, like (Ron Washington) says, it's the way baseball go. I beat myself and they beat me with the homers in the previous start so nothing really too different."

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182