Texas Rangers: Alberto Gonzalez

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Rangers 1

October, 5, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers' offense couldn't convert in the key situations -- a recent problem for this club -- and the Baltimore Orioles did, winning yet another close game (no one was better in close games than Baltimore this season) by a 5-1 score. Texas couldn't take advantage of a tremendous performance by Yu Darvish and the AL will have a new representative in the World Series.

What it means: The Rangers' season is over after a late-season collapse. A club that led the AL West by five games with nine to go (and four with six to go) dropped eight of its last 10 to lose the division to the A's and the AL wild-card game to the Orioles. They led the AL West for all but three days in 2012 and won't play in the ALDS. ... Baltimore will head home to host the New York Yankees for the first two games of the ALDS.

Offense disappears: As has been the case the final few weeks of the season, the Rangers offense didn't deliver in key situations. The fourth inning was a prime example. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. But the Rangers couldn't get the runner home from third with less than two outs. Mike Napoli struck out and then Geovany Soto had a check-swing strike on a 3-2 pitch. ... Give Joe Saunders credit for wiggling out of trouble, but the reality is that Texas had multiple chances -- the Rangers put a batter on base in the first five innings and managed just one run, which scored on a double play.

Hamilton gets booed: Josh Hamilton, perhaps playing in a Rangers uniform for the final time, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a double play and a roller to the mound. The final strikeout came with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth. Hamilton saw eight pitches -- all strikes -- in the four at-bats. It ended Hamilton's rough stretch the past few weeks and a terrible last few days for him. He dropped a routine fly ball in shallow center field Wednesday in the division-deciding game and then couldn't deliver on Friday.

Controversial decision: Manager Ron Washington decided to pull Darvish with two outs and a runner at second base in a 2-1 game in the seventh inning (Darvish was at 91 pitches). Washington elected to go with the lefty-lefty matchup with Nate McLouth coming up. He decided on Derek Holland, who threw 50 pitches Wednesday in Oakland and struggled. Holland threw a wild pitch to put Ryan Flaherty at third and then gave up a single to left to McLouth to give the Orioles a critical insurance run. ... Koji Uehara, who has held lefties to a .188 average this season and has been very good against them since coming back from the disabled list, didn't pitch until the eighth, where he struck out the side. That included left-handed hitters Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

Darvish dazzles: The 26-year-old was phenomenal, proving he could handle the big-game pressure. He gave up three runs (one was unearned and another scored when Holland gave up the two-out single) on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. His slider was a tremendous out pitch as he got most of his strikeouts on the pitch, which just drops out of the zone on hitters. ... Darvish got nothing from his offense and hung in, putting up zeroes and at least giving the Rangers a chance to do something.

Double plays: The Rangers took themselves out of three innings with double plays Friday. And even the inning they scored was shortened because of a double play by Hamilton that scored the run, but allowed Saunders to keep it a one-run game. ... After Craig Gentry got on first because of an error by first baseman Mark Reynolds, Ian Kinsler hit into a double play to clear the bases. ... Kinsler got a one-out single in the fifth and Andrus hit into a double play.

Can I get an interpreter?: When Darvish started stretching his neck in the sixth, Soto went to the mound to check on him and looked to the dugout. That brought out assistant athletic trainer Kevin Harmon, Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Joe Furukawa, Darvish's interpreter, tried to come out and was initially sent back by the umpires. But he was allowed onto the field after the umpires conferred. MLB has a rule that allows interpreters to come to the field in case of injuries.

Very early (unearned) run: It took the Orioles just four pitches to get the lead. Michael Young tried to backhand a ground ball to first by McLouth and couldn't get a handle on it. Moments after the error, McLouth stole second easily. He scored when J.J. Hardy hit a ground-ball single up the middle that scored McLouth for the game's first run. ... Darvish then got out of the inning without allowing any further damage, striking out two batters along the way (Davis and Wieters) on sliders.

Rangers tie it quickly: Texas seemed to have an opportunity for a big first inning. Kinsler walked and Elvis Andrus singled on a hit-and-run to put runners at the corners with no outs. Hamilton hit into a double play, which scored the run. But it also kept the Rangers from having a better chance at scoring more runs. Still, the club managed to tie it right away thanks to the top two guys in the lineup.

Great catch: Kinsler had a nice defensive play in the second. Jim Thome smoked a ball on a line between first and second. Kinsler quickly jumped and snagged it to his left. It was a quick-reflex play that prevented a run.

Hanging in: Credit Saunders for his grit and manager Buck Showalter for his decision to start the veteran. Despite numbers that did not seem favorable at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Showalter went with Saunders anyway and it paid off. Saunders put a runner on in each of his first five innings, but allowed just the lone run in the first. He did a great job of getting out of trouble and getting the Rangers to chase pitches outside of the zone.

Two more: Baltimore turned a 3-1 game into a 5-1 game in the top of the ninth, getting two runs off Rangers closer Joe Nathan. The Orioles scored them with a big one-out single from Manny Machado and a sac fly from McLouth.

Rapid Reaction: A's 12, Rangers 5

October, 3, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers couldn't hold a 5-2 lead Wednesday -- or a four-game lead with six games to play -- and watched as the Oakland A's won the AL West, snatching the division from them on the final day.

Josh Hamilton's error was the game's most memorable play as he trotted in to catch what appeared to be a routine, lazy fly ball but ended up overrunning it as it glanced off his glove. That broke a 5-5 tie and the A's were on their way from there.

Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):

What it means: The Rangers will play Friday in Arlington against the Orioles in the AL wild-card game at 7:37 p.m. CT.

Hamilton has big error: Hamilton inexplicably missed a shallow fly ball by Yoenis Cespedes that would have ended the fourth inning with the score still tied. He appeared to see the ball, coming in toward it. But it looked as if he overran it, and the ball glanced off the top of his glove. The error allowed two runs to score, breaking a 5-5 tie and putting the A's ahead by two. ... In between innings, television cameras caught manager Ron Washington having a lively conversation with Hamilton.

Dempster out early: The Rangers starter lasted just three innings, coming out of the game four batters into the fourth. Dempster gave up a leadoff walk -- usually costly -- and three straight hits as the A's closed the gap to 5-3. He didn't record an out and was taken out in favor of Derek Holland.

Fourth inning the difference: After Dempster struggled early in the inning, Holland couldn't get out of the jam. Coco Crisp hit a two-run double that was inches inside the right-field line to tie the score. Holland appeared ready to keep it tied, but Hamilton's error changed all of that.

Wasted chance in seventh: Beltre singled and Nelson Cruz doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs in the seventh against right-hander Ryan Cook, who was pitching in his fifth consecutive game. Cook got Michael Young to ground out and struck out David Murphy and Mike Napoli to end the threat. It was another disappointing offensive inning for the Rangers, who haven't consistently delivered the big hit.

Beltre ties it: With the Rangers down 1-0, Adrian Beltre hit an RBI single to score Ian Kinsler from third. It was particularly noteworthy in that Kinsler was at third with less than two outs, a situation that has been a problem for the Rangers in recent weeks.

Big inning: That third inning was a huge one for Texas. They got five runs, starting with that Beltre RBI. They did it by doing what the game asked. They just put balls in play, got some good fortune, and took advantage of Oakland's mistakes.


Who or what is most responsible for the Rangers' failure to win the AL West?


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Two-out production: After Beltre was thrown out on a fielder's choice in the top of the third, the Rangers had runners on the corners and two outs in a 1-1 game. But Michael Young doubled down the right-field line, hitting the chalk to stay fair. That gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He got the double after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off a few pitches. Then, with runners at second and third, Murphy singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, giving Texas a 4-1 lead.

Taking advantage: Still in the top of the third, Mike Napoli hit a popup that should have been the final out. But it appeared that A's third baseman Josh Donaldson didn't see the ball, forcing catcher George Kottaras to try to make the play. The ball sailed a bit and he missed it, and it dropped in fair territory. That put runners at the corners for Geovany Soto, who got a single up the middle to score another run. That hit ended an 0-for-16 skid for him.

A's score first: Oakland got the first run of the game, scoring off Dempster in the first inning thanks to three straight hits with one out, including an RBI double by Brandon Moss. ... Dempster did a good job of keeping the A's to one run, though. He had runners at second and third with one out and managed to wiggle out of it, getting Josh Reddick to pop up in foul ground and striking out Josh Donaldson on a nice slider that dropped out of the zone.

Pouring it on: The A's scored four in the eighth inning, with all the runs charged to Alexi Ogando. The reliever just didn't have it and the A's were relentless. One of the runs was unearned when Kinsler couldn't get a full handle on a ground ball as he tried to shove it to second to start a double play.

Tidbits: The A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,067 for Wednesday's game. That included 1,000 standing-room only tickets. ... The A's came back from at least a four-run deficit six times in 2012, including Wednesday. ... The A's added a run in the eighth on a solo shot by Derek Norris.

Up next: The Rangers will play in Friday's AL wild-card game against the Orioles in Arlington at 7:37 p.m. CT on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Yu Darvish will get the start.

Rapid Reaction: A's 3, Rangers 1

October, 3, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The AL West is now officially up for grabs with one game left in the 2012 season. Oakland's 3-1 win over the Rangers pulled the A's into a tie with Texas with game No. 162 on tap for Wednesday afternoon. It's the first time since April 9 that the Rangers haven't had sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The Ranger bats have disappeared recently and the club has lost six of its last eight and eight of its last 12. That slump, combined with Oakland's five-game winning streak and victories in eight of their last 10, has pulled the A's even after the Rangers had a four-game lead after last Thursday's win over Oakland. Some quick thoughts on this game (more to come from the clubhouse):

What it means: The Rangers and A's will face each other Wednesday with the winner claiming the AL West crown and the loser playing in the AL wild-card game Friday. ... The loss also means that the Rangers need a combination of things to happen to claim the No. 1 seed. But to simplify it, if the Rangers win and the Yankees win or Baltimore loses, Texas will face the Tigers in the ALDS. If they lose, they'll face either the Orioles or the Yankees depending on what happens Wednesday. That game could be played in Arlington if Baltimore loses tomorrow. Stay tuned on the blog for more explaining all of this.

Double plays hurt: Once again, the Rangers couldn't produce enough runs to get a win. They managed just one -- on a Josh Hamilton double in the third. They had a few chances to create something, but double plays hurt. Elvis Andrus walked to lead off the sixth, but Hamilton hit into a double play to erase him. Michael Young's infield hit in the sixth didn't matter as Mike Napoli hit into a double play. In the fourth, Nelson Cruz got on thanks to an error and didn't get to second as Young hit into a twin-killing.

Early chance squandered: Adrian Beltre hit the first pitch he saw in the second for a double off the wall in left-center. But he never scored. Cruz grounded out and Beltre couldn't move over. Young got some good fortune when a high chop went off starter Travis Blackley's glove for an infield hit. But then they had some bad luck when Napoli's line drive -- and it was hit hard -- went right into the glove of third baseman Josh Donaldson, who reacted quickly. Geovany Soto then struck out looking on a great curveball.

Costly Cruz error: Cruz charged a single by Derek Norris with runners at second and third and no outs in the fifth, but bobbled the ball as he tried to get a handle on it to make a throw. That allowed Brandon Moss to score easily. With Cruz's arm, it's possible he might have had a play at the plate had he come up with it cleanly. And it's also possible that Moss scores anyway. But the bobble meant he had no chance to get him. That second run was the go-ahead run in the game.

Hamilton drives one in: With two outs and Ian Kinsler at first base, Hamilton was nowhere near two off-speed pitches and fell behind 0-2. But on a third breaking pitch (curve) that Blackley hung, Hamilton timed it right and hit it to the wall in right-center for a double. Kinsler kept running and when second baseman Adam Rosales dropped the relay throw, allowing Kinsler to score without a play at the plate. Had he not dropped it, it probably would have been close. But credit the Rangers for getting aggressive and forcing the A's to make a play, which they didn't.

Kinsler struggling: Coming into the game, Kinsler had one hit in his last 18 at-bats. And he didn't get a hit Tuesday. He is batting .199 (27-136) in his last 32 games. ... Kinsler is a different hitter on the road than at home -- with 70 points separating the two numbers coming in. He was hitting just .223 on the road before Tuesday and couldn't get a hit. ... Kinsler's last hit with a runner in scoring position was Aug. 31. He is 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position since Aug. 15.

Harrison's night: Matt Harrison came out with a quality start, but was unable to hold a 1-0 lead. He gave up three straight hits to start the fifth and two runs, which gave the A's the lead. ... With two outs and no one on (and after Harrison got Yoenis Cespedes on a pickoff/caught stealing), Jonny Gomes tagged a solo shot to give the A's an insurance run. ... Harrison finished with three runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts, but got the loss.

Blackley better: Blackley gave up five runs in the first inning in a loss to Texas last week and lasted just that lone inning. But on Tuesday, he was impressive, going six innings and giving up just the one run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Tidbits: The Rangers' bullpen did what it could to keep it close. Alexi Ogando pitched a scoreless seventh, Michael Kirkman got both left-handed batters he faced in the eighth and Roy Oswalt struck out Cespedes to end the eighth. ... The A's announced 30,660 as the attendance with a 12,000 walkup.

Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (12-8, 3.18 ERA in NL/AL) pitches for the Rangers against RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) of the A's at 2:37 p.m. CT in the final regular-season game of 2012.

Rapid Reaction: Angels 7, Rangers 4

September, 28, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Angels got four runs off Rangers starter Ryan Dempster and then added more off the Texas bullpen in a 7-4 win. Jered Weaver had another solid start, giving up just two runs in seven innings for his fourth straight win over Texas.

What it means: The loss means the Rangers didn't reduce the magic number on their own tonight. They'll wait and see if it goes down from three if the A's lose. ... In the race for the No. 1 seed in the AL, the Rangers' loss combined with the Yankees' win means Texas is one game up on New York. Baltimore also won, so the Rangers are two games up on them.

Dempster falls to Angels again: Dempster has struggled against the Angels since getting traded to the Rangers on July 31. He gave up four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings Friday, which was his best start against them in 2012. ... In three starts, Dempster has a 11.19 ERA and an 0-2 mark. He had allowed 13 earned runs in his previous eight innings against the Halos. ... He gave up two solo home runs and issued four walks. He also had seven strikeouts and couldn't get through the sixth. It was a 4-1 game when he left.

Dempster splits vs. contenders/non-contenders: Dempster has made five starts against teams contending for playoff spots (once against the Yankees and Orioles, three against the Angels). In those starts, he's 1-3 with an 8.46 ERA (against just the Angels and Yankees, the ERA is 11.44). He's started in six other games for Texas (vs. Boston, Minnesota, Cleveland twice, Kansas City and Seattle), all wins, and has a 2.32 ERA.

Weaver shuts the door: The Angels' ace got his fourth straight win over Texas. Nelson Cruz was the only Ranger able to drive in runs off him in seven innings. Weaver gave up five hits and had five strikeouts with two walks. ... All five of Weaver's strikeouts came in his final three innings.

Leadoff homer: One night after Ian Kinsler led off the game for the Rangers with a homer, Mike Trout did the trick for the Angels. It was Trout's fifth leadoff home run this season and his 29th long ball of 2012. ... He also scored his 125th run on the homer, a new Angels' season record. ... He is one homer and three stolen bases away from becoming just the third 30/50 player in MLB history. The others: Eric Davis and Barry Bonds. ... Mark Trumbo had 29 homers in 2011, second-most by a rookie in Angels history. Tim Salmon had 31 in 1993.

Another solo shot: The No. 9 hitter, Chris Iannetta, hit a one-out solo homer off Dempster in the third. It was Iannetta's ninth home run of the season. He's hit two homers against Texas this year.

Great catch over the fans: Rangers fans didn't exactly make an effort to keep Alberto Callaspo from getting a foul ball in the seats near third base. Still, Callaspo did a terrific job of catching it, leaning over and snagged it for an out on Ian Kinsler in the third.

Over 100: Josh Hamilton and Kinsler both have more than 100 runs scored this season. Kinsler is at 102 and Hamilton got to 101 after hitting a double and then scoring on Nelson Cruz's sac fly.

Overaggressive: Adrian Beltre tried to get to second after a throw came home following his single. But Iannetta made a good throw to get Beltre. So instead of runners on the corners and no outs, it was a runner at third (Hamilton) and one out. Cruz got the run home with a sac fly, but the out hurt the club's chances to get more.

100 RBIs: Beltre hit a two-run homer in the eighth, giving him 100 RBIs for the season. That's the third straight season Beltre has had at least 100 RBIs. It was also his 36th home run.

Koji K: Koji Uehara has now retired 20 straight batters, getting all three he faced in the ninth Friday. He has retired 12 of those batters via the strikeout.

Rangers play-by-play voice Eric Nadel looks ahead to the Rangers' potential playoff opponents, the health of the bullpen and more.

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Ross in relief: Robbie Ross has not been as effective recently as he was in the first half, when he had an ERA under 1.00 and was dominant. He allowed two runs in his only inning of work. He has given up 11 runs in his last 16 2/3 innings. ... Since he was activated from the DL, Ross has given up four runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Boomstick: Nelson Cruz hit his 23rd home run, a solo shot, and now has 88 RBIs on the season, a career-high (one better than 2011). ... The homer ended a streak of 21 games without one. ... That was Cruz's second home run this season off Weaver. He hit a grand slam off Weaver on May 13. ... Cruz may be heating up. He was 2-for-3 on Thursday with a double and an RBI and had two more hits Friday with two RBIs. ... Cruz was thrown out at second base trying to turn a single into a double and stayed down briefly after he was tagged. He got up after manager Ron Washington and the trainer checked on him and stayed in the game. He was holding his back a bit.

Up next: LHP Derek Holland (11-6, 4.50 ERA) goes up against the Angels and RHP Ervin Santana (9-12, 4.93 ERA) at 3:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and Fox. Join us for a live in-game chat.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Oakland 7

September, 27, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers took an early lead and held on as the A's tried to rally, winning 9-7 in front of 43,796 on Thursday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers reduce the magic number to three and are four games up on the A's in the AL West, which is what the standings looked like when Oakland arrived Monday. ... It also means they'll stay at least one game in front of the New York Yankees for best record in the American League.

Leadoff homer: Ian Kinsler started the bottom of the first with a home run, pounding a 90-mph fastball over the left-field wall to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It was Kinsler's seventh leadoff homer of the season, the most in the majors. The home run tied Kinsler's club-record of seven leadoff long balls in a season (he did it in 2009 and 2011 as well). ... The homer made up for Kinsler's mistake in the field in the first; he made a high throw to first on a double play attempt. It was a throw he normally makes with no problem.


What will be the biggest obstacle to the Rangers clinching the AL West at home vs. the Angels?


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Five-run first: Michael Young had a clutch at-bat, a two-out single to score Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz to put the Rangers up 3-0. ... Mike Napoli followed with a two-run homer to right-center. It was his 21st home run and ended an 0-for-11 skid with six strikeouts on this homestand. He does have four home runs in 10 starts since being activated from the DL.

Hits with RISP: For the past six games, the Rangers were struggling with runners in scoring position (they were 3-for-20 in the first three games of the Oakland series and on a 1-for-25 streak coming into the series). But they came through when it counted Thursday. They had two at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first and got a single and a home run to drive in four runs. Texas was 3-for-3 with RISP through the first two innings.

Two-out runs: The Rangers had five of them, including four in the first inning. Josh Hamilton added another two-out RBI when he doubled home Elvis Andrus in the the second. It was his 125th RBI of the season.

Rangers pitcher Ryan Dempster quells fans from panicking after back-to-back losses to the rival A's, the mindset of the team heading into the postseason, how he's fit into the clubhouse since the trade and more.

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Harrison's outing: He wasn't dominant, but Matt Harrison did what he needed to do in earning his 18th win of the season. It wasn't a quality start, as he gave up four earned runs in six innings with seven hits. He had just two strikeouts, his fewest since getting just two against the Yankees on Aug. 14. But Harrison pitched deep into the game, something that was needed for the Rangers' bullpen, and he pitched aggressively with an early lead.

Adams' odd line: Mike Adams gave up three home runs in two-third of an inning, surrendering solo shots to Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick in the eighth. He mixed in two strikeouts as well. Adams hadn't allowed a home run since May 1, when Toronto's Brett Lawrie hit one. It pulled the A's within two runs.

Koji Ks e'm: With no one on and two outs, manager Ron Washington went to Koji Uehara. The A's pinch-hit left-handed catcher George Kottaras, who struck out on a splitter. Uehara has now held left-handed hitters to a .197 batting average with 18 strikeouts in 61 at-bats.

Up next: The Los Angeles Angels come to town for a three-game set. Ryan Dempster will go up against Jered Weaver. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21.

Rapid Reaction: A's 9, Rangers 3

September, 26, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Martin Perez couldn't make it out of the first inning, the Texas Rangers fell behind early and could not catch up in an 9-3 loss to the Oakland A's. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers have lost two straight and the magic number remains at five to clinch the AL West. The A's close to three games behind the Rangers with one game remaining in the series. ... The Yankees won earlier Wednesday, making them just one game back of Texas for the best record in the AL.

Rough first: Perez gave up five runs on six hits and could only get two outs before he was taken out by manager Ron Washington. He left too many pitches up and didn't get much help from his outfield. Perez threw just 24 pitches in his outing. It was the shortest outing by a Rangers starter since Derek Holland lasted just two-thirds of an inning on July 2, 2011.

Outfield issues: It was not a good first inning for the Rangers outfielders Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. Cruz misjudged a fly ball off the bat of Stephen Drew (an 0-2 pitch, in fact) and watched it short-hop the wall over his head for a double. Hamilton charged a single by Josh Donaldson and it bounced right by his glove, nearly rolling to the wall. It was scored a single and a two-base error and it allowed two runs to score. Two batters later, Hamilton didn't take the proper route to a fly ball and it went over his glove for a triple, scoring another run.

Oswalt pitches well: Roy Oswalt made a case to start Monday's game, when the fifth starter spot will be needed again (as long as he feels up to going four innings or so). He pitched 1 1/3 innings and after allowing two hits, was able to bear down and get three strikeouts to keep the A's off the board.

Chipping away: The Rangers immediately began to eat away at the A's 5-0 lead after the first. Texas got one run back in the bottom half of the inning, when Elvis Andrus hit a double off the Southwest Airlines sign in left-center to score Ian Kinsler. ... In the second, Texas loaded the bases as the Nos. 6-8 hitters got on (two singles and a walk by Mike Napoli). Mitch Moreland hit a ground ball to second and Napoli made a nice slide to help break up the double play attempt. The Rangers got a sacrifice fly from Andrus to close the gap to 5-3. But that's as close as the Rangers got.

Patience: Kinsler showed plenty of patience in his first two at-bats. He drew walks on both of them, but also fell behind in the count and worked starter Jarrod Parker for 17 pitches in those two walks. He added a third walk in the game in the ninth, seeing 10 pitches in that one.

Walk in the park: Wilmer Font walked the only two batters he faced in the third inning. One of those was Josh Reddick, who was in an 0-for-29 slump at the time. ... Tanner Scheppers came in after Font and, after striking out Derek Norris, walked Cliff Pennington before giving up a two-RBI single to Drew.

Eating up innings: After Washington used four pitchers in the first 3 2/3 innings, he asked Yoshinori Tateyama and Justin Grimm to go the rest of the way. Tateyama didn't give up a run in 2 1/3 innings and Grimm allowed one -- with two outs in the ninth.

Middle of the order: The Nos. 3-5 hitters did very little for the Rangers on Wednesday. The only one of the trio with a hit was Adrian Beltre, who singled with two outs in the fifth. Hamilton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Cruz had a walk and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

RISP issues: The Rangers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They are 3-for-20 with RISP in this series. They were on a 1-for-25 streak before that as well.

Up next: LHP Matt Harrison takes the mound in an attempt to split the series and reduce the magic number to three. LHP Travis Blackley toes the rubber for the A's. The game is at 1:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Mariners 1

September, 16, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers got 8 2/3 innings from Matt Harrison, who allowed one run (a solo homer in the eighth by Justin Smoak) on six hits in the 2-1 victory. Koji Uehara came in to get the final out with runners on the corners. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers' win puts them 2 1/2 games up in the AL West. If Oakland loses to Baltimore, it would put the Rangers back up by three games, erasing the game they lost on their lead last night.

Harrison dazzles: Harrison's aggressive approach got him ahead of hitters and allowed him to pitch efficiently. He had 101 pitches going into the ninth and was still throwing his fastball in the mid-90s. He finished with 119 pitches in 8 2/3 innings, just one out (at one point one strike) away from his fourth complete game. ... After a couple of rocky starts (and some extra days to rest), Harrison put consecutive solid starts together. He gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings in a win over Cleveland on Sept. 11.

Nine straight: Harrison was impressive Sunday, as he seems to be constantly against the Mariners. He has won nine consecutive starts against Seattle, dating back to May 1, 2010. That is tied for the second-most in club history against one opponent (Charlie Hough had 13 against Cleveland from 1984 to 1988). ... Harrison came in with a 2.25 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) vs. the Mariners.

Win No. 17: Harrison earned his 17th win, becoming the fourth AL pitcher to reach that plateau in 2012, joining David Price (18), Jered Weaver (17) and Chris Sale. ... It's the most wins of Harrison's career (he had 14 last year).

First save: It was the first save for Uehara since coming to the Rangers in a trade deadline deal last year (and first since Oct 2, 2010 vs. Detroit when he was with Baltimore). After throwing a splitter to strike out Michael Saunders, Uehara pumped his first and showed plenty of emotion.

Double, double (play): Harrison induced three ground ball double plays, including two he started himself (in the fourth and seventh). It was the eighth start this season that Harrison had multiple double plays, tying him with four other pitchers for the club record (the most recent being Kenny Rogers in 2005).

Beltre's blast: Adrian Beltre's solo home run in the fourth inning put the first run of the game on the board by either club. It was Beltre's 33rd home run of the season, the second-most he's had in a season since pounding 48 homers in 2004.

Moreland RBI: Mitch Moreland got his first RBI of the homestand with a double down the right-field line in the fifth. David Murphy scored from first on the double, which ran near the wall, making it tough for right fielder Saunders to pick up.

Error at 2B: Ian Kinsler charged a ground ball by Brendan Ryan in the third and had it go right under his glove for an error. It was his 17th error of the season, giving him the lead among all big league second baseman.

Mother Nature: The game didn't start until 4:17 p.m., making it a 2-hour, 12-minute delay because of rain.

Attendance: The Rangers announced an attendance of 45,928 on Sunday and a nice portion of them stayed through the rain delay. It was the 34th sellout of the season and the 51st time that a crowd of at least 40,000 showed up in Arlington. Both of those are club records.

Up next: The Rangers are off Monday before heading to Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series. RHP Ryan Dempster (11-6, 2.86 ERA in NL/AL) takes the mound for the Rangers and Jered Weaver (17-4, 2.74 ERA) goes for the Angels. The game starts at 9:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Rapid Reaction: Mariners 8, Rangers 6

September, 15, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers came back from a 6-0 deficit to tie it in the seventh but could not secure the win. Former Ranger Justin Smoak's home run in the eighth was the difference in an 8-6 Mariners' win.

A few quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers drop to 86-59 and will wait to see if the Oakland A's beat the Baltimore Orioles. If the A's win, they'll be within two games of the AL West lead. That's the closest the division has been since April 13, when they led by two after a win at Minnesota. ... Texas and Seattle will play the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday. The Rangers have won seven of their last eight series.

Smoak smokes it: With the score tied in the eighth, Smoak hit a 93 mph fastball off Tanner Scheppers halfway up Greene's Hill for a solo shot. The 424-foot home run quieted the crowd after the Rangers had scored five runs in the previous two innings to get back in the game. ... It was Smoak's 15th home run. ... He also drove in an insurance run off Alexi Ogando in the ninth inning.

Down six, Rangers tie it: Down 6-0 after 2 1/2 innings, the Rangers came back to tie it thanks to three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh. In that seventh inning, Texas got two hits, three walks and an RBI on a ground ball. Ahead by up one run, Seattle decided to intentionally walk Michael Young and bring in a left-handed reliever to face David Murphy with the bases loaded, despite Murphy's .385 average against left-handed pitching. Murphy grounded out to second, but that was enough to score the tying run.

Rough third: Starter Scott Feldman got into trouble in the third and couldn't get out of it. He allowed a solo home run to Dustin Ackley to start things off and then gave up three more hits and a walk. The big one was a two-run triple by Saunders. It was the second time that Saunders had a hit on an 0-2 count off Feldman. Manager Ron Washington came out to get Feldman after just 2 2/3 innings. He gave up six runs on seven hits in that span. Will he make another start down the stretch or will someone take his place?

Perez pitches well: Did Martin Perez make his case to take Feldman's rotation spot? He came in to relieve him in the third inning and got outs, going 4 1/3 shutout innings. He also didn't allow a hit in that span. He had one walk and five strikeouts. ... Perez threw 56 pitches and came out of the game after the seventh inning in favor of Scheppers. ... It was his first outing since facing one batter Thursday and gave up a walk, but in lengthy outings he's been good recently. His last long outing before Saturday was last Sunday in Tampa when he went five innings and gave up two runs (solo home runs to B.J. Upton) in relief of Roy Oswalt.

Hamilton on base three times: Josh Hamilton, feeling better after an injection in his knee after Wednesday's game, had his third extra-base hit in the last two games. He doubled in the first after taking the first three pitches he saw to work the count to 2-1. ... Hamilton had a walk in the third. ... He came up with a runner on first and one out in the eighth and Mariners manager Eric Wedge went with lefty Charlie Furbush, who got Hamilton to fly out to left field.

Napoli returns with a bang: Catcher Mike Napoli returned to the lineup after missing 33 games with a strained left quad and he did so in memorable fashion. With the Rangers down 6-1 and two runners on in the sixth, Napoli crushed a first-pitch fastball 419 feet off the railing in the suites level down the left-field line for a three-run shot that put Texas right back in the game. It was Napoli's 18th home run of the game and he did it right after chants of "NAP-O-LI" from the large crowd on hand. ... Napoli also got on base in his two at-bats before that one. He was hit by an 0-2 pitch in the second and singled in the fourth. ... It was Napoli's first multi-hit game since Aug. 1 against the Angels.

Tidbits: The Rangers intentionally walked Dustin Ackley in the eighth. It's only the 13th time the Rangers have intentionally walked a batter, the fewest number in the majors. ... A total of 47,267 showed up at the ballpark on Saturday. That's the 33rd sellout of the season. ... Don't forget, the Rangers were without key bullpen parts, namely Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.

Up next: LHP Matt Harrison (16-9, 3.36 ERA) takes on RHP Blake Beavan (9-9, 5.01 ERA) at 2:05 p.m. in the finale of the series. It's on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Mariners 3

September, 14, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers got a superb pitching performance from Yu Darvish, homers from Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, and a huge relief appearance by Koji Uehara to beat the Seattle Mariners, 9-3, on Friday.

What it means: Texas stays three games up on Oakland, who beat the Baltimore Orioles late on Friday. ... The Rangers have won 86 games, most in the AL.

Darvish dazzles (again): In what is starting to become the norm for Darvish, the 26-year-old starter went deep into the game and kept the opponent from doing much. He gave up one run on two hits in seven innings. The Rangers are 18-9 when Darvish starts.

Darvish reaches 200 Ks: Darvish became the sixth AL rookie to reach 200 strikeouts, getting Carlos Peguero in the fifth to reach the mark. He struck out the side that inning. Darvish had nine strikeouts in the game. It's the 11th time he's had nine or more strikeouts in a game this season. Read more about that here.

Darvish joins Nolan: Friday was the third straight start where Darvish has pitched at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer hits. The only other pitcher in Rangers history to do that was Nolan Ryan, who also had a three-start span like that Aug. 28-Sept. 8, 1990.

Four straight for Uehara: Koji Uehara pitched for a fourth straight game and was dominant. He threw nine pitches -- all strikes -- in retiring all three batters he faced in the eighth inning. All of them batted left-handed against him. ... On Tuesday, Uehara allowed a single to the only batter he faced (Casey Kotchman). But on Wednesday, he retired three batters -- all of them left-handed -- to preserve a three-run lead and get the game to closer Joe Nathan. On Thursday, he got the final three batters of the ninth after Nathan blew the save. And Friday, he once again got the job done. He could prove critical, especially against lefties, come playoff time.

Kinsler leadoff homer: Kinsler blasted a 398-foot home run over the fence in left-center and into the Seattle bullpen to start the bottom of the first. It was ruled a double, but the ball hit a chair behind the wall and it didn't take the umpires long to review it and call it a home run. ... It was Kinsler's sixth leadoff home run of the season and the 26th of his career, as he builds his club record. The Rangers are 22-4 when he leads off the game with a homer.

Slow then fast: To finish off that fifth inning, Darvish threw Munenori Kawasaki a 61 mph curve ball that went over the plate for a strike as Kawasaki watched it. Darvish then fired a 94 mph fastball that Kawasaki couldn't catch up with to get the strikeout.

That's No. 42: Hamilton hit his 42nd homer of the season, belting the first pitch he saw from starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the third into the Home Run Porch in right. It was estimated at 417 feet and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. ... Hamilton's 42 homers lead the AL. He extended his MLB-leading RBI total to 123.

Insurance runs: A big eighth inning turned a one-run game into a comfortable win for Texas. Three doubles by Elvis Andrus, Hamilton and Geovany Soto helped the Rangers score four runs. Andrus then had a triple to score three more runs. In total, the Rangers got seven runs in the inning.

Dandy defense: Kinsler made one of his better defensive plays of the season in the third. He raced to a ground ball hit by Kawasaki behind the second base bag and then had the presence of mind to throw to third to get Peguero trying to advance. That helped snuff a Mariners' scoring attempt.

Cool temp: The temperature at first pitch was 66 degrees, the second-coldest temperature to start a game this season in Arlington. It was 65 degrees at first pitch April 8 vs. the Chicago White Sox, the third game of the season.

Up next: RHP Scott Feldman (6-11, 4.97 ERA) faces LHP Jason Vargas (14-10, 3.85 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21.

Rapid Reaction: Indians 5, Rangers 4

September, 13, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Nathan blew his first save since April 11 (the sixth game of the season) as the Indians came back from two runs down in the ninth to beat Texas, 5-4. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers were not able to extend their AL West lead on the Oakland A's, who lost to the Angels earlier Thursday. So the lead remains three games. ... Texas is 0-for-6 in sweep chances since its last sweep, back on June 18-20 in San Diego. ... Texas had been 75-1 when leading after eight innings before Thursday's loss.

Rare blown save: Rangers closer Joe Nathan blew his first save in more than five months, ending a streak of 31 consecutive saves converted. Nathan came into the ninth with a two-run lead and gave up a solo home run to Ezequiel Carrera and then allowed a two-run homer to Jason Kipnis to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. ... Nathan gave up hits to four straight batters and was lifted in favor of Koji Uehara. ... It was Nathan's third straight game on the mound. It's the first time he's pitched three straight days since June 26-28 (two against Detroit, one against Oakland).

Lots of baserunners: Derek Holland seemed to be pitching with runners on base all night. He put at least one on in five of his seven innings and in four of those innings he dealt with two baserunners. It finally caught up to him in the sixth, when Matt LaPorta homered after Vinny Rottino singled. ... But the Indians left seven runners stranded against Holland, who allowed seven hits.

Holland homer: The LaPorta home run was his first of the season and it was the 27th allowed by Holland in 2012. That's good enough for sixth in the AL (Ervin Santana leads with 35).

Strange sacrifice, bounces: Vinny Rottino tried to bunt a high fastball down the first base line and it rolled foul in the eighth. But it hit the grass against the dirt as it rolled halfway up the line and spun back into fair territory just before the bag. Mitch Moreland had to glove it at that point and got the out, but the sacrifice worked. Had the Rangers gloved the ball in foul territory, it would have been a strike and Rottino would have likely tried again. ... Later that same inning, LaPorta's bouncer down the third base line stayed just inside the line before getting to the bag for an infield hit. It just seemed like the ball wanted to stay fair for the Indians in the eighth.

Ogando gets (big) outs: Alexi Ogando came in with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and got the Rangers out of a major jam in a tie game. He got ahead to Lonnie Chisenhall 0-2 and then couldn't locate his slider to push the count to 3-2 before blowing a 97 mph fastball past him for a strikeout. Ogando then got Jack Hannahan to fly out to center. ... Tanner Scheppers started the inning and Martin Perez had a four-pitch walk to left-handed hitter Shin-Soo Choo before Ogando came in.

Young delivers: Michael Young had a solid game. He made a nice defensive play to get to a hard, low liner to his left in the fourth. He then had a hit the other way with runners in scoring position in the fourth to score the first run of the game. Young also singled to right in the sixth and singled to center to score the fourth run of the game. It was his second RBI and he has at least one RBI in nine of his last 13 games.

Taking advantage of mistakes: Once again, the Indians made a fielding error in this series and the Rangers pounced on it. Moreland's ground ball to third appeared to be a double play ball. But the throw from second base to first was high. That allowed Nelson Cruz to trot home with the second run of the game (and the fourth inning) to give Texas a 2-0 lead. ... In the eighth, an errant throw by shortstop Brent Lillibridge put Elvis Andrus at second base. He went to third on David Murphy's fly out and then scored when Cruz's ground ball to third was booted by Hannahan for the second error of the inning and third of the game.

Streak continues: The blown save allowed Andrus to come up with two outs in the ninth and he hit a triple to push his streak of hitting safely against the Cleveland Indians to 32 games. It's the longest hitting streak vs. one opponent in club history.

Uehara does job: Uehara entered the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position and no outs and was able to get out of the inning without allowing the run to score. He's been pitching well recently as his splitter has had great movement. He got all three left-handed batters he faced Wednesday and pitched out of the ninth-inning jam Thursday.

3 million strong: The Rangers passed the three-million mark in attendance this season. Read about that here.

Up next: Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.14 ERA) goes up against RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4, 3.39 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW. Darvish is four strikeouts away from 200. He'd become just third AL rookie since 1976 to reach that mark.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Indians 2

September, 12, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ryan Dempster had a quality start and Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton hit home runs as the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians, 5-2. But the injury bug also found Arlington as Beltre, Mike Olt and Hamilton all exited Wednesday's game early.

What it means: The Rangers are 85-57 and will stay at least three games up on the Oakland A's in the AL West, pending the result of the Angels-A's game later tonight.

Beltre exits with strain: Adrian Beltre left Wednesday's game with a left shoulder strain. He suffered the injury in the second inning, but stayed in the game until manager Ron Washington removed him in the fifth and put Mike Olt in at third base. Read more here.

Olt limps to first, comes out: Olt, who has battled plantar fasciitis the past few weeks, started limping before he reached the bag. He was taken out and replaced by Jurickson Profar and will get a precautionary MRI.

Hamilton, exits with sore knee: Hamilton was lifted in the eighth inning because of a sore left knee.

Third baseman Kinsler?: For the first time in his career, Ian Kinsler played in the field at a position other than second base. He moved to third base after Olt's injury. Profar played second. It was Kinsler's 887th game in the field and the first time he hasn't been at second.

Dempster delivers: Dempster earned his fifth straight win with his fifth straight quality start. He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings and had eight strikeouts and one walk. Dempster's pitch count climbed early, but he had some quicker innings to hang in through seven innings. He has now beaten Baltimore, Minnesota, Cleveland (twice) and Kansas City during this winning streak and has a 1.91 ERA in that span.

Club record in attendance: Wednesday's attendance was 36,001, meaning a total of 2,967,041 have come to Rangers games this season, a new single-season record. The club should pass the three million mark on Thursday.

40 doubles: Kinsler belted a double down the left-field line to start the game and is now one double shy of his career-high of 41 set in 2008. He scored on Hamilton's grounder. Kinsler came into this homestand hitting just .200 in his last 30 games, but has had a double in each of the last two games. He now has 94 runs scored, second in the AL.

Beltre keeps hitting long balls: Beltre hit his 32nd home run of the season, tying the second-most of his career. Beltre had 48 homers in 2004 for the Dodgers. ... Beltre has homers in seven of the last 11 games. ... Coming into Wednesday's game, Beltre was batting .395 since Aug. 20 with 12 homers, seven doubles, two triples, 22 RBIs and 17 runs. He leads the majors in average, homers, extra-base hits, slugging and is second in RBIs in that span.

Grounder gets job done: Hamilton knew he just needed to get the ball to the outfield or the rigth side of the infield to score Kinsler in the first and did just that, hitting a changeup to second. That gave the Rangers an early lead.

Moonshot: Hamilton also delivered the long ball, crushing a 2-2 sinker that didn't sink into the second deck in right field. The Home Run Porch shot was an estimated 434 feet. It was his 121st RBI of the season and his 41st homer in 2012. Hamilton leads the league in both categories.

Dynamic duo: Wednesday was the 10th time this season that Hamilton and Beltre hit home runs in the same game. Four of those have occurred this month.

Getting out of a jam: Dempster gave up two singles and a walk to lead off the fourth inning but managed to allow just one run. He struck out Lonnie Chisenhall and got Casey Kotchman to hit a ground ball up the middle. Elvis Andrus made a nice play to get to it, flipped to Kinsler, but his relay throw was wide, allowing a run to score. Dempster then retired Brent Lillibridge with a strike on the corner.

Uehara gets lefties: Koji Uehara came in and faced three left-handed batters (Carlos Santana is a switch hitter who batted lefty) and retired all of them. He got Jason Kipnis out on a strikeout. Uehara's ability to get lefties out will be a factor in whether he makes the postseason squad. But the splitter was working Wednesday and has lately for him.

Tidbits: Geovany Soto threw out a baserunner in the third inning (Shin-Soo Choo). It was his second caught stealing this season in 26 attempts. ... Andrus' single in the first means he has hit safely in 31 career games versus Cleveland, a club record for the longest hit streak against one opponent.

Up next: LHP Derek Holland (10-6, 4.59 ERA) vs. RHP Zach McAllister (5-7, 4.31 ERA) in the series-finale at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Indians 4

September, 11, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A four-run second inning that featured a Cleveland error and a wild pitch helped the Rangers to a 6-4 victory over the Indians in the first game of a three-game set. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers move to 84-57 and will stay at least three games up on the Oakland A's. It could be four games if the Angels beat the A's later tonight.

Harrison mixed results: Matt Harrison allowed just two runs on five hits on Tuesday for his team-leading 16th win. But he wasn't able to pitch six innings. He had three walks and ran into some trouble in the sixth. After getting a double play to eliminate an early single, Harrison gave up a single and a double to make it a 5-2 score. That's when manager Ron Washington decided to bring in Alexi Ogando to get Brent Lillibridge with a runner at second. Still, it was progress for Harrison, who struggled in two starts before getting some extra rest prior to this one.

Perfect through three: Harrison set down the Indians in order the first three innings and had four strikeouts in the process. He threw first-pitch strikes to seven of those batters and appeared on his way to a sterling outing before two walks to open the fourth. ... He gave up his first hit with an out in the fifth.

Taking advantage: The Rangers made sure mistakes by the Indians in the second inning came back to haunt them. Adrian Beltre hit what should have been a routine grounder to third to start the second inning, but a throw that was offline was missed by first baseman Russ Canzler, who was charged with the error. That put Beltre at second. He scored on an RBI single by Michael Young.

Wild pitch: Perhaps that error rattled Ubaldo Jimenez. He threw a wild pitch -- his AL-leading 16th of the season -- with Young at third base, allowing the second run to score.

Doing what's asked: Manager Ron Washington constantly preaches about doing the little things the game asks you to do. Leonys Martin did that in the second inning when he hit a fly ball to center field to score Mitch Moreland with the third run of the inning. Martin hit a 1-1 curveball to drive in the run.

Kinsler ends skid: Ian Kinsler's double down the left-field line ended an 0-for-12 streak for him. It was his 39th double of the season, third-most in the AL, and it scored Geovany Soto (who walked) with the fourth run. It was also the only run in the inning that was earned. ... Coming into the game, Kinsler was batting .200 in his last 30 games.

Beltre homer (after review): Beltre got his 31st home run of the season in the fifth inning, hitting a ball on top of the Southwest Airlines sign in left-center. The ball hit the top of the wall, but appeared to also hit the back wall. It was called a double, but after review was changed to a home run. It's the first time a review has been called for a Rangers hitter at home since Sept. 14, 2010 against Detroit when a David Murphy homer was upheld.

Andrus perfect vs. Indians: Elvis Andrus continued his dominance of Indians pitching by hitting safely in his 30th career game against them. He did it with an RBI single in the sixth. The 30-game hitting streak is a club record for any player against an opponent.

Ogando solid: The reliever came in with a runner at second and two outs in the sixth and got Lillibridge to ground out back to the mound. He then got through the seventh inning for a scoreless 1 1/3 innings. It was just his third appearance in the past 13 days.

Injury updates: Roy Oswalt has a strained forearm and won't throw for two or three days and will then be re-evaluated. ... Mike Napoli was 0-for-2 with a groundout, strikeout and a hit-by-pitch in his rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco, who lost to Springfield, 5-0, in Game 1 of the Texas League Championship Series. Napoli caught seven innings.

Adams struggles: Mike Adams didn't have it on Tuesday. He came in to pitch the eighth and allowed a hit, two walks and two fielder's choices. One run scored and Adams left with two on and two outs. Koji Uehara allowed a single up the middle to score the fourth run of the game, which was charged to Adams.

Scheppers strikeout: Tanner Scheppers, certainly in the running for a postseason spot, came in to stop the Indians' rally in the eighth and did just that with a strikeout of pinch hitter Michael Brantley.

Tidbits: Soto stole his first base of the season, going to second just as Jimenez threw a pitch in the dirt, getting the base without a throw. ... Tuesday's attendance was 34,765. That pushes the club's overall total in 2012 to 2,931,040. The club should pass the 3 million mark Thursday. ... Joe Nathan got his 32nd save of the season and his 30th in a row, which is a career-high. He has 293 in his career.

Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (10-6, 2.87 ERA in NL/AL) starts for Texas and will be opposed by RHP Jeanmar Gomez (5-7, 5.33 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Rapid Reaction: Rays 3, Rangers 1 (11)

September, 7, 2012

Mark Lowe gave up a two-run, walkoff home run to Ben Zobrist in the 11th inning as the Rangers lost to the Rays, 3-1, in the first game of a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers drop to 82-56 and are 4 1/2 games ahead of Oakland after the A's won late Friday night.

Holland excellent: Derek Holland had one of his best outings of the season, allowing just one run (on a solo homer) on two hits in eight innings. He was efficient, needing 95 pitches to get through the first seven innings, and pitched quickly and confidently. He was rarely in any kind of jam and was able to bear down with men on base and produce plenty of swings and misses.

Ron Washington on Derek Holland's masterful performance and the Rangers' 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay in 11 innings.

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Career-high strikeouts: Holland had 11 on Friday, setting a new career-high. And many of them were big outs to end innings. That included a stretch in the first, when Holland walked B.J. Upton with one out. He got Zobrist on a 3-2 sinker on the inside corner and then was able to get Evan Longoria swinging on a high 95 mph fastball to end the frame. ... Holland struck out Desmond Jennings and Zobrist in the sixth as well with an Upton single sandwiched in between. ... He got his 11th strikeout to end the eighth inning, throwing a 93 mph fastball by Jennings. ... Holland struck out Jennings three times and got Zobrist and Ben Francisco twice.

Quality start: Holland has four straight quality starts and he's pitched at least seven innings in three of those. He's certainly starting to look more and more like the pitcher that was so solid in the second half of the 2011 season.

Longoria vs. Holland: Longoria has certainly figured out Holland. He was 10-for-24 with three homers off Holland before belting a home run in the fourth inning with two outs and no one on base. In fact, the Longoria homer was the first hit of the night given up by Holland.

Young's power: Michael Young has all of a sudden begun to hit the ball deep. He had a home run to tie the score with one out in the fifth. It was his seventh homer of the season, but his third on this road trip. In fact, Young has four homers in the last nine Rangers road games and he's got an RBI in six straight games. Perhaps the franchise leader in hits is finding his stroke at the right time.

Long single: Ian Kinsler swung at the very first pitch of the game and hit it on a rope off the wall in left-field. But it was belted hard enough that he had to stop at first.

Double plays hurt early: The Rangers hit into double plays in the first two innings to hurt rally chances. Elvis Andrus followed Kinsler's single with a ground ball double play and Young hit into one to end the second after Adrian Beltre got on.

Hitting streak: Beltre, who was in contention for AL player of the month for August, has continued to hit well in September. He had a single in the second to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Beltre has five homers and eight RBIs in that stretch.

Hellickson holds Rangers down: While Holland was superb, Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson held his own. He wasn't able to go as deep into the game as Holland, but he allowed one run (like Holland, it was a solo homer) and had five strikeouts and one walk. But he threw 95 pitches through six innings. Holland had the same pitch count through seven.

Uehara gets big out: After allowing a one-out walk to Chris Gimenez, Koji Uehara fell behind Longoria in the bottom of the ninth. But he threw a couple of nice splitters and ended up striking out Longoria. That was the end of his night with Michael Kirkman coming in to face the left-handed hitting Carlos Pena.

Profar's parents: Jurickson Profar got a chance to hit in the 11th inning and did so with his parents in the stands and the scouts -- Chu Halibi and Jose Luis Felomina -- that signed him in attendance.

Up next: RHP Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.29 ERA) takes on Chris Archer, who will be making a spot start in place of David Price, who has a sore shoulder. Archer is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in two big league starts, both in June.

Rapid Reaction: Rays 8, Rangers 4

August, 29, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tampa Bay Rays scored six runs off starter Matt Harrison in the first two innings and the Rangers weren't able to make a full comeback as the Rays won it, 8-4.

What it means: The loss means the Rangers don't sweep the Rays, but it was just the club's third loss in the last 12 games. Texas is 77-53 and remains two games up on the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL. The A's and Indians are still playing, but if the A's win, they'd close the gap to 4 1/2 games.

Early runs: Harrison gave up a run in the first inning after Desmond Jennings singled, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Ben Zobrist hit a double on a 3-1 pitch to left field. ... Evan Longoria's two-run homer made it 3-0. ... Harrison gave up as many hits in the first -- four -- as he did in his last two starts combined. He also gave up one more run in the inning than he did in his last 16 innings (in his two starts).

Longoria owns Harrison: Longoria has hit Harrison well throughout his career and that continued in the first. ... Longoria's home run to center field (a Greene's Hill kid made a nice catch) came with a man on. It was Longoria's third career home run against Harrison. If you include the playoffs, Longoria is 7-for-13 with three homers and nine RBIs off Harrison. ... Harrison wasn't the only Rangers pitcher to gave up a homer to Longoria. Alexi Ogando did as well in the top of the ninth.

Another homer: The Rays scored three more runs off Harrison in the second as they hit for the cycle the first time through the order. Sam Fuld, the No. 9 hitter, tripled to lead off the inning and after Jennings walked, B.J. Upton hit a 1-2 home run on a 95 mph fastball. The three-run blast, the second straight inning Harrison gave up a homer, put the Rays up 6-0. ... Harrison had allowed just three runs in his last three starts combined.

Harrison struggles: It wasn't the same Harrison who carried a no-hitter 6 2/3 innings against the Twins and ended with eight scoreless innings. Perhaps, he's just not comfortable against the Rays. On Wednesday, Harrison went 5 1/3 innings and allowed seven runs on 12 hits, including three homers. ... Harrison gave up seven runs (six earned) on 14 hits in five innings in an April start vs. the Rays in Arlington.

Moreland goes deep: Mitch Moreland, whose glove work was so key in a win over the Rays on Tuesday, blistered a ball with his bat in the bottom of the second, hitting a two-run shot on a 1-2 curve ball. ... Moreland has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games and is 15-for-41 (.366) with 13 RBIs in that stretch.

Left-handed batters vs. Cobb: The Rangers' left-handed hitters performed well against Alex Cobb, who exited the game after 4 2/3 innings. Josh Hamilton was 2-for-2 with a solo home run. David Murphy was 1-for-1 and Moreland was 1-for-1 with the two-run home run.

Rays bullpen solid: The Rays bullpen came in with the score at 6-4 and shut down the Rangers. They allowed just one hit in the final 4 1/3 innings to finish it off.

Nos. 36 and 112: Hamilton's solo homer in the fifth, which reached the second deck in right field, was 424 feet. It was his 36th of the year, adding to his career-high total. It was also RBI No. 112. That leads the majors.

Koji gets it done: Koji Uehara came in to relieve Harrison and had his splitter working. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits with two strikeouts. He got Longoria to ground into a double play in the seventh.

Tidbits: Adrian Beltre once again put up a highlight-reel play at third, charging a slow-roller hit by Elliot Johnson and making an off-balance throw to first to get him. ... There were 36,176 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Wednesday for the final game of the 10-game homestand and dollar hot dog night.

Up next: The Rangers are off Thursday and RHP Ryan Dempster (8-6, 2.99 ERA in AL & NL) faces RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13, 5.58 ERA) at 6:05 p.m. Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Rays 5

August, 27, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' offense once again was impressive, collecting early hits and runs off Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and then the bullpen was able to nail things down late to preserve the 6-5 victory.

What it means: Texas has won eight of its past 10 games and stays 5 1/2 games in front of the Oakland A's in the AL West and moves to 10 up on the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers also stay ahead of the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL. ... The Rangers have scored at least five runs in each of the past six games and eight of the past nine.

Price isn't right: Coming into Monday's game, Price allowed two runs in his past four starts combined. He gave up three in the second inning alone and the Rangers had five hits before Price even had an out in the third. He ended up giving up six runs, the most he has allowed since June 13, when the Mets scored seven off him in five innings. That was also the last time he'd lost a game before Monday. Price also gave up 10 hits (in 22 batters faced). ... The four innings (plus three batters) was the shortest outing for Price since he went three innings in Boston on April 13. It ended a streak of 12 straight starts of at least seven innings pitched for Price. ... The 69 pitches were the fewest he has thrown in a start (in which he was healthy) since July 25, 2009 (threw 56 in three innings versus Toronto). ... Price now has a 10.26 ERA in four career starts at Rangers Ballpark.

Rangers on attack: The Rangers weren't simply content to try to work Price. They went after him with some early swings. They went down 1-2-3 in the first inning on five pitches, but after just seven pitches in the second, the Rangers had tied the score with two homers and added two singles. They decided that the best pitch to hit might be early in the count and they were swinging freely. ... Of the 10 hits the Rangers got against Price, eight of them were on at-bats of four pitches or fewer (five of them on two or fewer pitches). The other two hits were on five-pitch at-bats.

Back-to-back jacks: Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back homers to lead off the second inning and tie the score. Both homers were more than 400 feet and traveled a combined distance of 812 feet (Beltre to left, Cruz to right-center). They saw just five pitches between them. ... Beltre now has seven seasons of 25 or more homers in his career, including three straight.

Beltre rolling: Beltre was named AL Player of the Week after having a three-homer game and hitting for the cycle in another game last week. He's apparently interested in keeping the honor for another week. Besides the home run in the third, he added a two-run double that turned a tie game into a 5-3 Rangers lead in the third.

Top four gets Holland: Derek Holland had trouble getting out the first four batters in the Rays' lineup on Monday. All five runs in the first five innings were scored by Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria. That group was 6-for-11 with a homer and two triples through five frames Monday. ... Because the first two runs were unearned, Holland ends up with a quality start, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts in six innings.

Ogando smokes 'em: Alexi Ogando came into the game in the seventh to face the top of the order, which was hot, and smoked some fastballs by them. He struck out Jennings on a 97-mph, 3-2 fastball. He retired Upton on three straight swinging strikes -- one at 98 mph and the other two at 99 -- and he got Zobrist to pop up on a 98-mph fastball.

Bullpen finishes it off: Besides Ogando, Mike Adams came in and got all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Joe Nathan finished things off in the ninth. Nathan has converted 24 straight saves. The bullpen had six strikeouts in nine batters faced and set them all down in order.

Olt two-strike approach: Mike Olt turned 24 on Monday and was in the starting lineup against the lefty Price. With a runner at third and one out in the second inning, Olt fell behind 0-2. But he did what he needed to do in grounding to second, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Costly defense: Elvis Andrus had a rough first inning on defense. He seemed unsure what to do on a high chopper off the bat of B.J. Upton that had some odd spin on it. Rather than attack the ball, Andrus got caught in between and couldn't field it and throw Upton out. The error put a runner on with one out. It appeared, though, that a ground ball would erase the mistake. First baseman Mike Olt gloved the grounder and threw to Andrus covering second to try to start a double play. But Andrus lost the ball in the transition and could not make the return throw. Tampa Bay took advantage of the extra out when Longoria hit a two-run homer.

Tidbits: Holland gave up his team-high 24th homer in the first inning Monday when Longoria hit a 3-2 fastball (94 mph) off the foul pole to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. ... Attendance was 29,453. That's the second-lowest this season (April 10, versus Seattle, was 25,753). Blame the first day of school.

Up next: RHP Yu Darvish (12-9, 4.51 ERA) makes his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays, who counter with RHP James Shields (12-7, 4.01 ERA).



Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182