Texas Rangers: Alcides Escobar

W2W4: Rangers at Royals

September, 1, 2014
The Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals play a three-game set to start September. The Royals are in the pennant chase, while the Rangers have a chance to play spoiler.

Here's a preview:

What’s up with the Royals? Kansas City leads the AL Central by half-a-game over Detroit and has lost its last three completed games. Sunday’s contest with Cleveland was suspended because of rain in the 10th inning with the Royals trailing 4-2. Despite the current losing streak, the Royals have won 14 of their last 21 games at Kauffman Stadium. The first-place Royals are last in baseball in home runs (86) and walks (316) but lead the majors with 124 stolen bases. LF Alex Gordon (team-leading .280 BA) has eight home runs and 17 RBIs since the All-Star break. SS Alcides Escobar has a six-game hitting streak going and DH Billy Butler leads the team with 135 hits.

What’s up with the Rangers? The Rangers are 3-4 on this 10-game road trip which ends with three games in K.C. Six of RF Alex Rios’ last seven hits have been doubles and he reached base three times in Sunday’s loss, the first time he’s done that since July 29. 1B Ryan Rua has a hit in his first three major league games. CF Daniel Robertson has a career-high seven-game hitting streak where he’s hitting .421. 3B Adrian Beltre has reached base in his last 16 games. He walked twice Sunday.

The return of Derek Holland: The left-hander is scheduled to make his season debut Tuesday night. Holland has missed the entire season recovering from left knee surgery. Holland is 2-1 in seven games lifetime against the Royals with a 4.67 ERA. Holland participated in pitching drills and threw a bullpen session Saturday in Houston. Holland said he feels strong mentally and physically.

The pitching matchups: Monday: RHP Colby Lewis (9-11, 5.44) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (10-9, 3.40). Tuesday: LHP Holland (season debut) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-10, 4.43). Wednesday: RHP Nick Tepesch (4-8, 4.44) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (10-7, 3.27)

Rapid Reaction: Royals 6, Rangers 3

September, 4, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers couldn’t hold an early two-run lead and fell 6-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

What it means: The four-game series is tied at 1-1 and the Rangers are back to 25 games over .500 at 80-55. Texas had reached a season-high 26 games over .500 with its win in Kansas City on Monday. The Rangers’ record after 135 games equals the best in franchise history. Texas was also 80-55 in 1999.

Long gone: After watching the Rangers blast five homers Monday, shortstop Elvis Andrus got in on the power show. Andrus, who entered Tuesday’s game with two homers in 523 at-bats, connected for a solo shot off Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning. The Andrus homer to left came after he had homered just once in the previous 123 games.

Momentum shifts: Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez is known for his throwing ability and when he picked Ian Kinsler off third base in the third inning, it was a big momentum play for the Royals. Texas had already built a 2-0 lead and had Kinsler at third with one out after a Kinsler double and an Andrus sacrifice bunt. Perez caught Kinsler straying too far down the line and the pickoff -- with Josh Hamilton at the plate -- gave the Royals a boost. Kansas City promptly scored twice in the third and was on its way. Perez now has three pickoffs, the most by any Major League catcher.

Early exit: Left-hander Matt Harrison has failed to make it deep into the game two starts in a row. After lasting just 5 1/3 innings last Wednesday versus Tampa Bay, Harrison went 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. He allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned). Harrison gave up a two-run homer to lefty-hitting Alex Gordon, snapping a fifth-inning tie.

Close call: A bang-bang play at the plate in the third inning went Kansas City’s way and brought manager Ron Washington out of the dugout. With Alcides Escobar at third and one out, Billy Butler flied to center and Hamilton made a strong throw home as Escobar tagged. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale ruled that Escobar eluded the tag of Geovany Soto and Soto protested before Washington came out to have his say. The Butler sacrifice fly made it a 2-2 game.

Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (9-6, 2.87 NL/AL) will try to give the Rangers the series lead Wednesday when he opposes Kansas City left-hander Everett Teaford.

Lineups: Mitch Moreland back at first base

September, 4, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- First baseman Mitch Moreland, who didn’t start Monday against Kansas City with a left-hander on the mound, is back in the Rangers lineup for Tuesday’s game. Moreland got into the series opener on Labor Day as a defensive replacement and delivered a hit to snap an 0-for-14 slump. The Rangers hope that hit will get Moreland going again offensively. The lineups:

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland

CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
1B Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Mike Moustakas
DH Tony Abreu
2B Johnny Giavotella

C.J. Wilson strives for efficiency, low walks

February, 28, 2011
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For all the great numbers C.J. Wilson posted in his breakout season -- 15 wins, 3.35 ERA, 204 innings, 170 strikeouts -- he had two forgettable numbers: 93 walks, second-most in the major leagues, which led to an average of 16.9 pitches per inning, the ninth-highest mark in the majors.

In Sunday's Cactus League Opener, Wilson didn't walk a batter, but he didn't have his best control and needed 40 pitches to get through two innings. The first three Kansas City Royals reached base and two scored before Wilson retired the next six batters he faced.

"I was out of it a little bit, out of my normal rhythm or my normal tempo," said Wilson, who struck out two. "I’ve been changing and refining my delivery over the last six months, so it’s something that’s still going to be a work in progress. That’s why we have another month here to iron it out."

Wilson has made the incredible jump from bullpen hand to experimental starter last season to No. 1 starter who will take the mound on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox. Before then, Wilson said his primary focus is to reduce his number of pitches by being more efficient early in the count.

He threw 24 pitches in the first inning and fell behind two of the first three batters he faced, but he did get a first-pitch strike to four of the six batters he faced.

"I think the walk total is a component of a larger issue," Wilson said. "If you get ahead in the count more often, than hitters are going to be forced to be more aggressive even if you are out of the strike zone with your second pitch, your third pitch. The goal is to throw as few strikes as possible, but if you throw them right away then you’re not throwing that many pitches at all."

Wilson threw 3,341 pitches last season, 16th most in the majors in 204 innings. But, his 16.9 pitches per inning is higher than any of the 15 pitchers that threw more total pitches.

In Sunday's 16-pitch second inning, Wilson, who threw five different pitches including a couple of 77-mph curveballs, need eight pitches to get Chris Getz to ground, and then threw six pitches, including three consecutive balls after getting ahead of Alcides Escobar 0-2, but got a grounder to third and avoided a two-out walk .

"The one thing I am good at is minimizing guys hitting the ball over the fence. I proved that the last couple of years; it’s not something that happens very often," Wilson said. "So, if I take the walk total down a lot by having my mechanics more consistent which leads to more first-pitch strikes then it’s all going to go hand-in-hand."



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