Texas Rangers: Alex Cora
More from the release:
German, 32, has spent the entire season with Oklahoma City (AAA), batting .280 with 5 home runs, 27 doubles, 5 triples, and 55 RBI in 126 games for the RedHawks. He has a .313 (51-163) average since the Pacific Coast League All-Star break in mid-July. He has gone 50-for-57 (87.7%) in stolen base attempts, as his 50 steals rank 2nd in the Pacific Coast League and tied for 11th among all minor league players. German went 0-for-2 with a walk in a start at second base last night vs. Omaha, recording his 50th steal of the year. At Triple-A, he has seen action at second base (54 games), third base (51), outfield (15) and shortstop (11). He has appeared in both center field and left field for Oklahoma City.
German has appeared in 385 major league games with Oakland (2002-04), Texas (2005; 2009), and Kansas City (2006-08), including 19 games with the Rangers last season. He has a career .278 average in the majors, making starts at every position except catcher and right field in his big league career. German was a non-roster invitee to big league camp this spring, batting .275 (11-40) with no homers, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 9 runs scored in 26 Cactus League games.
Cora was signed to a minor league contract on Aug. 18 and had his contract purchased from Oklahoma City (AAA) on Aug. 24. He has gone 2-for-7 in 4 games/2 starts at second base with Texas this season. He also appeared in 62 games for the New York Mets in 2010. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright Cora to the minor leagues.
With these moves, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster.
"That's why I'm out there get to the next base," Cora said. "I wanted to get to where we were first and third with one out. The safe play was first and second, but I was trying to be aggressive. You have to tip your cap to [Jason] Repko."
Repko charged the ball and threw a rope to third baseman Danny Valencia, who applied the tag. Or did he? Replays showed his glove might have been between Cora's hands, but Cora didn't argue about it. (And since the throw was clearly in time, that's normally going to be called an out anyway).
Third baseman Michael Young said Cora forced Repko to make a perfect throw to get him and that's what happened.
"Alex did the same thing we all would have done," Young said. "You try to get to third there. I took a perfect throw to get him."
Manager Ron Washington would have preferred that the top of his order get an opportunity to score that tying run in the final inning.
"You have to know the point in the game," Washington said. "If you go first to third right there, you have to be 100 percent sure you can make it, especially being down a run and being in the last inning. You have to make sure, that's all. I like the aggressiveness, but sometimes you've just got to be certain. The situation will always dictate how aggressive you can be and should be."
* Derek Holland wasn't happy with his decision to go off-speed to Repko in the seventh inning after getting ahead, 1-2. "I should have gone right after him," Holland said. The young pitcher said that was his mistake that entire inning. He had thrown off-speed stuff with success earlier in the game, but had mixed it with good fastball command. He felt he moved too far away from the fastball in that seventh inning. The Twins got a single and a walk off him with one out and that was the end of Holland's night.
* Still, it was overall a good outing for Holland. He gave up four runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
"I felt pretty good with all my pitches," Holland said. "I felt like I had good command with all four, attacking the zone, staying ahead of hitters, it was just that last inning where I was falling behind and trying to trick hitters instead of doing what I was doing before."
* Washington said Borbon should not have thrown the ball to third in the sixth inning in an attempt to get Orlando Hutson after Joe Mauer singled. The throw allowed Mauer to go to third and eliminated a chance at a double play.
"That's another one where you have to be sure you can get him or at least throw it where a cutoff man can get it," Washington said. "He was trying to make a play, but you have to understand the situation."
* Alexi Ogando hung an 0-2 slider to J.J. Hardy, which resulted in an RBI single that tied the score in the seventh. Washington had no problem with the pitch selection, just the execution. "That ball has to be in the dirt there," Washington said. "You can't give him anything to hit."
* Ian Kinsler joked that he was trying to get in as many swings as he could in his first at-bat, a 10-pitch affair in the second that resulted in a fly ball out. "I feel 100 percent," Kinsler said. "It was good to get back." He was 1-for-4 with a run scored.
* Clay Rapada made his Texas debut and looked good, getting Jim Thome to fly out and Mike Tolbert to line out.
* Darren O'Day did a nice job, getting Michael Cuddyer to pop up with runners at second and third and two outs in a 4-3 game in the seventh. He then struck out Delmon Young to start the eighth.
Hunter (11-2, 3.66 ERA): He's coming off two consecutive quality starts and went at least 7 2/3 innings in both of them. His last start was a win over the A's. Hunter allowed three runs on seven hits in a 7-3 victory. He went eight innings in a win at Baltimore in his previous start. Hunter, who made his season debut on June 5, joins CC Sabathia (14-2) and C.J. Wilson (11-2) as the only three pitchers with at least 11 wins since the beginning of June. Hunter is 7-0 with a 3.16 ERA at home and 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA on the road this season. He's allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of his 16 starts and two earned runs or fewer nine times. The Rangers hit for Hunter, who is sporting an 8.20 run support average, the highest for any major league pitcher since June 1. Opponents are hitting just .179 with runners in scoring position off him. Hunter has not faced Kansas City.
Bullington (1-3, 6.00 ERA): The 29-year-old is making his fifth start (10th appearance) of the season for the Royals. In his last start, he allowed six runs in the second inning against Cleveland and seven runs overall on nine hits in four innings of work. That was the opposite of a previous start on Aug. 14 against Yankees, in which Bullington threw eight shutout innings allowing two hits and a walk in a 1-0 win. Bullington's second stint with the big club (he was recalled July 28) came after he was 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 outings (15 starts) for Triple-A Omaha. In fact, he led the PCL in ERA at the time of his promotion. Bullington has never faced the Rangers.
Hitters: The only Texas hitter that has ever faced Bullington is Alex Cora, who is 0-for-1. The only Kansas City hitter to stand in against Hunter is Wilson Betemit, who is 1-for-2 with a double.
The club has an off day Thursday between the Kansas City and Minnesota road series and they could alter things to get Lee some extra time then. That's something that will be talked about next week.
"We want some input from him and we'll talk about it," Washington said. "He's the guy that's toeing the rubber, so we'll listen to what he has to say."
Though Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and others will have the ultimate say. Lee has allowed four or more earned runs in his last four starts. He's 0-3 with an 8.39 ERA. Opponents are batting .318 against him in that stretch. Since he arrived in Texas, Lee is 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. The Rangers are 3-7 in Lee's starts. Despite starting the season on the disabled list, Lee has thrown 179 2/3 innings, the fourth-most in the AL.
* Washington said INF Alex Cora will play Saturday and Sunday against the A's. Cora will play second base both games. Andres Blanco will play shortstop on Sunday to give Elvis Andrus a day off. Cora has yet to start since he was activated this homestand.
* RHP Frank Francisco is available to pitch tonight. He warmed up yesterday and everything felt fine. So if the Rangers need him, he's ready to go.
* Cristian Guzman and Dustin Nippert were assigned to Double-A Frisco on a rehab assignment that's supposed to start today.
* A random note out of left field: Matt Harrison threw some two-seam fastballs at 96-98 mph on Monday. I asked him about that today, because I can't remember him ever throwing a two-seamer that fast (that was according to the radar gun on TV. That was the day the gun at the park didn't work). He said he couldn't remember ever throwing them that fast and figured it was because he knew Jim Thome was the only hitter he was facing and that he was particularly amped up. "I was overthrowing and the ball was even moving the other way," Harrison said. "A couple of guys mentioned it was really fast." Anyway, I just found it interesting.
"I was a couple of days away from shutting it down and thinking I wouldn't be playing this year," Cora said. "But the Rangers called and we got a deal done fairly quickly. I went to Oklahoma to find my timing and they decided I could help them. I just want to contribute and help this team."
Cora will see his first action soon, as manager Ron Washington plans on playing the infielder against one of the five lefties starting against the Rangers in the coming days.
"To wake up and be 8 1/2 games up in the division, that's a blessing," Cora said. "I stumbled into this one this year. It was a tough year in New York and I know I have to get better."
Cora hit .207 for the Mets with no homers and 20 RBIs in 169 at-bats. He's battled some injuries the last few years and hopes that a fresh start can help him regain his form. As Cora points out, he hasn't lasted in the majors because of a big bat. But he provides defense and can add some leadership to a team trying to make the playoffs.
"I'm not sure this clubhouse needs anything the way things are going," Cora said. "I was here five minutes and felt like a part of the family. That's a great thing and I think winning teams do that."
* David Murphy, who is not in the lineup tonight to get a day off, will also not play in one of the A's games against lefties this weekend. Washington just feels like Murphy has been grinding and wants to be sure he's rested. He'll rotate Murphy, Julio Borbon and Mitch Moreland out in the outfield the next five games.
* The Rangers will meet soon to discuss possible September call-ups. That could include some more speed for the bench, another catcher or two and some bullpen help. We'll get into some names later this week on the blog.
Now the task gets a little tougher: Beat the lefties.
The Twins have LHPs Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano on the mound the next two nights. The Rangers, by the way, will counter with two lefties of their own -- C.J. Wilson and Cliff Lee.
What hurts Texas right now is it's two best hitters against lefties -- Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler -- are on the disabled list. Cruz is batting .349 in 86 at-bats against LHP and Kinsler is hitting .403 in 67 at-bats. They have 19 RBIs against southpaws combined. Cruz is expected to go out on a rehab assignment Thursday and be back in the lineup on Monday when he's eligible. Kinsler could also start his rehab work later this week and hopes to be back by Sept. 1. That would certainly help the club against lefties.
But Texas has not fared particularly well recent against southpaw starters. Justin Ray at ESPN Stats & Information compiled a few numbers on that front:
* Since Aug. 7, the Rangers have faced four left-handed starters and have lost all four games. The opposing pitchers in those starts have a combined ERA of 0.62.
* In those four losses, Texas was outscored 19-7 facing four good, young starters in Gio Gonzalez, Jon Lester, David Price and Brian Matusz.
* It might surprise you to learn that overall this season, the Rangers are middle of the road against lefties. They are fifth in the AL in batting average at .269, and seventh in slugging percentage (.394) against lefties.
* Andres Blanco is coming off a great game, but has hit just .200 against lefties this season. I wonder if manager Ron Washington might consider going with Alex Cora, who was called up last night. Cora has not hit lefties well in limited at-bats this season (4-for-25), but the last three seasons has batted .264 (32-for-121) against them.
* Watch Vladimir Guerrero. He's batting .368 with five homers and 26 RBIs against left-handed pitching this season.
We'll see how the Rangers respond to these two lefties.
Cora has spent the last two season with the Mets. He appeared in 62 games for New York this season, batting .207 with 20 RBIs, before being released last week.
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