Texas Rangers: Alexi Ogando

It didn't come as a surprise, but Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Thursday that second baseman Jurickson Profar's season is over. Profar hasn't played this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn teres major muscle in his right shoulder.

Daniels said Profar will undergo a MRI on August 12. If all goes well, Profar will start a throwing program in anticipation of getting ready to play in the instructional league in October.

"Our goal is to get him ready to play this winter," Daniels said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Losing Profar pushed another young player, Rougned Odor, to the majors. Odor made his debut May 8 and, at 20 years old and 94 days, was the youngest player to appear in a game this season. Odor has played 60 games at second base this season, more than anybody else on the team. The Rangers have used five second basemen in 2014.

Notes: Daniels also said that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff had a setback in his recovery from back surgery and had to undergo anorther procedure. He is also done for the year. ... Pitchers Alexi Ogando (elbow) and Tanner Scheppers (elbow) are not expected to return this season. Neither is expected to have surgery. ... Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (left ankle) are also out for the season. "If we had been in the pennant race we could have pushed it [with Fielder]," Daniels said. "It just doesn't make sense based on where we are now."

Extra Bases: Not-so-sweet home

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For years, the Texas Rangers have enjoyed a sizable home-field advantage. But in 2014, things have changed considerably. After starting the season 9-3 in Arlington, the Rangers are 4-12 in their past 16 games at home and just 13-15 in Arlington overall.

Wednesday's loss means the club is 0-4-2 in its past six home series.

No one seems to have an explanation. The numbers tell a story of the offense's inability to score runs. When has that been said about a Texas team at home? The Rangers have scored 27 runs in their past nine home games and went 2-7 in that span. For the entire season, the Rangers are 11th in the AL in runs and 13th in batting average at home.

[+] EnlargeTanner Scheppers
AP Photo/Kim Johnson FlodinTanner Scheppers' return to health comes at a perfect time.
The only team in the AL West with a worse home record is Houston.

The offensive woes don't mean the pitching staff goes without blame, however. The staff ERA of 4.34 is 11th in the AL.

If this team is to claw back in the race and hang around in the wild-card hunt, they've got to start playing better at home.

Bullpen dominoes: Things are getting ready to get interesting in the Rangers' bullpen. It's a unit that is fifth in the AL in innings pitched, thanks to the starters' inability to consistently go deep into games.

Tanner Scheppers, who needed just six pitches in a successful rehab start Tuesday, appears just about ready to return to a relief job with the big league club. They certainly need him. With Alexi Ogando on the disabled list and some inconsistencies all over the pen, a healthy and hard-throwing Scheppers would give manager Ron Washington another late-inning piece.

Ogando's right elbow inflammation actually gives the club an opportunity. They recalled Aaron Poreda, a left-handed pitcher, and put him in the bullpen, which means they could send Robbie Ross, who has options, down when Scheppers returns. And, with Poreda there, they wouldn't have to worry about being down a lefty.

Ross is 1-4 with a 4.94 ERA this season. He was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen a few weeks ago and has pitched four times in relief, giving up four runs in 6 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .433 against him. Why not option him to Triple-A Round Rock so he can find some confidence?

Neftali Feliz keeps making a push toward returning at some point soon too. Feliz is getting his velocity back (a scout told me he was 92-93 mph on Tuesday but has touched 96 a few times in his past few outings) and pitching well in Round Rock now. He's another option that could improve the Rangers' bullpen.

Stay tuned.

Meeting time: The Rangers' hitters had a brief meeting on Wednesday. They typically only meet prior to new series, which they did Tuesday, but they quickly gathered as a group prior to stretching Wednesday. Maybe that's because they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday and 10-for-59 with runners in scoring position in the past seven games, prior to Wednesday.

Alexi Ogando struggles to find consistency

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
11:25
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was a time, just three years ago, when Alexi Ogando was one of the biggest bullpen weapons in the big leagues. His electric fastball and devastating slider presented manager Ron Washington with all kinds of ways to use him. He could give you more than one inning, if needed. He could come in and pitch to the toughest hitter on the team in a critical situation late. He could even close, when necessary.

Now, it's tough to know what you're going to get when Ogando takes the mound. His fastball has lost a few miles per hour, making his secondary stuff a little less effective. He used to be able to blow balls by hitters. That's not happening much anymore.

On Tuesday, the Rangers had just tied the score at 2-2 on catcher Robinson Chirinos' home run when Ogando came in to pitch against the bottom of the Baltimore order in the eighth. He got an out to start things, but then gave up a single to Delmon Young, hit Jonathan Schoop and then surrendered a double to No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph, who came in batting .069.

Ogando got ahead of Joseph 0-2, and Chirinos called for a slider. Ogando shook him off and wanted to throw his fastball down and away.

"It came inside," Ogando said through an interpreter. "That's not where I wanted it."

The double gave the Orioles some breathing room and touched off a six-run inning that culminated in Nelson Cruz's homer off Shawn Tolleson, the third reliever used in the inning. It turned a 2-2 game into an eventual 8-3 rout.

"He wasn't executing," Washington said. "He tried to go inside and hit a guy. He tried to away and left a ball up. He wasn't executing."

Ogando was pitching better before Tuesday, giving up one run in 8 2/3 innings over the past eight games to drop his ERA nearly three full runs. But in those outings, he was still issuing walks and having to pitch out of jams. He's been worked a lot early in the season and the club has tried to give him some breaks. But the drop in velocity means Ogando isn't getting away with mistakes with the pitch like he used to and his pitches have flattened a bit.

Ogando has worked on getting his arm angle up a bit to help keep those pitches from flattening, but it's something he's still trying to get with consistency.

"The more he pitches, the better he gets," Washington said. "We've been able to give him the ball and give him multiple innings, and he's been pitching well. [Tuesday] was one of those nights where he didn't get the job done."

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 8, Rangers 3

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
10:23
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers 8-3 on Tuesday. Some quick thoughts:

How it happened: The Orioles scored six runs in the eighth inning, three of them off the bat of Nelson Cruz, to break open a tie game and get the win. The Rangers had tied the game in the seventh, but Baltimore immediately retook the lead and control of the game.

What it means: Texas drops to .500 and has lost three of its past four games. Seattle's win means the Rangers are fourth in the division.

Rough eighth: In a tie game, Alexi Ogando let things slip away. With one out, he gave up an infield single to Delmon Young, hit Jonathan Schoop on the shoulder and then gave up an 0-2 double to No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph, who came in with a .069 batting average. Ogando only gave up two runs but set in motion a tumultuous inning. Neal Cotts and Shawn Tolleson couldn't stop the Orioles either.

Cruz missile: Cruz didn't disappoint in his return to Arlington, crushing the first pitch he saw from Tolleson many rows deep in left field. It was estimated at 404 feet. Cruz knew it was gone as soon as he hit it and took his time going around the bases. He heard some cheers and then caused a bunch of fans to head for the exits with the Orioles up 8-2.

Most of the Rangers' fans gave Nelson Cruz a nice reception each time he walked to the plate. More on that here.

Relief star: Jason Frasor came in and made sure the Orioles didn't increase their slim lead in the seventh. With runners on at first and second with no outs, Frasor struck Manny Machado out looking (after Machado didn't get a bunt down on two attempts), got Cruz out with a 93 mph fastball on a 3-2 pitch that jammed him and retired Chris Davis on a fly ball to right with the bases loaded. That kept the Rangers' deficit to just one run.

Catching power: Robinson Chirinos made sure Frasor's terrific seventh inning was a momentum builder as he hit a home run to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Chirinos' ball went out 383 feet to left-center. Cruz went back and stood against the wall but didn't have a chance to get it.

Wasted chances: The Rangers had a runner in scoring position in the fifth and sixth but couldn't get a run. Chirinos doubled to start the fifth and went to third on Rougned Odor's bunt. But Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus both struck out to end the inning. Alex Rios' one-out walk in the sixth put Adrian Beltre at second base, but Michael Choice popped out and Leonys Martin grounded out.

Big back up: Chirinos made a key stop on an errant throw from Rios in right field. The throw was high and wide of Mitch Moreland at first, and Chirinos was able to catch it on a bounce before it went into the camera well beside the Rangers' dugout. That play kept J.J. Hardy at first base, and he was not able to score on Schoop's double. Backing up a throw might seem like a little thing, but it was a big deal in that inning.

Great gloves: The Orioles showed why they are the best defensive team in the league. Two plays in the third inning were particularly impressive, as Davis made a diving stop to his right and flipped to first to get Choo. Shortstop Hardy made a backhand stab in the hole and threw to first to barely get Andrus. Manager Ron Washington came out to argue briefly, but replays showed Andrus was out. Odor showed off his glove too, making a couple of nice plays charging the ball on bouncers to second.

Up next: RHP Nick Martinez (1-1, 2.75 ERA) is on the mound for the Rangers. RHP Bud Norris (3-5, 4.04 ERA) is on the hill for the Orioles.

Ogando's pitching hand OK after line drive

May, 18, 2014
May 18
1:39
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers finally got a piece of good news concerning injuries.

Right-handed reliever Alexi Ogando is OK with nothing more than a bruise after being struck on his pitching hand with a line drive off the bat of Brett Lawrie in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Toronto.

“He got the ball on the palm of his hand,’’ said Rangers manager Ron Washington.

The manager said he’ll refrain from using Ogando for Sunday’s 2:05 start in the series finale against Toronto, “but he should be ready for Tuesday.’’

The Rangers begin a two-game series against American League West foe Seattle at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Globe Life Park.

Ogando walked the first two batters he faced before being struck by what turned out to be an infield hit for Lawrie.

It has been a struggle of late for Ogando, a mainstay of the pitching staff in various roles since 2010. He has been touched for nine earned runs in his last five innings and his ERA has climbed to 7.64.

Washington said pitch location has been Ogando’s problem. “Not putting the ball where he wants to put it. It’s a normal thing for pitchers,’’ the manager said. Neither velocity nor slider movement is an issue.

In five seasons, Ogando is 27-15 with a 3.32 ERA.

Prince Fielder: There will be 15,000 Fielder bobbleheads presented to fans at today’s game. But the man himself will not be at Globe Life Park. Washington has given Fielder a pass since he wasn’t going to be able to play, anyway. The first baseman on Saturday received an injection for a herniated disc in his neck and missed last night's 4-2 loss to Toronto, snapping a streak of 547 games played.

Rougned Odor: The Rangers second baseman was a late lineup scratch because of a sore right wrist. Luis Sardinas replaces him and will bat ninth.

Daniel Robertson: In a roster move before the game, Robertson, a 28-year-old outfielder, was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock. To clear a spot, right-handed reliever Miles Mikolas was sent to Round Rock.

Elvis Andrus: The Rangers shortstop is hitless in his last 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Said Washington: “Elvis is not an RBI guy. It would help if he could pick up some of those runs. But his game is to get on base and score.’’
HOUSTON -- Tanner Scheppers threw 25-30 pitches Tuesday afternoon, but he’s not sure when he’ll be ready to pitch for the Rangers.

Or what role he’ll have when he returns.

“I don’t think I have guarantees on this staff,” Scheppers said. “I don’t think I showed anything to prove me to be a guaranteed starter.

“I wasn't fully healthy when I was throwing. I was throwing through some stuff. Hopefully, they put that into the equations, but it’s out of my control.”

Scheppers is 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA this season. He’s allowed 27 hits in 18 and one-third innings with only 13 strikeouts and eight walks.

And he’s allowed four homers. He allowed six all of last season.

(Read full post)

W2W4: Red Sox at Rangers

May, 9, 2014
May 9
12:00
PM CT
The Texas Rangers host the world champion Boston Red Sox in a three-game weekend series at Globe Life Park.

It's the only time the Red Sox visit Arlington this season and tickets are a hot item with less than 2,000 reserved seats remaining for Friday's 7:05 p.m. CT start. Only single, obstructed-view and standing-room tickets are left for Saturday's game, and less than 8,000 reserved remain for Sunday.

Both teams are hovering around the .500 mark. Texas (18-17) is third in the AL West and the Red Sox (17-17) are fourth in the AL East.

Some things to watch:

* The Rangers swept the Red Sox in a three-game series in May a year ago and have fared well at home against Boston in recent seasons. Boston took two of three from the Rangers in April at Fenway Park.

* Popular former Ranger Mike Napoli, greeted warmly on his return to Texas last year, makes a triumphant return along with other former Rangers Koji Uehari and A.J. Pierzynski.

* Leonys Martin likes hitting in Globe Life Park. He owns a 10-game hitting home hitting streak. But against the Red Sox, Martin is a career .200 hitter (4-for-20).

* Adrian Beltre, a former Sox star, hit .429 against his former team in an April visit to Fenway. With a pair of home runs this week, Beltre appears to be getting back his power stroke. His most recent home run made him the fifth player all-time to have at least 100 home runs with three different teams. He had 147 for the Dodgers, 103 for the Mariners and 100 with the Rangers.

* Alexi Ogando has played an important role in the Rangers' bullpen in years past, but is in a downturn at the moment. His ERA is 8.44 after giving up six hits and four earned runs in a loss at Colorado on Tuesday.

Extra Bases: Harrison searches for '12 form

May, 8, 2014
May 8
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Matt Harrison, 2012 was a good year. He won 18 games and showed he could make at least 30 starts for the second straight season. He was consistent, giving his team at least six innings of quality baseball nearly every outing and sporting a 3.29 ERA by the time it was over. It was after that season that Harrison earned a long-term deal with the Rangers.

Then the injury bug halted his momentum. He had one more surgery than starts in 2013 -- two back surgeries and surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome -- and missed nearly the whole season. His return in spring training was slowed by some back stiffness, forcing him to make his debut three weeks into the season.

[+] EnlargeMatt Harrison
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerMatt Harrison's recent injuries have kept him from returning to the pitcher he was in 2012.
Now, Harrison is searching for what he had in 2012, knowing that's the starting pitcher the Rangers need in the rotation.

"It's getting there," Harrison said. "Sometimes it's hit-and-miss with the mechanics. I'm trying to get back to where I was in 2012 and slowly but surely, it's getting back there and it's little tweaks here and there to fix stuff. I want to get better day-to-day to get back to where I was before."

Harrison lasted only 4 1/3 innings thanks to a high pitch count in Anaheim last week. He gave up three runs and 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in a 5-3 loss.

Harrison blamed back mechanics, saying he was opening up too much, causing his pitches to move laterally more than they should. He had an extended bullpen session -- 70 pitches -- to fix the problem.

"At the end, it was much better," Harrison said.

It's the first time Harrison has pitched on regular rest, rather than extended rest. He thinks that could help him get on a roll with his in-between start routines.

He'll go up against Rockies lefty Franklin Morales at 7:05 p.m. tonight.

(Read full post)

W2W4: Rangers at Colorado Rockies

May, 5, 2014
May 5
12:00
PM CT
Prince Fielder AP Photo/LM OteroPrince Fielder had his first three-hit game as a Ranger on Sunday. Will he keep it going in Colorado?
For the first time this season, the Texas Rangers play at a National League opponent with the odd two-game series in Colorado. The Rockies then come to Arlington for two games, so it's essentially a four-game series without either team having a home-field advantage. Some things to watch:

* Pitchers get to hit. Martin Perez and Robbie Ross are the starting pitchers, so they better have their bats ready. Don't be looking for any huge swings. Manager Ron Washington has made it clear that he wants his pitchers taking it easy and not risking injury at the plate (Remember Alexi Ogando trying to beat out a bunt in San Francisco in 2012?). Ross is 0-for-2 in his big league career with his last at-bat coming in San Francisco in 2012. He scored a run in that game. Perez is 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. His last at-bat was June of last year in St. Louis.

In case you're curious, several of the Rangers' pitchers claim that Ogando can swing the bat pretty well and make contact. Perhaps that's because he used to be an outfielder. In any case, he's 3-for-6 in his big league career in interleague games with a run scored. It's been all or nothing for Ogando: His three outs were all strikeouts.

* Prince Fielder. He had his first three-hit game as a Ranger on Sunday, including two RBI doubles. If he's truly starting to get things going, that should be evident in these next four games. He's worth keeping an eye on.

* J.P. Arencibia. The catcher couldn't do much of anything in April, but had a terrific game in Sunday's win over the Angels, hitting a home run and driving in a run on a sacrifice fly. Robinson Chirinos is clearly the starting catcher, but it will be interesting to see if Washington tries to get Arencibia a little more time to see if he can get into some kind of a better rhythm and build off Sunday.

(Read full post)

Skipper trying to figure out bullpen depth

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
7:45
AM CT
Sunday's ending in Seattle was a surprising way to end what was looking like a very solid road trip for the Texas Rangers. And in many ways it was still solid, sweeping the Oakland A's and finishing the six games tied with the A's for first.

But like so many things in life, it's how you finish and not how you start (ask the Dallas Stars this morning). The Rangers open a three-game series tonight with the A's. It's a good time to have Yu Darvish on the mound after the eighth-inning meltdown Sunday. Actually, Texas had two eighth-inning meltdowns in the series in Seattle, which cost them a chance to take the AL West lead all by themselves.

Rangers
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezAlexi Ogando threw an awful pitch to Kyle Seager, who didn't miss it for the go-ahead three-run homer Sunday.
The great thing about baseball is that there are so many opportunities to make decisions that have ripple effects. While the discussion can be fun and the strategy intriguing, it's also a reminder of how difficult it is to be a big-league manager. One decision to pitch to a certain batter or put a particular pitcher in the game can decide things, both good and bad.

Manager Ron Washington (along with his coaching staff) was in that position late in Sunday's game. The Mariners had chipped away at the lead and Washington was hoping to give his winning bullpen pieces a day off. Up 5-0, that looked promising. It was 5-2 when Shawn Tolleson came in and it became a two-run game fairly quickly after that.

So do you go with Jason Frasor in the seventh inning when it's a two-run game? Washington said no. He explained afterward that other pitchers have to get outs in the bullpen. That it can't always come down to the same arms, who risked being overworked. The skipper is right, of course. And April is the time to find some of that out. He did that with Aaron Poreda on Saturday and it worked. But when the other arms don't get it done and a 5-0 lead dwindles, it's natural for criticism to follow.

(Read full post)

Rangers bullpen holding its own with A's

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
7:45
AM CT
Shawn TollesonKelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsShawn Tolleson is one of several relievers who have made the pen an early bright spot for Texas.

So much for conventional wisdom. April in the American League West is yet another reminder of why you have to play the games before you can truly figure out where everyone stands. It's not a surprise that the top three teams in this division are the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels. On paper, those are the three best teams. Sure, the Seattle Mariners improved during the offseason, but it takes more than one $240 million player to compete with the trio at the top over the long haul.

What is surprising is how the Rangers have managed to win games despite all of their injuries. We've talked a bunch about this club's supersubs and how this rotation has come together. Heck, on Tuesday, the Rangers were playing with Michael Choice at leadoff, Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy in the lineup and a Double-A spot starter on the mound. And they won.

But there's another big reason for the club's early success: the bullpen. Texas has put together a group that is confident and comfortable in their roles, while Oakland's relief corps, considered one of the best in baseball, hasn't looked as good as billed, especially in the ninth.

Consider how good the Athletics' record might be if they hadn't blown six saves. Six! On the season, they have more blown saves than saves (five). Only the Chicago White Sox have a worse percentage in the league. This is a case in which the other numbers look better than they appear. Oakland's pen has a 2.55 ERA, second in the league. The A's are holding opponents to a .198 batting average against, the best in the league. But the relievers throw the second-most pitches per inning in the AL, and in crunch time -- when you need those final three outs in the ninth -- they haven't consistently done the job. Jim Johnson was moved out of the closer's role, and replacement Luke Gregerson hasn't found his rhythm. The A's were in position to win the first two games of their recent series with Texas and couldn't close the deal. They had Wilson, a backup utility infielder, down to his final strike in the ninth Tuesday and still lost the game.

The Rangers' bullpen doesn't have the gaudy numbers of the A's'. The Rangers are in the middle of the AL in ERA, nearly two runs higher than the A's. Opponents are hitting .259 off them. But Texas also has the third-most holds in the league, has blown only two saves and has a quartet of pitchers who are nailing games down late in winning or close situations. Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria have delivered. Others are contributing in key spots, too: Shawn Tolleson was called upon to keep things tight Tuesday and did so, allowing the Rangers a chance to make the comeback in the ninth.

(Read full post)

W2W4: Rangers' first trip to Oakland

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
1:00
PM CT
RangersTom Pennington/Getty ImagesWill Kevin Kouzmanoff and Prince Fielder's bats stay hot as the Rangers head to Oakland?
The Texas Rangers and Oakland A's face each other for the first three games of 19 between the two this season. The A's are the two-time defending AL West champions and once again find themselves at the top of the division. The Rangers, thanks to a solid homestand, are right with the A's, making this series particularly interesting this early in the season. A few things to watch:

* Bullpens. Oakland has had one of the best bullpens in the big leagues for years, but it's gone through some flux this year. Still, the A's relief ERA is second to the Red Sox in the AL. Jim Johnson lost his closer job after a rough start, but the A's have cobbled together enough arms to get the job done. The Rangers' bullpen had a slow start, but has come on of late as players have figured out their roles. Alexi Ogando has improved and has provided some late-inning relief to get the game to closer Joakim Soria. If these games are close -- and they should be -- watch those bullpens.

* Yu Darvish. The Rangers' ace goes Monday to lead off the series in a place where he hasn't had much success. In two starts in Oakland (one in each of the last two years), Darvish is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA. Walks have been the biggest reason as he's had 12 in those two starts (10 1/3 innings) and three homers allowed. He has just eight strikeouts in those outings.

* Run support. Darvish has allowed just two runs in 22 innings this season and has just two runs of support. Can the offense give him a little more to work with in Oakland? Two of the hitters that bother Darvish the most are Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Moss, who are both hitting over .300 in their careers off Darvish.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, White Sox 3

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
10:09
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers ran their winning streak to five with a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night at Globe Life Park.

The comeback of Colby Lewis was the big story. Lewis got the win in his second start since last pitching in the majors in July 2012 -- sidelined by hip and elbow surgeries.

Lewis got a warm ovation, with many of the 44,811 fans at Globe Life Park standing when manager Ron Washington made the call to a reliever with one out in the sixth.

Lewis had great command, throwing strikes on 59 of his 85 pitches. He walked one and left with a 5-1 lead. The most impressive aspect of his night was allowing only one run in the second inning after the Sox loaded the bases with no outs. A double-play ball by Alexei Ramirez and a strikeout of Tyler Flowers limited the damage.

Good ole Mr. Wilson: The key hit of the night belonged to Josh Wilson. The Rangers second baseman, batting at the bottom of the order, lined a two-out, two-run single to left field in the fourth inning to increase the Texas lead to 4-1. Wilson scored a few moments later on a double by Shin-Soo Choo.

Closing shop: Alexi Ogando scuffled in the eighth inning, allowing two runs, but otherwise, it was another solid night for the Rangers' bullpen. With the potential tying run on base, Ogando was able to induce Ramirez to ground into his second double play of the night.

Prince finds HR porch: The fourth inning was a very good one for Prince Fielder. After a couple of nice defensive plays in the top of the inning, Fielder led off with his second home run of the season to stake the Rangers to a 2-1 lead. Texas went on to score three more in the frame. Fielder's home run into the lower deck of the right-field stands traveled an estimated 388 feet.

Strong D: Perhaps overlooked this homestand -- since the three-error game on Monday against the Seattle Mariners -- has been solid defensive play by the Rangers. No infielder has been charged with an error since Monday. The Rangers' overall errorless streak of 29 innings ended in the fourth on an errant throw by catcher Robinson Chirinos. Standout catches were made by Alex Rios and Leonys Martin.

Kouz goes deep: Kevin Kouzmanoff extended his hit streak to 10 games by hitting his second home run of the season to lead off the eighth. He’s hit safely in every game since joining the team.

Quick start: For the third straight game and the fourth time this homestand, the Rangers grabbed a lead in the first inning. The first three batters hit safely. Rios, playing against his former team, delivered the RBI with an opposite-field double. Rios, who finished with three hits, had said the previous night after a 12-run outburst that hitting is contagious.

No challenge: A couple of close out calls on Rangers baserunners gave Washington thought of using the new challenge system. Elvis Andrus was tagged out in a rundown at first base in the first inning, and Martin was caught stealing an inning later. In both cases, Washington refrained, but he did have a chat with umpire John Tumpane on the Martin call.

Up next: The Rangers send Robbie Ross (1-0, 1.00 ERA) to the mound in the conclusion of the 10-game homestand on Sunday. He will be opposed by Erik Johnson (0-1, 6.35 ERA) in a 2:05 start on KLIF 570 and Fox Sports Southwest.

Stock Report: Bullpen up, offense down

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's Friday and that means we take stock of how various parts of the Texas Rangers have done over the past week.

STOCK UP

Streaking
Bullpen. After a shaky start to the season, the bullpen seems to have jelled into a cohesive group that has fairly defined roles. Alexi Ogando, who struggled in the spring so much that he lost his starting job and began the season poorly, has come around and is looking a little more like the guy who pitched so well in relief a few years ago. Jason Frasor brings a veteran presence. Joakim Soria has closing experience and even pitchers who the club is still figuring out -- such as Pedro Figueroa and Shawn Tolleson -- have improved in the past week. The group has some more confidence.

Kevin Kouzmanoff. So far, he's filled in very well for the injured Adrian Beltre, who can not return until April 25 thanks to a disabled list stint because of his strained left quad. Kouzmanoff has hit safely in every game he has played in a Rangers uniform and has shown a penchant for extra-base hits. Few can defend at third base like Beltre, but Kouzmanoff has done a solid job in the field.

Walk-offs. The Rangers have had four this season and two in this current homestand. Robinson Chirinos was the hero April 11 against Houston, a 1-0 win in 12 innings and Leonys Martin delivered an RBI single in the ninth Wednesday. Both walk-off wins in this homestand occurred in Yu Darvish starts.

Leonys Martin. He did it all during the Mariners series. He played solid defense, delivered a game-winning hit and has become a terrific bunter. The only thing he didn't do was yell loud enough (or low enough) for Shin-Soo Choo to hear him Wednesday on a pop fly to center. Martin is making a difference in the bottom of the order.

STOCK DOWN

Slumping

Hitting with runners in scoring position. It has not been a strong suit for this team, though they were a bit better in those situations Thursday. Still, the team is 11-for-71 (.155) with runners in scoring position in the past eight games.

Offensive catchers. The Rangers aren't getting much offensive production from their catchers. J.P. Arencibia had two RBIs Thursday but neither came on hits. He's hitting .071 on the season and Chirinos is batting .160. That doesn't mean the catchers haven't played well in other facets, but as far as hitting goes, it has not been solid.

Defense. The Rangers lead the AL with 15 errors in 16 games. And in the Seattle series alone they had a few other mistakes that weren't scored errors (but perhaps could have been). This team still isn't as crisp as manager Ron Washington would like it with the gloves or their arms, though middle infielders Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy have done a good job filling in when out there.

Tanner Scheppers. Big innings have cost Scheppers in three of his four starts and it was a six-run third that ended his afternoon Thursday (the bullpen and offense bailed him out). We'll see if he gets another shot to start when it's his turn in the rotation Tuesday, but he's got to find a way to minimize damage.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Mariners 6

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
4:35
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was a strange day at Globe Life Park as neither starting pitcher could do much of anything. The Rangers had a 4-0 lead, lost it and then managed to snag the advantage back in the fifth and hang on for an 8-6 victory. Texas takes three out of four from the Mariners in the process and has won three straight games for the first time since the last week of the regular season in 2013, when they won seven straight to force Game 163. It's also the first time this season the Rangers have been two games above .500. Some thoughts:

Big inning hurts Scheppers (again): Tanner Scheppers couldn't get through the third inning Thursday. After talking about the need to minimize damage when a five-run inning hurt him in his last start, Scheppers wasn't able to do it. Staked to a 4-0 lead, he gave it all back in two swings -- consecutive home runs from Robinson Cano (his first with the Mariners this season) and Corey Hart. Scheppers ended up allowing six runs (two scored with Hector Noesi on the mound) on six hits in his outing with three walks and two strikeouts. He's allowed 20 runs this season and 17 of those have come in three big innings -- two six-run innings and a five-run inning.

First-inning runs: The Rangers came into Thursday's game with three first-inning runs all season. They scored three with two outs to give Scheppers the lead. After an Elvis Andrus double, Alex Rios struck out for the second out. The Mariners walked Prince Fielder intentionally to pitch to the red-hot Kevin Kouzmanoff. It didn't work. Kouzmanoff doubled to drive home the first run. Mitch Moreland then delivered a two-out, two-run single to center to make it 3-0.

Two-strike hits: All four runs scored in the first two innings by the Rangers came on two-strike counts. Texas came into the game batting .208 in those situations, good enough for third in the AL (two teams have .209 averages). The Rangers increased that average Thursday and did it early. The most impressive at-bat came from Kouzmanoff, who fell behind 0-2, worked it back to 2-2 and hit the eighth pitch for a double. The Rangers also had a two-strike bunt by Leonys Martin in the third that helped score a run when J.P. Arencibia grounded out to the left side of the infield, scoring Moreland.

Kouzmanoff hot: The Rangers' fill-in third baseman just continues to hit, increasing his streak of hitting safely to eight games (that's all that he's played in a Rangers uniform). Kouzmanoff hit doubles in his first two at-bats and has three multi-hit games since getting called up. The Mariners walked Fielder twice to pitch to Kouzmanoff. It didn't work in the first, but it did in the seventh.

Fielder can't cash in: The slugger got two chances with runners in scoring position Thursday and wasn't able to convert. The struggling slugger is now 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position this season. One of those chances came with the count already at two strikes. Rios, who has vowed to stay aggressive on the bases even with Fielder hitting behind him, stole second base and went to third on an errant throw by catcher John Buck.

Relief respect: The Rangers bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings Thursday and didn't allow a run. Hector Noesi gave up some hard hits, but both of the runs he gave up were inherited runners charged to Scheppers. Pedro Figueroa, Jason Frasor, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria got the job done.

Small ball: Martin was asked to put down sacrifice bunts twice Thursday with runners at first and second. He converted both times, and Arencibia, behind him, hit ground balls to score a run in each frame. The bunt eliminated the chance at a double play and Arencibia did what he had to by hitting the ball on the ground. The average won't be helped, but the catcher did his job in those situations.

Up next: The Chicago White Sox come to town with LHP Martin Perez (2-0, 2.70 ERA) opposing RHP Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.325 17 67 66
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 67
RA. Beltre 66
OPSA. Beltre .876
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182