Texas Rangers: Baltimore Orioles

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Orioles 6

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers won the final game of the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. A few thoughts:

How it happened: Texas blew a 5-0 lead, but scored three runs in the seventh inning -- thanks in large part to Orioles mistakes -- and held on for the 8-6 victory.

What it means: The Rangers avoid a sweep and also get back to .500 for the season at 30-30. The Oakland Athletics lost to the New York Yankees, so the Rangers are now seven games back. They also are 14-15 at home.

Quick start: The first four batters for the Rangers reached base on Thursday and two of them scored on Mitch Moreland's single to left field. Texas had a chance to make it an even bigger inning but couldn't do it after Alex Rios struck out and Chris Gimenez hit into a double play. Still, Colby Lewis was handed an early lead.

Other way: Moreland, hitting just .182 in his last eight games prior to Thursday, didn't try to do too much on a 2-2 pitch. He shortened his swing and hit it to the left side of the infield, beating the shift (the ball bounded past where the shortstop normally would have been) for the two-run single.

Choice cut: Michael Choice blasted a two-run homer in the second inning, hitting it into the Rangers’ bullpen. It was Choice's fourth homer of the season and 20th and 21st RBIs. He has reached base in seven of his last nine games in the midst of some overall struggles. He was batting just .202 coming into the game.

Poor play: Leonys Martin made a bad decision in the third inning, attempting to steal third base with two outs. Martin had just stolen second base with Choice at the plate. But he then tried to steal third and was thrown out easily to end the inning. You hear coaches and managers talk about it all the time: Don't get thrown out at third to end an inning. Martin did, eliminating a chance for Choice to drive him in.

Lewis lets lead slip: Given a 5-0 lead, Colby Lewis wasn't able to hold it. He gave up two runs in the third and three in the fifth to allow the Orioles to tie the score. Adam Jones had two RBIs on a double to center with two outs in the inning. Martin took an odd route to the ball, tried to dive and then couldn't come up with it. Chris Davis, the former Rangers first baseman, singled home Jones to tie the score. Lewis finished giving up five earned runs on seven hits in five innings.

Orioles mistakes help Rangers: Baltimore's J.J. Hardy had a rough night, committing a career-high three errors. He had two costly ones in the seventh. Rougned Odor got a hit, then went to second on Hardy's wide throw. He advanced to third on Shin-Soo Choo's grounder and scored when Hardy couldn't handle the bouncer to short off the bat of Elvis Andrus. Odor scored the go-ahead run. The Rangers added from there as Adrian Beltre, Rios and Gimenez hit three straight singles to score two more runs.

Scheppers back in eighth: So much for easing Tanner Scheppers into the bullpen. With the Rangers up 8-5, Scheppers came in to handle the eighth inning, a role he had last season. The 27-year-old, fresh off the disabled list, gave up a leadoff home run to Jones but ended up getting a double play to end the frame with Rangers lead 8-6.

Briefly: Robbie Ross pitched two scoreless innings in a tie game. It was his third straight inning of scoreless relief. … Everybody in the starting lineup but Choo had a hit. … Former Rangers OF Nelson Cruz struck out three times against Lewis. … Officially, there were 770 dogs in attendance on Bark at the Park night.

Up next: Yu Darvish takes a 5-2 mark and a 2.08 ERA to the mound Friday against the Cleveland Indians and right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.63 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. CT on TXA21 and ESPN 103.3 FM.

Skipper trying to create offensive spark

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
ARLINGTON, Texas -– Manager Ron Washington is trying anything and everything -- conventional and unconventional -– to try to get his injury-riddled lineup to score runs in key situations.

He put on the bunt sign with the No. 6 hitter at the plate and a runner at first with no outs and his team down by one in the eighth on Wednesday. The skipper was willing to concede an out to put Alex Rios in scoring position with the bottom of the order coming up. Why?

“Trying to get back in the ballgame,” said Washington, whose Texas Rangers fell 6-5 to the Baltimore Orioles. “That’s why I did it. [Darren] O’Day is a ground-ball pitcher who’s very tough on right-handers. It wasn’t a very good matchup. So I’m trying to get a runner in scoring position and hope someone can deliver.”

[+] EnlargeDonnie Murphy
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanDonnie Murphy's bunt attempt was one of several maneuvers Ron Washington tried in order to spark the offense.
They couldn’t. Donnie Murphy’s bunt attempt wasn’t hit far enough in front of the plate and catcher Caleb Joseph pounced on it and threw Rios out at second base. Leonys Martin and Robinson Chirinos both got out quickly, ending the threat without ever getting a runner into scoring position.

“It was a tough guy to bunt off of and I didn’t get the job done,” Murphy said of O'Day's submarine pitching motion. “It happens. It was bad execution.”

In the ninth inning, still down by a run, Washington pinch hit for No. 3 hitter Mitch Moreland. How many teams are pinch hitting for the No. 3 hitter?

But with the state of the Rangers’ lineup, the manager had his reasons. There was a lefty on the mound, Orioles’ closer Zach Britton, and Washington figured he’d give Michael Choice, a right-handed batter, a shot over Moreland, who has struggled to hit lefties in his career. Of course, Choice was hitting just .203 coming into the game.

Such is life when Prince Fielder, the power hitter who was supposed to come up in a game-defining moment like that, is recovering from season-ending surgery.

Choice struck out to end the game. It came after Elvis Andrus had bunted his way on to lead off the inning, only to have Shin-Soo Choo hit into a double play on the next pitch to create an audible sigh among those still remaining at Globe Life Park.

“I’ve put on a bunch of hit-and-runs, we just haven’t been able to make the contact it takes to make them successful,” Washington said. “I’m trying to put the guys that swing the bat for us in position so they can drive in runs. It just hasn’t been happening. We’ll keep grinding and we’ll put it together. That’s all you can do.”

Washington is constantly rearranging his lineup and trying to figure out who can play in certain spots and how he can help the bats generate a spark. Some things don’t change, such as Adrian Beltre hitting in the middle of the order. Beltre had two home runs and all five Rangers RBIs and it wasn’t enough on Wednesday.

But the manager has to flip and flop and jumble parts of the rest of it. All the while, he’s willing to take some chances with putting runners on the move or getting them into position where the few RBI producers he has left can try to cash them in.

“He’s got to do what he’s got to do,” Murphy said of Washington. “I’m pretty sure this is not the lineup he was originally thinking of to start the year. So he has to mix and match and put people in situations where he thinks they can succeed and help the team. Right now, every day he has to do something different and we have to do our job. We can’t worry about where we’re hitting in the lineup. We just have to get our job done. We have to start doing that and I think we will.”

It didn’t work on Wednesday. But the manager won’t stop pushing buttons and trying whatever he can to help push this offense along. Without the big bats to do it for him, he doesn’t have much choice.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 6, Rangers 5

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Wednesday. Some quick thoughts:

How it happened: The Orioles broke a tie game with an RBI single from Nick Markakis in the sixth inning, shortly after the Rangers had tied the score. Nick Martinez ended up allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.

What it means: Texas drops to 29-30, and since the A's beat the Yankees, the Rangers are eight games back in the AL West. That's tied for the most games behind the A's the Rangers have been in the division this season. They were also eight back on May 20-21.

Early errors: The Rangers went with a backup right side of the infield on Wednesday with Elvis Andrus getting an off day and Adrian Beltre getting a bit of a break as the DH. That meant Donnie Murphy played third and Luis Sadrinas was at shortstop. Right away, that side of the infield got some action. Sardinas was under a two-out popup by Nelson Cruz, but it glanced off his glove for an error. That put Cruz at second and he scored when Adam Jones' hard grounder got past Rougned Odor. The ball might have been deflected, but Odor was in position and just couldn't quite make the play. It gave the Orioles an early lead.

Sardinas committed his second error of the game in the third inning, throwing high and wide of first base on what should have been a ground ball out off the bat of Cruz.

Beltre blasts: Adrian Beltre accounted for all five runs for the Rangers with two home runs, both with two outs. Baltimore starter Bud Norris gave up both homers. The first came in the first inning, as Beltre went the opposite way and hit the facade of the upper home run porch in right. The estimated distance was 401 feet and it was helped by a jet stream on Wednesday.

The second homer came with the Rangers down by three runs in the fifth. Beltre hit a three-run blast with two outs to right field to tie it with one swing. Beltre now has five two-out homers, the most on the team.

Bunt fails: After Alex Rios singled to start the eighth inning, No. 6 hitter Donnie Murphy attempted to bunt him over. But the bunt wasn't hit hard enough and catcher Caleb Joseph threw to second to get Rios. The Rangers didn't score in the inning.

Two-out success: The Rangers have the highest batting average with two outs in the big leagues: .271 coming into game. They were 5-for-14 on Wednesday. Odor and Rios are the best two-out hitters on the club.

Key two-out walk: Mitch Moreland drew a two-out walk in the first inning, making Beltre's blast a two-run homer to give the Rangers the lead. Moreland was behind 0-2 in that at-bat and managed to work a walk on nine pitches. That allowed the inning to continue. Moreland was also on base for Beltre's second home run, getting an infield single when his ball went off Norris' arm and rolled toward third base.

10-pitch AB matters: Sardinas, after a tough night in the field, had a nice 10-pitch at-bat that kept the fifth inning going. He hit a 3-2 fastball into center field with two outs. Moreland also got on and Beltre tied the game with a home run. But the two-out rally started with Sardinas. The shortstop ended up with three hits on the night.

Wasted chance: Rios doubled to start the fourth inning, but never crossed home plate. Donnie Murphy, Leonys Martin and Robinson Chirinos couldn't get a hit when needed with two strikeouts and a ground out. The club was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and up to that point was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the series. Beltre changed that with his home run in the fifth.

Crush Davis: For the second consecutive game, a former Ranger hit a home run against his old club. Chris Davis hit a jet stream-aided homer 380 feet to right in the fifth. Cruz hit a home run on Tuesday.

RISP struggles: Andrus pinch hit for Odor in the sixth inning with a runner at second base and two outs and grounded out to shortstop. Andrus is now 4-for-41 with runners in scoring position this season. Only Danny Espinosa is worse with at least 30 at-bats (3-for-43).

Up next: RHP Colby Lewis (4-4, 5.44 ERA) goes up against RHP Chris Tillman (5-2, 4.63 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Tillman takes the place of Miguel Gonzalez, who was scratched because of discomfort in his right side.

Cramping Cruz gives old team a jolt

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nelson Cruz nearly didn't take his scheduled at-bat in the eighth inning. His said his legs were cramping starting in the fourth inning, and manager Buck Showalter briefly considered pinch hitting for him.

But Cruz decided to make it a quick at-bat anyway, pounding the first pitch he saw from Shawn Tolleson deep into the left-field seats for a 404-foot blast that blew open what moments earlier was a tie score in the eighth inning.

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanNelson Cruz celebrates at the plate after his three-run homer in the eighth gave the Orioles a big lead late in Texas.
Cruz knew it was out as soon as he hit it. And he took his time rounding the bases to be sure he didn't injure himself.

"I was cramping the whole time," he said.

It was a dramatic home run. Cruz always did have a flair for the dramatic, especially in Arlington. Remember the grand slam in the 2011 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers? It seems that everything with Cruz is big. Big swings. Big misses. Big streaks. Big home runs in big moments.

The home run, not to mention Cruz's presence in an orange and black uniform, had some Rangers fans thinking it had been a big mistake not to re-sign him. But Cruz doesn't think about the "what if" or live in that past. He said he was surprised the market didn't materialize for him, but his reservation about taking the Rangers' one-year offer was that "the outfield was already set." Texas wanted Cruz as its DH; he still feels he can help a team in the outfield.

On Tuesday, he was in left field, a spot he rarely played in Arlington. But it was his bat that made an impact. So much of it was familiar. The quick swing. The speed of the bat. The ball getting out in a hurry.

Cruz admitted that it was "weird" to turn to his right and head to the visiting dugout after rounding the bases at Globe Life Park.

What didn't feel strange was the reception he received. If there was any question as to whether fans would still be upset about his 50-game suspension that contributed to the team's struggles down the stretch (missing the postseason after losing Game 163), it was answered in the first inning. Cruz was cheered. Some fans even stood to give him an ovation.

"They were always behind me when I was here," Cruz said. "I'm thankful for the fans."

Cruz said the decision last year to take the suspension and not appeal was a tough one, as he experienced pressure from various sides.

"That was a difficult time in my life," he said. "I think I went through all that, and it helped me be the player I am right now. I try to stay in the present and leave all that behind me."

He's thankful to be in Baltimore, where he continues to play well in the present. The streaky hitter has found some consistency outside of Texas. He's hitting home runs no matter which park the Orioles travel to, and he leads the league in both home runs (21) and RBIs (55). He's batting .313 on the season, good enough for top 10 in the AL.

Cruz is only adding to his totals in a park where he experienced so many memorable moments.

"It was fun," he said.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 8, Rangers 3

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
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.

W2W4: Familiar faces return to Arlington

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
The Texas Rangers return home for a nine-game homestand, starting tonight with three games against the Baltimore Orioles. A look at some things to watch during the series:

  • [+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
    Bob Levey/Getty ImagesNelson Cruz's status for the series with the Rangers is unclear after he was hit by a pitch Sunday.
    Nelson Cruz. His return to Texas is the big storyline of the series. But when might he play? Scott Feldman hit Cruz in the hand Sunday and he came out in the third inning. X-rays were negative, but Cruz didn't know if he'd be able to hold a bat and swing it in time for Tuesday's game. But you would think at some point he'll play and when he does, it will be interesting to see him back in Arlington.
  • Offensive momentum. Texas created a little of it during the recent road trip, scoring runs in bunches. The Rangers turned a one-run inning into two- or three-run frames, taking leads at crucial junctures in Detroit and Minnesota. But can they sustain it at home? Texas is hitting .280 as a team away from Arlington, but just .249 at home. The Rangers are scoring 3.8 runs per game at home and 4.5 on the road. To have a successful series and homestand, they must start hitting at Globe Life Park.
  • Alex Rios. The right fielder has been terrific with the bat, hitting .391 on the trip. He leads the team in RBIs. The Rangers will need him to post a solid June, starting with this series against the Orioles.
  • Colby Lewis. The veteran right-hander has been up and down of late. He gave up two runs in 5⅔ innings in Detroit (though he had five walks) in a blowout win. But Lewis surrendered five earned runs on nine hits in 5⅔ innings in a loss in Washington. He's expected to pitch twice on this homestand, so the Rangers need the Lewis who keeps his team in games, not the one who can give up early hits and runs and force Texas to play from behind.
  • Former Rangers. There are a slew of them on this Orioles team. Besides Cruz, manager Buck Showalter (a former manager of the year in Texas) brings some other familiar faces with him. Tommy Hunter is on the 15-day disabled list. But Darren O'Day will be available in the bullpen and, of course, Chris Davis will be at first base.

Many 'what ifs' as Cruz comes to Texas

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
Nelson CruzCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsNelson Cruz leads the big leagues with 20 homers and 52 RBIs and is sporting a .314 average.
At this moment, Texas Rangers fans don't know when or if Nelson Cruz will face his former team in a three-game series set to start tonight in Arlington. Blame another former Ranger: Scott Feldman. The right-hander hit Cruz on the hand and while X-rays were negative, it's uncertain whether he'll play in Tuesday's game.


Which Ranger most deserves to be an All-Star?


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But it's difficult not to imagine what the Rangers' lineup would be like with Cruz in it. Of all the moves the Rangers didn't make this offseason, that's the one I hear the most about from fans.

It was a crazy offseason for Cruz, who entered the marketplace amid reports that he was seeking something in the four-year, $75 million range. That came after Texas made a one-year qualifying offer of $14.3 million, which Cruz rejected as expected. Texas wasn't ever going to enter the fray in the four-year range. Turns out, no other team would, either. The waiting went from weeks to months for Cruz, who ended up having to look at one-year deals in an effort to increase his value for next offseason.

Jon Daniels, in a recent interview on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, said the club offered Cruz a multi-year deal at the Winter Meetings, but that at spring training there were "other factors at play." The decision to sign Shin-Soo Choo this offseason was a considerable financial commitment. And it signaled the club was looking in other directions. They gave Choo No. 17, which Cruz wore while in Texas, and they revamped the lineup. The signing meant the team lost a first-round pick in this week's draft, but they would gain one with Cruz's departure.

"We made the decision that we did to give our own guys an opportunity and keep the draft pick," Daniels said on 103.3 FM. "Nellie got a deal in Baltimore and is having a nice year."

It's June 3, but so far Cruz has accomplished his mission of increasing his value. The Rangers were still in on Cruz once the price dropped, but the Orioles made the one-year, $8 million offer and Cruz liked the idea of playing in Camden Yards, a park that clearly suits him. The Rangers made a last-minute offer, but envisioned Cruz as a DH. So he went to Baltimore, where the park and the playing time intrigued him.

In the process, it's Baltimore that has one of the best bargains of the offseason. Would things have been different had the Rangers offered more money on a one-year deal? Or would it have taken a more lucrative multi-year offer for a player who would have had to be willing to play DH? It's difficult to know. But there would have been more teams willing to take the chance on more than a one-year offer had they expected Cruz to hit like this. He leads the big leagues with 20 homers and 52 RBIs and is sporting a .314 average.

What's interesting is that Cruz has more homers on the road (13 in 32 games) than at home (seven in 22 games), despite the advantage of Camden Yards. He's hitting, it seems, no matter where the Orioles are playing.

(Read full post)

Texas manager impressed by Nelson Cruz

May, 1, 2014
May 1
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't at all surprised by how well Nelson Cruz is playing in Baltimore. Cruz, who was traded to the Rangers in 2006 and was a huge member of their World Series teams in 2010 and 2011, signed with the Orioles this offseason.

Cruz was hitting well in 2013 before having to serve a 50-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. He didn't get a contract until shortly before spring training, signing his one-year deal.

Cruz. 33, is batting .284 with seven homers and 25 RBIs through the first month of the season.

"I knew he would," Washington said. "That ballpark can’t hold Nelson, man. Nelson is streaky, but that ballpark right there -- that can’t hold Nelson. Nelson hits a popup and it’s gone.

"I’m not surprised by Nelson. He did it for us for awhile. He had moments where he struggled, but in the end he always had huge numbers. He can make a difference in your lineup and that’s what he’s doing in Baltimore. If he gets it elevated, it’s going out."

The Rangers tried to sign Cruz after his hopes for multi-year offers went away as the season approached. But he chose Baltimore because he wanted to play more outfield and the Rangers wanted him to be their primary DH.

So far, the move to Camden Yards has worked out for Cruz, who hopes to get a multi-year deal after the season.

Orioles (who else?) hire ex-Rangers coach

November, 13, 2013
For Texas Rangers fans, the Baltimore Orioles sure do look familiar. And they continue to stock former Ranger players and coaches. The latest addition: Dave Anderson.

Anderson, whose contract was not renewed by the Rangers after he served as first base coach and infield instructor last season, was hired by the Orioles on Wednesday as the minor league infield instructor.

"Defensively, they're the best team in baseball at the major league level," Anderson said by phone. "The front office is stable and they are headed in the right direction. They were one of the first teams to contact me. I was interested in the organization and what they have going on."

Anderson said it's a similar job to what he did at one point with the Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers in that he'll travel around during the season and work with the minor league infielders, working with all the clubs. He'll go to the Dominican Republic and spring training as well.

"My job is to try to get them better," Anderson said.

Anderson was the Rangers' third-base coach for four seasons until he switched to first base last year. He was the infield coach at the big league level all of those years.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 4, Rangers 2

July, 21, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles as their offense was again lifeless in a 4-2 loss on Sunday night.

The Rangers, losers of seven of their past eight games, dropped a game in the standings for the first time since the All-Star break, falling three games behind the first-place Oakland A's.

See ya Birds: The Rangers have lost their past five games to Baltimore, which swept a series at Rangers Ballpark for the first time since a four-game series in 2010. That series included the Rangers debut of Cliff Lee, who was hit hard and lost his start but then went on to help the Rangers reach the World Series for the first time.

Beltre homers late: Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers life with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth, a 440-foot home run that was the Rangers' first since Saturday at Detroit.

Perez grinds out start: Martin Perez didn't get much help from his defense and ended up allowing four runs in 6⅓ innings. He had some bad luck, too, as David Murphy lost a line drive in the sun to lead off the second inning, helping the Orioles take a 2-0 lead. The inning could have been worse. Perez pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs, striking out Nate McLouth and Manny Machado and getting Nick Markakis to ground out to second base. Perez had five strikeouts and a walk.

Defense falters: It started in the top of the second inning, when Murphy lost the line drive in the sun off the bat of Chris Davis. After Matt Wieters had an RBI single and J.J. Hardy had an infield hit, an error by Elvis Andrus on what should have been a force play, or maybe even a double play, loaded the bases for the Orioles. Brian Roberts followed with a run-scoring single, then Perez was able to work out of the jam.

More bad baserunning: The Rangers pride themselves on being aggressive on the bases. It's more like dreadful at this point. The Rangers made outs No. 68 and No. 69 on the bases Sunday night, tying Houston for the most in the league. Out No. 68 was particularly brutal. Murphy was out in a rundown between third and home plate on a play on which it would have been better off to hold him at third, even with two outs.

Rangers do finally score: The Rangers scored their first run on Ian Kinsler's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth that scored Andrus and then had Murphy thrown out between third and home. The Rangers have scored two runs or less in six of their past eight games.

Middle of the lineup struggles: The Rangers have a power outage from the heart of their lineup out of the break. Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski combined for a 1-for-12 night. Cruz struck out three times. Beltre flew out to right field three times before hitting his home run. Pierzynski didn't hit a ball out of the infield.

Up next: The Rangers begin a four-game home series against the New York Yankees on Monday night when right-hander Yu Darvish (8-4, 3.02 ERA) returns from the disabled list to face right-hander Ivan Nova (4-2, 3.63 ERA) at 6:05 p.m. on ESPN, Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM. The matchups for the rest of the series are: Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando (4-2, 2.93) versus right-hander Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.57) at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night; left-hander Derek Holland (8-5, 3.10) versus left-hander Andy Pettitte (7-7, 4.47) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night; and Rangers starter to be announced against Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (9-6, 2.65) at 1:05 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Lineup: Gentry batting 2nd, Cruz at DH

July, 21, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington went with his third No. 2 hitter in three games with Craig Gentry penciled in behind Ian Kinsler for Sunday's game against Baltimore.

2B Ian Kinsler
CF Craig Gentry
DH Nelson Cruz
3B Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
RF Leonys Martin
P Martin Perez

LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Danny Valencia
2B Brian Roberts
P Chris Tillman

Matchup: Martin Perez vs. Chris Tillman

July, 21, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers end a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles when left-hander Martin Perez faces Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman at 6:05 p.m. Sunday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

Perez (3-2, 3.00 ERA): Perez has provided a needed boost to a depleted Rangers starting rotation since he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22 … He has a 3-1 record and a 2.64 ERA in five starts, beating playoff contenders St. Louis, Cincinnati and Baltimore … He's averaged just over six innings per start and allowed 29 hits in 30 2/3 innings since his recall … Perez allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his most recent start against Detroit on July 14, giving up four hits, three of which were home runs … The one issue Perez has had is one that afflicts many young pitchers: Opposing hitters are batting .389 against him with two outs and runners in scoring position … Perez has made one start against Baltimore this season on July 9, allowing two runs in six innings … He had four strikeouts and a walk.

Tillman (1-3, 3.95 ERA): Tillman is fourth in the American League in wins and was a late addition to the American League All-Star team by Detroit manager Jim Leyland … Tillman had a seven-game winning streak snapped by the New York Yankees on July 6 … He was been hit hard this month, allowing eight runs in 11 1/3 innings … He's given up 18 hits, two of which were home runs … Tillman has a problem giving up the long ball, allowing 20 home runs in 111 2/3 innings, which is the sixth most in the AL … Tillman is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers … He beat Texas last season, allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Hitters: Nate McLouth is 2-for-3 against Perez. Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz and Geovany Soto have all hit home runs against Tillman in limited at-bats.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 7, Rangers 4

July, 20, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers are off to a slow start after the All-Star break. Baltimore jumped on Texas early and held off a late rally for a 7-4 victory on Saturday night.

The Rangers remained two games behind Oakland in the American League West. The Athletics lost for the second straight night to the Los Angeles Angels.

Not afraid of Big Bad Wolf: The Orioles jumped all over Rangers No. 5 starter Ross Wolf for seven runs and nine hits in two innings. Wolf, who has been outstanding in multiple roles for Texas, retired five of the 16 batters he faced. Wolf put the Rangers behind 2-0 in the first inning, allowing three consecutive singles to Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. Jones started a four-run third inning with a 421-foot home run to straightaway center field.

Cruz's night: Nelson Cruz had an adventure in right field. He mistimed his jump on a deep fly ball to right field that turned into a triple for Orioles leadoff hitter Nate McLouth in the second inning. He scored on Manny Machado's single. Then in the fourth inning Brian Roberts hit a line shot over Cruz's head for a two-run single, giving the Birds a 7-0 lead.

Bright spot: Jurickson Profar, in the lineup as the designated hitter, had singles in his first two at-bats. Profar entered the game with six hits in his past 40 at-bats.

Bright spot II: David Murphy had three more hits on Saturday night and is 4-for-5 so far after the All-Star break. His two-run single in the bottom of the eighth off former Ranger Tommy Hunter cut Baltimore's lead to 7-4. Murphy also had singles in the second and seventh innings.

Bright spot III: Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame before Saturday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez was presented with a Hall of Fame plaque in a pregame ceremony. Other Rangers Hall of Fame members on hand were Nolan Ryan, Jim Sundberg, Rusty Greer and John Wetteland.

Rangers finally score: Murphy had a single and Leonys Martin a double to set up the Rangers' first run. Ian Kinsler had a sacrifice fly to cut the Orioles' lead to 7-1.

Up next: The Rangers try to avoid a sweep when left-hander Martin Perez (3-2, 3.00 ERA) faces Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman (11-3, 3.95) at 6:05 p.m. Sunday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

Lineups: Cruz back in No. 3 spot

July, 20, 2013
Nelson Cruz returns to the lineup after missing Friday night's 3-1 loss with a migraine headache. Cruz is batting third in the lineup. He said his headache finally went away at noon on Saturday. "I feel much better," Cruz said.

Here are Saturday's lineups:

2B Ian Kinsler
DH Jurickson Profar
RF Nelson Cruz
3B Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
CF Leonys Martin
P Ross Wolf

LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Henry Urrutia
2B Brian Roberts
P Miguel Gonzalez

Matchup: Ross Wolf vs. Miguel Gonzalez

July, 20, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers try to even a three-game series with Baltimore when right-hander Ross Wolf faces Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez at 7:15 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas FM 103.3 and 1540-AM.

Wolf (1-2, 2.14 ERA): Wolf has been the Rangers' do-it-all man on the pitching staff, from starting two games to pitching in both short and long relief … He will start for the second time against the Orioles in nine days … Wolf pitched well against the Birds in Baltimore, allowing two runs in six innings in his first quality start … Both runs came on home runs to major league leader Chris Davis and Brian Roberts … Wolf retired 10 of the last 12 batters with both runners who reached erased on double plays … He is 0-1 with a 2.85 ERA in two career games against the Orioles … Wolf spent two minor league stints with the Birds.

Gonzalez (7-3, 3.48 ERA): Gonzalez has been on a good roll for the Orioles. He is 5-1 with a 2.49 ERA for his past seven starts … He's pitched at least six innings in all seven starts and has allowed one earned run in four of them … That included his start against the Rangers on July 11, when he allowed one earned run in 6⅔ innings in a 3-1 victory … Gonzalez has been prone to the home run ball, allowing 14 in 101 innings … The right-hander has been tougher on left-handed batters, limiting them to a .214 batting average and two home runs in 193 at-bats … He's allowed 12 homers to right-handed hitters in 178 at-bats … He is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Rangers.

Hitters: Ian Kinsler is 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs against Gonzalez. Davis is 2-for-4 with a home run and RBI against Wolf.



Adrian Beltre
.324 18 73 77
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 73
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182