Texas Rangers: Brandon Inge

Ron Washington stands behind choices

July, 18, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. — Say this for Ron Washington. He doesn’t second-guess himself.

Plenty of questions awaited the Texas Rangers’ manager when he trudged back to his office following Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Oakland A’s. Questions about pitching changes and bunts, decisions that all backfired.

Washington didn’t hesitate to answer any of them. He said exactly what he was thinking and why he believed his decisions were right, even though they didn’t work.

“We had the right people in,” Washington said. “We just didn’t get the job done.”

[+] EnlargeMichael Kirkman
AP Photo/Eric RisbergMichael Kirkman walks off the field in Oakland after giving up a walk-off home run to Brandon Hicks.
The game’s ultimate decision was to leave lefty Michael Kirkman in to start the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, instead of bringing in right-hander Mike Adams or even closer Joe Nathan. Kirkman, who had pitched a scoreless eighth, gave up a walk-off homer to Brandon Hicks on the third pitch of the inning.

“With the hitters coming up behind (Hicks), we thought we’d get an opportunity to turn the lineup around,” Washington said. “We never got there.”

The three hitters following Hicks included two switch-hitters (Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks) and a lefty (Josh Reddick). Washington said he wanted all three to face a lefty. (Crisp has hit worse against lefties this year, but Weeks is actually better against lefties.)

Unfortunately for the Rangers, Kirkman miscalculated on his 1-1 pitch to Hicks.
He thought Hicks was looking for a fastball, so he threw a changeup, which he left up, and Hicks belted it over the fence in right-center for his first career homer.

It was the second time Washington’s pitching logic failed to produce the desired result. In the seventh, he had left-hander Robbie Ross stay out for a second inning, even though Alexi Ogando was warm in the pen and a right-handed hitter, Brandon Inge, was due to hit first.

Inge was hitting .184 against lefties this season. And there were three consecutive switch-hitters after him, although the A’s had two dangerous right-handed pinch-hitters on the bench in Chris Carter and Jonny Gomes.

It all blew up, because Inge doubled against Ross. Washington then brought in Ogando, who proceeded to walk Carter. He retired the next two batters, but then Reddick blasted a double off the fence, tying the game. It was the first time the Rangers had blown a save since May 17, when Reddick got to Ogando for a homer in Texas.

“As you start to get to know him, you know next time to make a better pitch,”
Ogando said through an interpreter.

Ogando, pitching the second time since coming off the disabled list, was more disappointed with the walk. He had walked the first batter he faced Tuesday.

“I feel a little uncomfortable trying to locate,” Ogando said, “but I feel like I’m coming around.”

Washington made one other decision that didn’t work. After Nelson Cruz led off the top of the ninth with a double, Washington had called for Mike Napoli to bunt. Once Washington saw how aggressively the A’s were defending against the bunt, he took it off. Napoli struck out, and Cruz never moved from second.

“When I realized they knew he was going to bunt, I thought they’d throw him something he could get on, and I took it off,” Washington said. “It didn’t work.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, A's 1

July, 17, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Roy Oswalt pitched his best game in a Texas Rangers uniform, allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

What it means: The Rangers kept pace with the Angels and the Yankees, who both won. The Rangers remain 5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West, meaning no matter what happens they will be in first place when they finish their series this weekend in Anaheim. The Rangers remain one game behind the Yankees in the race for the best record in the American League.

Oswalt’s game: Oswalt had little trouble with an A’s team that had hit nine homers and scored 24 runs in its previous three games. Through six innings, Oswalt had allowed just two hits, both to Yoenis Cespedes. In the seventh, he gave up a solo homer to Josh Reddick. He then struck out Cespedes before manager Ron Washington turned the game over to the bullpen.

Oswalt left after 103 pitches, including 72 strikes. He did not walk a batter for the first time in his five starts with the Rangers. He struck out six.

Gentry’s wheels: Craig Gentry made some big contributions with his speed in the first few innings. He saved a run in the bottom of the second when he raced in and made a diving catch of a Kurt Suzuki blooper. He followed that in the top of the third by bunting for a hit when he beat pitcher Bartolo Colon to the bag. Colon then made an errant pickoff throw. As the ball shot into the vast foul territory in Oakland, Gentry went all the way to third. He scored on Elvis Andrus’ single. In the fourth, he was called on to execute a suicide squeeze and he beat the play at first for a hit.

Beltre swings a hot bat: Adrian Beltre homered in the fourth inning, a solo shot that put the Rangers up 2-0. Beltre is hitting .394 over his last 27 games.

Hamilton snaps out briefly: Josh Hamilton struck out in his first three at-bats, running his slump to 2-for-26. In his fourth trip, against left-hander Jordan Norberto, Hamilton launched a homer to left field. It was Hamilton’s 28th homer of the season, tying Adam Dunn for the league lead. He added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Ogando returns: Alexi Ogando, fresh off the disabled list, got into the game in the seventh inning with a three-run lead and a runner at first. Ogando, who had been out with a groin injury, walked the first batter he faced but then he got Suzuki and Brandon Inge on pop-ups to escape the jam.

Finally hitting Colon: The Rangers scored four runs against Colon, which was a welcome change. They managed just five hits and no runs in eight innings against Colon when they faced him in Oakland last month. Colon came into the game 18-6 with a 3.61 ERA against Texas, although most of those numbers were racked up when Colon was younger before he missed a couple years with shoulder problems.

Oops: Michael Young failed to score from third on a ground ball to second in the fourth, apparently a bad decision or a bad read on the ball. It didn't hurt the Rangers because Mike Napoli followed with an RBI single.

Up Next: Colby Lewis vs. Travis Blackley at 2:37 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW. It’s the final game of the quick two-game series.

Tanner Scheppers gets first save

June, 29, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Nathan, the Rangers closer, had pitched three consecutive days, and setup man Mike Adams had pitched in four of the last five games.

It left manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux with an issue. Who closes out Friday night's game against Oakland?

After the Rangers rallied from a two-run deficit to score four in the eighth inning, Washington turned to Tanner Scheppers, who despite allowing a ninth-inning home run, picked up his first career save in the 4-3 victory.

Scheppers said he was pumped to get an opportunity, with two veteran pitchers sitting out.

"I was just happy we were able to take the lead and get ahead," Scheppers said. "The guys have been working on having good (at-bats) all game long. I'm just real happy I got the opportunity to show what I had."

Scheppers, in his ninth appearance, became the first Rangers pitcher to record a save this early in his career since Yoshinori Tateyama earned a three-inning save, in the third game of his career last year.

Washington, meanwhile, had confidence in Scheppers to take care of things in the ninth inning. If things got hazy, Washington said Michael Kirkman would have entered the game. Kirkman was warming in the bullpen in the ninth.

Scheppers retired Brandon Inge on a ground out to short and got Derek Norris to pop out to the catcher. But Chris Carter homered to left, silencing the crowd as the A's cut the lead to 4-3.

"I had to make it interesting, I guess," Scheppers said. "I just got to attack back and it's still a one-run game and I got to go back and focus on the next guy."

Pinch hitter Seth Smith came on and bounced out to second to end the game.

"My first few pitches I was a little nervous out there," Scheppers said. "I just had to settle down and throw the ball down and trust my stuff."

Matchup: Matt Harrison vs. A.J. Griffin

June, 29, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The second game of the Texas Rangers' four-game series against the Oakland Athletics features LHP Matt Harrison vs. RHP A.J. Griffin at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/TXA21. A quick look at the matchup:

Rangers play-by-play voice Eric Nadel talks all things baseball with Galloway & Company. Does Matt Harrison deserve to be an All-Star starter?

Listen Listen
Harrison (10-3, 3.24): The 26-year-old is making his 16th start of the season. ... He left his last start (Sunday vs. Colorado) with lower back tightness but is ready to go. ... Tied with teammate Yu Darvish and David Price for AL lead in wins. ... Southpaw is first Ranger pitcher with 10+ wins before the All-Star break since Vicente Padilla in 2008. ... He is 6-0 with 1.29 ERA in last seven starts. ... Six straight wins is the longest single-season win streak for a Ranger pitcher since Alexi Ogando and C.J. Wilson both did it in 2011. ... Has allowed zero or one run in four consecutive starts. ... Averages club-record 1.13 ground-ball double plays per nine innings pitched during his career. ... He is 4-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven career starts vs. A's. ... Got no-decision in his lone start against Oakland this season.

Griffin (0-0, 3.00): The 24-year-old is scheduled to make his second start of his season and career. ... In his Major League debut last Sunday in Oakland, he had a no decision giving up two runs on a two-run home run in six innings of work. ... Tallied a combined 6-3 record and 2.66 ERA in 15 games with Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. ... When he was called up, he was third in the A's minor league system in ERA and strikeouts (84).

Hitters: No Rangers have faced Griffin. ... Current A's are 31-for-93 (.333) off Harrison. ... Kurt Suzuki is 8-for-17 (.471) with a double and four RBIs. ... Coco Crisp is 6-for-14 with a double, a home run and four RBIs. ... Brandon Inge is 3-for-10 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs.

Up next:

Sat. vs. Oakland: TBA vs. LHP Tommy Milone (8-5, 3.83), 6:15 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FOX
Sun. vs. Oakland: RHP Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57) vs. LHP Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.05 in AL*), 6:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW
*acquired by Oakland from San Francisco in early May

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, A's 3

June, 6, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. — A night after the Texas Rangers were blown out for their fifth loss in six games, they responded with a 6-3 victory over the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night at the Coliseum. The Rangers led 5-0 and then withstood a couple late-inning threats.

Clutch relief: Derek Holland started to wobble relatively early, leaving the Rangers bullpen to record 11 outs. Alexi Ogando provided five critical outs. He entered with the two on and one out in the sixth and stranded both baserunners. In the seventh, he created his own mess by issuing a walk, allowing a hit and throwing a wild pitch. But around all that, he managed to strike out the side. The A’s had runners at second and third when Ogando whiffed Brandon Inge to end the inning. Mike Adams then worked a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan pitched the ninth to record his 12th save.

Holland’s bounceback: After giving up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in his last start, Holland pitched a credible game, getting the Rangers into the sixth inning with the lead. However, he faded quickly. He had a 5-0 lead when he took the mound in the fifth, but seemed to lose velocity and managed only four more outs. He left with a 5-3 lead and two runners on base.

Early escape: It looked like this might be a very good night for Holland when he extricated himself from a jam in the third. The A’s had runners at the corners with two outs and Josh Reddick — Oakland’s most dangerous hitter — coming to the plate. Ron Washington visited the mound and Holland got Reddick on a tapper in front of the plate.

Arm from behind the plate: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw out Jonny Gomes trying to steal second in the eighth inning. Gomes had drawn a leadoff walk. He took off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Kila Ka'aihue. It’s likely that either Gomes saw a hit-and-run sign that wasn’t there or Ka’aihue missed one that was, because a straight steal made no sense down by two. In any case, the Rangers capitalized when Ka’aihue took the wide pitch and Torrealba made a perfect peg to second.

Balanced attack: All nine Rangers starters had at least one hit. Ian Kinsler’s two-run double put the Rangers on the board first in the third, with Josh Hamilton following with an RBI double. The Rangers added runs on Yorvit Torrealba’s sacrifice fly in the fourth, Michael Young’s triple in the fifth and Elvis Andrus’s single in the ninth.

Hamilton’s day: Other than his double, Hamilton had another rough day. He struck out twice and went 1-for-5. He is 3-for-21 so far on this trip.

Small ball: Although a team with a lineup as powerful as the Rangers wouldn’t seem to be the type to use small ball in the third inning, that’s exactly what Washington did. He had No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry bunt with runners at first and second and no outs. Gentry moved up the runners, who both scored on Kinsler’s double.

Cruz-ing to third: The Rangers caught a break in the fourth inning. Nelson Cruz tried to steal third with nobody out. He left too early and was going to be an easy out at third, except left-hander Travis Blackley balked while stepping off the rubber. It was a big play because Cruz then scored on a sacrifice fly.

More aggressive baserunning: On the sacrifice fly to right-center that scored Cruz, Mike Napoli tagged from first and went to second. He also would have been an easy out, but he was safe because Yoenis Cespedes' throw was wide. Instead, Napoli got himself into scoring position.

Up Next: Colby Lewis vs. Bartolo Colon, 9:07 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Two grounders, two different results

October, 13, 2011

DETROIT -- Two grounders to third base, one in the top half of the sixth inning and one in the bottom, changed the complexion of Game 5. The only explanation plausible belongs to Rangers manager Ron Washington's mantra: That's how baseball go.

"When the ball was hit, I said double play," Washington said. "[It] hit the bag. They caught a break."

Adrian Beltre had a few words for Miguel Cabrera after the Detroit Tigers' first baseman scored in the sixth inning one batter after his grounder to third went airborne and skipped into left field.

"He said I was lucky," Cabrera said. "I said, 'Yeah, I was lucky.'"

Cabrera doubled for the fourth consecutive game in this suddenly tightened-up ALCS, but his grounder down the third-base line got a little help from the third-base bag. As Beltre crouched to corral it with a double-play in his sights, the ball crashed into the bag, caromed straight up and looped over Beltre's head and down the line into left field.

Ryan Raburn scored all the way from first and Cabrera stood on second with a gift double. Moments later, he scored on Victor Martinez's poke into the right-field corner that fell just out of the reach of a diving Nelson Cruz for a 4-2 lead.

What did Cabrera, now with six hits in the series to go with seven walks and five RBIs, think of his double?

"I was lucky, I was lucky," Cabrera said. "But like I say, it's better to be lucky than good."

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler sure thinks so.

In the top half of the sixth, he came up with an opportunity to snap a 2-2 tie with runners on first and second and one out. He stung Justin Verlander's first pitch, a 99 mph fastball -- one pitch after Verlander had walked Mitch Moreland on four pitches -- down the third-base line.

Brandon Inge, playing the line, gobbled it up, stepped on the bag and turned the inning-killing double-play.

"I think it's unlucky that the ball hit the bag, but that's the way it went tonight," said Kinsler, fully expecting to make the catch-and-turn for a sure-fire double-play. "I got a pitch that I wanted to swing at and I hit it to the third baseman."



Colby Lewis
10 5.18 133 170
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182