Texas Rangers: Colorado Rockies

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's not fair to pin the past two weeks of haphazard Texas Rangers baseball on just the starting rotation.

After all, the batters can't seem to hit with any kind of consistency and the defense hasn't exactly been sporting shiny gold gloves of late. Every facet of the team can take some blame.

[+] EnlargeColby Lewis
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezColby Lewis gave up more hits (12) than he got outs (11) in the Rangers' 9-2 loss to the Rockies on Wednesday.
But nothing controls momentum more than the pitcher with the ball in his hands. And when he can't do much with it, the ripple effect can threaten to drown a team.

Colby Lewis was just the latest in a string of hurlers struggling to give the Rangers a chance to win by pitching deep into tight games. Lewis lasted only 3 2/3 innings Wednesday. He gave more hits (12) than he got outs (11) and left with the Rangers down 7-0. They ended up losing 9-2, the club's third straight loss and nine of its past 12. Falling behind in the counts and the fact that the Rockies' offense might be the hottest in the league right now didn't help.

When you've got an offense that can't seem to find any kind of momentum, glancing up at the scoreboard and seeing 7-0 had to feel like being down a couple of touchdowns with a minute left. It's a feeling they've had too often the past few weeks.

Only one Rangers starter in the past nine games has pitched more than six innings. The starters in the past nine games -- a 2-7 mark as a team for Texas -- have given up 44 earned runs in 41 2/3 innings. Yep, that's an ERA of 9.50. Those same starters have given up 80 hits -- nearly two per inning -- in that span. They've given up at least 12 hits in consecutive games for the second time in club history (the only other time was 1980).

"We just haven't been able to make pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what it comes down to -- executing pitches. I don't know the last time we turned a double play. You've got to execute some pitches and get some balls down in the zone and make some good things happen, and once they do that I think everything else will fall into place."

The inability to eat innings has consequences, of course. It has taxed the bullpen to the point that the Rangers had to make a roster move for another long reliever before Wednesday’s game and then force him into quick duty. Scott Baker arrived from Triple-A Round Rock and found himself in the game before the fourth inning was over.

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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.

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Rapid Reaction: Rockies 14, Rangers 9

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
6:53
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers (13-13-2) continued their recent trend of alternating wins and losses following with a 14-9 loss to the Colorado Rockies (13-10) on Friday at Surprise Stadium.

What this means: Texas falls back to .500 and has dropped two of its last three. The 14 runs allowed tied the most in a single game this spring (Feb. 26 vs. Chicago White Sox).

Roughed up rookie: Starter Nick Tepesch had his most difficult outing of the spring, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five-plus innings. The rookie right-hander was on the cusp of earning the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, but after this performance, and allowing three runs in five innings to the Cubs on Sunday, the 24-year old will need to bounce back well in his final spring start next week.

PODCAST
ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett in Surprise to discuss what to expect from the Rangers this season.

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Down under: Submarine pitcher Ben Rowen replaced Tepesch and didn't fare any better. All five batters he faced reached base on four hits and one error. He allowed three runs, all on a Wilin Rosario home run, and one inherited runner scored. Rowen was appearing in his second consecutive game. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings Thursday.

Rare air: Even LHP Joe Ortiz, who has been untouchable in 'A' games this spring, fell victim to the Colorado offensive assault, giving up a two-run home run and allowing one inherited runner to score. Ortiz was unscored upon in nine innings in 'A' games.

Still streaking: Elvis Andrus went 1-for-2 extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He is 15-for-34 during that span (.441) and is hitting .378 overall this spring.

Whoa, Nellie: Nelson Cruz continues to hit well this spring and sparked the Rangers four-run fourth inning with his two-run, home run to right field.

Four for four: Texas scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to continue its recent offensive onslaught. The Rangers had posted three of their highest hit totals in the last five games.

Four fifths: David Murphy and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back home runs in the Rangers four-run fifth inning. Murphy blasted a two run blast to right, followed by Pierzynski's shot that cleared the grassy area in right field and went well into the home run party tent that sits behind it. Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry followed with doubles off the wall as the bottom half of the Rangers order roughed up Rafael Betancourt.

What's next?: Texas will hit the road to take on the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT at Goodyear Ballpark. RHP Yu Darvish (0-1, 1.04) is the scheduled starter for Texas. RHP Mat Latos (0-0, 2.45) will take the mound for Cincinnati. The game can be heard live on ESPN 103.3 FM.

Lineups: Craig Gentry in center field

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
11:24
AM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz.--The Texas Rangers (13-12-2) seek their second consecutive victory when they host the Colorado Rockies (12-10) on Friday at Surprise Stadium at 3:05 p.m. CT. In their last game Thursday, Texas posted a 10-9 walk-off victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Surprise Stadium.

PODCAST
Rangers outfielder David Murphy joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from spring training in Surprise, Ariz.

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The lineup is identical to last night's game with the exception of Craig Gentry getting the start in center field and batting ninth. He was given a precautionary day off Thursday after fouling a pitch off his calf and ankle in Tuesday's game.

RANGERS LINEUP

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

Pitchers
RHP Nick Tepesch
RHP Joe Nathan
RHP Jason Frasor
LHP Joe Ortiz
RHP Ben Rowen
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla

ROCKIES LINEUP

CF Eric Young Jr.
2B D.J. LaMahieu
1B Jordan Pacheco
DH Wilin Rosario
RF Tyler Colvin
3B Nolan Arenado
LF Charlie Blackmon
C Yorvit Torrealba
SS Reid Brignac

Pitchers
RHP Tyler Chatwood
RHP Rafael Betancourt
LHP Danny Rosenbaum
RHP Bobby Cassevah
LHP Christian Friedrich
LHP Josh Outman
LHP Rex Brothers
RHP Miguel Batista

Martin Perez impressive in start

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
5:56
PM CT
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- While we are still in the early stages of the battle to figure out who will become the Texas Rangers fifth starter, heralded prospect Martin Perez jumped out to an early advantage following his impressive start Monday.

PODCAST
There are a couple misconceptions floating around about the Texas Rangers. Richard Durrett says if Ian Kinsler isn't switching positions, it's on the ball club, not Kinsler. Durrett also says we need to let things play out with Jurickson Profar.

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The 21-year old pitched two perfect innings in his spring debut, striking out two and throwing 16 of his 27 pitches for strikes in the Rangers 9-1 loss against the Colorado Rockies. All six batters he retired will be regulars for Colorado in 2013.

"It is a big opportunity for me because they want to see how I throw on the mound and my body language," Perez said. "I'm attacking the zone and my breaking pitch was pretty good today."

Perez already impressed Rangers manager Ron Washington with his focus and command with multiple pitches early this spring and nothing changed following Monday's performance. The flawless outing was a welcome sight for Perez, who was hit hard during 12 appearances in 2012, including six starts, when opponents batted .297 against him.

"The little experience he had last year, he's taking that and he's trying to run with it," Washington said. "He's been in camp looking like a mature kid. You can see when he is out there he is all business."

Another positive result of Perez' performance was his ability to retire all four right-handers he faced. Last season, the left-hander struggled against righties who hit .324 against him in 108 at-bats. He also struggled against right-handers with Triple-A Round Rock where righties hit nine of the 10 home runs he allowed.

"Now, I throw more in against the righties," Perez said. "If you throw in, they don't have a chance and I have a good changeup, so I work it in."

Two other reasons why Perez may have the early advantage for the No. 5 slot is Monday's rough outing for Justin Grimm and the shoulder problems that have kept Kyle McClellan from taking the mound in a spring game. Both players are also battling for the last spot in the rotation. Grimm did himself no favors after allowing three earned runs on four hits in two innings in his spring debut.

Perez has long been considered a player destined for a successful Major League career, having been ranked among the Top 5 Rangers prospects by Baseball America for the last five years, including No. 3 this season. The Venezuela native was also ranked as having the best changeup in the organization.

Rapid Reaction: Rockies 9, Rangers 1

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
4:43
PM CT
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers (0-3-1) are still seeking their first victory of the spring following a 9-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies (2-1) on Monday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

What This Means: Texas has lost three consecutive games and is winless in all four spring tilts this season. Dating back to the end of the 2012 Cactus League season, Texas is 0-7-1 in its last eight spring games.

Plate Presence: Starter Martin Perez has consistently thrown strikes during the early part of the spring. During two perfect innings of work Monday, the left-hander threw 16 of his 27 pitches for strikes. This came on the heels of throwing all nine pitches for strikes during an intrasquad game last Tuesday.

Fast Start: Leonys Martin has been hitting well during the early portion of the spring slate, including back-to-back two-hit games. He is 5-for-9 (.556) overall and appears to be putting a little distance between himself and Craig Gentry, who is considered his biggest competition for the starting center-field job.

Slow Start: RHP Justin Grimm didn't get off to a good start in his quest to grab the No. 5 starter spot after allowing three earned runs on four hits and a walk in two innings of work.

Spring Sting: Rangers pitchers allowed two home runs Monday after giving up only two during their first three games of the Cactus League schedule.

Feeling Run Down: A crazy rundown saved the Rangers a run during the third inning, ending when Troy Tulowitzki was tagged out after falling inches short on his slide into third base, which was already occupied by Eric Young Jr. The play was scored 1-5-2-6-2.

What's Next? Texas returns to Surprise Stadium to face the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday at 2:05 p.m. CT. There is no radio or TV broadcast. RHP Yu Darvish is expected to make his spring debut for the Rangers. Chicago is slated to start RHP Nestor Molina.

Lineups: Martin Perez, Justin Grimm take mound

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
11:15
AM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers (0-2-1) will play their first road game of the 2013 Cactus League season when they travel to Scottsdale to play the Colorado Rockies (1-1) at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick at 2:10 p.m. CT Monday. Texas has dropped two straight after suffering a 7-5 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.

Rangers' lineup
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
3B Yangervis Solarte
DH Leonys Martin
CF Craig Gentry

Pitchers
LHP Martin Perez
RHP Justin Grimm
RHP Coty Woods
LHP Joe Ortiz
RHP Johan Yan
RHP Neil Ramirez

Rockies' lineup
LF Eric Young Jr.
CF Dexter Fowler
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Michael Cuddyer
C Yorvit Torrealba
2B Josh Rutledge
RF Charlie Blackmon
3B Chris Nelson
DH DJ LeMahieu

Pitchers
RHP Chris Volstad
LHP Danny Rosenbaum
RHP Rob Scahill
RHP Manny Corpas
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Will Harris
RHP Jeff Manship

Hot Stove talk: Carlos Gonzalez

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
8:00
AM CT
Since we started this "Hot Stove talk" series, I've received some candidates from you either in the comment section on the blog or via Twitter or email asking about Carlos Gonzalez.

Ok. Let's start with a few disclaimers. First, it's unlikely the Colorado Rockies will trade Gonzalez. He and Troy Tulowitzki are the biggest selling points for the fan base and it's difficult to imagine they'd deal Gonzalez away before the season starts. But, as we've seen with other players, you never know. And it wouldn't be shocking to see them look at dealing him around the trade deadline.

The Rockies need pitching, both at the big league level and in the minor leagues. It might take dealing one of the club's current starters that still has some years under club control. Take Derek Holland, for instance. Add to that some pitching prospects, perhaps starting with Martin Perez, and you have something started. The other need for the Rockies? Third base. They were third-to-last in the NL in fielding percentage at third base. They were last in MLB in DRS (defensive runs saved) at the position and last in UZR.

Mike Olt could certainly help with that part of the equation. So there could be some pieces the Rangers have that would match up. It may depend on how high a price they are willing to pay in those assets to get Gonzalez.

For the Rangers, they'd be getting a 27-year-old who has played all outfield three positions in his big league career. He hit .303 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in 135 games in 2012. He has a career .299 batting average. He's a left-handed hitter and someone who could bat in the middle of the lineup. No, he wouldn't completely fill the shoes of Josh Hamilton. But he would sure help.

If there's one concern, it's probably his home and road splits from last year. Gonzalez hit .368 at Coors Field and .234 on the road. He's .258 on the road in his career. Gonzalez is 7-for-29 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his career.

Gonzalez also fits into the club's philosophy of looking for players that are under control for a few years and could become part of the core of the team. His contract goes through the 2017 season. He makes $7.5 million in 2013, $10.5 million in 2014, $16 million in 2015, $17 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017. He also gets $1 million if he's traded, but he doesn't have a no-trade clause.

If the Rockies insist on a big league pitcher, a few pitching prospects and Mike Olt, are you OK making that deal? Would that be enough for the Rockies to do the deal?

Hot Stove: Dexter Fowler talk

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
8:00
AM CT
I've received emails asking about some possible trade targets for the Texas Rangers and a few of you have asked about Dexter Fowler (by the way, if you've got some questions and trade targets, feel free to email me at rdurrettjr@aol.com). Fowler, who turns 27 in March, would be a center field option. He showed promise offensively in 2012.

Fowler hit .300 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 2012 for the Colorado Rockies. That doesn't exactly provide a ton of power for the Rangers, but it would give them someone who showed they could get on base -- .389 on-base percentage -- and had a .863 OPS. He stole 16 bases last season as well. His 2.6 WAR was the best of his career, by the way. Fowler played 143 games in 2012 and 131 of those were in center field. He had a .978 fielding percentage and made six errors in center field.

He's switch-hitter, which certainly has some appeal, and he's under club control through 2015. But he'll get a raise through arbitration from his $2.35 million salary last year. ESPN.com's Jason Churchill guesses that's about $6 million.

Fowler could be one of those guys that is on the market after the other "bigger" center field free agents and trade possibilities head elsewhere. The Rockies, according to some reports, want pitching with upside. Perhaps something like Martin Perez or Cody Buckel, though it's unclear if that's enough to get a deal done.

Honestly, I question if Fowler is worth more than one top-flight pitching prospect. He probably has more upside than Craig Gentry, but how much more? Gentry had 214 fewer at-bats than Fowler and drove in 26 RBIs and had 13 stolen bases. With more playing time, Gentry's numbers could look similiar, except for the home runs. Gentry hit .304 this season, by the way.

I'm intrigued by the fact that Fowler is a switch-hitter and has more of a track record than Gentry, but I'm hesitant to part with some pitching prospects that could be keys in other deals for potentially better players. I'm more inclined to see what Leonys Martin or even Gentry could do with smoe more playing time. But that's just me. Perhaps I'm underplaying Fowler's upside.

What do you think? Judging from my emails, some of you are interested in Fowler as an outfield option. What are you willing to give up for him?

Trade deadline talk: Still making calls

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
11:43
AM CT
The Texas Rangers continue to work the phones in hopes of improving the club by the deadline, but indications are they may not be able to get the impact starting pitcher they wanted. A few things:

PODCAST
ESPN MLB insider Jim Bowden on potential trade partners for the Rangers, how Mike Olt can help the team this year and more.

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* The club is interested in Matt Garza, but nothing much has happened on that front to this point. Of course, there's still time. Garza is obviously a bit of a risk with the triceps issue that forced the Cubs to back up his next start until after the deadline. But he's under club control in 2013 through arbitration (likely to make around $12 million next year), which is something the club prefers to rental players. And he would give the club some depth. However, like any deal, everything has to matchup in terms of prospects. Clearly, it's not a deal that involves Mike Olt. Is there a package that works to get him? Is he worth the risk? Those are things that GM Jon Daniels and his staff are working through.

* Cliff Lee is fun to talk about, but that remains a big-time longshot for a gaggle of reasons. ESPN.com's Jim Bowden told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin that no deal with the Phillies for Lee will happen without Mike Olt. And we've seen how reluctant the Rangers are to move Olt. But beyond that, Lee is owed $25 million per season for the next three years and has a $27.5 million option for 2016 that includes a $12.5 million buyout (that option could vest depending on the innings pitched in the final years of the deal). The Rangers would want the Phillies to eat a large chunk of that. But if you're Philadelphia, part of the point of dealing Lee would be to shed some of that money. It just seems to make more sense for the Phillies to wait and reassess things at the offseason or beyond.

* Will things change as the clock ticks? You never know. Sometimes prices can drop and maybe that paves the way for something that wasn't a possibility the past few days, whether that's Garza or a deal that's been discussed or a deal that hasn't been talked about.

* The club still wants a reliever and is checking around on that. The names most commonly heard the past week: Jonathan Broxton and Rafael Betancourt. Broxton has rebounded from an injury and shown that he can get big outs late. Reports out of Kansas City indicate they like Justin Grimm. Is that too high a price to pay for what would be a setup man if that, in fact, is something that's being discussed? Betancourt is signed through next year, something we know the Rangers like. Last year, they traded for two relievers and a big reason they were willing to part with some prospects in those deals was because Koji Uehara and Mike Adams were under contract for 2012, not just rentals.

Stay tuned. The clock continues to tick.


The trade deadline is getting closer. Will the Rangers have a new player or two on the roster by Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT? Let's take a look at a few things to watch as things wind down:

* Starting pitchers. The club would still like one, but the question is whether there's a viable option out there. The market has thinned in recent days. The price has been high on Miami Marlins' Josh Johnson, who didn't help his stock with his performance on Sunday (two runs allowed, but six walks in five innings vs. Padres). Tampa Bay is right in the hunt and may not want to move James Shields, who also has a club-friendly contract. Matt Garza is still out there, but with a triceps issue and the fact that he's not pitching before the trade deadline, do you want to take a chance on him?

Reports have surfaced, including this one from our buddy Gordon Edes from ESPNBoston.com, that that Red Sox are shopping Josh Beckett. They are calling teams they feel would be interested, including Texas. Beckett is 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 17 starts this season and is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday. He has 10-5 rights, but several reports said it's believed he would waive those rights to come to Texas. The biggest issue may be money. With Beckett not pitching particularly well this season, it's likely that any team that consider Beckett would only do so at a big discount. That means Boston taking a good portion of the remaining dollars left on his contract. He's making $15.75 million this season, $15.75 million next year and $15.75 million in 2014.

It certainly seems like a longshot, but you never know.

* Relievers. The club has turned its attention more toward bullpen help in the past day or two as the starting market has dwindled a bit. They've shown interest in Jonathan Broxton and Rafael Betancourt with the idea that they could strengthen the bullpen and possibly move Alexi Ogando to the rotation.

* Bats. We saw last year how critical a bench can be down the stretch and in the postseason. That's especially true if the Rangers get back to the World Series. They could use a right-handed bat. Of course, with the Rangers' offense scuffling a bit, maybe a bat of any kind could provide a spark.

So stay tuned.

Joe Nathan avoids disaster vs. Rockies

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Nathan narrowly escaped a rare collapse in Sunday night's 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Nathan entered the ninth inning to preserve a 4-0 shutout that had been kept alive collectively by Matt Harrison, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams. But after a leadoff single, a walk and a hit batter, Nathan found himself in a bases-loaded jam. Then an RBI single from Marco Scutaro and RBI sac fly with no outs from Carlos Gonzalez -- a laser that only needed a few more feet to clear Josh Hamilton and the left-center field wall for a go-ahead grand slam -- put the Rangers in danger of choking the game away.

Nathan got more help when Scutaro was caught in a 2-3-6 rundown and was called out at second, but only after Scutaro was initially waved safe as he slid in under the tag of shortstop Elvis Andrus. However, Scutaro, apparently thinking he was out, popped up off the bag and Andrus tagged him to officially record the second out.

Nathan then was able to get Jason Giambi swinging on a 1-2 slider.

"I've always said it’s not going to be sharp all the time," Nathan said. "You’re going to have to go out there and fight and tonight was definitely a dog fight against very good hitters."

Nathan may not be sharp all the time, but he certainly has been most of the time. Before Sunday, Nathan had not allowed a run in the ninth inning since May 13 against the Los Angeles Angels (16 games). It was only the second time that he has allowed two runs all season -- the only other time coming when he allowed three runs against Seattle on April 11.

Nathan, who didn't get the save because it was a four-run lead when he entered, isn't stressing about Sunday's performance, his worse in a long time. He saw his streak of 16 scoreless innings in his last 16 appearances come to an end.

"I’m happy with what we were able to do," Nathan said. "We were able to walk away with the win, keep our lead where it is and we’ll come back tomorrow and start with Detroit.”

Matt Harrison says he's OK for next start

June, 24, 2012
6/24/12
10:34
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers starter Matt Harrison begrudgingly exited a shutout bid after five innings against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday night due to lower back tightness.

But after picking up 10th win, tied for the most in the American League, the left-hander said he’ll be ready for his next start.

“I saw the doc (Rangers team physician Keith Meister) and he said it was just a very mild stiffness in the lower back so he said see how it feels tomorrow,” Harrison said. “But I feel confident that I’ll be good to go.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington said he decided to remove Harrison, now 10-3 with a 3.24 ERA after the 4-2 victory, for precautionary reasons once Harrison told him and pitching coach Mike Maddux that he felt stiffness in his lower back.

Harrison said he felt discomfort at the start of the third inning and again following the fourth, after which he tried to stretch out his back. After the fifth inning, the third consecutive in which he faced just three batters thanks to a 6-4-3 double play, Harrison made it known that he was having issues with his back.

“Once he let us know that he was feeling a little stiffness we just took him out. We weren’t taking any chances,” Washington said. “Of course, Harry didn’t want to come out, but we weren’t taking any chances. He will make his next start.”

The diagnosis is excellent news for arguably the Rangers’ steadiest pitcher this season as well as for a rotation in which lefty Derek Holland (left elbow fatigue) and right-hander Neftali Feliz (right elbow inflammation) remain sidelined.

Harrison, a likely All-Star candidate, stranded five Rockies baserunners in the first two innings and used the double-play ball in the third, fourth and fifth to avoid trouble. He left having allowed five hits, all singles. He struck out three and walked two.

Harrison won for the sixth consecutive time and has been outstanding in June. He entered Sunday’s game tied with Cleveland's Justin Masterson and San Francisco's Matt Cain for the lowest ERA (1.24) in the majors behind only the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey -- before the knuckleballer's start Sunday night against the Yankees.

“I didn’t really have my best stuff working today, but I just kept telling myself when guys are on base, you’re one quality pitch from getting out of it. So I was able to bear down and get out of some innings where I got the leadoff guy on. Definitely want to just keep getting better, keep improving.

“I’m not very happy about being a five (innings) and dive guy today,” Harrison said, “but with the situation, I had to come out. I just hope to continue what I’m doing.”

Leonys Martin powers Rangers offense

June, 24, 2012
6/24/12
10:33
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers took the rubber match in their series with the Colorado Rockies on Sunday night, thanks in large part to a three-RBI offensive outburst from Leonys Martin.

In his fourth start of the year, the 24-year-old, second-year center fielder hit a two-out double and then a two-out triple to get Texas off to a 4-0 lead, including the first three RBIs of his career. He finished the game 2-for-4 and accounted for all four of the Rangers runs. He also scored on Elvis Andrus' double in the second inning.

Martin said that he spent a lot of time studying the pitchers for the game and that helped him succeed. He said his biggest challenge whenever he starts is taming his excitement.

"I just try to hold onto my emotions and do the best that I can," Martin said. "The more that I stay with the team, the better I feel. It is a big help with the guys that are here. What I have to do is concentrate.”

Going into Sunday's game, Martin was 1-for-8. All three of his hits have been for extra bases.

Martin complemented his offensive production with three flyouts on defense, but saw one sinking fly ball fall trickle out of his glove for a single in the first inning after he got off to a bad break.

Rangers manager Ron Washington was pleased with his performance, but said he has more work to do to become a balanced player.

"We know the kid can swing the bat," Washington said. "It's the other parts of the game that we're trying to work on: baserunning, defense, situations, throwing to the right bag. But, he picked us up tonight big time: two two-out big hits and they were beautiful."

Michael Young, a leader in the clubhouse, echoed Washington's satisfaction.

"He did great," Young said. "He came with two big hits for us and hopefully he can keep it going.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Rockies 2

June, 24, 2012
6/24/12
9:19
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers took the rubber match of this three-game series, beating the Colorado Rockies, 4-2. A record 22nd sellout crowd was on hand to watch the Rangers victory. Some thoughts on the game:

What it means: The win tonight gives the Rangers their fifth consecutive series win. They have won all six of their series against the NL this year and have a MLB-best 14-4 interleague record this season. The Rangers are five games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, giving them the largest lead of any of the six MLB division leaders.

Attendance milestone: Tonight's crowd of 45,407 was the 22nd sellout of the year, breaking the club record for sellouts in a single season. The previous record of 21 sellouts was set in 1994. The Rangers have reached 1.5 million in attendance in 35 games, four games sooner than the previous record in '94. The Rangers are also second in average attendance in the MLB (the Philadelphia Phillies are ranked first).

Jam sesh: Matt Harrison pitched his way out of jams in the first and second innings. He had runners in scoring position in both innings, including loaded bases in the second after a single, walk, and hit batter. Robbie Ross also found his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. In all, the Rockies left 11 runners on base.

Double or nothing: The Rangers had three 6-4-3 double plays with Harrison on the mound tonight. Harrison missed out on his seventh-straight quality start, leaving after five innings because of lower back tightness on his left side. He got credit for his 10th win and finished with five hits, two walks, no runs and three strikeouts. Harrison's injury will be re-examined in the coming days.

A little help from my friends: After Harrison left the game, Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams picked up the slack. Each was solid, allowing no runs. Collectively, the three allowed four hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Harrison's fourth shutout of the season evaporated in a wild ninth inning, when Joe Nathan allowed two runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter. Nathan was able to preserve the win, thanks to a putout in a rundown at second, a sac fly and a strikeout.

I got this: Leonys Martin made the most of his start, going 2-for-4 and driving in three of the Rangers' four runs. He had a double in the second and a triple in the third. He also caught three flyouts. Elvis Andrus also had a solid night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a walk.

Hamilton delivers: Josh Hamilton made good on his word, coming through with a first-inning single and an intentional walk in the second. Hamilton rebounded from his career-tying seven strikeouts in the last two games to finish Sunday's game 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

The team to beat: The Rangers (45-28) have had sole possession of the best record in the majors for five straight days. It is the latest in a season that the club has ever held such a distinction. The win tonight also matches the Rangers' best 73-game record in club history, set in 1996.

Up next: RHP Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50) takes the mound for his second major league start against RHP Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95) to kick off a three-game series between the Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.88 154 122
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .328
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .899
ERAY. Darvish 2.88
SOY. Darvish 154