Texas Rangers: Donnie Murphy

Choice sent down as Rangers juggle roster

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
5:21
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Coming off a 1-6 road trip, the Rangers shook up their 25-man roster prior to Monday’s game against the Astros at Globe Life Park.

In the most notable move, outfielder Michael Choice, struggling with a .177 batting average, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.

Rangers
AP Photo/Ben MargotMichael Choice is fourth on the Rangers in home runs with eight but has just a .177 batting average.
“We still have a lot of faith in him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “It’s tough to do something that you’ve always done at the major league level. The grind of the season can get to you. We don’t need his struggle to become mental.

“It’s always hard to tell a player, but it is best for him and best for us."

Choice, who played college baseball at UT-Arlington, was fourth on the Rangers in home runs with eight.

In other moves:

" Veteran infielder Donnie Murphy, hitting .196, was designated for assignment. Murphy had only one plate appearance on the recent road trip. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Murphy to the minors.

" Right-handed reliever Roman Mendez was recalled from Round Rock. In 25 appearances, the 23-year-old has three saves and a 4.02 ERA.

“We need to make sure we have enough pitching," Washington explained. “We used those guys pretty hard in Baltimore and New York."

Mendez came to the Rangers organization from Boston in a 2010 deal for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 14, A's 8

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
12:49
AM CT

 
The Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 14-8 on Monday night in the first game of a three-game series in Oakland, California. Some quick thoughts:

How it happened: The Rangers scored six runs in the fourth inning on five hits, including two extra-base hits, with two walks. That turned a 2-2 game into a six-run Texas advantage. But the A's chipped away and made things close before the Rangers secured the victory with a few more late runs.

What it means: Texas is now seven games behind the A's in the American League West and is 3-1 so far on this nine-game road trip. This team continues to play better baseball away from Arlington. Texas is back to .500 for the season at 35-35.

Early deficit: The Rangers fell behind in Monday's first inning as Colby Lewis surrendered two runs on three hits in the first. Coco Crisp set the tone with a double and scored on John Jaso's single. Yoenis Cespedes drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly.

Little things: In that first inning, Daniel Robertson decided to dive for a ball that he wasn't going to be able to catch, therefore eliminating any chance at getting a throw in to second and holding Crisp to a possible single. When Robertson tried to throw home on Jaso's single, the ball ended up 35 feet up the third-base line, allowing Jaso to get to second. A wild pitch put him at third, so Cespedes' fly ball could score him. Those little things hurt the Rangers in that inning.

Bouncing back: Texas tied the score in the next half-inning. They did it with small ball. Donnie Murphy got a good sacrifice bunt down and Robinson Chirinos hit a two-strike pitch to left-center field for a two-RBI single.

Slump-buster: Speaking of Murphy, he ended an 0-for-14 streak with a two-run home run in the fourth. It was the start of a six-run inning for the Rangers, who blew the game open to lead 8-2. The Rangers chased lefty Drew Pomeranz from the game and Adrian Beltre hit a two-run double off reliever Ryan Cook. ... Michael Choice's home run to left-center in the fifth, making it a 10-2 game, ended an 0-for-16 streak.

Two-strike success: The Rangers came through when they had two strikes against Pomeranz, going 4-for-7 with three RBIs in the first four innings. Chirinos' two-strike hit got things started, but other players followed suit, including Murphy and Rougned Odor.

Aggressive baserunning: Elvis Andrus put on a show in the sixth on how to score using your legs. He turned a single into a double, taking advantage of Crisp's average arm. He went to third on a fly ball and then scored after tagging up from third on a foul ball that was caught by Josh Donaldson near the bullpen mounds. It was Andrus at his best, making things happen on the bases.

No quality start: Colby Lewis was denied his bid for his first quality start of the season. Lewis allowed a double in the sixth to give the A's their fourth run and was lifted after 5⅓ innings. He ended up allowing five runs on 10 hits with three walks, two strikeouts and a home run.

Bullpen issues: Robbie Ross and Shawn Tolleson helped make things interesting by walking A's batters and giving up ill-timed hits. Ross threw 11 pitches and allowed three runs (one inherited), which included a walk and a homer from Cespedes. Tolleson allowed a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning. Neal Cotts finally halted things, getting the final two outs of the seventh inning with the A's having the tying run at the plate.

Four homers: It's the first time the Rangers have hit four homers in one game since Sept. 19, 2013, against Tampa Bay. Consecutive home runs in the ninth from Murphy and Chirinos made it happen.

Up next: Right-hander Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.11) takes the mound Tuesday night against the A's, who send left-hander Tommy Milone (4-3, 3.47) to the bump at 9:05 CT on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Darvish has had trouble with the A's his entire career, going 0-7 with a 5.32 ERA in his past eight starts versus Oakland (he won his first career one against the Athletics).

Rapid Reaction: Indians 3, Rangers 2

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
5:17
PM CT

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cleveland Indians beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Sunday. Some brief thoughts:

How it happened: The Indians scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth to grab a 3-1 lead and held on for a one-run victory. The Rangers had a chance to tie the score in the sixth inning with a runner at third and one out, but Chris Gimenez hit a ground ball with the infield in and Leonys Martin grounded out to second to end the threat.

What it means: Texas drops to 31-32 on the season and eight games back of the Oakland A's, who crushed Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. The Rangers must win Monday night to earn a split in this four-game series.

Not missing bats: Joe Saunders' line shows a pitcher who gave up three runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings on seven hits. But Saunders teetered on the brink of danger constantly and had four walks with 12 of the 25 batters he faced getting on base. He did not have a strikeout. Shawn Tolleson came in to relieve him and allowed an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to give the Indians the lead.

Forgettable homestand: With three games left on this nine-game homestand, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo may be counting the days until the next road trip. Choo is now 1-for-20 on this homestand and 8-for-55 in his past 15 games as he searches for some better results. Choo is likely to bat third for a while now with Mitch Moreland set to undergo surgery on Wednesday and miss three months.

Another triple: Alex Rios hit his seventh triple of the season, which leads the AL. It came with Adrian Beltre at second base in the sixth inning and cut the Rangers' deficit to one run. Rios' career high in triples is eight, achieved in 2008 in Toronto and 2012 in Chicago.

Long at-bat: Beltre's at-bat helped the Rangers score in the sixth. He had a 10-pitch plate appearance, fouling off pitches and getting the count full before hitting a sinker for a double. He scored on Rios' triple.

Inherited issues: Tolleson allowed both of the runners he inherited in the sixth inning to score, though he didn't get any help from an error by Martin. Tolleson has now permitted eight of the 17 runners he's inherited to score.

Costly throw: Martin's throw after Ryan Raburn's single in the sixth inning allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to go to third. That meant that David Murphy's fly ball could score him. That error ended up helping the winning run to score.

Odor hurt: Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor sprained his right shoulder diving back to the bag on a pickoff attempt in the fifth. He held his shoulder and was tagged out before he walked off the field under his own power. He'll be examined further on Monday. More here.

Key overturn: In a one-run game, Rios tried to steal second base with two outs. He was called safe, but Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the call and after 2:35, it was determined he was out. It was not an easy call to make, but the replay guys in New York called him out to end the inning. That eliminated a chance for Gimenez to come up with a runner in scoring position and get an opportunity to tie the score.

Up next: RHP Nick Martinez (1-3, 3.22 ERA) goes up against the Indians and LHP T.J. House (0-1, 3.79 ERA) in the final game of this four-game series at 7:05 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

Skipper trying to create offensive spark

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
11:27
PM CT
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
10:43
PM CT


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.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 12, Tigers 2

May, 24, 2014
May 24
6:53
PM CT


DETROIT -- The Texas Rangers defeated the Detroit Tigers 12-2 on Saturday afternoon. Some quick thoughts:

How it happened: The Rangers jumped on Tigers starter Rick Porcello, pounding 12 hits -- a season high against Porcello -- and scoring seven runs, four of them in the fourth inning. Rougned Odor led the way with five RBIs, and every batter in the lineup had a hit for Texas. Rangers starter Nick Martinez kept the Tigers' lineup from making a comeback with his quality start. Porcello has a 7.68 ERA in seven starts against Texas in his career.

What it means: Texas can win the series with a victory on Sunday. The Rangers are one game under .500 despite all their injuries and gained a game on the Oakland Athletics in the American League West, moving to six games back.

Nice Odor: Odor was the offensive player of the game on Saturday with two triples and five RBIs. He finished 4-for-5 for the game, which included a double and a run scored, and played well defensively. It's a career-high outing for the 20-year-old second baseman, and he became only the second Rangers player to record five RBIs in a game since the start of the 2013 season (Adrian Beltre did it on July 19 at the Baltimore Orioles). Odor also is the first No. 9 hitter with at least two triples and five RBIs in a game in MLB history (since RBI became official in 1920), according to data from ESPN Stats & Information.

Mound presence: Martinez was impressive on Saturday, even wiggling out of a two-out jam in the fifth. He pitched in rhythm and navigated his way through a difficult lineup. He was able to hold the Tigers to one run in the second, picking off Rajai Davis as he tried to steal third. Keeping it a one-run game might have helped Martinez settle down until his offense gave him a ton of support in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Martinez appeared to run out of gas in the sixth, but he got a double play to end the inning, when Nick Castellanos' liner went straight to Odor at second, who tossed to first. It was a quality start for Martinez.

Beltre's belt: Beltre smoked a ball into the left-field seats in the fifth. The home run ties him with Albert Belle for 64th all time at 381 for his career. Beltre is hitting .386 (17-for-44) in his past 11 games, with hits in 10 of those contests.

Terrific trio: The bottom of the Rangers' order powered the offense on Saturday. Through the fourth inning, the Nos. 7, 8 and 9 hitters -- Leonys Martin, Donnie Murphy and Odor -- were 8-for-12 with eight RBIs (including a Murphy two-run HR) and seven runs scored. The three hit for a combined cycle. Martin was back in that group after Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to put him back down in the order and reinsert Shin-Soo Choo at the leadoff spot. Both players had hits in the game at their respective spots.

RISP drought: Elvis Andrus ended his long drought with runners in scoring position, though he didn't drive in a run in the process. Andrus singled off infielder-turned-pitcher Danny Worth in the ninth. He's now 2-for-32 on the season. He was 1-for-3 on Saturday, grounding out with runners on the corners in the third and seventh. The hit in the ninth ended his streak of 29 hitless attempts with runners in scoring position.

Challenges: The Rangers and Tigers were a combined 3-for-3 in challenges on Saturday. The Rangers' lone challenge came on the double play to end the sixth, when initially it was ruled that Mitch Moreland's foot didn't touch the bag before replay showed he got his toe on the bag before Alex Avila's hand.

Sore ankle: Well, it's not a Rangers game without some kind of ailment. Choo came out of the game in the sixth with a sore left ankle. Michael Choice replaced him. Club officials said it was a precautionary move in what was an 8-1 game at that point.

Up next: RHP Colby Lewis (3-3, 5.40 ERA) is on the mound for the Rangers against RHP Justin Verlander (5-3, 3.55 ERA) at 12:08 p.m. CT Sunday on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. It's the final game of this four-game series and the last time the Rangers are in Detroit during the regular season.

Prince Fielder on DL, Murphy activated

May, 23, 2014
May 23
12:46
PM CT
DETROIT – The Texas Rangers officially put first baseman Prince Fielder on the disabled list and have activated infielder Donnie Murphy in his place.

Fielder is the 17th Rangers player to go on the DL, which leads the majors.

For Fielder, it’s the first time in his career that he’s been placed on the disabled list. He had appeared in at least 157 games for eight consecutive seasons and had played in 547 straight games, MLB's longest active streak, before getting a nerve-root injection Saturday and missing that night’s game.

Further examination revealed a herniated disk in his neck and Fielder is scheduled to undergo season-ending fusion surgery Tuesday to allow him to get strength back in his left arm.

The move also gives manager Ron Washington some immediate bench help with Daniel Robertson unlikely to play tonight after he was kneed in the face by Alex Rios as both players tried to dive for a ball in the third inning.

Murphy was placed in the disabled list on May 8 with a neck strain, suffered when he tripped at first base trying to beat out a ground ball on May 7 vs. Colorado. Friday was his first eligible day to return. He has hit .211 with one homer and seven RBIs in 26 games for the Rangers this season.
HOUSTON -- Anytime a rookie shows up on the Texas Rangers, manager Ron Washington spends some time studying him.

He’s not looking at the player's baseball ability. He’s looking to see if he's intimidated.

Rougned Odor
AP Photo/Pat SullivanRougned Odor hit his first major league home run Monday night against the Astros.
Rougned Odor quickly passed Washington’s test -- and that was before his mammoth home run Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

Odor had a two-out RBI single, a two-out homer and a nifty defensive play that helped the Rangers shut out the Houston Astros.

"He's not afraid,” Washington said. “He walks up to the plate or goes out into the field with confidence. He's not scared."

Impressive for a 20-year-old making the jump from Double-A because of injuries to Jurickson Profar and Donnie Murphy.

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Odor has only played five games, but already has collected his first hit, RBI and homer. A stolen base and a walk-off hit and he’ll have pretty much every milestone covered.

“Why should I be?” Odor said through an interpreter, when asked if he was intimidated by the game. “It’s the same game that I’ve always played from my perspective.”

Adrian Beltre said Odor’s big game -- at the plate and on the field -- will give the youngster even more confidence. Odor made a diving stop in short right field to rob Dexter Fowler of a hit in the fifth inning.

“When you come up in the big leagues, everything is so fast,” Beltre said. “When you have a game like that and get a big hit, make a couple of good defensive plays and hit your first home run, it’s something you’ll never forget.”

Rangers start fresh at second base

May, 8, 2014
May 8
6:53
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since the offseason trade of Ian Kinsler, second base has become a game of musical chairs for the Texas Rangers.

On Thursday, the Rangers dipped into the farm system and summoned promising prospect Rougned Odor. After a slow start at Double-A Frisco, Odor has been "the hottest thing in Double A," according to Rangers manager Ron Washington.

In 32 games, Odor has batted .279 with six home runs and 17 RBIs.

"I'm ready to play baseball," Odor said. "I had a slow start in Frisco, but now everything is going good. I want to see what I can do."

Until Jurickson Profar suffered a torn muscle in his right shoulder late in the spring, the Rangers' second-base job was his. General manager Jon Daniels said Profar, currently on the 60-day disabled list, is targeted to travel to Arizona next week and ease back into training.

The promotion of Odor signals an end to the Rangers early-season platoon plan at second base that saw 30-something veterans Donnie Murphy and Josh Wilson split time. Murphy went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of a neck strain, and Wilson was designated for assignment.

Daniels said serious consideration was given to Odor making the club coming out of spring training. In the end, the Rangers chose to give the 20-year-old a little more minor league seasoning.

Washington said he expected to write Odor's name on the lineup card four or five times a week. Odor is in the lineup for Thursday's 7:05 p.m. CT start against the Colorado Rockies. He'll wear No. 73 and hit in the No. 8 spot.

"I'm expecting him to play baseball," Washington said. "As long as he's not scared, he'll get it done. I feel like he'll help us on the offensive side."

The Rangers also added infielder Luis Sardinas on Thursday.

"The two guys have ability," Daniels said. "They're young, coachable, smart and they play with energy."

Murphy has 18 starts at second base and is batting .211. Wilson drew 16 starts at second and batted .224.

Donnie Murphy has strained neck

May, 7, 2014
May 7
11:12
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers utility infielder Donnie Murphy hit the foot of first baseman Justin Morneau as he hit the bag in the sixth inning and tumbled to the ground.

"I just landed weird on my shoulder and neck," Murphy said. "It's just stiff and sore right now. It felt like a whiplash, like I got hit."

Murphy was taken out and replaced by Josh Wilson. Manager Ron Washington did not know the extent of the injury as the Rangers will monitor Murphy to see if they need another player.

The last time they needed an infielder, they promoted Luis Sardinas because he was on the 40-man roster already, so they didn't have to make an extra move. If they decide to give Rougned Odor a look, they'd need to get him on the 40-man roster.

But again, the club will see how Murphy feels on Thursday.

Stocks: Martin Perez up, Scheppers down

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
10:00
AM CT
It's Friday, and that means the Texas Rangers stock report. The reality is that this is a great time to buy Rangers stock. The team is in first place despite injuries and is starting to get some of those players back. So here's a look at what's up and down for the Rangers right now.

STOCK UP

Streaking
Martin Perez: The young Texas starter has been phenomenal all season, but especially in the past week. Perez has thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings and has two straight complete-game shutouts. He's the first in the American League to accomplish that latter feat since Derek Holland in 2011. Perez is throwing strikes, getting ground balls and letting his defense do the work. The results are deep starts and Rangers wins.

First-inning runs: One big reason the Rangers went out and acquired Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder was to score runs earlier and more often. Texas has scored 13 runs in the first inning in 2014, including five times in the past week. That's helped the starters settle down and get aggressive.

Super subs: Donnie Murphy, Josh Wilson and Michael Choice continue to contribute at the plate and in the field. With Adrian Beltre out the past week (he is scheduled to return Friday night) and Choo dealing with an ankle sprain, they've stepped in and done the job.

STOCK DOWN

Slumping
Tanner Scheppers: Given an opportunity to start, Scheppers struggled to begin the season and then had injury issues. Right-elbow inflammation landed him on the disabled list, and it's likely he'd go to the bullpen once he returns.

Neftali Feliz: The reports are that he's worked hard in the minors, but the velocity and command continue to be inconsistent. And right now, he's not pitching at all due to "general soreness." He has no structural damage, and the Rangers are hoping he can start throwing again next week.

Catching offense: Robinson Chirinos has done a solid job with the pitching staff, so it's unfair to say his stock is dropping. But he's struggled recently at the plate, and J.P. Arencibia has had a tough time all year. The Rangers' catchers have a .149 batting average, last in the league.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Athletics 0

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
5:33
PM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Left-hander Martin Perez pitched his second straight shutout and extended his streak of scoreless innings to 26 as the Texas Rangers beat the Oakland A's 3-0, sweeping their three-game series.

The Rangers moved a half-game past the A's and into first place in the American League West for the first time since Sept. 5, 2013.

Perez's scoreless streak is the seventh longest in Rangers history. Left-hander Kenny Rogers owns the record of 39 innings, set in 1995 from May 6 to June 1. Perez became the seventh pitcher in Rangers history to pitch back-to-back shutouts. Charlie Hough had a team-record three straight shutouts in 1983 from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. Since then, the only other Ranger to pitch back-to-back shutouts before Perez was lefty Derek Holland in 2011 from July 7 to 14.

Holland was the last pitcher in the American League to accomplish the feat. Phillies lefty Cole Hamels was the last pitcher in the majors with back-to-back shutouts. Hamels accomplished that in 2012 from Aug. 7 to 13.

Second baseman Donnie Murphy hit a solo home run, outfielder Alex Rios stroked an RBI triple, and outfielder Michael Choice went 1-for-4, drove in a run and scored once.

Streaking: Perez came into the game off his first career shutout and second career complete game, a 12-0 Rangers win Friday against the White Sox. He picked up where he left off, blanking the A's on three hits. He struck out three, walked two and needed just 108 pitches. Perez didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning when shortstop Jed Lowrie singled to center. The A's next hit came in the fifth when Derek Norris singled. Josh Donaldson doubled with one out in the seventh.

Dueling aces: Perez outdueled A's right-hander Sonny Gray in a battle of young, undefeated pitchers. Gray (3-1) allowed three runs on five hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking four to suffer his first loss.

Quick-strike attack: For the third straight time in the three-game series, Texas took a lead in the top of the first inning. Choice, hitting leadoff for the second straight game and second time in his professional career, led off with a walk against Gray. With one out, Rios crushed a triple to left-center, bringing Choice home.

Adding on: The Rangers increased their lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Leonys Martin led off with an infield single, moved to second on Josh Wilson's sacrifice bunt and scored when Choice grounded a single to center. Then in the sixth, Murphy, a former Athletic, launched a solo home run over the right-field fence with two out, making it 3-0.

Flash the leather: Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus put on a defensive clinic Wednesday. In the second inning, he ranged far to his right to field Alberto Callaspo's ground ball. He made an off-balance, one-hop throw to first baseman Prince Fielder that beat Callaspo to the bag. Then in the sixth, Andrus ranged far to his left, fielding Daric Barton's hard ground ball behind second base and gunning him out.

After further review: For the second time in the three-game series, the Rangers were on the wrong end of a reversal. With one out and Rios on third after an RBI triple, Fielder hit a ground ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who threw home to catcher Derek Norris. A sliding Rios was ruled safe by plate umpire Larry Vanover, but A's manager Bob Melvin challenged the call and it was overturned after a video review that lasted 2:37. On Monday night in the seventh inning, Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo had an apparent infield single, but that call was reversed.

Up next: After a day off Thursday, the Rangers open a three-game series Friday at Seattle against the Mariners. Left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. (1-1, 2.31 ERA) will face Mariners lefty Roenis Elias (1-2, 3.22) on ESPN 103.3 FM and TXA21.

Rangers answer bell in opener vs. A's

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
2:51
AM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington wanted to see how his team measured up Monday against the two-time defending American League West champion Oakland Athletics in their first meeting of the season.

The Rangers stood tall, overcoming an early 3-1 hole to beat the A's 4-3, but their victory might have come with a cost -- left fielder Shin-Soo Choo did not return to the field in the bottom of the seventh after suffering an ankle injury trying to beat out an infield single in the top of the inning.

[+] EnlargeShin-Soo Choo
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesShin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run for Texas but later left with an injury.
Other than Choo's ailment -- which could force him to miss at least one game for a Texas team already beset by injury -- Washington liked most of what he saw from the Rangers against the A's, particularly the way they battled back to win the opener after falling behind by two runs in the second inning.

"You want to try to win the first one," Washington said. "I think we battle these guys pretty tough, but they've always found a way to pull it out on us. Tonight is just one ballgame. We got to come back tomorrow and we got to play just as well tomorrow as we did today. They're the division champs. It goes through them."

A pair of former A's -- third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and second baseman Donnie Murphy -- teamed up to produce the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie.

Kouzmanoff, the reigning American League Player of the Week, led off with a double off the right-center wall against A's left-hander Sean Doolittle. First baseman Mitch Moreland moved Kouzmanoff to third with a sacrifice bunt, getting it down with two strikes. Then Murphy singled sharply to center off the hard-throwing Doolittle, bringing Kouzmanoff home.

"Every time you play Oakland you always know it's going to be a good series," Murphy said. "They're the top dog in the division right now, even though it's early. It's always nice to come in here and get that first win of the series. And to come from behind and take it from them, it was a good feeling."

Right-hander Yu Darvish wasn't at his best, but after giving up three runs in the second inning, he blanked the A's for the next four frames, escaping serious trouble twice. Darvish entered the game with a 1-6 career record against Oakland but got a no-decision. He said he has learned not to let his emotions derail him against the A's.

"I don't really have good numbers in this stadium, but compared to last year I think I've matured mentally to battle these situations," Darvish said. "I decided I would not get frustrated and irritated and I would focus on the hitter."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, A's 3

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
12:57
AM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers overcame an early 3-1 deficit to defeat the Oakland A's 4-3 Monday night in the opener of a three-game series against the two-time defending American League West champions.

Rangers third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a leadoff double in the eighth against his former team, moved to third on Mitch Moreland's sacrifice bunt and scored on Donnie Murphy's sharp single to center, giving Texas a 4-3 lead.

Another no-decision: Right-hander Yu Darvish gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings and received his third straight no-decision. Considering his past luck against Oakland, Darvish can't complain. Darvish entered the game 1-6 with a 4.30 ERA in seven career starts against the A's. He was 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts at the O.co Coliseum.

One bad inning: Darvish gave up three runs in the third inning, allowing a leadoff homer to Brandon Moss, a double to Eric Sogard and a two-run single to Coco Crisp. He had 48 pitches through two innings. Darvish stranded two baserunners in the third and escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth, striking out A's third baseman Josh Donaldson.

What a relief: Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria combined to blank the A's over the final three innings. Soria got the save and Cotts the victory. With one out in the ninth, A's shortstop Jed Lowrie reached second on shortstop Elvis Andrus' two-base throwing error, but Soria retired Donaldson on a fly ball to center and Yoenis Cespedes on a fly ball to left.

Deep thoughts: Rangers left-fielder Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run. It was Choo's 12th career leadoff home run and his first of the season. Choo, acquired as a free agent in December, drilled right-hander Dan Straily's 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall for his second homer of the season.

In support of Darvish: In his first three starts, Darvish allowed just two runs over 22.0 innings but went 1-0 with two no-decisions and never threw a pitch with a Rangers run on the scoreboard. His only two runs of support came in the top half of an inning before he left the game for a reliever. Choo ended that streak with his leadoff homer, and the Rangers added a run in the fourth and one in the fifth. That marked a season-high three runs of support for Darvish.

More signs of life: First baseman Prince Fielder went 2-for-4 with a double, drove in a run and scored a run as he continued fighting his way out of a slump. In the fifth inning with two out and runners at first and third, Fielder lined an RBI single to right, snapping an 0-for-9 skid with runners in scoring position.

No answer for Moss: Moss sent Darvish's first pitch in the second inning -- a belt-high fastball -- high and deep over the right-field wall for a home run. Moss homering off Darvish came as no surprise. He entered the game 5-for-15 with three home runs and five RBIs against Darvish. Now he has four career home runs off Darvish, tying the Angels' Mike Trout for the most by any opposing hitter.

After further review: In the top of the seventh, Choo beat out a ground ball for a single off left-hander Fernando Abad, but the call was overturned after a video review. To make matters worse, Choo hurt his left ankle when he landed hard on the bag. During the review, he went to the dugout and had his ankle taped, but he was replaced in the bottom of the seventh by former A's outfielder Michael Choice, who singled and stole second in the ninth.

Andrus' tough luck: Andrus singled and scored in the fifth inning and has now hit safely in 18 of 20 games to start the season. He also lined out to left field in the third and was robbed of extra bases in the seventh when A's center fielder Crisp made a leaping catch of Andrus' drive to left center. If the ball had eluded Crisp, Andrus might have had an inside-the-park home run.

Up next: Rangers rookie right-hander Nick Martinez (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will make his second career start Tuesday night in Game 2 of the three-game series. He'll face A's left-hander Tommy Milone (0-1, 4.09). First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. on ESPN 103.3 FM and Fox Sports Southwest.

Harrison to make West Coast trip with team

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
2:00
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Harrison, fresh off a strong rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday, says he is ready to make his Rangers 2014 debut.

But as of yet, the Rangers are not ready to say when that return will be.

Harrison will make the upcoming West Coast road trip with the team, but manager Ron Washington in Sunday’s pre-game media conference said no game plan yet has been formed for Harrison’s debut start.

“We haven’t had a chance to address it," Washington said. “He’ll be with us so we can get eyes on him, rather than second-hand info. I know talking with Matt he was happy about his outing Saturday."

Harrison said in his mind, he is ready now. “I’ve been lobbying. I have been for awhile," Harrison said. “I think they want to see how everything goes the next few days."

On Saturday, Harrison’s velocity reached 94 mph in the fourth inning of his rehab start, better than recent previous readings and close to what he was throwing before his back surgery and long rehab. In eight shutout innings, he allowed only three hits and one walk.

“I was much better from the mental aspect," Harrison said. “With quick innings, good things happen."

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182