Texas Rangers: Joe Ortiz

Lineup: Beltre hits cleanup; Ogando returns

June, 5, 2013
BOSTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is back in the starting lineup and batting cleanup after missing two games with a strained left hamstring.

Also, reliever Joseph Ortiz was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room for right-hander Alexi Ogando, who will start tonight's game against the Boston Red Sox.

Ortiz allowed six runs, three of them earned, pitching in relief Tuesday night in the Rangers' 17-5 loss to Boston. Ortiz allowed a home run in three consecutive innings, the first Texas reliever to do that since Mike Adams last season.

Ogando is 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA for nine starts this season.

SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
DH Lance Berkman
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Jurickson Profar
CF Leonys Martin
P Alexi Ogando

RF Daniel Nava
LF Mike Carp
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS Stephen Drew
3B Jose Iglesias
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
P John Lackey

Rookie Watch: Rangers loaded with young arms

May, 1, 2013

Jim Bowden takes a look at this year's standout rookie class, dominated by pitchers -- including Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Joe Ortiz of the Texas Rangers.

Buzz: Prospects look for answers

April, 30, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Struggling prospects Mike Olt and Cody Buckel began their search Tuesday for what's behind their shockingly poor starts to the season.

Tanner Scheppers joins Matt Mosley and Chuck Cooperstein to discuss pitching for the Rangers and what it's like watching Yu Darvish.

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Olt, the Rangers' second-highest ranked prospect behind shortstop Jurickson Profar, saw team doctors Tuesday after informing club officials he was having issues with his vision. It could be as simple as the Triple-A Round Rock infielder needing contacts or glasses, general manager Jon Daniels said, or it could be something more. Daniels didn't have a diagnosis for Olt before the Rangers' game Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Buckel, a right-handed pitcher who has been having issues with his control at Double-A Frisco, was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen Tuesday. Buckel, the club's eighth-best prospect, has 25 walks in 18 innings. He had three walks and didn't record an out in his most recent start, against Corpus Christi on Saturday.

Olt's vision problems might help explain why he's off to a dismal start. Olt, a career .282 hitter in the minors entering the season, entered Tuesday batting .139 in 72-bats and has one home run after tying for the Texas League lead with 28 home runs last year.

"It would make sense if that's what has developed," Daniels said Tuesday.

Buckel heads to the bullpen after not pitching more than three innings in his five starts this season. He had a season-high six walks in three innings at San Antonio on April 22 and has walked at least five in three other starts.

Buckel will take up some innings in what has been a dominant bullpen in Frisco. But Daniels said the club thought it was better that Buckel sort things out in Double-A rather than at extended spring training.

"It's nothing physical with Cody," Daniels said. "He's been scuffling all season."

Both Olt's and Buckel's names came up in trade talks during the offseason.

Other Rangers notes:

Baker in, Murphy out: Jeff Baker got the start in left field against White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, giving struggling starter David Murphy an extra day off. Murphy, batting .176 with two home runs, has a track record that says he will get his bat going.

"He's missing pitches that he usually gets," manager Ron Washington said.

Murphy and third baseman Adrian Beltre both have started slow. Beltre is batting .221 with four home runs and only nine RBIs.

"You know their track record is there," Washington said. "You just have to be patient."

More on Beltre: Beltre said Tuesday that he's not concerned with his slow start, noting he always has been a warm-weather player. Beltre is batting .107 with runners in scoring position.

"I know I'm going to be OK," Beltre said. "I would say I've been average. There hasn't been a time when I've felt great and there's not a period where I've felt terrible."

Randy Wells retires: Veteran pitcher Randy Wells, who has been at Triple-A Round Rock, has retired, Daniels said Tuesday. Daniels said the 30-year-old Wells told club officials that he didn't have the same level of desire for the game.

It's Joseph Ortiz: The Rangers said Tuesday that reliever Joe Ortiz has been asked to be called Joseph Ortiz from this point forward. Ortiz has allowed runs in his past three appearances, but the Rangers didn't provide that as the reason he is going with Joseph.

Rapid Reaction: Twins 5, Rangers 0

April, 28, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Texas Rangers were shut out for just the second time and lost back-to-back games for the first time this season as the Minnesota Twins won 5-0 on Sunday.

Walks will haunt: Rangers starter Alexi Ogando walked Josh Willingham twice Sunday, and Willingham scored both times. He was walked with one out in the fourth inning and came home on a Chris Parmelee sacrifice fly two batters later. Ogando walked Willingham with two outs in the sixth inning, but Justin Morneau hit his next offering into the right-field seats for a two-run homer.

Ogando still managed a quality start, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in six innings with three strikeouts. After giving up just two earned runs in his first three starts this season, Ogando has allowed 10 in his past three. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in that stretch.

Still undefeated: The Rangers appeared poised to win their sixth series of the season by taking the first two against Minnesota but settled for a series split after losses Saturday and Sunday. Texas is still undefeated in series play this season with a 5-0-3 mark.

Runs at a premium: The Rangers scored two runs or less in three of their four games against Minnesota and just eight total in the four-game series. Their only lower series mark was six runs, but that was in a two-game set against the Chicago Cubs.

Texas went 0-for-5 Sunday and just 4-for-31 in the series with runners in scoring position.

Basepath blunders: Mitch Moreland continued a disturbing trend of Texas making outs on the basepaths. Moreland singled with one out in the third inning when Aaron Hicks misplayed his fly ball. But Moreland ran halfway to second base before turning around as Hicks recovered and threw to Brian Dozier. Dozier quickly relayed to Morneau, who tagged Moreland for the second out. Leonys Martin followed with a single, so instead of two on with one out, there was one on with two out. Ian Kinsler ended the inning with a groundout to second.

The Rangers made seven outs on the bases in the first three games against the Twins.

Solving Mauer: Twins catcher Joe Mauer entered the series with Texas hitting .366, but Rangers pitching held him to 0-for-15 in the four games to drop his average to .302.

Ortiz struggles: Joe Ortiz entered the series with a 1.42 ERA but saw that number jump to 4.05 after allowing four runs in two appearances (2/3 IP). The left-hander had allowed just two earned runs in his first eight outings.

Daydreaming: Sunday’s loss dropped the Rangers to 3-6 in day games this season. Texas is 13-3 at night.

Up next: The Rangers start a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox in Arlington as right-hander Yu Darvish (4-1, 1.65 ERA) takes the hill against Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana (2-0, 2.78 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN 103.3 FM and 1540 AM.

Extra bases: Moreland finding his stroke

April, 27, 2013
Right-handed hitting Jeff Baker is expected to return Saturday from a sore knee and may be the starter at first base against Minnesota left-hander Pedro Hernandez.

But if Mitch Moreland starts again Saturday against a lefty, he'll be confident against Hernandez.

Moreland had two doubles in three at-bats Friday against Twins lefty Scott Diamond, helping the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over Minnesota. The left-handed hitting Moreland had a double in the second inning and another one to lead off the seventh.

Moreland has five hits now in 30 at-bats against left-handers and is 4 for his last 12 at-bats. He fell behind 0-2 to Diamond in the second inning and ripped an 88 mph fastball for a double to the opposite field. Moreland, whose approach is to grind out at-bats, had a leadoff double against Diamond in the seventh inning as he grinded out an at-bat and hit another fastball down the right-field line for a double.

It's a small sample for Moreland -- just like the first 18 at-bats were -- and Baker's .364 batting average against lefties so far makes it difficult not to play him. But the panic about Moreland vs. lefties can be tempered.

Some other Rangers' note going into Saturday afternoon:

1. Grimm's first inning: Justin Grimm's ability to work his way out of the first inning keyed his entire outing Friday night. The rookie right-hander was able to work around an Ian Kinsler error that would have been the second out of the inning. Josh Willingham's double to left field put runners at second and third. Grimm was able to wiggle his way out of the inning, using a fastball to get Chris Parmelee to fly out to right field.

2. Staying aggressive: The Rangers are an aggressive baserunning team under Ron Washington. That's one of their trademarks. But they have to be smart too. The Rangers made two outs at home plate Friday night with no outs at the time. Elvis Andrus's risky move to go home on a throw that got away from Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe wasn't worth, not with Adrian Beltre coming up.

3. Little Joe: Washington must be careful in not pitching rookie reliever Joe Ortiz too much. Opponents have been hitting Ortiz this week. He allowed two hits to start the ninth inning Friday with the Rangers leading 4-0, forcing Washington to go to closer Joe Nathan in a save-situation. Ortiz has five straight outings where's he allowed a hit and two straight where he's given up runs.

Rangers impressed with bullpen's progress

April, 24, 2013
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Before Howie Kendrick put smiles on the faces of Los Angeles Angels fans with a walk-off blast Tuesday night, the Texas Rangers bullpen had done the same to manager Ron Washington.

Sure, left-hander Joe Ortiz gave up a home run in the 11th inning of a tough 5-4 loss here. But Washington was more than content with what he got from his relief corps.

"Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose," Washington said. "We certainly felt good with Ortiz out there."

Ortiz inherited the bases loaded in the 10th frame with one out and Albert Pujols due up.

"I still look at him, along with Miguel Cabrera, as the most dangerous man on earth with a bat in his hands," Washington said of Pujols before the game.

Someone forgot to inform the 22-year-old rookie.

Ortiz was cool under pressure, getting the veteran Pujols to ground into a force play. He wasn't out of harm's way by any means, but Josh Hamilton grounded out softly to second base. Ortiz bounced off the mound and pumped his left fist.

The relievers have gained trust rather quickly.

"They've been asked to do the job and they've done it," general manager Jon Daniels said prior to the game. "We've got talented guys with good makeup, but they lack experience. Wash has done a great job of managing the pen. He's put guys in spots to succeed."

Robbie Ross was equally impressive, tossing 2 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Alexi Ogando. Ross got Mike Trout to hit into a double play in the eighth and worked around a Hamilton leadoff single in the ninth.

"They've been unbelievable," Adrian Beltre said. "Everyone has pitched well."


--Kendrick's home run was only the second earned run Ortiz has surrendered in eight games this year.

--Right-hander Tanner Scheppers, who wasn't available Tuesday after going two innings the night before, has yet to allow a run in nine appearances this season.

--Michael Kirkman also wasn't available after throwing three innings Sunday, but Washington has been pleasantly impressed by the quality of his arms.

"I've been very pleased, especially with the kids being thrown into the fire," Washington said. "They have responded."

Lowe proves he still has something left

April, 20, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- So that's the reason 39-year-old pitcher Derek Lowe made the Rangers out of spring training.

For night's like Saturday, when the Rangers needed a long man out of the bullpen because their rookie starter got drilled by a line drive in the wrist.

Maybe that's not the exact script, but Saturday night was all about Lowe, who gave the Rangers four hitless innings in a superb performance that keyed a 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Lowe was forced into action when rookie Nick Tepesch had a line drive scrape off his right wrist, forcing him out of the game for precautionary reasons.

Enter Lowe, who needed 31 pitches to get through four innings. It was vintage Lowe, the one who has racked up 176 victories because of a devastating sinker that has made him one of the premier ground-ball pitchers in baseball.

"I liked it," Lowe said of his sinker. "It put a smile on my face."

Of the 12 outs he recorded, nine of them came on ground balls. The only Mariners hitter who reached against Lowe was Kendrys Morales, who was hit by a pitch to start the fourth inning. Lowe quickly erased that with a double-play ball. He and catcher A.J. Pierzynski took advantage of an aggressive Mariners lineup.

"We certainly needed it," Washington said. "He had a good sinker working tonight. He was moving the ball up and down. It was just an outstanding job, especially when we were just trying to hold onto a one-run lead."

With the Rangers continuing to struggle offensively, Lowe had to be sharp. Pierzynski gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a one-out home run in the bottom of the fourth. Lowe made the run stand up, getting the first two batters he faced in the top of the sixth before Washington went to the bullpen for left-handed reliever Joe Ortiz.

Ortiz, Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor all had to work around baserunners, but they were able to finish off the Rangers' second consecutive shutout. The Rangers have 21 consecutive scoreless innings heading into Sunday afternoon's game.

"They proved that they have a heartbeat," Washington said of Ortiz and Scheppers. "It's not easy at the major league level. That's a good challenge for them."

Low showed he has a heartbeat, too. The Rangers signed him late, so he didn't begin spring training until early March. He gave up a three-run home run to Rick Ankiel in his debut in the season opener on March 31. He pitched an inning on April 10 before going 2⅔ innings Thursday in Chicago.

Lowe was back at it Saturday, proving he can handle the layoff in between appearances.

"That's where a veteran player understands this, where a young guy gets kind of antsy," Lowe said. "I understand I have to be prepared every day. That's something I've always taken pride in my whole career, is show up every day, work hard and expect to play that day. That's what makes it a little bit easier being 39 years old, you don't get discouraged when you don't pitch in eight or nine days."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Mariners 0

April, 20, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers survived an injury to starting pitcher Nick Tepesch, getting home runs from A.J. Pierzynski and David Murphy and four hitless innings from reliever Derek Lowe for a 5-0 victory over Seattle on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark.

Tepesch knocked out: The rookie Tepesch was removed from the game after he took a line drive off his right wrist with two outs in the second inning. He was diagnosed by Dr. Keith Meister with a right wrist contusion and will be further evaluated on Sunday. Tepesch had three strikeouts through 1⅔ innings in his third big league start.

Lowe comes through: Derek Lowe entered the game in an emergency situation and was lights out. Lowe, who had a 4.91 ERA coming into Saturday, produced four hitless innings. He did it the Derek Lowe way, using his sinker to get ground balls. Lowe picked up eight outs on ground balls, including a double play to erase the lone runner he put on by a hit batter. He lowered his ERA to 2.35.

Ortiz, Scheppers wobbly: Reliever Joe Ortiz and Tanner Scheppers each entered the game with two outs and no one on base and proceeded to put the first two batters they faced on base. Ortiz was able to escape on a hard-hit ground ball by Mariners cleanup hitter Michael Morse to shortstop. Scheppers got out of his jam with a strikeout of Mariners No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan.

Making the most: The Rangers had two hits off Mariners rookie Brandon Maurer in 6⅔ innings, but they made the most of them. Pierzynski had a home run to center field in the bottom of the fourth to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. David Murphy gave the Rangers an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-out solo shot to right-center field for a 2-0 lead.

Andrus struggles again: Shortstop Elvis Andrus made it 13 consecutive at-bats without a hit with an 0-for-4 game on Saturday. He also couldn't get a bunt down with runners at first and second with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Then, he struck out after the runners had moved up to second and third on a passed ball.

Berkman, Pierzynski produces: Designated hitter Lance Berkman picked Andrus up, taking advantage of a drawn-in infield for a two-run single past a diving Dustin Ackley with one out to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead. Pierzynski followed with a run-scoring single up the middle for a 5-0 lead.

Home sweet home: The Rangers improved to 6-2 at home this season and have a .633 winning percentage at home since the start of the 2010 season, second only to the Yankees' .635 winning percentage at Yankee Stadium.

Up next: Another rookie starter takes the mound for the Rangers as right-hander Justin Grimm (0-0, 4.50 ERA) faces Mariners right-hander Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.40 ERA) at 2:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest and will be on the radio at ESPN-FM 103.3 and 1540-AM.

Wash heaps praise on Derek Holland

April, 17, 2013
CHICAGO -- After opening the season with three straight brilliant performances, manager Ron Washington had nothing but bouquets to throw Derek Holland’s way. What’s the difference between the Holland that’s shown up this season and the inconsistent performer of the past?

Derek Holland joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss his desire to become an elite pitcher, his hot start to the season and what it's like to play at Wrigley, which also happens to be the name of his dog.

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“His breaking ball has much more depth this year,” Washington said. “We’ve been trying to get him to back foot it and he’s finally been able to back foot it. He brought his changeup back into play, which in his first couple years was his bread and butter. For some reason it got away from him. Now he’s throwing his changeup and making quality pitches with it. He’s not leaving his fastball up and over the dish with all the regularity that he has in the past; he’s able to put it where he wants to. That’s all because of his dedication to what he wanted to do for himself and the team.”

In previous years, there were rumors that Holland had been distracted. Washington admitted that was likely the case, but that’s an issue in Holland’s rear view mirror.

“It wasn’t just talk, he was distracted,” Washington said. “That was fact. I think what happened is with another year older he’s graduated mentally. He understands what’s priority now, not that he didn’t understand priority, he just didn’t know how to put it in proper perspective. He has done that. The key now is to hold on to it.”

Washington added that in Holland's three starts this season, he has yet had to go out to the mound to get Holland back on track. It’s little things like that which show Washington just how much Holland has matured since he made his major league debut nearly four years ago.

“He came up, maybe, when he wasn’t ready. It was a growing pain time,” Washington said of Holland’s inconsistencies. “He started in the bullpen and was going back and forth. The past three years he locked into one situation and was a starter. All that he went through from the first year he got here to right now, it’s all come together. If he’d had time in the minor leagues to put that together, he might have been the pitcher we think he should be – that he’s become now – sooner.

"But that’s the way baseball is now. We bring these kids up here now and they have to learn on the job. It’s not easy learning how to play at the big league level. Some guys can get away with it, some guys go through growing pains. He’s one of the guys that we had to go through growing pains with.”

Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss his opinion on Wrigley Field as a baseball venue, what he thought of Lance Berkman's comments about the historical park and his take on the Rangers early in the season.

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Washington pointed out that Holland is a much more polished pitcher than he was in 2011 when he won 16 games and tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. Washington went on to say that he’s not just going on three games evidence on this season. He’s confident that this start is for real because since Day 1 of spring training, Holland showed up with improved stuff.

Yu update: Yu Darvish will start on Friday, going on six days rest. Darvish said the extra days won’t change much – he did not throw an extra bullpen session – it just gives him some extra time to relax.

After being one out from a perfect game in his first start of the season, Darvish has given up three earned runs in each of his next two starts, going a combined 11 innings. Darvish was able to keep both games close despite not having his best stuff, something he often failed to do last season, his first in the big leagues.

“I don’t really know (what’s different),” Darvish said. “But I think emotionally and psychologically I’m a little bit more stable this year than last year.”

Darvish said that in Japan he was always able to keep games close, even when he went to the mound without his A game, and he’s glad he’s finally able to do that here.

Darvish also added that the blister on his right ring finger is a non-issue, saying that it’s "perfect."

Sticking with Kirkman: Michael Kirkman got two quick outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over the Cubs. However, he couldn’t find a way to get the ever-elusive third out. Kirkman allowed a soft single and a walk before he was replaced by closer Joe Nathan.

Washington didn’t hesitate when asked what he’d do if faced with a similar situation and Kirkman as the logical choice to go to in the pen.

“What you do is, you keep giving him the ball in situations where if he has hiccup he can work his way out of it until he finds it,” Washington said. “He’s gonna be important to us in that bullpen. He had bad period, then he had two pretty good (outings), then he had another (bad) one. We just gotta keep giving him the ball. We gotta figure out a way to get him right, and the only way to do that is to keep giving him the ball.”

Washington said he can’t keep going to Robbie Ross or Joe Ortiz, because if he did, they’d be burned out by June. Kirkman has a 7.20 ERA in six appearances (five innings) on the season.

Wash's Wisdom: Sticking with Geovany Soto

April, 16, 2013
Rangers manager Ron Washington had a few moments in the last week where he had an option to go to the bench in a pivotal run-scoring situation. He chose to stick with the player in the game.

Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his thoughts on the tragedy in Boston, Lance Berkman's comments about Wrigley Field and the absence of the Rangers' bats early in the season.

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The first instance came in last Wednesday's 2-0 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays. With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and Mitch Moreland coming up against left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos, Washington had switch hitter Lance Berkman available to pinch hit.

Berkman had been give the day off and Washington wanted it to be a full one. Washington stuck with Moreland, who grounded into a double play to end the rally.

Washington again had a chance to go to his bench in the eighth inning of Sunday's 4-3 loss at Seattle. This time he had backup catcher Geovany Soto coming up.

David Murphy had a two-out single, moving Adrian Beltre to third base. With left-handed reliever Oliver Perez in for Seattle and right-handed closer Tom Wilhelmsen warming up, Washington had the option of going to Ian Kinsler on his bench; or if Wilhelmsen came in, starting catching A.J. Pierzynski was available.

Washington stuck with Soto, who had a good at-bat, seeing eight pitches. And Soto had reached base in all of four of his chances against Perez. But his popup to right field was caught easily for the third out and the Rangers didn't score.

We'll never know what would have happened with Kinsler or Pierzynski at the plate.

Garcia shines: Washington decided to give utility man Leury Garcia back-to-back starts over the weekend at shortstop and second base. Garcia made Washington look good. He made one spectacular play and two other dazzlers at shortstop Saturday. Garcia also had a single and scored a run. Playing second base Sunday, Garcia had a triple and scored a run.

Leaning on Ortiz: Washington trusted 22-year-old rookie Joe Ortiz in two key spots last week against Seattle out of the bullpen, and the left-hander won the first two decisions of his career. He pitched two shutout innings in both outings. Ortiz has 1.04 ERA and six strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.

Rangers' offense off to slow start

April, 15, 2013
Much attention is being given to the Texas Rangers' offense through 13 games. And for good reason.

The Rangers are 8-5, which is a testament to the their pitching -- especially the bullpen. Joe Ortiz and Tanner Scheppers have answered the offseason's biggest question mark in the early going.

Meanwhile, the offense has put up 49 runs for an average of 3.8 runs per game. The Rangers have scored 30 fewer runs than they had at this time last season when they were averaging 6.1 runs per game.

A deeper look at the numbers through 13 games this season and in 2012 is revealing.

The Rangers were 11-2 at this point last season. Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli were among the leaders through 13 games last season, and all three left via trade or free agency after last season.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Mariners 1

April, 13, 2013

The Rangers scored two runs in the top of the eighth to snap a 1-1 tie as the bullpen held on for a 3-1 victory over Seattle on Saturday night at Safeco Field.

Andrus delivers: Elvis Andrus has had a frustrating start to the season, hitting the baseball on the barrel several times and having outs to show for it as his averages hovers around .250. But he delivered yet another hit with a runner scoring position, this one a two-out single down the right-field line in the top of the eighth to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Andrus is batting .333 with runners in scoring position.

Little Joe again: Rookie reliever Joe Ortiz is having a Robbie Ross start to the season. Remember Ross won four games in April in 2012. Well Ortiz has two victories in the Rangers' first 12 games this season. Ortiz pitched two more scoreless innings in the seventh and the eighth, putting himself in position for the victory.

Small ball works: The Rangers played for one run in the top of the sixth inning and it worked. Trailing 1-0 with their first two batters reaching base, manager Ron Washington went with the sacrifice bunt with Andrus up. He executed, putting two runners in scoring position. Adrian Beltre was then walked to load the bases, setting up Nelson Cruz. He hit into double play, but the Rangers scoring the tying run on a strange play in which Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak dropped Cruz's line drive and threw to second base to remove the force play and Leury Garcia scored before Ian Kinsler was tagged out between second and third base to end the inning.

Leury Leury: Another 22-year-old Ranger, Leury Garcia, made his first start Saturday and had single and also made three exceptional defensive plays, including fielding a ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Bullpen does work: The Rangers called on the bullpen for four more innings and they responded. Robbie Ross worked out of a sixth-inning jam. Ortiz gave up a hit in his two innings. And closer Joe Nathan had a perfect ninth inning for the win.

Ogando minimizes again: Alexi Ogando threw 98 pitches in five innings for a heavy workload. But the right-hander allowed a run or less for the third straight start. He allowed a run while striking out five and walking one.

Up next: The Rangers go for their fourth series win of the season when rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch takes the mound against Seattle right-hander Brandon Maurer. First pitch is 3:10 p.m. Sunday on FSSW.

Stock Report: Nolan Ryan/Jon Daniels up; Matt Harrison down

April, 12, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's Friday and that means a weekly look at who is trending up and who's trending down for the Texas Rangers. A look:


Joe Ortiz: The Rangers' 22-year old rookie won his first Major League game, pitching two shutout innings in a 4-3 victory over Seattle on Thursday night. Ortiz used 28 pitches to mow down six Mariners, two of them on strikeouts. Ortiz has three straight outings without allowing an earned run. Opponents are hitting .174 against him and he's walked one batter in 6 2/3 innings.

Derek Holland: Holland is off to a fantastic start. He has backed up his spring training goal of being a more focused pitcher. Holland has two quality starts, allowing four earned runs in 15 innings. When he's pitched himself into trouble, he's found a way out of it. Holland doesn't have a win to show for it -- the Rangers have scored two runs for him -- but he has kept his team in games.

Nolan Ryan/Jon Daniels: The Rangers announced after Wednesday's game that Nolan Ryan is remaining with the organization, a big boost to one of the baseball's best organizations. Ryan brings credibility and goodwill to the franchise. That shouldn't change after things got tense when his title of team president was taken away and it looked like the Hall of Famer might be exiting. Ryan and Daniels have formed a good partnership. The Rangers should contend for years to come and Ryan deserves to be on center stage if they finally win a World Series.


Matt Harrison:
Harrison struggled in his first two starts, allowing 10 runs in 10 2/3 innings. Now he's on the disabled list with an inflamed nerve in his lower back, forcing him to miss Thursday's start in Seattle and likely at least one more. The earliest Harrison can return is April 23 against the Angels. The good thing is Harrison can get healthy now -- his back has ailed him going back to his opening day start -- and he can get his sinker working again.

Adrian Beltre: The Rangers' All-Star third baseman had two hits in Thursday's win, but overall he's been inconsistent. He's driven in three runs and has three extra base hits in 10 games. Beltre had one hit in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position. It's early and Beltre simply hasn't gotten hot yet. He will.

Young bullpen keeps coming through

April, 9, 2013
The Rangers had their issues in the eighth and ninth innings of Monday's 5-4 victory over the Tampa Rays with veterans Derek Lowe and Joe Nathan wiggling out of trouble.

Richard Durrett and Tim MacMahon discuss Monday's controversial ending to the Rangers' win over the Rays and play the audio from various broadcasts.

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Before that, 22-year-old Joe Ortiz faced five batters and got five outs. On Sunday, it was 26-year-old Tanner Scheppers who gave the Rangers two strong innings.

It was Ortiz's turn Monday. He was called on with two runners on and one out with the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead.

It was the biggest moment of Ortiz's one-week career. He showed no fear, getting two ground ball outs. Ortiz came back out in the seventh inning and induced two more ground balls, plus he struck out Jose Molina.

"He did great," Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Obviously coming in with that situation, being his first year, he's not scared. That's the biggest thing with him. He's definitely not afraid. He wants the ball and he wants it in those situations. Hopefully it's another weapon out of the bullpen."

It wasn't all perfect for the bullpen Monday. Michael Kirkman had his issues, loading the bases on two hits and a walk. Lowe came in and allowed two inherited runners to score as the Rangers saw their lead cut to 5-3. Nathan, who pitched for his 300th save, allowed a run in the ninth.

Still, overall the bullpen is off to a good start, entering Monday with a 2.35 ERA. For the second straight game, it was called up in the sixth inning and closed out a victory -- this time the difficult way.

"My bullpen is in good shape," Washington said. "Our bullpen had a rough night. Up until that point, our bullpen has been outstanding."

Rapid Reaction: Angels 8, Rangers 4

April, 6, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers couldn't keep the ball in the park as the Los Angeles Angels hammered four home runs in a 8-4 victory Saturday afternoon to even the series. The Rangers fell to 3-2 while the Angels snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 2-3.

First-inning struggles: Matt Harrison didn't have any life on his fastball in the first inning, and the Angels jumped on him for four runs. Albert Pujols did the first damage, drilling the first Harrison fastball that registered more than 90 mph to center field for a two-run home run and a 2-0 lead. After Josh Hamilton walked on a 3-and-2 pitch, Mark Trumbo went the other way on a fastball that got up in the strike zone for another two-run homer to give the Angels a 4-0 lead five batters into the game.

Moreland's first hit: Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland got his money's worth on his first hit of the season, crushing a 2-2 pitch into the home run porch in right field in the third inning. The ball traveled 435 feet, halfway up in the upper deck. Moreland had gone 13 at-bats without a hit to start the season.

Messing with Josh: Rangers manager Ron Washington intentionally walked Pujols three times with first base open to get to his former player, Hamilton. It worked. Hamilton, in the midst of a brutal homecoming, struck out twice against Harrison to end both innings. Hamilton flew out to left field against rookie left-hander Joe Ortiz. Hamilton heads into Sunday's game with a 1-for-20 streak and 10 strikeouts.

Pujols nightmares: Pujols brought back memories of Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, in which he had three home runs in a 16-7 Cardinals victory over the Rangers that gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead in the series. Pujols had two homers Saturday, one in the first and another in the sixth. He didn't get a chance for a third with the intentional walks.

Frasor's rough day: Reliever Jason Frasor faced four Angels and allowed two home runs. Frasor allowed a leadoff homer to Peter Bourjos, his first of the season. After getting two outs, he tried a 3-2 fastball to Pujols, who lined his second home run of the season over the left-field fence. Frasor has allowed five home runs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 16 1/3 innings to go with a 9.92 ERA.

Cruz missile: Right fielder Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to start the season to five games with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. Cruz's streak of multihit games ended at four, but he hit his first home run of the season.

Power surge: The Rangers had two home runs in four games entering Saturday. They better than doubled that output with three long balls. In addition to Moreland and Cruz, Ian Kinsler hit his team-leading second home run in the third inning.

Up next: The Rangers and Angels will play on national TV on ESPN, the Rangers' second consecutive "Sunday Night Baseball" game on the network. It's a classic pitching matchup. Right-hander Yu Darvish (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his first start after coming within an out of a perfect game Tuesday night in Houston. Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (0-0, 1.50) is always a tough matchup for the Rangers.



Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182