Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton wishes Ian Kinsler luck

November, 21, 2013
Plenty of folks have commented on the trade that sends Prince Fielder to Texas and Ian Kinsler to Detroit. Add Josh Hamilton to the list. Hamilton sent a message to his former teammate earlier today on twitter.

Interestingly, the departure of Hamilton helped create the need for the Rangers to make this deal. The Rangers were searching for a left-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup, a spot that used to belong to Hamilton. But when Hamilton signed with the Angels, the Rangers never did find a replacement. Until now.

So Fielder will slot into the middle of the Rangers lineup, and Kinsler, who played with Hamilton for five seasons in Texas, goes to Detroit.

Ian Kinsler key cog in Rangers' success

November, 20, 2013
He was a spark plug. The igniter, as manager Ron Washington liked to call him. When Ian Kinsler was at his best -- finding ways to get on base, harassing opposing pitchers with his speed once he got there, and even belting some early-game, momentum-building home runs -- the Texas Rangers' offense just seemed to follow. It was trickle-down offensive fireworks and it helped the Rangers get to consecutive World Series.


Who got the better end of the trade sending Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder?


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Now, Kinsler will try to do that in Detroit. He's a Tiger. And he didn't have a say in the matter. The Tigers weren't on Kinsler's limited no-trade list, so his approval wasn't necessary. But trading him wasn't easy. The Rangers needed power and presence in the lineup and they get a big bundle of both with Prince Fielder. So Kinsler was the means to getting that bat to Arlington.

"I’ll miss the excitement that he brought every single night," Washington said. "I’ll miss his leadership in the clubhouse, leadership on the field. He was a gamer. He showed up every day and represented what the Texas Rangers were all about and what we were trying to do."

He leaves as a testament to the club's scouting and development and how critical is it to a successful franchise. He was taken in the 17th round in 2003 and the pick didn't make headlines. Mike Grouse, the area scout in the midwest, liked Kinsler's attitude and grit as much or more than his offensive or defensive skills. Kinsler wasn't a "wow" player, but he was scrappy and solid. Grouse voiced his opinion and the Rangers made the selection.

It didn't take long for Kinsler, who finished his collegiate career at Missouri, to make his mark in the minors, working his way through the system. He made his big league debut in 2006 after a full season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .286 with 14 homers and 55 RBIs as a rookie and never left the majors. In the process, he made friends with Michael Young, who recognized that Kinsler had tons of potential and could grow into a leader.

"When he first came up he was like my little brother," Young said via text on Wednesday. "Now, he's one of my best friends. He meant so much to this team and this community. He's a great player and teammate. Tiger fans are going to love him."

Kinsler represented a homegrown player who was drafted and developed by the Rangers and became a mainstay in the lineup and on the field. He had plenty of memorable moments in a Rangers uniform. He blasted a tone-setting home run to lead off Game 4 of the American League Division Series in 2011 in Tampa Bay, a game the Rangers won to move on to the championship series. He had three homers in the ALDS in 2010 as well, including one late in Game 5 to effectively seal the club's first playoff series win. He turned a memorable double play in Game 2 of the World Series in St. Louis, a game the Rangers won late to tie the series. And he hit for the cycle on April 15, 2009, wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.

Kinsler got his share of criticism from fans, especially when slumps would lead to popups or struggles with runners in scoring position. But I always believed the criticism was because Kinsler was so important to the entire offense working that, when he slumped, it seemed that often so did many of his teammates. His value never seemed fully understood until he was on the disabled list and the offense wasn't clicking.

He leaves with an impressive Rangers legacy as one of the key members of the franchise's most successful run. He also leaves, if you ask me, as one of the more underappreciated athletes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He'll be missed.

With World Series over, Rangers get busy

October, 31, 2013
Now that the World Series is over and October baseball gives way to November Hot Stove, the Texas Rangers will immediately get busy. Among the decisions that need to be made soon (before the Winter Meetings begin at Disney World in early December):

* Nelson Cruz. It should come as no surprise that the Rangers will make a qualifying offer to the outfielder. That offer of $14.1 million makes sense because if Cruz takes it, the club has its top power hitter back in 2014. If not and he signs somewhere else, the club would get draft pick compensation. It's an easy call, frankly. Cruz, 33, is expected to decline the offer and try to get a multi-year deal.

That's the second part of the equation. Do the Rangers offer Cruz a two- or three-year deal that could eat a decent chunk of their available money within a budget that Daniels has said won't change much from last year? He's not exactly a young player anymore, so it's a difficult choice.

* Joe Nathan. The club has three days to decide whether to offer Nathan a chance to accept the option on his contract. Nathan's deal includes a $9 million club option, but because the nearly 39-year-old (his birthday is Nov. 22) finished 55 games in 2013, he has the right to void that option. The Rangers must choose if they want to bring him back at that number based on their budget and the fact that they have some options at closer (like Joakim Soria or Tanner Scheppers). They could also just buy Nathan out for $750,000. If the Rangers do offer the option and Nathan refuses it, they don't have to pay the buyout.

Nathan, by the way, has talked about wanting a two-year deal. But if the Rangers choose to exercise the option, Nathan would have 48 hours to decide. (My bet is they won't exercise the option at that price. But we'll see.)

* Other teams can not negotiate with the Rangers' free agents until the sixth day after the World Series. So Texas has a brief exclusive window to talk to guys who could seek deals elsewhere. Cruz is the biggest name, but Matt Garza, David Murphy and catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto join Nathan on that list as well.

* Early shopping. The Rangers waited a while last year before signing Pierzynski and Lance Berkman late in the offseason, because they had to wait and see what Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke would do. But they've shown a willingness to jump in early if it makes sense. That's how they got Nathan two years ago, and that signing has certainly worked out. We'll see if they decide to shop and buy a little earlier this offseason as opposed to the last one based on their needs and budget.

* Arbitration. Some of these don't look too difficult. Neal Cotts proved he was a valuable member of the bullpen and could be a guy the Rangers look at signing for more than one year (getting through his final year of arbitration and one of his free agent years). Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando and Craig Gentry should be back. The toughest call might be Mitch Moreland. MLB Trade Rumors, which does a good job of forecasting arbitration numbers, has Moreland coming in around $2.7 million. The club must decide if they want to retain him at that number or use that money elsewhere.

* Lance Berkman. This is another decision that really isn't a decision. Berkman couldn't stay healthy after the team signed him to an $10 million contract in the offseason. The club won't be exercising the option on Berkman, but it's still on the "to do" list. The buyout will cost them $1 million.

AL West: Angels keep Mike Scioscia, GM

October, 9, 2013
There was some AL West news this week as the Los Angeles Angels decided to retain manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto despite another season of failing to live up to high expectations.

But there were some changes. Add the Angels to the list of teams looking for a bench coach after Rob Picciolo was let go. Hitting coach Jim Eppard is also departing, so not unlike the Texas Rangers, there's a shakeup on the Angels' coaching staff.

One big reason Scioscia is still in the dugout could certainly be money. He's got five years left on his contract worth about $27 million. He's been the skipper for 14 seasons now.

The Angels have a ton of money tied up in a handful of players, including Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. They're going to have to pay handsomely for Mike Trout at some point soon if they want to keep him. Despite all the firepower, the Angels couldn't get anything going in 2013 until after they were essentially eliminated from contention. They have not made the postseason since 2009.

It will be interesting to see the direction that Seattle goes in picking a new manager and where the Angels and Rangers turn to find bench coaches. And that's before we even get to the free-agent market, trades and everything else this offseason. Stay tuned.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Angels 2

September, 29, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers will play another day.

Texas railled from an early 1-0 deficit to beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2, on Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, clinching a spot in the American League wild-card play-in game against the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:07 p.m. Monday in Arlington.

The Rangers won seven straight games, all at home, to keep their postseason dream alive.

Soto's clutch hit: The Rangers responded after giving up the lead in the top of the sixth. With the score tied at 2-2, Adrian Beltre started a two-out uprising with a single to right field. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a bloop single to right field. That brought up Geovany Soto, who has been on a late-season tear. Soto ripped an RBI double into center field to score Beltre for a 3-2 lead. Soto also had a home run in the top of the ninth. Soto is 13-for-31 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 10 games.

Big insurance run: The Rangers took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Craig Gentry had a leadoff single and a stolen base. The Angels brought in Juan Gutierrez in relief and Ian Kinsler grounded the first pitch he saw into left field for a huge insurance run.


Which team will win Monday's AL wild-card play-in game?


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Scheppers again: Tanner Scheppers needed just nine pitches to get the top of the Angels' lineup in the top of the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to J.B. Shuck on a 0-2 pitch, but bounced back by getting Erick Aybar to ground into a double play. Scheppers then got Mike Trout to fly out to right field. Trout is 0-for-4 lifetime against Scheppers.

Beltre goes deep: Beltre is having a tough September and appeared to tweak his left hamstring running the bases in the sixth inning. But he still had the flair dramatic as shown by his home run to center field in the bottom of the eighth to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead. Beltre has two homers on this homestand.

Rangers take lead: The Rangers had trailed 1-0 since the first inning on Mike Trout's two-out home run when they finally took a lead in the fifth. Pierzynski started the bottom of the fifth with a double to center field. Soto then walked and both advanced on Jason Vargas' errant pickoff throw while Mitch Moreland was batting. After Moreland struck out, Gentry lined a two-run single into center field for a 2-1 lead.

Darvish out early: Manager Ron Washington made the very difficult decision of pulling Yu Darvish at 84 pitches in the sixth inning and bringing in Neal Cotts to face Josh Hamilton with two runners on. At issue is Darvish's inability to get a shutdown inning late in the season. With the Rangers leading 2-1 after Gentry's two-run single, Darvish allowed a single to No. 9 hitter Andrew Romine, then got a nifty double play started by Kinsler. Darvish then allowed a single to Aybar and four-pitch walk to Trout. That brought Washington out of the dugout. Darvish has given back the lead in the inning after the Rangers give him the lead in four of his last seven starts. Washington was trying to avoid that.

Hambone hurts Rangers: But Cotts couldn't get out Hamilton. He got ahead of him with a 1-2 count, but tried to go with a high fastball away to the former Ranger, who was able to go upstairs to line a single into left field to tie the game at 2-2.

Gentry gone wild: Gentry was on base three times Sunday with two singles and a walk. He is 15-for-31 in his last nine games.

Up next: The Rangers will play the Tampa Bay Rays in a wild-card play-in game at 7:07 p.m. Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas will go with left-hander Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA) while the Rays will counter with left-hander David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA).

Lineups: No Josh Hamilton for Angels

September, 28, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers will not have to deal with Josh Hamilton on Saturday. The former Rangers slugger is out of the Los Angeles Angels' starting lineup for Game 161 with Texas starting left-hander Derek Holland.

Here are the lineups for Saturday morning's 11:05 a.m.. start:

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

SS Erick Aybar
LF Collin Cowgill
CF Mike Trout
DH Howie Kendrick
1B Mark Trumbo
RF Kole Calhoun
C Chris Iannetta
2B Grant Green
3B Andrew Romine
P Garrett Richards

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Angels 3

September, 27, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers are getting good at these must-win games.

They scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and held on for a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, keeping themselves very much alive in the American League wild-card race with the weekend to go.

The Rangers finally picked up some ground on one of the wild-card front-runners, as the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3. The Cleveland Indians won their eighth straight game, beating the Minnesota Twins 12-6.

The Rangers trail both teams by a game with two games to go in the regular season.

Taking the lead: The Rangers got themselves into the Angels' bullpen -- one of their favorite spoils -- and immediately regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Ian Kinsler walked to start the inning against Juan Gutierrez. He went to second when he drew a wild pickoff throw from Gutierrez. Elvis Andrus followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Kinsler to third. With the Angels playing the infield in, Alex Rios slapped a single through the right side to score Kinsler for a 4-3 lead. Rios then stole second. On A.J. Pierzynski's infield single to shortstop, Rios came steaming around third to score when Angels shortstop Erick Aybar threw to first base.

Wild night for C.J.: Rangers fans know what a roller-coaster ride it can be with C.J. Wilson on the mound. Texas took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to three wild pitches, two hit batters and a single allowed by Wilson. He hit A.J. Pierzynski to force in a run as the Rangers took a 2-1 lead. Then Alex Rios scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 lead. The Rangers did have two runners in scoring position with one out and a chance to extend the lead, but Jeff Baker and Mitch Moreland struck out to end the threat.

Ogando's night: Alexi Ogando kept the Rangers in the game, leaving with the score tied at 3-3, but he did give up the lead in the top of the fifth. Leading 3-1, Ogando allowed a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Austin Romine, who had also singled and scored in the third inning. After Erick Aybar flied out, Kole Calhoun had a ground-ball single into right field to put runners at first and third. Ogando then walked the dangerous Mike Trout to get to former Ranger Josh Hamilton, who grounded a single through the right side to score Romine and Calhoun to tie the game at 3-3.

The 'pen: Wilson and the Angels found out for the second straight night that the Rangers' bullpen is hardly out of steam. The trio of Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and Tanner Scheppers did serious damage Friday night. They retired all eight batters they faced and totaled six strikeouts. Scheppers had the big inning, facing Trout-Hamilton-Howie Kendrick. Scheppers blew 98 mph fastballs by Trout and Hamilton and got Kendrick to bounce out to second.

Just missed: Leonys Martin almost played the hero again for the Rangers. With runners at first and second and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Martin stung a line drive on C.J. Wilson's 120th pitch into center field. For a moment it looked like Martin would give the Rangers a lead for a third straight night, but Hamilton and his fake beard were able to run it down for the third out.

Up next: The Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have to set the alarm clocks way earlier for Saturday's new start time of 11:05 a.m. in Arlington with rain expected later in the day. For Texas, left-hander Derek Holland (10-9, 3.33 ERA) will face Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (7-7, 4.09) on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Angels

September, 26, 2013
Texas Rangers (87-71, 2nd place/AL West) vs. Los Angeles Angels (78-80, 3rd place/AL West)

Thursday: RHP Matt Garza (4-5, 4.56) vs. RHP Jerome Williams (9-10, 4.55), 7:05 p.m.

Friday: RHP Alexi Ogando (7-4, 2.93) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (17-7, 3.36), 7:05 p.m.

Saturday: LHP Derek Holland (10-9, 3.33) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (7-7, 4.09), 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: RHP Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.82) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (9-7, 4.01), 2:05 p.m.

Here's what to watch for in this final series of the regular season:

Upper hand: The Rangers have dominated the Angels this season, winning 11 of 15 games, but don't expect this to be an easy series. The Halos won two of out three from the Rangers earlier this month in Anaheim. The Angels are 23-9 in their last 32 games for the second best record in the majors. They are 9-0-1 in their last 10 series. The Rangers swept their last home series against the Angels in July, winning all three games on walk-off home runs.

Wilson goes for 18:
Former Ranger C.J. Wilson is having a sensational second second with the Angels. He is 17-7 with a 3.36 ERA. Wilson lost for the first time in 14 starts in his last outing. He is 13-2 with a 2.94 ERA in his last 19 starts. Alexi Ogando will face Wilson on Friday night. Ogando had seven shutout innings Sunday in Kansas City.

What about Josh?: Former Ranger Josh Hamilton comes back to Baseball Town on a nice run. He has a 10-game hitting streak and had two hits and two RBIs in the Angels' 3-2 victory over first-place Oakland on Wednesday. Hamilton is batting .325 for September with four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs. That's significantly better than last September when Hamilton faded, batting .245 as the Rangers blew a big lead in the American League West.

Trout the MVP: You can't talk about the Angels and not mention All-Star outfielder Mike Trout, who is having another MVP-type season. Trout is closing in on becoming baseball's first 10-20-30-40 player, 10 triples, 20 homers, 30 steals and 40 doubles. He needs a double and triple in the four games against Texas. He currently has nine triples, 26 home runs, 33 steals and 39 doubles.

No Weaver: The Rangers avoid Angels ace Jered Weaver, who made his final start of the season Wednesday and beat the A's 3-1, allowing a run in seven innings. Texas still has to deal with Wilson and another lefty, Jason Vargas, on Sunday. Wilson and Garrett Williams beat the Rangers in the last series the teams played in Anaheim Sept. 6-8. Matt Garza and Derek Holland, who will start Thursday and Saturday, took losses in that series.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Angels

September, 6, 2013
Texas Rangers (80-59, 1st place/AL West) vs. Los Angeles Angels (65-74, 3rd place/AL West)

Friday: RHP Matt Garza (3-2, 4.04 ERA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.35), 9:05 p.m. CT

Saturday: LHP Derek Holland (9-7, 3.07) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (5-6, 4.06), 8:05 p.m.

Sunday: TBA vs. LHP Jason Vargas (8-6, 3.80), 2:35 p.m.

Here's what to watch for in this weekend's series between the Rangers and Angels:

Halos playing spoiler: It used to be that the American League West went through Anaheim, as the Angels dominated the division most of the past decade. Well, as awful as the Angels have been this season, they will have a say in the West race, just not the one they'd like to have. The Halos play seven games against the Rangers and six against the A's down the stretch. Texas has dominated the Angels, going 10-2 against its rival. The A's are 9-4 against the Halos.

Playing better: The Angels have picked up their play of late, winning 10 of their past 13 games. They are pitching well. The Halos have the best ERA in the big leagues since Aug. 22, posting a 2.53 mark. The Angels have had 12 quality starts in their past 15 games.

Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss what the Rangers need to do to grind out the AL West, what he sees when he looks at Yu Darvish right now and a lot more.

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Hamilton is back: With former Ranger Josh Hamilton, it's always something. Lately it's been sinus problems. He's had trouble throwing from the outfield. Undoubtedly, there are other issues, as his first season with the Angels has been a disaster. But he is playing well of late, batting .344 in his past 24 games. He's walked 11 times in 15 games. And he has hit Rangers pitching. He's batting .292 with a home run and seven RBIs this season against Texas.

Trout rolls on: Mike Trout always strikes fear in opponents. Trout is batting .370 since the All-Star break, the best in baseball. He is the youngest player in major league history to post two seasons of 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. This is the fourth season by an Angel with 20-plus homers and 30-plus steals. Bobby Bonds did it in 1977 and Devon White in 1987.

Angels' pen: The last time the Rangers saw the Angels, they had three walk-off wins as they completely demoralized the Halos' bullpen. It's still a disaster area. Angel relievers are 18-22 with a 4.26 ERA, ranking them 13th in the American League. They have 15 blown saves.

Is this season Ron Washington's best?

August, 12, 2013

The Texas Rangers head into Monday's action one game ahead in the AL West despite a rash of injuries and the suspension of Nelson Cruz. The fact that manager Ron Washington has managed to keep his team together and in contention with everything going on around him is one of the top jobs done by anyone this season and should have him in contention for AL manager of the year.

But is it the best job he's done since becoming skipper prior to the 2007 season? Let's look at some of the choices:


Has this season been Ron Washington's best managing job with the Rangers?


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2008: Washington's team started 7-16, and it sure appeared that his days could be numbered. Nolan Ryan had just taken over as team president, and Washington was not his hire. But Washington never changed his approach or attitude with his team, and his steadiness amid the pressure impressed everyone, including Ryan. More importantly, Washington's team improved. The Rangers were over .500 for the rest of the season. Considering how young the team was and how they started, it was a terrific managerial job.

2010: In the middle of spring training, Washington had to get up and apologize to his team once news of a failed drug test became public. Washington then held a news conference and his entire team showed up in support. The skipper handled that situation as well as he could have, and his team rallied behind him. But that wasn't the only obstacle he dealt with that season. The team was facing financial troubles once former owner Tom Hicks was forced to sell, and the future of the Rangers ended up in court. Washington would not allow his club to lose focus from what it could control on the field, even when he had to make an appearance in bankruptcy court himself. While the team went through an auction that eventually resulted in an ownership group of Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg -- who is no longer with the organization -- the Rangers just kept winning. Washington navigated his squad through the AL in the playoffs, too, resulting in the first World Series appearance for the franchise.

ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to react to the Rangers' trade for Alex Rios and discuss how it impacts the team down the stretch.

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2013: Shortly after the season began, the Rangers lost 2012 18-game winner Matt Harrison to injury. He still hasn't returned. Colby Lewis, thought to be coming back in June, will not return in 2013. Texas went into the offseason with high hopes but watched as Zack Greinke spurned the team to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli departed. The Rangers were left to fill one of those spots with Lance Berkman, who is currently rehabbing and hoping his knees hold up. Perhaps for some teams, the possibility of losing a slugger like Cruz to a suspension would loom over the club, but not this one. Cruz played well before the suspension and Washington's team hasn't lost since Cruz sat down starting last Monday. This season's club, more than any other since 2010, is playing in Washington's mold. The Rangers have become the versatile offense he was hoping for. They can hit the home run but don't rely on it. Texas, after starting the season slowly in this department, is having productive outs, utilizing its speed and putting pressure on the opponent. The skipper has also picked the perfect time to call team meetings. Twice this season, the Rangers have responded after getting together and talking things out.

To me, this is Washington's best season, considering everything that's gone on. This was a team many didn't expect to stay as competitive as it has. What do you think? Which season of the three above is Washington's best?

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Angels 3

August, 7, 2013

ANAHEIM, Calif. –- The Texas Rangers continued their climb up the American League West standings with their eighth win in the past nine games.

They are now only one game back of the division-leading Oakland A’s.

The Rangers’ hot streak, which includes four wins in five nights to begin a 10-game road trip, coincides with a cold spell for the A’s. Oakland suffered its fifth loss in six games in Cincinnati earlier Tuesday night.

After not gaining any ground in the AL West standings for 32 straight days, the Rangers have chewed up five games of Oakland’s lead since July 29, moving from six games back to within breathing distance.

Runnin’ Rangers: Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus combined for five stolen bases, and their legs led to runs on three occasions.

Martin stole second three times, putting him in position to score runs in the first and ninth innings. Andrus, whose RBI single drove in Martin in the ninth, stole second twice and scored the go-ahead run on an Adrian Beltre single in the eighth inning.

Andrus ranks fourth in the American League with 27 stolen bases. Martin is tied for eighth with 23.

Craig Gentry added his 11th stolen base in the top of the ninth, putting him in position to score an insurance run and sparking the four-run frame.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett cover every angle of the Nelson Cruz suspension and the impact it has on the Rangers and MLB.

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Bullpen beauty: Tanner Scheppers extended a dominant run for Rangers relievers with a pair of scoreless innings. The Texas bullpen has allowed one run over 14 1/3 innings in the past six games and hasn’t allowed a run in 19 of the past 26 games (1.98 ERA in that span).

Scheppers needed only six pitches to get through a perfect eighth inning. He picked up his second career save with a one-hit ninth.

On the other hand, the Angels' bullpen imploded again, allowing five runs in the final two innings.

Darvish scuffles: This was far from the dazzling performances Yu Darvish had in his previous two starts, when he had a total of 25 strikeouts while allowing only eight hits and one walk in 13 innings. Darvish allowed a season-high eight hits and walked three against the Angels, giving up three earned runs. But he battled for seven innings and earned his 11th win.

Darvish allowed only one run after giving up back-to-back home runs to the Angels’ first two batters. He consistently managed to get out of trouble despite not having electrifying stuff, stranding 10 runners.

Hamilton’s anti-heroics: Ex-Ranger Josh Hamilton heard scattered boos from the home crowd during his 0-for-4 performance.

Hamilton had two weak, swinging strikeouts against Darvish. He also had a routine fly ball to end the seventh inning with runners on first and third, letting Darvish exit with the score tied.

Hamilton’s averaged dipped to .219.

First-inning fight: The back-to-back homers by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout, the Angels’ first two batters, increased Darvish’s total of first-inning runs allowed to 14 this season. He has not allowed more than 10 runs in any other inning.

David Murphy joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' reactions to Nelson Cruz accepting his 50-game suspension for PEDs.

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The only run Darvish allowed in his previous three starts was a leadoff homer by Michael Bourn in a 1-0 loss to Cleveland on July 27.

This was the first time Darvish allowed two homers in an inning as a major leaguer. Trout’s opposite-field shot was his third career homer off Darvish, the most by any player.

Martin snaps out of slump: New leadoff hitter Leonys Martin snapped an 11 at-bat hitless skid with his single up the middle to start the game. It didn’t take Martin long to get another hit, as he beat out an infield single his next at-bat.

Martin, who stole three bases, scored in the first and had a game-tying RBI groundout in the fifth.

Jurickson’s web gem: Rookie Jurickson Profar, who has played every infield position except first base in the past week, made a spectacular play to rob Trout of a base hit in the third inning. Playing second base, Profar made a fully extended, leaping back-handed grab of a screaming line drive, prompting shortstop Elvis Andrus to make a motion that resembled a Superman impression.

Profar made another impressive play in the fifth, ranging far to his left to make a sliding stop of a ground ball on the lip of the outfield grass, getting up and throwing out leadoff hitter Calhoun.

Up next: Texas’ Alexi Ogando (4-3, 3.26 ERA) and Los Angeles’ Tommy Hanson (4-2, 5.29 ERA) are the scheduled starters as the Rangers try to complete the series sweep.

W2W4: Rangers-Angels

August, 5, 2013
The Rangers are very much in the playoff race, even if it's without outfielder Nelson Cruz.

They'll begin the final 50 games without their leading home run hitter and RBI man with a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels starting Monday night.

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss Nelson Cruz accepting his 50-game suspension for using PEDs.

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The Rangers swept three games from the Angels last week in Arlington, winning all three games on walk-off home runs -- and none of them by Cruz.

What kind of drama is on tap for the three games at the Big A in Anaheim? Here's what to watch for:

Rangers dominating so far: The Rangers are 7-2 against the Angels this season, including last week's three-game sweep in Arlington. All three wins came via walk-off home runs -- Geovany Soto, Leonys Martin and Adrian Beltre did the honors -- the first time that has happened in Rangers team history and only the second time in major league history. The Rangers are 48-35 against the Angels since the start of the 2009 season.

Angels bullpen still slumping: The Rangers took advantage of a struggling Angels bullpen to sweep the series in Arlington last week, trailing entering the ninth inning in two games and tied in the other and winning them all. The Halos' bullpen blew a 5-2 lead entering the eighth inning Sunday against Toronto. It was the Angels' fifth blown save in the past nine games. Manager Mike Scioscia pulled closer Ernesto Frieri in a 5-4 game in the top of the ninth after he put two runners on base, and Dane De La Rosa allowed consecutive hits to give up the lead.

Rangers miss Weaver, Wilson: The Rangers will miss the Angels' two best pitchers, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. That comes at a good time with Cruz out of the lineup starting Monday night due to his suspension. The Angels will start right-handers Jerome Williams (5-7, 4.60 ERA), Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.18) and Tommy Hanson (4-2, 5.29) against Texas. The Rangers are 41-37 against right-handers. Williams pitched very well against the Rangers on Wednesday, allowing a run in 7 1/3 innings.

Trout remains hot: The Rangers finally slowed down Angels center fielder Mike Trout in Wednesday's 2-1 victory as Martin Perez got him out all three times he faced him. He did draw a walk against reliever Tanner Scheppers. Trout was 6-for-6 with four walks in his 10 plate appearances in the first two games of last week's series. Trout led all of the major leagues during July with a .476 on-base percentage and a 1.108 OPS. He was the only player to reach base in every game during the month. Trout has reached base in 34 consecutive games.

Hamilton driving in runs: Former Ranger Josh Hamilton has picked things up from the standpoint of driving in runs. Hamilton, who appeared in Sunday's 6-5 loss as a pinch hitter, has 22 RBIs in his past 23 games. He is batting .280 with a home run and eight RBIs in his past seven games. Hamilton has been at his best this season against his old team, batting .389 with a home run and seven RBIs.

Perez shuts down Trout, Angels

July, 31, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Want to know how well rookie Martin Perez pitched Wednesday night?

Mike Trout was 0-for-3 against him. It was a hidden key in the Rangers' 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels that ultimately was won in the bottom of the ninth on Adrian Beltre's walk-off home run.

[+] EnlargeMartin Perez
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMartin Perez was the hidden key in the Rangers' win Wednesday.
Trout reached base in all 10 of his plate appearances in the first two games of the series, going 6-for-6 with four walks. The Angels' All-Star center fielder grounded out to first and flew out twice to right field against Perez.

What was Perez's secret?

"Throw strikes," Perez said. "Throw fastballs. When he doesn't have a runner in scoring position, he doesn't swing at first pitch, so I attacked him early."

Perez concentrated on slowing down the game against the Angels' hitters. He had rushed and let the game get away from him in his previous start, allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings Saturday in Cleveland.

Perez allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings Wednesday night, and that came on a home run by Josh Hamilton that tied the game in the top of the seventh. And Perez didn't make a mistake there -- Hamilton was able to hit a fastball that was down in the strike zone.

Hamilton got Perez once. Trout didn't, and the Angels' offense was in neutral.

"He's really hot right now," Rangers catcher Geovany Soto said of Trout. "We just tried to get the ball down, and hopefully he gets himself out and keep him off the bases. That's a big part of their offense."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Angels 1

July, 31, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers walked off again. Adrian Beltre slammed a 2-2 pitch off Los Angeles Angels reliever Michael Kohn over the left-field fence for a 2-1 victory, the Rangers' third walk-off win in three nights.

The Rangers moved within four games of the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

Beltre does it: Beltre cranked his 23rd home run of the season, hammering a fastball and creating another home plate celebration at Rangers Ballpark.

Perez rebounds: Left-hander Martin Perez pitched a tremendous game, allowing a run in 7 1/3 innings. The lone run scored in the top of the seventh when he tried to get a first-pitch fastball by former Ranger Josh Hamilton. Hamilton crushed it over the center-field fence to tie the score at 1-all. Perez allowed four hits and walked two. He had four strikeouts and needed only 95 pitches to work into the eighth inning.

Cruz homers again: Nelson Cruz crushed his 25th home run of the season with two outs in the bottom of the second to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The home run to left field traveled 389 feet. Cruz has feasted on Angels starter Jerome Williams during his career. Cruz has four home runs and 10 RBIs against him.

On Hamilton: Hamilton's home run was his longest of the season at 442 feet, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In his career with the Rangers, Hamilton hit 20 home runs at or past that distance at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, seven more than anyone else over that span (Nelson Cruz, 13).

Outs on the bases: The Rangers could have had more than a 1-0 lead after three innings if not for three outs on the bases. Leonys Martin probably shouldn't have taken a risk on Elvis Andrus' bloop single to right field and was called out at third base (Martin did appear to slide under the tag of Angels third baseman Chris Nelson). Right after that, Andrus was picked off first base by Williams. In the third inning, catcher Geovany Soto was picked off second base with runners at first and second and no outs.

Andrus extends streak: Andrus extended his hitting streak to a major league-best 13 games with his single in the first inning. Andrus also walked in the bottom of the eighth. He has reached base in 26 of his 28 games.

Murphy/Moreland update: Manager Ron Washington singled out David Murphy and Mitch Moreland as two hitters the Rangers need to get going for the final two months of the season. Murphy, who had a pinch hit Tuesday, was 0-for-3 with a strikeout Wednesday. Moreland was 1-for-3 with a single in the third inning.

Scheppers bounces back: Tanner Scheppers had a tough outing Tuesday night, but he came back Wednesday night and picked up two crucial outs with the go-ahead run at second base. Scheppers got Collin Cowgill to ground out to first, then after an intentional walk of Mike Trout, he struck out the slumping Mark Trumbo.

Better against Trout: Trout had reached base in all 10 plate appearances in the series entering Wednesday, but Perez shut him down. Trout was 0-for-3 with a tapper in front of home plate and two fly balls to right field.

Up next: The Rangers were scheduled for five consecutive Thursdays off in August, but they will play a makeup game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night with an early start of 6:05 CT. Right-hander Yu Darvish (9-5, 2.80 ERA) gets the start for the Rangers while the Diamondbacks have changed starters and will go with right-hander Zeke Spruill (0-0, 2.08). Thursday's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM. The Rangers will then head out for a 10-game road trip, starting with three games against AL West-leading Oakland.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 14, Angels 11 (10)

July, 30, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Leonys Martin played the part of hero Tuesday, drilling a walk-off three-run home run down the left-field line to give the Texas Rangers an improbable 14-11 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in 10 innings.

The Rangers gained ground on the first-place Oakland Athletics for the first time since June 27, moving within five games in the American League West.

Walk-off again: The Rangers had one walk-off win among their 56 victories going into Monday. They have two in two nights now. Geovany Soto did it with a walk-off homer for a 4-3 win Monday. Martin won it Tuesday night with his sixth home run of the season on a 1-2 pitch against Angels reliever Daniel Stange. It's the third time the Rangers have had consecutive walk-off wins since 1981. The game lasted 4 hours, 46 minutes.

Another rally: The Rangers trailed by a run going into the bottom of the ninth and rallied against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri again. Frieri actually got Elvis Andrus to fly out to right to get the Rangers down to their last out. Ian Kinsler started the rally with a walk and stole second base. Down 0-2 in the count, Adrian Beltre lined a single into left field to tie the game. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a hit to move Beltre to third base. Engel Beltre struck out to send the game to extra innings.

Scheppers implodes: It has been a rough week for Tanner Scheppers. He came into a 7-all game in the top of the eighth -- facing the 8-9-1 batters in the Angels' lineup -- and allowed four runs on four hits. Scheppers allowed a leadoff double to Halos catcher Chris Iannetta, and the inning only got worse. He gave up the lead on a fielder's choice groundout by Erick Aybar, a play in which the Rangers botched a rundown when Scheppers dropped a throw. Howie Kendrick made it 10-7 with a two-out single, and Josh Hamilton added an RBI single for an 11-7 lead.

Soto makes it close: Soto had his second late-inning home run in two nights, a line-drive three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth off Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa. Soto got a fastball up in the strike zone and made it an 11-10 game. Soto, of course, had the walk-off home run for the 4-3 victory over the Angels on Monday night. Both home runs traveled 366 feet, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Ross vs. Hambone: Left-hander Robbie Ross can't get left-handed batters out. That's becoming a problem for the Rangers. Ross was asked to get one out in the seventh inning with the bases loaded. Hamilton lined a bases-clearing double into center field to give the Angels back the lead at 7-6. Lefties are batting .338 against Ross for the season and have five hits in their past six at-bats against him.

Holland stays tough: Derek Holland allowed a two-out, two-run homer to Mark Trumbo in the first inning to fall behind 2-0. He didn't back down against the Angels' hitters, though. He continued to pitch to contact, allowing eight hits in six innings. He allowed two more runs and had a much more efficient outing than his former teammate C.J. Wilson. Holland continued a stretch of 21 of 22 starts in which he's allowed four earned runs or fewer. The only time he's allowed more than four was six earned runs April 22 against the Angels.

C.J. doesn't: The Angels gave Wilson two leads, and he held neither of them. Wilson had an inefficient outing, throwing 89 pitches in the first three innings. He had a 39-pitch third inning in which he allowed four hits and had a wild pitch that brought Nelson Cruz home with the tying run. After Soto walked, Craig Gentry had a two-run single to give the Rangers a 5-3 lead. Wilson entered Tuesday's start with a 7-1 record and a 1.96 ERA. He left Tuesday night after four innings, having given up a season-high 11 hits. Wilson has a career 8.63 ERA against his former team.

Kinsler again: Second baseman Ian Kinsler, moved to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, had his third RBI in three at-bats with a first-inning single to cut the Angels' lead to 2-1. Cruz later had a two-out RBI single to tie the game at 2-all.

Andrus extends streak: Shortstop Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a one-out double in the bottom of the first. He scored on Kinsler's single. Andrus' hitting streak tied with Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria for the current longest streak in baseball. Andrus also had a single and walked twice.

Up next: The Rangers conclude a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels with left-hander Martin Perez (3-3, 4.37 ERA) trying to bounce back from a tough start when he faces Halos right-hander Jerome Williams (5-7, 4.85) at 7:05 p.m. CT Wednesday, on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Don't forget the Rangers have a makeup game at home Thursday. Arizona comes to town with Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (9-5, 2.80) facing Diamondbacks right-hander Randall Delgado (3-3, 2.85) at 6:05 p.m., on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.



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Alex Rios
.333 1 10 8
HRP. Fielder 2
RBIA. Rios 10
RE. Andrus 11
OPSS. Choo .895
WM. Perez 3
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23