Texas Rangers: Jurickson Profar

Rangers react to losing Yu Darvish

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
11:33
PM CT
Yu Darvish AP Photo/Brandon WadeThe Rangers hope Yu Darvish misses only a couple starts; Thursday's MRI may decide.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The news is quite stunning, but the Texas Rangers almost have a calmness about them right now.

The reaction to losing ace Yu Darvish to right-elbow inflammation Wednesday, the eve of a scheduled start, was just another head-shaking moment.

“You don’t get numb to that, when you get news like that,” manager Ron Washington said after the Rangers’ 10-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. “You see who else is available and keep moving on, that’s all you can do.”

Even Darvish seemed pretty calm. He walked through the clubhouse Wednesday night carrying what seemed like a heavy box.

He will undergo an MRI on Thursday, and the Rangers are hoping the results are such that he will miss just two starts and possibly return for a late-August turn in Seattle.

The Rangers have used a club-record 34 pitchers this season, and when they inserted Alex Claudio into the eighth inning Wednesday, the left-handed reliever became the 17th rookie to see the field. That leads the majors.

Washington has seen 24 players go on the DL and currently has 14 sitting there, which also leads the majors.

“It’s nothing new,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “That’s what’s been going on with this team. It sucks that happened to [Darvish]. I don’t think any kind of news is new for us.”

With injuries come young and inexperienced players. Some, who probably need more seasoning in the minors or are journeymen, get significant playing time.

The Rangers have used 56 players this season, a league high and most in franchise history.

The ups and downs started for this clubhouse when lefty starter Derek Holland suffered a knee injury while tripping over his dog and continued with surgeries for Mitch Moreland, Prince Fielder and Jurickson Profar.

Good news around here qualifies as seeing players begin rehab outings, such as Holland, scheduled to pitch Thursday at Triple-A Round Rock -- or Profar, who was fielding grounders at second base three hours before Wednesday's first pitch.

“I’ve been in that boat many times, and we just got to have to chalk it up to just a year of injuries,” said starter Colby Lewis, who has returned from hip and arm surgeries to pitch this season. “You know it sucks. You never think of this many guys going down in one year. But it happens and you got to deal with what we got -- and hopefully a lot of guys get healthy in the offseason and rehab in the offseason and be ready for spring training.”

With Darvish landing on that list, the Rangers keeping their sanity could rest on the hope that he misses just two starts and continues his season.

“It’s just been experience, really,” Washington said. “You take it on and you know for the most part this isn’t something that’s normal. So you deal with it and it’s been a necessity to make the moves we had to make with that pitching staff -- and we’ll continue to do that until there’s no more baseball to be played.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- In another step in his recovery, projected starting second baseman Jurickson Profar started fielding grounders at Globe Life Park on Wednesday afternoon before his Texas Rangers faced the Tampa Bay Rays. Profar, who has missed the season because of right shoulder surgery, isn't throwing yet but has been cleared to start a program in a few weeks.

“He’s not doing any throwing,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s able to get out there and start catching ground balls, and everything he does is underhand.”

The Rangers' plans for Profar is to have him participate in the instructional league and then move to the Arizona Fall League. Profar will not play winter ball.

“Just simulate double plays,” Washington said of Profar’s work Wednesday. “It gets some stuff working a little bit, gets his legs in some type of shape, and (he'll) start a throwing program (eventually).”

Rios back in the lineup: RF Alex Rios returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time since aggravating a right ankle injury on a slide into home plate Sunday in Houston.

Rios, who originally hurt the ankle July 19, pinch hit in the 13th inning of Tuesday’s 14-inning win over the Rays.

“He’s day-to-day,” Washington said, “and we’ll see what he can handle.”

The plan for now is to split DH duties between Rios and Shin-Soo Choo, who also is dealing with a sprained ankle. Washington will rotate Daniel Robertson and Jim Adduci in left field. He can also use Mike Carp in left, but Carp will be used mainly at first base, where he's started the last two games.

Rios, 33, cleared waivers last week and could still be moved before the August 31 waiver trade deadline passes. Rios is hitting .293 with four home runs and 16 stolen bases through 112 games this season.

Rotation altered: Washington said after RHP Nick Martinez pitches Friday against the Los Angeles Angels, he will be skipped a start. The Rangers have two days off next week sandwiched around a two-game set against the Miami Marlins.

Washington wants to keep Yu Darvish on his regular four days of rest schedule. So after Darvish pitches Thursday against the Rays, he’ll face the Marlins on August 19 and the Kansas City Royals on August 24.

The Rangers’ starters for the weekend series against the Angels are Martinez on Friday night, Colby Lewis on Saturday and Nick Tepesch for Sunday. After Martinez's start on Friday, he's tentatively scheduled to pitch at Seattle on August 27.
It didn't come as a surprise, but Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Thursday that second baseman Jurickson Profar's season is over. Profar hasn't played this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn teres major muscle in his right shoulder.

Daniels said Profar will undergo a MRI on August 12. If all goes well, Profar will start a throwing program in anticipation of getting ready to play in the instructional league in October.

"Our goal is to get him ready to play this winter," Daniels said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Losing Profar pushed another young player, Rougned Odor, to the majors. Odor made his debut May 8 and, at 20 years old and 94 days, was the youngest player to appear in a game this season. Odor has played 60 games at second base this season, more than anybody else on the team. The Rangers have used five second basemen in 2014.

Notes: Daniels also said that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff had a setback in his recovery from back surgery and had to undergo anorther procedure. He is also done for the year. ... Pitchers Alexi Ogando (elbow) and Tanner Scheppers (elbow) are not expected to return this season. Neither is expected to have surgery. ... Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (left ankle) are also out for the season. "If we had been in the pennant race we could have pushed it [with Fielder]," Daniels said. "It just doesn't make sense based on where we are now."

Rangers brass meets to address issues

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
8:46
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The timing of Thursday’s meeting of the Texas Rangers brass couldn’t have come at a better time.

Heading into the evening, the Rangers had lost a season-high seven consecutive games and were trying to avoid being swept by the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park.

It’s been a season filled with injuries and inconsistent play. Hitting and pitching have been inconsistent.

Ron Washington said the meeting was held to make sure everybody is on the same page.

“We haven’t thrown in the towel,” the manager said.

“Just making sure that we stay the course that’s all,” Washington added. “Nothing changed; making sure we stay the course. And we all wanted to know what we’re thinking, that’s what this is.”

Washington said the Rangers will continue to play young players because ... well, let’s be honest, there isn’t anybody else around.

Washington’s roster is limited.

Prince Fielder isn’t returning this season. Derek Holland won’t return until July. Matt Harrison is done for the year. Jurickson Profar is getting ready for winter ball.

The roster general manager Jon Daniels put together in the winter is vastly different at this stage of the summer.

“The challenge for us, we can’t keep talking about the injuries. We can’t focus on that,” Daniels said. “There are a lot of things we need to do. The story of the year can’t be the injuries; it’s very real.”

Daniels is right about forging ahead with the season.

In terms of a trade, Daniels said his staff has fielded calls but nothing solid is going to occur right now.

Whom do you trade, anyway?

Adrian Beltre, who has a limited no-trade clause?

Alex Rios?

Elvis Andrus?

Yu Darvish?

Joakim Soria?

Daniels said the season has been hard to watch. Both he and Washington like the effort from this club and said that after the success the Rangers have achieved the past few years, this down period is strange.

“Listen, we’ve struggled the last week or so. And I think every day you dig deeper into the season, you have more information,” Daniels said. “But we don’t have to declare anything; we don’t have to go down that path.

“At the same time, we’re going to use the next month or so to evaluate where we are, and we have to do our due diligence and understand what are options are, too. But like any other team, we’re talking to teams right now to get a layout [and] understand the landscape of where the possible fits might be. Whether we choose to act on that, I don’t know.”

Next week in Baltimore the Rangers will reach the halfway point of their season. It’s a season that has tested the patience of their manager, coaching staff, front office and, of course, ownership.

At some point things must change for the better; if not, their playoff run will come to an end.

Holland not ready for rehab assignment

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
5:44
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After running through around fifteen minutes of fielding drills before Wednesday’s game, Rangers manager Ron Washington said starting pitcher Derek Holland isn’t ready for a rehab assignment yet.

“He’s not ready for rehab, so he’s got to work,” Washington said. “He’s better, but he’s not ready for competition.”

While he said he believes he is ready, Holland said he could feel his leg was still stiff through covering first and fielding bunts down both lines.

The staff watching Holland through the workout, including Washington, knew he wasn’t ready yet before he went over to talk with them, Holland said.

“I guess it just wasn’t as good,” Holland said. “It was their opinion. I’m going to go by them. They want to make sure everything is right. I do, too. I want it to be a one-time thing. I don’t want this to be a thing that I have to go back on the DL. I want to get it right the first time.”

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Stock Report: Choo up, Fielder down

May, 23, 2014
May 23
1:00
PM CT
DETROIT -- This stock report comes shortly after the club received more devastating news on the injury front. So here's a look:


Streaking

STOCK UP

Shin-Soo Choo: He leads the team with six home runs and is now hitting .400 on the road this season with hits in 15 of his last 16 games away from Globe Life Park. Choo leads the AL in on-base percentage, a big reason he was acquired this offseason.

Chris Gimenez: The catcher did a nice job with Yu Darvish on Thursday (you can expect him to keep catching the Rangers' ace with J.P. Arencibia in the minors) and added four hits in just his second game as a Ranger.

Yu Darvish: Moved to 5-0 in his career against the Tigers with a win this week, the first pitcher to win his first five starts against Detroit since Joel Pineiro (2001-2003).

Slumping

STOCK DOWN

Prince Fielder: A herniated disk in his neck now means Fielder is scheduled for surgery Tuesday that will end his season. The weakness in his left arm could explain the lack of power numbers, but after trading for Fielder this offseason the Rangers will now get just three homers and 16 RBIs from him in 2014. They hope is he returns to the Fielder of old in 2015.

Jurickson Profar: The other side of the Fielder trade was making room at second base for Profar. But the 21-year-old prospect hasn't played a game in the big leagues this year and may not play in one for the rest of this season. He's re-strained the muscle in his shoulder and has been shut down. He's out at least eight to 12 weeks. We'll see if he progresses quickly enough to play this year.

Rougned Odor: Has made eight starts at second base but is 1-for-12 in his last five games, as his average has dipped to .179. He's still adjusting to life in the majors and facing big-league pitching.

Time to keep prospects, check trade market

May, 23, 2014
May 23
9:00
AM CT


DETROIT -- If you're expecting general manager Jon Daniels to come out and signal that the 2014 season is over, you're going to be waiting awhile. He can't do that. It's not fair to the group of players in the clubhouse who, frankly, should be commended for even being one game under .500 after what's happened on the injury front this season.

[+] EnlargeMorales
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKendrys Morales could be an affordable replacement for Prince Fielder in the Rangers lineup.
But Daniels and his staff have preached for years that they work under parallel plans: A one- or two-year plan and a five-year plan. The idea is to make deals that, as often as possible, satisfy both blueprints. That's what the offseason trade of Prince Fielder and the seven-year contract of Shin-Soo Choo were designed to do. Fielder gave them a power bat in the middle of the lineup and allowed them to insert Jurickson Profar at second base. Choo provided a leadoff hitter, who could sit there -- or at other spots in the order -- for years to come as an on-base machine. Those deals were supposed to help this team push for a World Series title in 2014 and beyond.

Now, it's that long-term plan that Daniels must focus on. That means resisting the temptation to do a whole lot in the wake of the Fielder news. The Rangers could certainly look at Kendrys Morales. And as Keith Law points out (Insider), they may have all the leverage for a player whom few teams need at this point. If they wait until after the draft, does it cost them $3 million? That's not a steep price to pay for a bat in the lineup for the rest of the season (and waiting until after the draft is a must so that it doesn't cost them any compensation).

But unless it's that sales-rack deal, I'm not sure the Rangers should do anything else to fill that spot. The club's best prospects are at the lower levels and are slowly, but confidently, making their way toward the big leagues. Joey Gallo's power has everyone's attention at Class A Myrtle Beach. Luke Jackson is continuing to progress at Double-A Frisco. Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor are getting some valuable time in the majors and could help this team down the road. So should Michael Choice and a host of others.

It gives the Rangers some options at the trade deadline to make the club better in the future. We know that Daniels and his staff hate closing doors. So if someone calls asking about Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus -- or nearly anyone not named Yu Darvish -- they're going to listen. They should listen. You never know what might come of it.

But don't expect them to start dealing prospects to try to add a piece here and there for just 2014 or even 2015. After the Matt Garza deal, something Daniels has referenced several times as a learning experience, they aren't going to part with a prospect package to get a semi-rental player. This team is more than one or two pieces away anyway. And the front office knows it.

It may not be time to fold 'em, but it's time to hold 'em. This team still has the ingredients to jump right back into contention next season should Fielder return 100 percent and Profar be fully ready to go, as well. They'll need to increase their pitching depth, but that's something Daniels & Co. can do either at trade deadline or in the offseason. Then that winning window has a chance to open again.

Infield plans from Fielder trade on hold

May, 22, 2014
May 22
5:58
PM CT


DETROIT -- On one Thursday afternoon, the entire Texas Rangers offseason plan for the right side of the infield in 2014 disappeared.

Trading for Prince Fielder a week before Thanksgiving was more than just adding a left-handed power bat to the middle of the lineup. It was also about freeing up the second base job for highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar.

On paper, it was a solid plan. Profar, who turned 21 in February, would get a chance to play an everyday position, something the club hoped would make him a better overall player. He hit .234 in 2013 and showed some flashes of ability, but was moving around to a variety of positions and never had a steady job. But by trading All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Fielder, the Rangers opened up an infield spot for Profar.

Fielder was supposed to be that power bat the club didn't have in 2013 after Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels. He was supposed to club his way to at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs -- and maybe more than that in a park he liked and with a fresh start. Texas spent a lot of money and went an extra year on free agent Shin-Soo Choo in part because the Rangers knew Fielder would be one of those players able to knock the on-base-percentage specialist in.

But as of May 22, those plans are on hold until spring training 2015. Fielder is scheduled to have fusion surgery Tuesday to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Barring a second opinion that changes things, he is out for the season. That was the big news of the day. But it wasn't the only injury news, something that has become routine for the Rangers this season.

Profar has re-strained a muscle in his shoulder. He's been shut down and a timetable for his return has not been set. But the team was conservative with his rehab the first time and he wasn't able to return. Now it's eight to 12 weeks, at least, meaning it may be difficult for him to come back at all this season.

So the two key pieces involved in that 48-hour trade that brought Fielder to Arlington, Texas, and sent Kinsler to Detroit aren't likely to be in the infield together in 2014. It was supposed to be Fielder at first and Profar at second. Now, that plan is on hold for a year.

It's still early for both players. Fielder has six years left on his contract. Profar is still awaiting his first full year as a starter. But the trade was designed to get the team a return on its investment in 2014 and beyond. All that's left now is the beyond part.
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.

Team needs a spark, but who provides it?

May, 7, 2014
May 7
7:30
AM CT
If ever there was a place to get the bats going and build off a winning series in Anaheim, it should have been the thin air of the Mile High City, right?

Yes, the Colorado Rockies have been an early-season surprise in the National League. But Coors Field is supposed to be a good spot for a lineup that, at least on paper, is expected to have power. Instead, the Rangers were blown out in consecutive games without many offensive highlights (maybe the biggest plus was Mitch Moreland's clean inning of work on Tuesday and hitting 93 mph on the radar gun).

It's not all on the bats, of course. The Rangers' arms, especially some in what seems like a thin bullpen these days, couldn't get the job done. The team also booted balls and didn't exactly put on a fundamental clinic, either.

[+] EnlargeShin-Soo Choo
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiShin-Soo Choo and the Rangers need a spark, because so far they've fallen flat.
But there was one thing in particular that seemed troublesome watching this club: The players lacked a spark. They seemed almost like a team waiting for something good to happen to turn things around rather than going out and aggressively making it turn around.

Sparks can come from a variety of places. And in baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, they have to come from different parts of the club. It's a 162-game season that presents a mental challenge on a nightly basis. Expecting players to be fully into every game just isn't realistic. So you need a spark from one area one night and from another the next.

But this team, at least right now, doesn't seem to be getting enough of it on any kind of consistent level. Elvis Andrus has always been good about being a spark when needed, but he's trying to get out of his own slump. Adrian Beltre is a key leader on this club, but he hasn't hit the same since returning from the disabled list.

Prince Fielder has enough ammunition to provide more than a spark, but nothing has fired at this point. As for the pitching staff, it's been up and down of late. Jurickson Profar being out hurts, too. His youthful exuberance was good for this club, even when he wasn't hitting consistently. Maybe not having some of the craziness of Derek Holland in the clubhouse and in the rotation impacts that spark quality, too.

Put it all together and you've got a team that has still done enough to hang in, but hasn't shown the energy level to put up a streak of nine wins in 11 games, for instance. Look back at this club's recent playoff teams and you'll see that had some of those stretches as players fed off each other and found a way to create momentum. So far, this team hasn't shown that ability.

It's early and that's worth remembering. There's plenty of baseball left. But this team needs a spark. Who do you think provides it?

Injuries: Profar to start throwing in a week

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
7:26
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar was cleared to swing a bat immediately and will start throwing in a week after an MRI showed a muscle in his shoulder has healed.

Profar is on the 60-day disabled list and can’t be activated until the end of May anyway, though the club has not put any firm timetable on his return.

“I think after what we experienced in spring training in terms of an effort to ramp him up a little bit faster, I could see us being a little bit more cautious with him,” assistant GM Thad Levine said.

Profar, 21, was diagnosed with a torn muscle in spring, forcing the Rangers to utilize Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy at second base in place of Profar so far this season.

The Rangers updated the media on a handful of injured players, including:

*RHP Neftali Feliz (soreness). Feliz is apparently feeling fine and the club is coming up with a program to get him ramped up again. But he hasn’t thrown in a game since April 16 and would need a few weeks before he’d be ready to return.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Mariners 2

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
9:59
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Leonys Martin's single ended a wild ninth inning as the Texas Rangers earned their fourth walk-off win at home this season, 3-2 over the Seattle Mariners. Texas did all the damage with two outs. Kevin Kouzmanoff singled, Mitch Moreland walked and then the Rangers got some help. Donnie Murphy's ground ball to short should have ended the inning, but the flip to second was high. The error kept the inning going and loaded the bases for Martin. A wild pitch scored the tying run, and then, Martin's single to left ended it. A few quick thoughts:

Pitch counts: It seems to be a topic of conversation every time Yu Darvish pitches, but the 27-year-old ace threw 107 pitches in seven innings Wednesday -- an average of 15.2 per inning. He came into the game No. 2 in the AL in pitches per inning at 12.7, nearly four fewer pitches per inning than his average last season. Darvish had two full counts in a 19-pitch first inning and didn't get much more efficient from there. Darvish adjusted by throwing more breaking pitches earlier in the count for strikes, but his command of his fastball and slider was not as good as it was in his first two starts.

Ambushing the fastball: Knowing that Darvish was getting ahead on hitters with first-pitch strikes in his first two starts, the Mariners came in with the idea of swinging at first-pitch fastballs and got a triple off one from Nick Franklin with one out in the second inning to get Seattle in position to score. A single by Mike Zunino plated Franklin. Darvish also walked Dustin Ackley with two outs, and that proved costly, as Abraham Almonte's single brought home Ackley to make it 2-0.

Where's the run support?: Darvish has pitched 22 innings this season, and his offense has yet to score a run for him. Not one. Blame Felix Hernandez for that Wednesday, but it's been like that all season. Darvish has no margin for error. On Wednesday, the Rangers managed just four hits and were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position while Darvish was on the mound.

Defensive issues: In the two-run second for the Mariners, Shin-Soo Choo charged Almonte's single but seemed to hesitate before throwing home. His throw home was off target and went to the backstop, allowing a runner to advance. A few innings later, Martin and Choo had a communication issue, and what should have been a routine fly-ball out glanced off Martin's glove and hit the ground. It was scored a hit but was another mistake by the defense. Texas has 15 errors in 15 games this season, which leads the AL, but the Rangers have made other miscues that haven't been called errors.

Hernandez dazzles: It sure looked like the Cy Young version of Hernandez on the mound Wednesday. He allowed one run (in the eighth) on four hits with a walk and nine strikeouts. He was lifted after just 96 pitches following Martin's leadoff triple in the eighth. Martin scored on Michael Choice's sacrifice fly. Hernandez threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. In three career meetings against Darvish (the other two in 2012), Hernandez is 3-0 and has a 0.75 ERA in 24 innings pitched with 28 strikeouts and three walks. Darvish didn't have his best stuff but hung in for seven innings, allowing two runs.

Briefly: Kouzmanoff's ninth-inning single kept his hitting streak alive. He's hit in all seven games he's played for the Rangers. ... Moreland's first walk of the season came against Hernandez in the fourth. He also walked with two outs in the ninth off Fernando Rodney.

Up next: Right-handed pitcher Tanner Scheppers (0-1, 7.88 ERA) goes up against righty Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 5.63 ERA) at 1:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and Fox Sports Southwest.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 1, Astros 0

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
4:25
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- That's 15 straight series wins over the Houston Astros for the Texas Rangers as they secure their second 1-0 win in the past three days. It was the first time in club history that Texas had two 1-0 wins in the same series and the first time for two 1-0 games in the same series since 1982 vs. Boston Red Sox. Martin Perez pitched eight shutout innings and Alexi Ogando got the save in the ninth. Texas now has three shutout wins in the first 12 games of the season and they move to .500 on the season. Some quick thoughts:

Perez loves double plays: Young Martin Perez found a nice pace in Sunday's game, pitching quickly and with confidence. He allowed four hits, but no runs and the double play was very helpful for him. He induced four ground-ball double plays, including one to end the eighth inning, his final frame of the game. Perez was leading the AL with five ground-ball double plays before the game started.

Long start: For just the second time in his career, Perez got through at least eight innings. The only other time he did it was Aug. 11, 2013 against the same Astros. In that one, he got a complete-game victory, allowing just one run on four hits.

Don't steal from me: Catcher Robinson Chirinos' arm was impressive on Sunday as he threw out two Houston runners attempting to steal. He nailed Jonathan Villar in the third and Matt Dominguez in the fifth. He has thrown out four baserunners this season.

Andrus ejected: Elvis Andrus argued a called third strike to end the third inning and was quickly ejected by home plate umpire Alan Porter. It was a low strike call and Andrus didn't like it. The ejection also brought an end to Andrus' streak of hitting safely in every game this season. He was at 11 games prior to Sunday, so he won't catch Al Oliver's club-record 13 in 1979.

Solid substitutes: Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy made their presences felt in Sunday's game. Wilson moved over to shortstop and Murphy came in to play second when Andrus was ejected. They played solid defense, and provided some offensive help in the sixth. Wilson led off the inning with a single, went from first to third on a single by Shin-Soo Choo and scored on Murphy's sacrifice fly, which game in the spot that Andrus would have batted in had not been asked to depart early.

Ogando in for the save: With Joakim Soria having pitched for two straight games, Alexi Ogando got the opportunity to save Sunday's game and came through. It was his fourth career save, his last one coming in 2012 as he pitched when Joe Nathan needed rest that season, grabbing three saves.

Defensive gems: Prince Fielder made a nice diving stop toward the first-base line to take an extra-base hit away from Jesus Guzman with one out in the fourth. Fielder worked earlier this homestand on his footwork and short-hops at first base with manager Ron Washington and will get some more work on other aspects of his defense before the homestand ends. But that was a very nice play for Fielder to keep the Astros off the bases. ... Josh Wilson, playing shortstop after Andrus' ejection, ranged to his left and snagged a line drive from L.J. Hoes, preventing a hit in the fifth.

Rapid Reaction: Astros 6, Rangers 5 (10)

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
10:24
PM CT

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A Texas Rangers comeback fell short on Saturday, as the Houston Astros scored in the 10th inning and held on for a 6-5 win.

Texas tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but a triple by Jason Castro, aided by a strange bounce off the wall in right, put him in position to score on Jose Altuve's sac fly to right. A few thoughts:

Great stop: Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar made a terrific diving play, backhanding a ball to his right and throwing to first to get Alex Rios with Elvis Andrus at second and no outs in the bottom of the 10th. The Astros wiggled out of the jam and preserved the win. The game could still be going on if not for Villar's play.

Baserunning blunder: After Rios hit a double off the wall in left-center to score Andrus and make it a one-run game, the outfielder tried to steal third. He was caught stealing for the first out of the inning, preempting the rally. The next two Rangers batters got out quickly, and any hope of tying the game at that point was lost. Rios also had trouble with a throw back to the infield in the 10th, missing the cutoff man, though it didn't allow the Astros an extra base (that happened on the odd bounce off the wedge wall).

Right Choice: Michael Choice didn't start the game, but he came in to pinch hit to lead off the ninth inning and belted his first career home run 412 feet into the Rangers bullpen to tie the score. It was only the 13th at-bat of the season for Choice, who hits mainly against left-handed pitchers. That included lefty Kevin Chapman in the ninth on Saturday, and Choice took advantage.

Two-out runs: Through three starts for Tanner Scheppers, he's had trouble finishing off innings with runners on base. That was the case again on Saturday as the Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit to score five runs -- four with two outs -- in the fourth inning to take the lead. Scheppers didn't allow a hit in the game until that frame but gave up three singles, a walk and a three-run home run to alter the game early.

Velocity up: When Scheppers was in the bullpen, he was regularly able to dial up his fastball to 95 or 96 mph. That didn't happen this season until Saturday. Scheppers touched 97 at one point and had that fastball in the 93-95 range consistently. That was an improvement.

Better finish: The fourth inning -- and Robbie Grossman's three-run homer specifically (with some help from the Globe Life Park jetstream) -- ruined any bid for a quality start, but Scheppers did bear down in the next three innings to get through seven. He needed 29 pitches as he retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced to finish off his start.

Hard-hit balls: Prince Fielder hit a few balls hard on Saturday, perhaps a sign that his timing is coming around. Fielder's single in the first was a one-hopper through the shift and probably the hardest ball he's hit all season. He also hit a long fly ball in the third. It's a small thing, but with Fielder struggling to do anything, it was noticeable.

Leadoff strikeouts: Neither leadoff hitter had a good night on Saturday. Shin-Soo Choo, who came in with seven strikeouts the whole season, had five in five at-bats, including four off Jarred Cosart (two of them looking). It was the first time he had five strikeouts in his career. The last time he had four strikeouts in a game was in July 2012 while with Cleveland. Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler wasn't much better, striking out in his first three at-bats against Scheppers (one of those looking).

Did it hit him?: Carlos Corporan was given first base in the sixth on a hit-by-pitch that plate umpire Rob Drake said hit the jersey. But it sure looked on the replay like it didn't hit him. That is a call the manager can challenge, but the Rangers chose not to do that. The HBP came with two outs, and Scheppers retired the next batter to end the inning.

Briefly: Donnie Murphy got a chance to play second base and took advantage with a double, a walk and two runs scored. … Andrus has now hit safely in 11 games to start the season. The club record is 13 by Al Oliver in 1979.

Up next: Left-hander Martin Perez (1-0, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for the Rangers in the final game of this series against Brett Oberholtzer (0-2, 4.91) in a 2:05 p.m. game.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .322
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 71
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .874
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182