Texas Rangers: Justin Grimm

Like most general managers, Jon Daniels has made some deals he wishes he hadn't made. Sure, he completed his share of blockbusters that helped the Texas Rangers vault into contention a few years back (the Mark Teixeira and Cliff Lee deals lead the list). But he also had some swings and misses (Adrian Gonzalez might be the biggest).

In July 2013, Daniels knew the Rangers needed some pitching help to bolster the rotation down the stretch, and he acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs, trading away four prospects. So what does Daniels think of that deal now?

Matt Garza
AP Photo/Andrew A. NellesIn 13 starts for the Rangers, Matt Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings.
"I thought way too short-term with the Garza deal last year," Daniels told Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. "That one's got a chance to haunt us and haunt me."

To land Garza, Daniels dealt third baseman Mike Olt, right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards, right-handed starter Justin Grimm and right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez, who was the player to be named later.

As expected, Garza became a free agent after the season and signed with the Brewers.

Garza had pitched well in Chicago, and the Rangers were desperate for pitching help to make a push. But the same Garza never showed up in Texas. In 13 starts in a Rangers uniform, Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings, and Texas didn’t make the postseason, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 163, the one-game playoff to determine a wild-card postseason spot.

Olt is competing for the starting third-base job with the Cubs this spring. Edwards had a terrific 2013, split between the Rangers and Cubs, and continues to progress toward the big leagues. Add in Grimm and Ramirez, and the Cubs got a nice foursome of prospects for Garza.

That's why Daniels says it could haunt him.

Defining Dozen: Matt Harrison's injury

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
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Editor's Note: This is the ninth of a 12-part series titled "Defining Dozen," which looks at the 12 moments that impacted the 2013 season the most. The moments will include highs and lows for the Texas Rangers from a season that lasted until Game 163.

Matt Harrison, A.J. Pierzynski, Mike Maddux Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY SportsMatt Harrison won 18 games for the Rangers in 2012 but couldn't get healthy this season.
Moment No. 4: Matt Harrison's injury.

It was supposed to be another consistent, defining year for Matt Harrison. He was coming off an 18-win season in 2012 and had put together two straight seasons of at least 30 starts and an ERA just over 3.00. Harrison had become a reliable pitcher, something he worked hard to accomplish. It earned him a new long-term deal from the Rangers for $55 million over five years.

Based on the 2012 season, it was Harrison and not Yu Darvish that got the start on opening night in Houston (Darvish would start Game 2 and nearly throw a perfect game against the Astros). Harrison gave up five earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss. He was on the mound in Arlington a week later and allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings to the Los Angeles Angels.

It was after that start that Harrison complained of back pain. He got two injections and hoped to work through the pain and rehab so he wouldn't miss much time. But after the injections wore off, he experienced numbness down his left foot.

That prompted more evaluation and the decision to have surgery to repair a herniated disk. The initial diagnosis was that Harrison was out until at least the All-Star break but could potentially return at some point shortly after that. But Harrison required another back surgery and still was hopeful he could return to the rotation in September and help with the stretch run.

As Harrison attempted to complete a start during a rehab assignment in Triple-A Round Rock in August, he felt numbness in his throwing hand. So he had his third surgery of the season, this one ending any hopes of returning before 2014. Since the back wasn't going to allow him to pitch anymore during the season, he also had surgery to repair Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his non-throwing shoulder. He had the same condition in 2009 in his left shoulder and had surgery to repair it.

Harrison is expected to be ready to go in the spring. But the surgeries meant the Rangers' rotation was without one of its workhorses from the previous two seasons. That forced some young pitchers into the rotation earlier than expected. Justin Grimm took Harrison's place in April, and Nick Tepesch also played a big role early in the season in the rotation. Grimm was later traded to Chicago as part of the Matt Garza deal.

At first, the Rangers survived OK without Harrison. But like any lingering absence or injury (see Nelson Cruz's suspension), it caught up to them. It's difficult for a rotation to simply move on when you lose a guy who won 18 games the previous season. The Rangers' rotation pitched well, but there's no question Harrison's presence was missed.

Rangers send Ramirez to Cubs to complete Garza trade

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
1:31
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Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers sent right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez to the Chicago Cubs to complete the July 22 trade for right-handed pitcher Matt Garza.

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The Rangers already sent right-handed pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm along with infielder Mike Olt to the Cubs as part of the deal.

The deal was completed after the Cubs claimed Ramirez off waivers. He has been assigned from Double-A Frisco to Double-A Tennessee.

Ramirez, 24, was 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA over 21 games with Double-A Frisco this season. He led the Texas League in strikeouts (127) and ranked 5th in wins. The right-hander was in big league camp for the second straight spring after splitting the 2012 campaign between Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.

With the completion of the trade, the Rangers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
I get it. You wanted a bat. You expected a bat. And when general manager Jon Daniels didn't go and get a bat, you weren't happy about it.

But just because the Rangers didn't get a bat doesn't make the trade deadline a failure. First, this team is better thanks to the acquisition of Matt Garza, who has pitched well in his two Texas starts. I disagree with the notion that Garza had to be the first step and that if the Rangers didn't acquire a bat, it was a pointless deal.

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Garza strengthens this team. His presence in the rotation should, in the long run, take a little pressure off the offense. Do they have to score as many runs for Garza as they would have for Nick Tepesch or Justin Grimm, for instance? But this lack of offensive firepower, those three exciting games against the Angels not withstanding, had Daniels searching far and wide to get a bat with some impact in Arlington. One problem: That impact bat wasn't available at even a moderate price.

Want proof of that? Look at the names that didn't go anywhere. We heard whispers of Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and even Michael Young. Which GM swooped in with the right offer to grab one of those bats? Nobody. The Pirates could have used a hitter. They weren't willing to pay the price. The Red Sox certainly could have used Young. The right deal wasn't there.

With way more buyers than sellers, the sellers decided they could hike the price with limited inventory out there. That's fine. But if the inventory doesn't come close to the asking price, you just can't buy it. Daniels had to save his prospects for another time, perhaps this offseason. Imagine if he'd dealt a Luis Sardinas or Luke Jackson, two prospects you may not know, but two that would likely come up in discussions for someone like a Giancarlo Stanton and a David Price. Sure, everyone knows Jurickson Profar. But Profar alone doesn't get you either one of those two players. And if they're made available this offseason -- and you never know, they could be -- the Rangers are in better position than most teams to make a big run at them.

Besides, one bat wasn't going to cure an offense that was struggling and could be without Nelson Cruz, assuming that suspension comes down in the next few days and he doesn't appeal it. So the Rangers did the only thing they could -- they reluctantly stood pat. Come August, maybe there's something out there.

But don't say the Rangers failed at the deadline because they didn't overpay for a bat that wasn't of high impact. Blame part of it on the offseason, if you want. That's at least fair. But with no true impact bat available, cashing in your chips on a mid-level hitter would have been the bigger failure.

Stock Report: Andrus up; Cruz down

July, 26, 2013
7/26/13
12:00
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's Friday, so let's take a look at who's trending up and who's trending down in Texas:

Streaking
STOCK UP

Jon Daniels:
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels made baseball's first big deal before the trade deadline, acquiring the best starting pitcher on the market, Matt Garza, for one major league player, Justin Grimm, and prospects. The Rangers' starting rotation has been depleted by injuries this season and only had 10 wins since June 1. Garza won his first start for the Rangers on Wednesday, beating the Yankees 3-1.

Bullpen: Rangers relievers had produced 25 1/3 scoreless innings over a seven-game stretch before closer Joe Nathan allowed two ninth-inning runs in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to New York. Left-hander Neal Cotts has been as good as any reliever in baseball with a 0.91 ERA, third lowest among major league pitchers with at least 25 innings.

Elvis Andrus: Andrus is starting to get the barrel of the bat on the baseball and the results are improving. Andrus is batting .360 out of the All-Star break and has a seven-game hitting streak. Andrus has an 11-game home hitting streak, the second longest of his career.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Offense: The Rangers were shut out for the sixth time on the season Thursday, one more than all of 2012. They batted .254 with 17 runs on the 17-game homestand. The Rangers' season-long trend of being awful with runners in scoring position continues. They are hitting .165 in those situations in the last 12 games. The Rangers have 34 games this season when they've scored two runs or fewer.

Nelson Cruz: Cruz has four hits in his last 23 at-bats as his bat has gone cold. He had one RBI batting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup on the homestand. Cruz has been streaky throughout his career, so it's too early to say facing a possible suspension is taking a toll.

Mitch Moreland: Moreland had two hits in 25 at-bats on the homestand. With Cruz and Adrian Beltre both struggling at the same time, the Rangers need other players in their lineup to produce. Moreland did have a clutch two-run home run to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead in Tuesday's game against New York, a game they eventually lost 5-4 on Nathan's blown save.

Buzz: Berkman will balk at rehab assignment

July, 20, 2013
7/20/13
6:01
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Lance Berkman planned to hit again in the batting cages Saturday as he tries to return quickly from a strained left hip that has him on the 15-day disabled list.

One thing Berkman doesn't plan on doing: a medical rehabilitation assignment when he has completed all the baseball activities he needs to do to play in a game again.

"I'm not going on a rehab assignment," the 37-year old veteran said. "I don't need to do it, and I'm not going to do it."

Berkman has the right to refuse a rehab assignment with five years of service time in the big leagues. The Rangers will certainly encourage him to play a few days for Triple-A Round Rock or Double-A Frisco.

"I'm not commenting," manager Ron Washington said. "When he's ready, we'll deal with it."

Berkman says he can get the at-bats he needs against major league hitters, even though he hasn't played in two weeks and was hitting .176 (13-for-74) in his last 20 games.

"It's not like my timing has been great all year," Berkman said. "So maybe it will work in reverse."

Cruz shakes migraine: Right fielder Nelson Cruz said that the migraine headache that kept him out of Friday night's game finally went away Saturday around noon. It's the first migraine he's suffered as a player.

"When I was a kid, I would get that feeling but I didn't know what it was," Cruz said. "It never stayed long."

Cruz was sent home during Friday's 3-1 loss to Baltimore and was not available to pinch hit in the ninth inning.

Lewis throws bullpen: Right-hander Colby Lewis threw a bullpen session Friday and is all ready to go for his rehab start on Monday.

Lewis expects to throw 60-65 pitches for Double-A Frisco in the second of what will likely be four rehab starts before the Rangers know if he is ready to take the next step and pitch in a big league game. His demeanor continues to be very much on the optimistic side.

"This is the best I've felt," Lewis said. "There's no atypical soreness."

Lewis is a week shy of a year since he had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.

Grimm is fine: Rookie right-hander Justin Grimm threw a bullpen and said everything is fine with the forearm issue that forced him out of his last start on July 12 in Detroit.

"I was a little rusty," Grimm said. "I worked on my mechanics on a couple of my pitches. My delivery was a little off."

Grimm will not go back into the rotation but rather pitch out of the bullpen. The Rangers are going with a nine-man bullpen until they have to activate Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando on Monday and Tuesday.

Minor matters: The Rangers announced their monthly minor league awards on Saturday.

• Class A Hickory left-hander Luis Parra was the pitcher of the month after going 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA.

• Hickory infielder Ryan Rua was the player of the month after batting .298 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs.

• Double-A Frisco outfielder Ryan Strausborger was the defender of the month after starting the season with a 92-game errorless streak.

• Double-A Frisco/Triple-A Round Rock right-hander Ben Rowen was the reliever of the month after pitching 12⅓ scoreless innings and saving five games.

Buzz: Berkman hits in cages, still optimistic

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
5:56
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Designated hitter Lance Berkman, striking an optimistic tone, said he was hitting in the batting cages for the first time Friday since going on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip.

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He's eligible to be activated Monday, but that's probably not realistic. Berkman, who has been on the DL since July 7, said he'll try to run in a few days.

"It's definitely better than it was, but it's not quite there yet," Berkman said.

Manager Ron Washington said that Berkman will need to go on a medical rehabilitation assignment before he rejoins the Rangers lineup.

Berkman is batting .254 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 68 games. He hasn't hit a home run from his power side, left-handed, since May 11.

Cruz out of lineup: Right fielder Nelson Cruz, who led all American League outfielders in home runs and RBIs at the All-Star break, was out of Friday's lineup with a migraine headache.

Cruz wanted to wait to make a decision at game time, but Washington said with the heat and humidity he decided to go with Leonys Martin in right field. Cruz was available as a pinch hitter.

Ogando feeling strong: Right-hander Alexi Ogando reported no issues after going seven innings and throwing 80 pitches in a rehab start Thursday night for Double-A Frisco.

Ogando will throw a bullpen Sunday and he's expected to be activated and start Tuesday against the New York Yankees. Ogando allowed two runs on a home run in his start for Round Rock.

Washington following trade talk: Washington said he is aware of the trade talk involving the Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza, but his main focus is the current players on the Rangers and catching Oakland in the American League West.

"We know what's being discussed," Washington said. "I'll scream and holler if something happens."

Grimm available: Right-hander Justin Grimm, who left his last start with forearm soreness, was available to pitch out of the bullpen Friday. Grimm threw from 90 feet during Thursday's workout.

Trade target: Alex Rios

July, 15, 2013
7/15/13
11:30
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With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

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Nolan Ryan joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the Rangers at the All-Star break and the possibility of Manny Ramirez being called up in the second half of the season.

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Today's trade target: Alex Rios

One of the Rangers' needs is a right-handed bat. Lance Berkman is on the disabled list and struggled in the weeks leading up to his arrival there. Jeff Baker is rehabbing with Double-A Frisco and could join the Rangers right after the All-Star break. His return should help with the club's right-handed bat needs, but that doesn't change the club's wish list to get an impact bat at the deadline.

Among the possible candidates is Rios. The Rangers have reportedly been scouting the Chicago White Sox and Rios is a player they've certainly kept an eye on. Rios is hitting .270 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. He's also got 19 stolen bases. Against left-handed pitchers, Rios is hitting .294. He's hit in the 3-hole for most of the season.

Rios struggled for parts of June but has bounced back early in July. He'd give the Rangers a quality bat in the outfield that can play in the corners, allowing them to add some offense to the lineup.

The question, as usual, will be cost. Rios is 32 years old and is not a rental player. But he doesn't come cheap, either. He's due to make another $6 million or so this season, $12.5 million next season and there's a $13.5 million club option for 2015. The fact that he's not a rental and has a contract that allows the Rangers some flexibility after 2014 has to be appealing. And he has six teams on his no-trade list, but that does not include Texas (according to this Mark Gonzales report). So Rios is certainly intriguing. Under GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers have preferred making trades for players with more than three months left on their contract (Cliff Lee is the biggest notable exception, though back in 2010 the Rangers at least got compensatory picks when he left).

But because we're talking about a longer contract, the price in prospects could be higher. Of course, the level of prospects might also be based on whether the Rangers absorb the entire contract. Could names like Mike Olt, Joey Gallo, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Neil Ramirez and even Martin Perez be floated about in this kind of scenario? Sure. Don't be surprised to see middle infielder Luis Sardinas involved, either. But the combination of those players and how it all lines up could determine whether this makes sense for either team.

SportsNation

Who has been the Rangers' best performer in the first half?

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    49%
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    17%
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    17%
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    4%
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    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 17,667)

Rios has my interest, mainly because after the 2013 season the Rangers have questions in the outfield. Nelson Cruz's contract expires. David Murphy hasn't proven that he can handle an everyday job and his contract is up. So the club is going to need him out there, and Rios would be an option for 2014.

I'd part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we'll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I'd do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.

Do you agree? Do you like Rios' bat as a trade deadline pickup and someone in the outfield next season? What would you give up to get him?

Trade target: Matt Garza

July, 15, 2013
7/15/13
8:56
AM CT
With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

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Eric Nadel joins Galloway and Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.

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Today's trade target: Matt Garza

There's little question as to whether or not the Rangers need a starter. They do. Sure, you can hope that everybody currently on the disabled list returns on schedule, but how likely is that? And does it really matter? I could argue the Rangers need a starter even if everybody returns fully healthy and productive. The club's disabled list rotation is impressive when you consider Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch are on that list. Justin Grimm isn't on the DL, but he left Friday's start with right forearm tightness.

The bottom line: The Rangers need some more depth at that spot, especially when you start trying to put together a playoff rotation. Another top-half-of-the-rotation starter would be huge for this club.

Garza fits that bill. He's 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 11 starts. In Garza's past six starts, he's got a 1.24 ERA. His last start a few days ago (probably his last in a Cubs uniform) was 6⅔ innings against St. Louis, in which he gave up two runs. He's pitched well against the A's in Oakland and the White Sox, giving up a total of four runs in 21 1/2 innings in those last three starts. He's shown that he's healthy and productive. He's got the numbers to slide in as the No. 2 starter in this rotation behind Darvish and help give this club a boost, but at what cost?

Garza, 29, is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. That means any team that trades for him will not get a compensatory draft pick if he signs somewhere else (that's part of the new CBA). So we are talking about a pure rental here, assuming Garza doesn't sign long term with Texas. He'll be owed a little less than $5 million for the rest of the season. The Baltimore Sun reported that, last offseason, with one year left on his deal, Garza drew interest from the Orioles. The Cubs asked for two of Baltimore's top five prospects (as ranked by Baseball America, and both players were also in ESPN.com's Keith Law's top-100 list this offseason).

(Read full post)

Extra Bases: Rotation woes adding up

July, 13, 2013
7/13/13
10:51
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You couldn't say it any better than catcher A.J. Pierzynski after Friday's 7-2 loss to Detroit when asked about the Rangers' rash of injuries to their starting rotation, which has them down to one healthy guy from the season-opening rotation.

"You mean guys dropping like flies?" Pierzynski asked reporters.

Rookie Justin Grimm became the latest Friday night, exiting in the fourth inning with soreness in his right forearm. Grimm may need a trip to the disabled list; he would be the third starter to go down in a week if he does, joining Yu Darvish and Nick Tepesch. The Rangers have seven pitchers on the disabled list.

Grimm needs the four-day All-Star break as much as anyone, with a 9.91 ERA in his last eight starts. Whether he can be a viable member of the Rangers' rotation after the break remains to be seen.

The Rangers hoped to start June with a rotation of Darvish, Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis.

Those plans have been foiled.

Lewis suffered a setback in late May to his triceps and forearm and hasn't started a rehab assignment, though he appears to be close. He could return in mid-August.

Harrison needed two back surgeries to repair an inflamed nerve in April and isn't expected back until late August, if at all this season.

Ogando is in the middle of rehab assignment for right shoulder inflammation. The Rangers want him to make two more rehab starts -- he allowed four runs in the first inning of his last start for Triple-A Round Rock -- which would mean Ogando would not be available for the first turn in the rotation after the break.

The good news is Ogando did say earlier in the week in Round Rock that physically he feels the best he has all season.

So the Rangers' rotation for the first five games after the break remains to be seen.

Holland and 22-year-old Martin Perez, who has become an important part of the rotation, will likely start the first two games of the first series at home against Baltimore starting July 19.

Darvish, who got a clean bill of health from team doctors, can come off the disabled list July 22 in the opener of a four-game series against the New York Yankees.

That Sunday game against Baltimore? That second game of the Yankees series? Who will make those starts remains to be seen.

Maybe Grimm. Maybe Ross Wolf. Maybe Josh Lindblom. Maybe a pitcher acquired in a trade.

Maybe some good luck could come the Rangers' way.

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 7, Rangers 2

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
8:58
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The Detroit Tigers jumped on Rangers rookie starter Justin Grimm for five runs in the first inning, and Texas never threatened in a 7-2 loss on Friday night at Comerica Park.

Grimm start: Detroit batted around in the first inning, scoring five runs. The Tigers scored two more runs in the second inning. Detroit was 9-for-13 in the first two innings with four doubles. Grimm struggled with getting pitches up in the strike zone and, once again, with giving up the big inning. Grimm made it five straight starts in which he's lasted fewer than five innings. He's allowed 19 first-inning runs and 14 in the second inning. He left after 3 1/3 innings, having given up 10 hits, walking two and striking out three. His ERA is now 6.37.

Pierzynski goes deep: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski put the Rangers on the scoreboard in the fourth inning, belting a home run over the right-center-field fence. It was his second home run in six games and his ninth of the season.

Murph's struggles continue: David Murphy is swinging the bat better, but he hasn't heated up with runners in scoring position. Murphy, batting with the bases loaded and two outs with the Rangers trailing 7-2 in the top of the fourth, struck out. He is 0-for-17 and has two hits in his past 37 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Ortiz deals: Reliever Joe Ortiz looked like the pitcher who broke spring training with the Rangers, giving the pitching staff a boost after Grimm's short outing. Ortiz tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out three. Ortiz had allowed 13 hits and 12 runs in his previous six major league appearances.

Font makes '13 debut: Reliever Wilmer Font made his 2013 debut with the Rangers, pitching a scoreless eighth inning. He did allow a walk.

Beltre's streak end: Third baseman Adrian Beltre's hitting streak ended at 13 games. He was 0-for-4.

Up next: The Rangers will try to bounce back on Saturday night when left-hander Derek Holland (7-4, 3.19 ERA) faces right-hander Max Scherzer (13-0, 3.06) at 6:15 p.m. Saturday night (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM). On Sunday, left-hander Martin Perez (3-1, 2.08) goes up against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.71) at 12:08 p.m. Sunday on (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM).

Matchup: Justin Grimm vs. Doug Fister

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
10:00
AM CT
Justin Grimm will start for the Texas Rangers against Doug Fister of the Detroit Tigers on Friday as the teams meet in Michigan for their final series before the All-Star break on Friday night. The tilt begins at 6:08 p.m. CT on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3.

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Grimm (7-6, 5.88 ERA): The right-hander has struggled lately, going 2-3 with a 9.00 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June. … He went only four innings in his last start Sunday, allowing four runs and six hits. ... Grimm has now gone four straight starts of five innings or less, but is 2-1 during that time frame. ... This will be his first start at Comerica Park in Detroit, and Grimm is 1-1 with a 9.39 ERA in two career starts versus the Tigers.

Fister (6-5, 4.07): The 6-foot-8 right-hander has been struggling lately. He gave up 12 earned runs in 12 innings in his past two starts and has dropped four of his past five decisions. ... The Rangers touched him up for five earned runs in 4⅔ innings in a May start in Arlington. … Fister now is 0-1 with three no-decisions in his past four starts. ... The Rangers need to be ready for inside pitches, as Fister already has drilled 13 batters this season.

Hitters: The Rangers have found some good success versus Fister. Adrian Beltre (.471, 8-for-17), David Murphy (.450, 9-for-20) and Nelson Cruz (.421, 8-for-19) all have hit him well. The Tigers haven’t seen Grimm nearly as much with Miguel Cabrera (3-for-5), Torii Hunter (2-for-3) and Jhonny Peralta (2-for-4) leading the charge against him.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Astros 4

July, 7, 2013
7/07/13
6:21
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers defeated the Houston Astros, 5-4 Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark to finish the nine-game homestand with a 5-4 record. Texas kept pace with Oakland and remains a half-game behind the A’s in the AL West.

A crowd of 36,746 was on hand to watch as five Rangers relievers pitched a shutout inning with All-Star Joe Nathan finishing up for his 29th save.

Looking good: Joakim Soria’s long road back to a major league mound was finally completed on Sunday. The Rangers' 29-year-old right-hander worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning, retiring the middle of the Houston order on a pair of ground balls and a fly to left. Soria was making his first major league appearance since Sept. 11, 2011, when he was a member of the Royals. He missed all of the 2012 season after having Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow last April. The Rangers' bullpen has shown signs of weariness in this homestand, and the hope is Soria could relieve some of the workload on Tanner Scheppers and Neal Cotts after the All-Star break.

And they‘re off: The Rangers have been notoriously slow starters this season, coming into Sunday’s game scoring just 21 first-inning runs, a major-league worst by eight runs. Texas’ batting average in the first inning is a woeful .204, also the worst in the majors. But A.J. Pierzynski reversed the trend with a three-run home run into the Rangers' bullpen for a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Pierzynski’s blast off Erik Bedard, estimated at 407 feet, followed walks to Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz. The rare quick start boded well for the Rangers, 10-0 at home when scoring in the first inning and 14-2 overall. But to illustrate how bad first innings have been, Texas still trails opponents in first-inning runs, 40-24.

Grimm reality: A troubling sign for Rangers starter Justin Grimm Sunday was an inability to hold down Houston in innings immediately after Texas scored. Grimm got a no decision, pitching four innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. The idea of the so-called shutdown innings is to keep momentum out of the hands of the opponent. But following Texas’ three-run first, Grimm walked the first batter he faced and then was touched for the first career home run by Marc Krauss. After Texas made it 4-2 in the bottom of the third, Carlos Corporan opened the fourth with a single and eventually scored on a two-out base hit by J.D. Martinez.

Cruz control: The No. 3 spot in the batting order continues to agree with Cruz. The right fielder drove in his 67th run of the season with a fifth-inning single, snapping a 4-4 tie. He’s hitting .329 with five doubles and five home runs in his last 18 games. He’s hit No. 3 in the order in 17 games.

Burns returns: Reliever Cory Burns, inspired perhaps by today’s recall from Triple-A Round Rock, made a good second impression. He did not allow a run after inheriting a first and third jam with no outs in the fifth inning. Burns retired Jose Altuve on an infield pop and struck out left-handed hitter Brett Wallace for the second out. Jake Elmore was erased trying to steal on the strikeout. At Round Rock, Burns’ 16 saves ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League. Burns was acquired from San Diego in the off-season for pitcher Wilfredo Boscan.

Yo Adrian: Ron Washington doesn’t mind giving Adrian Beltre an occasional day off from his duties at third base, but the manager is reluctant to take Beltre’s bat out of the lineup. Especially with Beltre on a hitting tear. Beltre, the designated hitter on Sunday, lined his 18th home run into the left field stands in the third inning to widen the Texas lead to 4-2. In his 10 previous games, Beltre batted .425 with four doubles, three home runs and seven RBI.

Leather excellence: Shortstop Andrus made an outstanding defensive play to open the game, diving to his right to glove Jose Altuve’s grounder. Andrus still had a strong enough arm to get to his feet and throw out Houston’s leadoff man.

Leather lapse: A misfired suicide squeeze play could have helped Grimm get out of the fifth inning with a chance at a win. But with runner Brandon Barnes in no man’s land on the failed squeeze, the Rangers bungled the play. Pierzynski’s throw sailed to the inside on third baseman Jurickson Profar. Profar slapped a tag, but the ball was somewhere in left field. Barnes trotted home with a run and Profar was charged with the second Rangers error of the inning.

Scheduling note: The Rangers makeup game with Arizona, postponed due to field conditions on May 29, has been rescheduled for 6:05 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1 at Rangers Ballpark.

Matchup: Justin Grimm vs. Erik Bedard

July, 7, 2013
7/07/13
10:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers go for a series win against Houston when rookie right-hander Justin Grimm faces Astros left-hander Erik Bedard at 2:05 p.m. Sunday on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

Grimm (7-6, 5.84): The Rangers give the ball back to one of their young starters ... Grimm has won two of his last three starts ... But he's also 2-3 with a 9.31 ERA for his last six outings ... His ERA has risen by two runs since the start of June ... Grimm went four innings against Seattle, allowing three home runs in a 9-2 loss on Tuesday ... Getting the third out in an inning has been an issue ... Grimm allowed two-out first-inning home runs to Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales to fall behind early to the Mariners ... Opposing batters are hitting .342 against Grimm with runners in scoring position and two outs ... He leads American League rookies with seven wins and 63 strikeouts ... Grimm has started once against Houston last June, allowing three runs in six innings for the victory.

Bedard (3-4, 4.59): Bedard lost his last start, allowing four runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings ... He makes his 11th consecutive start after spending a short stint in the bullpen ... Bedard opened the season as Houston's No. 5 starter ... Bedard has held opponents to two runs or less in seven of his 10 starts since manager Bo Porter put him back in the rotation ... He has a 3-2 record and a 3.55 ERA for those 10 starts ... The Astros are 5-5 in those starts ... Bedard has 66 career wins, while the rest of the Astros rotation has 69 career wins ... He is 0-0 with a 2.16 ERA in two appearances, including one start, against the Rangers this season ... Bedard is 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA for his career against Texas.

Hitters: The current Astros roster is 1-for-9 against Grimm with second baseman Jose Altuve boasting a double. Nelson Cruz (6-for-19, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs) has had the most success against Bedard.

Grimm can't avoid HR trouble in 9-2 loss

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
10:54
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The pitfalls of having youth on the mound bit the Rangers in Tuesday night's 9-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

PODCAST
Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross joins Chuck Cooperstein, Matt Mosley, and Glenn "Stretch" Smith on Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' series against the Mariners.

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This time, it was rookie right-hander Justin Grimm, who couldn't get out of the fifth inning after allowing his third home run, a three-run shot by Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales that gave Seattle a 6-1 lead.

Grimm put the Rangers behind 2-0 in the top of the first by giving up two-out solo home runs to Raul Ibanez and Morales.

The Rangers start July in a dead heat with the Oakland Athletics in the American League West not knowing what two-fifths of the rotation is going to give them on a start-by-start basis. Grimm had won two straight games entering Tuesday despite lasting five innings in each outing.

Nick Tepesch, another of the Rangers' rookie starters, lasted only four innings in his recent start against Cincinnati. The Rangers have another rookie, Martin Perez, who has been brilliant in his past two starts but is 22 and could fall victim to the same things that are getting Grimm and Tepesch.

Not executing pitches and just plain old inconsistency. The Rangers are forced to live with this until rehabbing pitchers Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis make it back, hopefully after the All-Star break.

"When you're talking about youth, especially on the mound, you're going to get a lot of inconsistency," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And that's what you get. Inconsistency. They've shown that they're capable of pitching up here. They just have to get past the inconsistency. Tonight, he made some mistakes with some balls he left up. The guys in the middle of the order didn't miss."

Grimm looked like he might get out of the top of the first unscathed after getting two quick outs and making a quality 2-1 pitch to Ibanez. Grimm located his changeup where he wanted it -- down -- but Ibanez, who has been on a home run tear, got it. Morales then hit a 1-1 fastball over the right-field fence for a 2-0 lead.

"That was the best changeup I threw all night," Grimm said.

Grimm made his final mistake of the night in the top of the fifth. After a single and an error by second baseman Ian Kinsler to start the inning, Grimm threw a first-pitch changeup to Morales and left it up in the strike zone. Morales, a veteran hitter, didn't miss it, giving Seattle a 6-1 lead.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.97 142 115
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .341
HRA. Beltre 13
RBIA. Beltre 50
RA. Beltre 50
OPSA. Beltre .929
ERAY. Darvish 2.97
SOY. Darvish 142