Texas Rangers: Luke Hochevar

Michael Young delivers clutch hit

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
11:57
PM CT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It’s stretch drive time for the Rangers and Michael Young is right in the middle of it all.

On Monday and Tuesday, he was the designated hitter. On Wednesday, he was the second baseman. On Thursday, he was the shortstop.

Whatever it takes, Young is up for the challenge. The veteran capped off a strong series with a game-winning single in the 10th inning Thursday as the Rangers nipped the Royals 5-4 to take three of four and win their sixth consecutive series.

With Kansas City closer Greg Holland on the mound, Ian Kinsler led off the 10th with a triple. That brought up Young, who was hitting in the No. 2 slot with Elvis Andrus not in the starting lineup. Young promptly lined a single to center and Joe Nathan came on to close it out with his 30th save.

“We played really well here and so did they,” Young said. “They gave us a good challenge. We scored when we had to, made plays when we had to and came out of here with three wins."

With the infield in, Young wanted to make sure he didn’t hit a grounder right at somebody on his crucial at-bat in the 10th.

“You try to use the middle of the field and stay as short and quick to the ball as you possibly can,” Young said. “I wanted to get something up in the zone that I could hit on a line or higher.”

Young, who homered twice in the series, wasn’t the guy Kansas City wanted to see at the plate in a key situation. It was also Young who started a three-run rally in the fourth with the first Texas hit after Luke Hochevar had retired the first 10 batters.

“Michael Young has been grinding since Day 1,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “There’s no change in him. The only thing is, things are working now. I believe in Michael Young and I’m going to play Michael Young.”

Young’s game winner Thursday was the 2,201st hit of his career. And Washington is convinced that there are plenty of hits left in Young’s bat.

“He has done a lot of things in 11 years,” Washington said. “I’m on his ship.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Royals 4 (10)

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
10:42
PM CT


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Michael Young snapped a tie with a run-scoring single in the 10th inning to lift the Rangers to a 5-4 victory over the Royals on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. Young’s hit came after a leadoff triple by Ian Kinsler off Royals closer Greg Holland.

What it means: The Rangers, 82-55, moved 27 games over .500 for the first time this year and 5 games ahead of Oakland in the American League West. By taking three of four in Kansas City, the Rangers have won their last six series.

Strategy foiled: Manager Ron Washington played the percentages in the seventh inning when he lifted starter Scott Feldman for lefty Michael Kirkman with lefty-hitting Eric Hosmer at the plate and Texas leading by one. Hosmer foiled the strategy with a homer to left-center that tied the game at 4-4 and ended Feldman’s chance of getting a win for the first time since Aug. 4. Nevertheless, Feldman can reflect on a positive outing. He allowed six hits and three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

Twice as nice: Back-to-back homers are becoming standard operating procedure for the Rangers. They did it again Thursday, with Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre going back-to-back in the fourth inning. It’s the ninth time this year that Texas has had back-to-back homers and the second time in the Kansas City series. On Monday, Beltre and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back.

Select company: When Beltre hit his 30th homer Thursday, it marked the second consecutive year in which he has hit reached that plateau. Beltre, 33, joins a short list of players who posted back-to-back seasons with 30 homers or more at 32 or older. That list includes Harmon Killebrew, Mike Schmidt and Alex Rodriguez.

Royal defense: When they face the Royals next year, the Rangers may be somewhat leery about taking daring leads. That’s because Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez has made an impression in this series with his throwing ability. Perez picked off Kinsler at third Tuesday night and picked off Craig Gentry at first Thursday. Perez leads the Major Leagues in pickoffs with four this season. Kansas City used more good defense to thwart the Rangers in the eighth. With two on and two out, Cruz hit a liner to deep center, but Lorenzo Cain raced back for a lunging catch to take away two RBIs from Cruz. In the ninth, Hosmer leaned over the first base railing for an acrobatic grab of Geovany Soto’s foul popup.

Soto delivers: Soto doesn’t have a high batting average, but he came through with some big hits at the start and finish of the series. Soto got Texas off and running with a three-run homer in the series opener and blasted a go-ahead RBI double off Luke Hochevar in the seventh inning of the series finale. The Rangers can only hope it’s a glimpse of things to come.

Matchup: Scott Feldman vs. Luke Hochevar

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
1:00
PM CT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Texas Rangers conclude their four-game series with the Kansas City Royals tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The game starts at 7:10 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW. Here’s a look at the pitching matchup featuring RHP Scott Feldman vs. RHP Luke Hochevar:

Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA): He is scheduled to make his 200th career appearance and 99th career start. He will be trying to snap a drought in which he has lost in his last five starts. Feldman hopes that September will be as productive for him as July. He was the Rangers’ Player of the Month for July when he went 3-0 with a 1.96 earned run average. ... Feldman defeated the Royals 4-2 on Aug. 4 for his sixth straight win, but hasn’t been able to break through in the victory column since. In that outing against the Royals, he went 7 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and two runs.

Hochevar (7-13, 5.34 ERA): He is coming off the shortest stint of his career last Saturday against Minnesota. Hochevar lasted just 1 2/3 innnings after allowing a three-run homer by Chris Parmelee in the first and a grand slam by Joe Mauer in the second. Prior to that disappointment, Hochevar had turned in three starts of at least seven innings. He worked eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Aug. 21. ... Hochevar is 2-0 with a 2.78 ERA in five career starts against Texas.

Hitters: Michael Young is 5-of-10 lifetime against Hochevar and Adrian Beltre is 5-of-13. ... Hochevar has limited Josh Hamilton to a 2-of-11 plate performance. ... Billy Butler is 5-of-21 against Feldman with a homer, and Alex Gordon is 4-of-12.

Up next:
Fri. at TB: LHP Derek Holland (10-6, 4.79 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 3.41 ERA), 6:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/TXA21
Sat. at TB: RHP Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.29 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA), 6:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW
Sun. at TB: LHP Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37 ERA) vs. RHP James Shields (3-8, 3.88 ERA), 12:40 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW

Reaction: Julio Borbon fails to execute

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
11:50
PM CT


SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was not happy with Julio Borbon's inability to get a squeeze bunt down in the 10th inning of the Rangers' 7-6 win over the Kansas City Royals.

It's rare that you get an opportunity like that in a spring training game with a player at the plate that would need to do it at times in the regular season (should he make the club). So Washington tried to take advantage and put the squeeze play on. Borbon bunted the first pitch foul. After taking a ball, he bunted the 1-1 offering foul, as well, and eventually struck out with Matt Kata at third and one out.

Washington said sometimes the first attempt goes foul.

"The second time, that's no excuse," Washington said. "You get a second shot, you're not supposed to miss it."

Washington talked to Borbon about it right after the play, clearly frustrated that the outfielder couldn't execute.

"[There's] no excuse for not bunting," Washington said. "That's their job. And if they can't do that..."

Borbon wasn't the only player on the field Wednesday vying for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Craig Gentry started in center field and batted second. Gentry has battled injuries and ailments this spring and has not been able to get in any kind of rhythm. But after feeling light-headed and coming out of Sunday's game in Tempe, Gentry played the second-half of Tuesday's game and started Wednesday.

Manager Ron Washington talked to Gentry this week, encouraging him to run the bases with more aggression and get himself in gear for the season. The 28-year-old beat a relay throw on a double play in the fourth and didn't waste any time stealing second base. But in his attempt to stay aggressive, Gentry tried to go to third with two outs on a ball in the dirt (with Michael Young at the plate) and was thrown out.

Gentry came up with two outs and two runners on in the sixth and wasn't able to do anything, grounding out to second base. He's expected to get some more chances at center in the next few games. He was the favorite to get the right-handed center field spot going into spring, but he has not seized the position. It's possible Gentry and Julio Borbon both make the roster.

As for utility infield, Alberto Gonzalez got a chance to play shortstop with Elvis Andrus resting his tight hip flexor muscle. And Gonzalez took advantage. He had a single in the second and a double and a run scored in the fourth. Batting ninth, he came up with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and hit a fly ball to the wall in left. It was caught by Alex Gordon for a long sacrifice fly.

Gonzalez also made the routine defensive plays hit to him Wednesday.

Holland says he was better than numbers: Rangers starter Derek Holland said that despite the line (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 99 pitches, 66 strikes), he was pleased with the way he threw.

"I was throwing a lot of sinkers on both sides of the plate, and that was the plan to work on the ride back," Holland said.

Holland gave up two home runs, including one to Billy Butler that flew over the fence at the top of the berm and onto Bullard Avenue.

"He hit it about 800 feet," Holland said.

Washington said he wasn't sure it was that long, but it "seemed like it was shot out of a cannon."

Holland said he threw a sinker, and Butler blasted it.

The two walks were the first two free passes Holland has thrown all spring.

"My velocity was there and I felt good," Holland said. "If this was the regular season, I would have been upset. But I'm working on the sinker and doing some things."

That hurts: Michael Young tried to glove a low throw by Holland as Jason Bourgeois ran through the first-base bag. Young wasn't able to get to it, and in the process appeared to hurt his hand. He took his glove off and was shaking it off. Athletic trainer Jamie Reed came on the field briefly, but Young was fine. ...Nelson Cruz was hit in the hand by a pitch that was close to his chin in the third. He stayed in the game (after Reed once again got a chance to trot onto the field), but then left after the fifth.

Triple-homer-triple: David Murphy hit what appeared to be a home run in the second, though it wasn't called that way, and he slid into third. It was then called a homer, and Murphy trotted home. But after an umpire's conference, Murphy was sent back to third with a triple. I'm still not sure exactly where the ball hit in straightaway center, but it was a nice shot by Murphy. He scored one pitch later on Yorvit Torrealba's single.

Oops: Ian Kinsler charged a ground ball and slipped, falling forward as Brayan Pena made it to first base safely. Kinsler was smiling as he got up. It was scored an infield hit. After the game, Kinsler laughed when asked about it (Young laughed, too). "I don't even know where to start in describing that play," Kinsler said. "That's a play that happens in Arizona."

Gentry on the run: Washington wanted to see Gentry run the bases more and he let his center field candidate know that this week. Gentry beat out a relay throw on a double play (1B Eric Hosmer was off the bag) and then stole second. Gentry then tried to get to third on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out. Still, Gentry was trying to be aggressive on the bases, and that's what he needs to be doing. He came up with two on and two outs in the sixth and couldn't do much, grounding to second to end the inning.

Walk in the park: Mike Napoli, the DH on Wednesday, walked three times. He has a team-high 13 walks in Cactus League games and now leads the Cactus League in that category.

Nice bunt: Yorvit Torrealba came up with runners and first and second and no outs in the sixth and put down a perfect bunt toward third base. The ball stayed on the grass and Torrealba was able to record a hit and move the runners up, loading the bases.

Odds and ends: Brad Hawpe hit a double in the ninth and the Rangers ended up tying it on a passed ball (after Hawpe was removed for a pinch runner). ...Mike Adams retired all three batters he faced. ...Every starter in the lineup for the Rangers got on base at least once. ...Matt Kata made a great defensive play, diving to make a stop and then throwing the runner out from his back. He then had the go-ahead double in the 1oth.

Defense holds Rangers' slim lead

May, 19, 2011
5/19/11
8:54
PM CT
Chris Davis' home run has held up as the Rangers protect a 1-0 lead over the Royals after six.

Starters Luke Hochevar and Derek Holland are cruising -- neither has allowed more than six hits. Holland has benefited from a 6-3-6 double play started by Mitch Moreland that ended the fifth inning. The sixth ended when the Royals' Jeff Francoeur was throw out at second trying to stretch a single.

One batter earlier, Adrian Beltre dove to snag Alcides Escobar's grounder to third and appeared to throw him out one one knee. The throw drew Moreland to stretch in foul territory, and Escobar was called safe. Replays appeared to show that Moreland kept his foot on the bag.

DH Chris Davis, in for a resting Michael Young, has two of the Rangers' four hits.

Ranger reax: Why stop when on a roll?

May, 9, 2010
5/09/10
6:59
PM CT

So who needs an off day?

With a four-game winning streak under his belt after after Sunday's 6-4 win over the Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers' Ron Washington sounded like a manager who prefers to keep playing.

“It seems like when we started playing every day, that’s when things started falling in place,’’ said Washington.

The Rangers went 13-7 playing 20 games in 20 days. That stretch, which included trips to Boston, Seattle and Oakland, ends with Monday's off day. The Rangers open a three-game series at home against Oakland on Tuesday.

“We’re playing good baseball,’’ Washington said. “We’re playing Texas Rangers baseball, playing the game the way it ask you to play it, doing the little things. Today we had a sacrifice fly, a double steal, and the bullpen got the job done again.’’

[+] EnlargeDoug Mathis
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDoug Mathis, who was the winning pitcher with two innings of scoreless relief, eludes the pink Mother's Day bat that slipped out of Jason Kendall's grasp.
* The bullpen provided five scoreless innings a day after turning in four innings without allowing a run. That came after a shaky performance Thursday and Friday’s complete game by C.J. Wilson, and it allowed the Rangers to sweep the four-game series.

“Sweeping a team is tough enough let alone a four-game series,’’ said reliever Darren Oliver. “Nine scoreless innings is pretty good.’’

* David Murphy went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and raised his batting average 32 points to .229.

His two-run double in the third gave the Rangers their first lead.

“That was one of my best swings and at-bats of the season,’’ Murphy said. “It was a fastball in, and that’s a pitch you have to stay with to drive.’’

Murphy pulled what turned out to be the final pitch by Royals starter Luke Hochevar into the wall in right center.

* Pitcher Scott Feldman said he was frustrated with his performance, which lasted only four innings.

“I’m just not pitching well,’’ he said. “I’ve got to get better. I’m in a bit of a slump and I’ve got to get myself out of it. We’ve got a good team here and I know I can do better than this.’’

Feldman’s manager is sticking with his 27-year-old Opening Day starter.

“We’ve got to keep giving him the ball until he figures it out,’’ Washington said. “He had a good breaking ball today and his pitches had movement. But he didn’t throw his change very well.''

* Neftali Feliz continues to look more comfortable in the closer’s role. He worked a 1-2-3 ninth, with help from center fielder Julio Borbon’s diving catch, for his ninth save. He came into the game tied for the league lead in saves.

“I’ve never been uncomfortable about using Feliz in back-to-back games,’’ Washington said.

Slow go so far, but Rangers lead

May, 9, 2010
5/09/10
3:35
PM CT
Not a good pace to today’s game, mainly because neither pitcher has been sharp. Scott Feldman has only issued two walks, both to Royals cleanup hitter Jose Guillen, but has constantly been behind in the count. He’s needed 66 pitches to record nine outs.

The Royals’ Luke Hochevar walked four and didn’t make it out of a four-run third after throwing 70 pitches.

The Rangers lead, 4-2, through three innings. It has taken 1 hour, 20 minutes to make it this far.

Feldman has really slowed down with runners on base and at times appears to have trouble with catcher Max Ramirez on pitch selection.

Mound matchup: Hochevar vs. Feldman

May, 9, 2010
5/09/10
10:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kansas City Royals RHP Luke Hochevar squares off against Texas Rangers RHP Scott Feldman in today's 2:05 p.m. finale of the four-game weekend series. A look at the matchup:

Hochevar (3-1, 5.03 ERA): All four of Hochevar's decisions this season have come on the road and the last two show how erratic he can be. He earned a win in his last start, a 7-2 decision at the Chicago White Sox, working 6.0 innings and allowing one uneraned run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. His previous start was a clunker at Tampa Bay in which he allowed a career-high nine earned runs on 11 hits over 2 2/3 innings, rocketing his ERA from 3.55 to 6.11. This will be his second career start against the Rangers and the first in Arlington. He was a 6-3 winner over Texas last July 25 at Kauffman Stadium, working 7.0 innings and allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits with no walks and a career-high 13 strikeouts.

Feldman (1-3, 5.45 ERA): Control is Feldman's big issue heading into the weekend finale. he's issued 11 walks over his past three starts after walking just three batters over his first three starts. Feldman allowed seven earned runs in just seven innings in his last start, just the fifth time in the last 15 seasons a Rangers starter has done that. But, he retired the final 12 batters he faced. He is winless in his last four decisions, matching his longest winless drought from his banner 2009 season (June 8-25). The Royals might be his tonic. Feldman is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his two career starts against Kansas City. He threw eight shutout innings in his lone start last season at Kansas City, defeating Royals ace Zack Greinke, who allowed one run over seven innings.

Hitters: Royals lead-off hitter David DeJesus is reallythe lone batsman with any track record against Feldman with five hits in seven at-bats and three RBIs. Only Yuniesky Betancourt (.286, 4-of-14) and light-hitting Chris Getz have averages better than .200 against Feldman. Michael Young is the lone Rangers batter available for Sunday's game who got a hit of Hochevar in last season's meeting. Nelson Cruz had a hit, but he's injured and awaiting a rehab assignment.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 73
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182