Texas Rangers: MLB

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 6, Rangers 0

June, 26, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Things just got worse for the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler can wave bye-bye to his former team as the Rangers were swept in the three-game series after a 6-0 defeat at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers have now lost a season-high eight straight games, their longest slide since 2005.

How it happened: The Tigers took advantage of some wildness from Texas starter Nick Martinez, who didn’t get out of the third inning. The Tigers' biggest hit was a two-run double by Austin Jackson that pushed the Tigers to a 4-0 lead in the third inning. J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly out in the fourth upped the lead to 5-0.

It seemed as if the Tigers got tired of scoring, because they took the rest of the night off. Either that or Rangers reliever Scott Baker took control of things, which appeared more likely.

What it means: The Rangers held staff meetings before the game to make sure everybody is on the same page. The Rangers want to keep going with young players and hope they develop over the course of the season. Well, the patience is being tested after this latest loss. The Rangers hit into three double plays, Martinez walked a career-high five and, for the 34,989 in attendance, it was a rather boring evening. The last time the Rangers lost eight in a row was Aug. 8-16, 2005.

More starting pitching woes: Martinez was wonderful in his last start, against the Los Angeles Angels, when he picked up a no-decision while allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings. He left that game trailing 2-1. This time, Martinez failed to get out of the third inning, and his line was pretty bad. He pitched 2⅓ innings, allowed four runs on six hits and walked five. In this three-game set, Rangers starters allowed 14 earned runs.

Somebody did pitch well: Baker, a right-hander, had the best night of anybody for the home team. In 6⅔ innings of work, he gave up two runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts while throwing 84 pitches. Baker’s night was needed for a bullpen that has been worked hard.

What's next: The Rangers on Friday begin a three-game weekend series at home against the Minnesota Twins. Right-hander Nick Tepesch (2-3, 4.38 ERA) goes for the Rangers., who face Kevin Correia (4-8, 5.02) in a 7:05 p.m. CT start.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- You see the smiles on the field and the hustle.

You can tell the Texas Rangers care about what’s happening to them, mired in a seven-game losing streak, 12½ games back of first place in the AL West, 6½ out of the second wild-card spot.

This isn’t going well.

[+] EnlargeTexas Rangers
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez"It's definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak," Ron Washington said. "We just got to score some runs, and we got to pitch better."
Some games, the Rangers get excellent pitching and no hitting; others, great hitting and no pitching.

There’s no consistency, however.

On Wednesday night, they didn’t have a quality start on the mound from starter Joe Saunders in a 8-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park.

Tuesday night, the Rangers got a quality start from Colby Lewis but not enough hitting in an 8-2 loss to Detroit.

The season-high losing streak could grow as the Tigers look for the three-game sweep Thursday evening.

"It’s definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It is what it is. We know why: We just got to score some runs, and we got to pitch better."

One of the men expected to produce, Prince Fielder, is out for the season because of neck surgery. All he can do is visit and encourage his teammates.

Rangers left-hander starter Derek Holland can’t pitch right now because he’s recovering from knee surgery. He’s expected back after the All-Star break.

Will the season essentially be over by then?

Washington’s options to fix this problem are limited due to injuries and ineffective play from several players.

"They battled and they’re leaving their heart out there on the field, and they come out to the ballpark every day and they prepare," Washington said. "We just got to get consistent in a few areas. And once we get consistent in a few areas, we’ll start putting things back together."

Washington is being patient and hopeful his squad produces a little bit at a time.

Carlos Pena was called up to the big club on Tuesday and went 0-for-4. He didn’t hit one ball out of the infield. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-5 with a home run.

In the ninth inning, Pena struck out swinging on a Joe Nathan fastball to end the game. He represented the tying run.

Washington said Pena will be fine because he’s got a track record of success. The Rangers need his previous seasons of that to crop up now.

Adrian Beltre is on a tear, going 9-for-12 over the past three contests.

But Beltre needs help.

Alex Rios struck out with a man on in the fourth, Shin-Soo Choo scored twice and struck out in the seventh with a man on. Elvis Andrus went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored.

The bullpen continues its struggles. In the past five games, the Rangers produced just 11 runs.

Things improved on Wednesday.

"It got better; that’s a good thing for us," leadoff man Leonys Martin said. "Everybody is trying to focus on every single at-bat and hit a good pitch. That’s a key."

Martin said this club isn’t frustrated.

Before the game, Beltre was asked about holding a team meeting. He said it wasn’t necessary.

The season is long and here we are in the latter part of June talking about the team's losing streaks and attempts to dwindle a double-digit deficit in the standings.

"I have no complaints about the way they go about their business," Washington said. "We just have to score some runs, and we just got to pitch."

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 8, Rangers 6

June, 25, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers’ losing streak stretched to a season-high seven games on Wednesday night with an 8-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

How it happened: Pretty quickly. The Tigers scored three in the first inning: Miguel Cabrera’s sacrifice fly drove in the first run, followed by RBI doubles from Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez to get things rolling against Rangers starter Joe Saunders. The Tigers pushed the lead to 5-1 in the third, but the Rangers cut the deficit to 5-3 with a three-run fourth. Saunders couldn’t keep the game close, however; he allowed a homer to Victor Martinez off a 0-1 pitch. Ron Washington saw enough and relieved him in favor of Shawn Tolleson, who wasn’t much better; on the first pitch he threw, J.D. Martinez smashed a homer to right-center for a 7-3 lead. The Rangers kept coming back, cutting the lead to 7-5 with two outs and a man on in the seventh. Carlos Pena lined out to first to end the inning. In the ninth, trailing 8-5, the Rangers cut into the lead when Adrian Beltre singled in a run against former Ranger and current Tigers closer Joe Nathan. Pena came up again as the tying run against Nathan with two out, but he struck out swinging on a fastball to end the game.

What it means: The Rangers currently have the longest losing streak in the majors at seven. This is the longest slide for this club since a seven-game losing streak in September. While there are concerns about the lineup, there’s only so much the Rangers can do with that outside of a trade. The pitching staff has been inconsistent. Saunders fell to 0-4, and you have to wonder about his status in the rotation going forward.

Saunders held up: It appeared Saunders finished his warm-up tosses early; he wrapped up while ESPN was doing an interview with Washington at game’s start and at one point threw one more warm-up pitch. Maybe he was out of sync when the game started. His first pitch of the game sailed to the backstop, and he gave up a leadoff triple to Rajai Davis. Ian Kinsler walked and Cabrera’s fly out brought home the first run. Saunders might have lost a rhythm during the delay. He lasted just four innings, taken out after the fifth-inning homer to Martinez, allowing six runs on seven hits. He walked five and struck out two on 84 pitches.

Boos for Kinsler: Kinsler, the former Ranger, received mostly cheers on Tuesday night in his first game at his former home. On Wednesday, there were more boos during his trips to the plate. He went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored on the evening. Unlike his wave to the Rangers' dugout on Tuesday after hitting a home run, there were no such hijinks Wednesday.

Pena gets going: Pena failed to hit a ball out the infield on Tuesday, but Wednesday night he went 2-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored. It was Pena’s first home run since June 20, 2013, when he played for Houston. The Rangers hope Pena can provide a boost to a lineup that's produced just 11 runs in the past five games coming into Wednesday’s game.

Up next: The Rangers have RHP Nick Martinez (1-4, 4.22) facing the Tigers' Rick Porcello (9-4, 3.76) at 7:05 CT Thursday night.

Joe Saunders looks for first win

June, 25, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are hoping their season-high six-game losing streak ends soon.

Joe Saunders
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesRangers starting pitcher Joe Saunders is 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA this season.
Wednesday would be a nice place to start for the Rangers as they play the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park. However, the Rangers' starting pitcher Joe Saunders hasn't won a game all season.

He's 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA this season. The club is 2-4 in his starts.

"It's hard not to look at your record, especially these days," Saunders said. "It's harder to control wins and losses, but you still have to go out there and throw up zeros and do the other things to help the team along. Yes, I haven’t won a game yet, but I've helped my team win a few times so you have to look at that. It's not always about yourself. It's about the team."


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In Saunders' last start, June 20 against the Angels, he went 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs -- four earned -- in the 7-3 loss. In the five starts since he's come off the DL, Saunders has posted a 0-2 mark with a 3.33 ERA. Saunders has allowed fewer than two earned runs in four of his last five outings.

Winning a game, particularly now, is imperative for a Rangers team struggling at the plate.

"Yeah, it's frustrating to not have a win there, but you have to keep pushing forward," said Saunders who hasn't won a game since last August 31 at Houston when he pitched for Seattle. "Sometimes it happens, sometimes you put yourself in the best spot to win and you don’t win. Sometimes you put yourself in the worst spot and you win. It's one of those fluke things where wins and losses are harder to come by these days, at least to be able to control (it). But you have to be able to go out there and don’t worry about the BS and focus on pitching."

Rangers looking for runs

June, 25, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers have lost six consecutive games, the longest such stretch since Sept. 6-13, 2013, when this club lost seven games.

One of the main reasons for their current struggles is hitting.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesAdrian Beltre's 2,500th career hit was lost in the Rangers' thrashing by the Tigers.
In Tuesday's 8-2 loss to the Tigers, the Rangers went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Over the past four games Texas is just 4-for-29.

The lack of hitting hurt a fine effort by starter Colby Lewis, who allowed four runs on nine hits in 6⅓ innings of work. He struck out six.

"We are collectively not doing enough to win ballgames," said Adrian Beltre who picked up four hits, all singles, including his 2,500th career hit. "Sometimes we get a lot of hits but we don't do it at the right time. It's just something the whole team, everybody is not getting the right hits in the right situations. I think Colby threw a pretty good game. He only gave up one run early, until the seventh inning, and we gave up two. If he's going to come out in seven innings and give up three runs we will take that every day, we'll take that. It was a good outing, but we didn't help him enough to give him the win."

In the second inning, the Rangers had a chance to make something happen when Beltre reached on a single and Alex Rios walked.

Carlos Pena, in his season debut after getting called up from Triple-A Round Rock, struck out looking for the first out. Robinson Chirinos and Michael Choice popped out to short to end the threat. The Rangers would eventually tie the game on an RBI single by Beltre in the third, but the Rangers left two runners on in the inning and would strand runners in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.


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Overall, the Rangers have scored just 11 runs in the past five games, and you would think people would start to get worried around here.

"Not worried," Beltre said. "It's obvious we have more than half the season to go, but we're not worried. But obviously, it's hard to be losing four, five in a row, it's not fun, it's not fun. We have to find a way to create more runs. Running, hit and run, whatever it is, we have to find a way to get our offense going collectively. We're not doing enough to win ballgames collectively, that's the bottom line."

Pena was expected to be a spark for the lineup, but he struck out in his first two at-bats and failed to get the ball out of the infield in four appearances. The Rangers struck out 10 times against Tigers pitching, Elvis Andrus was picked off first base in the opening inning and Texas left nine men on base.

"Just not getting the job done right now," manager Ron Washington said. "We can't seem to put anything together. We just keep battling. We just can't seem to put anything together."

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 8, Rangers 2

June, 24, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers' losing streak reached six games with an 8-2 defeat to the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park.

How it happened: Things were moving along quietly until the seventh inning, when the Tigers sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs, breaking a 1-1 tie. J.D. Martinez, who batted twice in the inning, hit a two-run homer off Colby Lewis for a 3-1 lead. Martinez, by the way, ended the inning with a strikeout.

Before he could strike out, the Tigers loaded the bases and beat up not only Lewis but reliever Ben Rowen, who allowed two runs on three hits before getting lifted for Shawn Tolleson. When the inning ended, Lewis was credited with four earned runs on nine hits in 6⅓ innings of work. The only positive from Lewis’ outing was he pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season.

What it means: Well, the Rangers are falling further and further behind the leaders in the AL West and for the two AL wild-card spots. At some point the Rangers have to end this slide, but against the streaking Tigers (who have a five-game win streak) it doesn’t appear as if that will happen soon.

Pena’s debut: The Rangers called up first baseman Carlos Pena before the game, and in four trips he struck out twice, bounced out to short and to the pitcher. Pena’s first at-bat came with two runners on and none out in the second. He struck out looking on a Drew Smyly curveball on the corner of the plate.

Kinsler faces old team: Ian Kinsler spent eight years with the Rangers before an offseason trade sent him to the Tigers. He played in his former home on Tuesday night and received a mixture of boos and cheers. He went 2-for-5 with a first-inning homer that traveled 384 feet, and a two-run single to left in the eighth. He also struck out on an off-speed pitch in the seventh. Kinsler committed a throwing error in the eighth when he threw a double-play ball wide of first base.

Some good news: Adrian Beltre’s second-inning single gave him 2,500 hits in his career. Beltre finished 4-for-4 with all singles, including an RBI single that tied the game in the third. He becomes the 97th player in big league history to reach 2,500 hits. He’s also the sixth player to reach 2,500 hits while playing the majority of the time at third base. George Brett (3,514), Wade Boggs (3,010), Brooks Robinson (2,848), Chipper Jones (2,726) and Buddy Bell (2,514) are the others.

Up next: The Rangers have LHP Joe Saunders (0-3, 4.11) facing RHP Anibal Sanchez (4-2, 2.33) Wednesday night.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ian Kinsler said he's over it.

He spent eight seasons with the Texas Rangers and in some ways he expected more. Maybe he thought he would have been dealt with differently, maybe on a personal level instead of a professional level.

Ian Kinsler
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarIan Kinsler says he has no hard feelings toward Jon Daniels and also nothing to say to him.
But the Rangers traded Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in the offseason and it sparked a series of comments from Kinsler in an ESPN The Magazine story that said he hoped his former team goes 0-162.

It seemed as if Kinsler was being serious. He was joking and Tuesday night, as a steady rain poured down at Globe Life Park, Kinsler talked about the man who made the deal to trade him, general manager Jon Daniels.

"I haven’t talked to JD since last season," Kinsler said. "Never talked to him through the trade process, through anything that was going on, never given a heads up or maybe, 'this might happen or we’re possibly thinking about trading you.' Nothing like that, no communication. I have nothing to say to him. He probably has nothing to say to me. No reason to talk to the guy."

Sports is a business and few players get to finish their careers with the teams they love. Kinsler didn't sound too bitter about the trade yet wished it were handled differently.

(Read full post)

Pregame notes: Holland getting closer

June, 24, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- LHP Derek Holland (knee) isn't expected to pitch for the Rangers until after the All-Star break. However, he threw 75 pitches in a batting practice session Monday. Holland is scheduled to meet with the Rangers' medical officials Tuesday to determine the next step in his progress.

"I want to get out there and do whatever I can to help the team," said Holland, who hasn't pitched this season due to knee surgery.

Holland said his knee will not be 100 percent this season but that he's feeling comfortable coming off the mound fielding grounders and did so Monday.

"I don't want to show up here and not be ready to go," he said. "I want to be able to see some big league hitters, try to get them out."

The Rangers have to figure out when Holland can get a few minor league appearances in before the All-Star break.

Pena called up: Ron Washington didn't say the Rangers are desperate but the team made a roster move Tuesday afternoon, signing first baseman Carlos Pena from Triple-A Round Rock. Pena was inserted into the No. 6 spot in the lineup and will start at first base.

"He's swinging the bat well and playing first base the way he plays first base and that’s pretty good," Washington said. "Think we just brought in a first baseman that can play first base and he has a presence. He may be a little older but he has presence. If you throw something in the wrong spot, he’s going to hurt you. He knows how to play around that bag (and) his presence is important."

In seven games with Round Rock, Pena had a slash line of .333/.429/.500 with one home run and seven RBIs. Pena is a lifetime .233 hitter and played with Houston and Kansas City last season.

To make room for Pena, the club designated Brad Snyder for assignment

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Martinez, Baker can only look forward

June, 10, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Things unraveled quickly for Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Martinez on Monday.

The first three Cleveland Indians batters reached base on two singles and a walk.

[+] EnlargeBaker
AP Photo/LM Otero"The [pitching] is there. The stuff is there. I'm just making too many mistakes," Scott Baker said after his largely forgettable outing on Monday.
Those runs would be driven in, along with five more in the second.

Martinez gave up two home runs in that second inning before he was pulled in favor of reliever Scott Baker to start of the third inning.

It certainly was a low point for the right-handed Martinez, who had gone at least five innings in his seven previous starts this season.

While he hasn’t faced many poor starts, a bad game in the span of the season is a given, Martinez acknowledged, especially for a 23-year-old rookie.

“That’s unavoidable at any age,” Martinez said. “Those days happen. You’ve just got to nip it in the bud and get back to work and focus on your next start.”

Martinez’s relief, Baker, experienced the same kind of roller-coaster ride Monday, but his was over the course of his five innings of work.

His final line certainly was nothing to gloat over -- nine runs on 11 hits, three of which were home runs -- but within the outing were a few high points.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Indians 17, Rangers 7

June, 9, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cleveland Indians scored early and scored often in a 17-7 rout of the Texas Rangers on Monday at Globe Life Park.

How it happened: Cleveland’s shelling of Rangers starter Nick Martinez in the first two innings was more than the decent offensive output the Rangers mustered could handle Monday.

The Indians scored three in the first by plating all of the first three hitters of the game and followed that with an explosive five-run second that included two home runs.

Texas managed seven runs on 11 hits, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the team’s poor start in the pitching department.

What it means: Texas falls to 31-33 on the season and is now 2-5 in its current nine-game home stand. Texas has been within two games of .500, plus or minus, for the past 19 days.

Bombs away: The MLB Home Run Derby is still about a month away, but Cleveland did its best to replicate it Monday. The Indians went deep five times, including three off the bat of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, giving him the second multiple-home run game of his career. It was just the second multiple-home run game of the season for the Indians. Chisenhall tallied nine RBIs, which broke a team record and tied Bill Miller for most RBIs hit against the Rangers. Miller’s 2003 performance included three home runs, two of which were grand slams -- one from each side of the plate. The most recent nine RBI game was from Carlos Delgado, then with the New York Mets, on June 27, 2008.

Big slip: Martinez posted his worst start of the year: eight runs allowed in just two innings pitched. He was constantly working from behind, as he ended six plate appearances behind on the count and reached a full count four times. This performance came a game after his first career loss, in his most recent start, a 6-5 Baltimore Orioles win on Wednesday. Cleveland’s eight runs also marked a season high for Martinez.

Home woes: The Rangers are now 15-18 at home on the season and 6-15 in the past 21 games, after Texas opened the season with a 9-3 mark at Globe Life Park. That .300 winning percentage at home is the lowest in MLB, and the Rangers have the fewest home wins dating back to April 20.

Triple crown: Rangers right fielder Alex Rios hit his eighth triple of the year Monday -- his second in as many days -- and extended his lead over Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dee Gordan, who has six.

Bright spot: Rangers designated hitter Michael Choice dialed up his third home run in the past five games on a fourth-inning blast that traveled 355 feet. His first two in the series came Thursday and Friday, in what were his first career back-to-back homer games. Seven of his past 11 hits have gone for extra bases, with three doubles and four home runs.

Umpire injured: The injury bug that has plagued the Rangers’ clubhouse apparently has no boundaries. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf left the game with no outs in the bottom of the sixth after taking a foul tip off the bat of Rangers center fielder Daniel Robertson. Mark Ripperger, who began the game at second base, took over duties behind the plate, and the game was completed with a three-man crew. Wolf was evaluated at the ballpark and will continue to be evaluated over the next few days, according to Rangers officials.

Up next: The Rangers begin a two-game series with the Miami Marlins to close out their home stand. Rangers RHP Colby Lewis (4-4, 5.77 ERA) will face off against RHP Tom Koehler (5-5, 3.33 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

Not-so-dominant Yu Darvish grinds out win

June, 7, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Be honest, here. When the Rangers took a 4-0 lead against the Cleveland Indians in the second inning on Friday, you thought the game was over, right?

That's what Yu Darvish makes us envision.

The Rangers’ offense, normally not as supportive of the team’s ace as it should be, scored a whopping four runs in the second inning. Darvish had allowed four runs in his previous four starts combined. A four-run lead should have been plenty.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
AP Photo/Brandon Wade"I think the strike zone was a little bit smaller today, so I had to be creative," Yu Darvish said after weathering a subpar outing on Friday.
But by the fourth, it was all gone. Darvish gave up a three-run homer to Lonnie Chisenhall in the third, the first homer with someone on base for Darvish since last September. He gave up a solo shot in the fourth and looked disgusted with himself.

Darvish didn't have the command where he wanted it. The Indians belted fastballs for hits. They waited Darvish out at times and drew three walks. He gave up a season-high nine hits. And yet Darvish got his sixth victory of the season.


His offense bailed him out with a go-ahead run in the seventh on Michael Choice's homer, and Darvish used every pitch he had in his toolbox, as pitching coach Mike Maddux likes to call it.

"I think the strike zone was a little bit smaller today, so I had to be creative and I started throwing a cut-fastball and slider and throwing the hitters off," Darvish said.

It worked. Barely.

Darvish seemed to be teetering at times throughout the night. But when he had to make some pitches late, he did. The Indians got two quick hits off him to start the sixth in a tie game but couldn't score:

Darvish got Mike Aviles to strike out, thanks in part to some nice framing by catcher Chris Gimenez. He also struck out Michael Bourn with a fastball low in the strike zone and induced a ground ball from Asdrubal Cabrera to end the inning.

Darvish showed some emotion after the final out of the sixth, smacking his glove with his hand. He knew it was a critical out.

Despite not having anywhere close to his best stuff, Darvish got through seven innings and earned a victory.

Isn't that was aces are supposed to do?

Elvis Andrus must keep igniting sparks

June, 6, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- If the Texas Rangers are to continue hanging around in a crowded race for an American League wild-card spot and even stay in range of the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, Elvis Andrus must be a big reason why.

This has not been the season Andrus expected so far.

He is batting .256 and largely has been unable to cash in key runs when given numerous opportunities. He is 5-for-44 with runners in scoring position.

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
AP Photo/Brandon WadeElvis Andrus is enjoying a comeback from earlier woes that has the Rangers high on him.
Even his fielding has been uneven at times. He made a couple of questionable decisions in Tuesday's loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Perhaps that was one of the reasons Rangers manager Ron Washington felt his shortstop looked sluggish and gave him another off day.

Andrus said he didn't need it.

But since that rest period, Andrus has played better.

Even after a rough start to Friday's game with the Cleveland Indians, he delivered late in a close game.

Andrus made a double play that will appear numerous times on "SportsCenter" in the next 24 hours. With the Rangers up by one in the eighth and the Indians with the tying run at first base, Andrus snagged Mike Aviles' ground ball, stepped on second base, fell over Carlos Santana (who slid in hard), got up and still threw to first to end the inning.

"I just wanted to show everybody that I have a really good ballerina move," Andrus said.

He did that, certainly.

But his play in the bottom half of the inning was just as important. Andrus singled the opposite way, going with a pitch to get his first hit of the night. It continued his ridiculous streak of a hit in all 38 career games he has played against the Indians, tied for the second-longest streak against one opponent since 1900 (Vladimir Guerrero's 44-game streak against the Rangers from April 2004 through August 2006 is the longest).

Once he was on first, Andrus was looking to get into scoring position. He went to second on Mitch Moreland's walk. And when John Axford wasn't paying much attention, Andrus stole third. That put him 90 feet away with one out. He raced home on a shallow fly ball from Adrian Beltre and slid headfirst around the tag to score a key insurance run.

"He's the engine of this offense, there's no doubt," Beltre said. "He's that type of player. He gets on base, he steals bases and finds a way to create runs for us. Every player goes through highs and lows through the season, and he went through a low earlier this month.

"But he's doing a lot better. He's playing better and we know he's going to be there."

That's the Andrus this Rangers team needs. They've got a 20-year-old at second base, a rookie in the outfield and have parts of a solid big-league team sitting on the DL. Andrus has to be one of the leaders. He has to make things happen and ignite this team.

"He's our catalyst," Washington said. "He's always been [that way]. He's starting to put his game back together. The key for us to continue to be successful is we have to be consistent. It starts with Elvis. It starts with all those guys."

Andrus did those things Friday. Perhaps it's a sign he can start playing at a higher level again. He has hit safely in five of his last six games, and after the off day has displayed the defensive skills fans have become accustomed to.

"The last week I've been feeling well all around," Andrus said. "My process right now is going well. Sometimes I don't get the best result I can get, but I feel good and my mental approach is there. I'm close to hitting the ball the way I always have. As long as we win games, everything is good."

They'll win more games if Andrus can do what he did on Friday.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Indians 4

June, 6, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 6-4 in front of 38,348 at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Friday. Some thoughts:

How it happened: Michael Choice hit the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning, breaking a 4-4 tie. Yu Darvish gave up four runs on a season-high nine hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He wasn't at his best and blew a four-run lead but still got his sixth win of the season.

What it means: Texas has won two straight and is over .500 once again. The Rangers take the first game in this four-game series.

Gives up 1st HR at home: Darvish turned and watched as Lonnie Chisenhall hit a 3-2 pitch with two outs off the foul pole in right field for a three-run homer. It was the first home run Darvish has allowed at home and just the fourth this season. It also was rare to see Darvish give up something other than a solo shot. That was the first home run with a runner on base that Darvish has allowed since Sept. 29, 2013.

Blown lead: Darvish was handed a 4-0 lead heading into the third inning, and by the time the top of the fourth was over, it was all gone. All four runs came on home runs. Darvish gave up four runs in his past four starts combined prior to Friday. He had allowed as many as four runs in an outing just once in his 10 starts coming into the game (April 28 vs. Oakland).

Jam out: Darvish got himself into a jam in the sixth, giving up singles to the first two batters he faced -- Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana -- in a tie game. But he struck out Mike Aviles on a cutter that was framed nicely by catcher Chris Gimenez. Darvish then got Michael Bourn looking on a well-located fastball. He recorded the final out on a ground ball to first. Darvish smacked his glove, fired up that he kept the score tied.

(Another) Choice cut: For the second time in as many nights, Choice hit a home run. This one was hit to right field -- the opposite way -- off left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. (Remember him from the 2011 Cardinals?) With Rougned Odor on deck, the Indians stuck with Rzepczynski, who came in with right-handed batters hitting .359 against him this season. Choice made sure that trend continued with the go-ahead homer.

Odor reaches upper deck: Odor crushed a 95 mph fastball an estimated 405 feet into the upper deck for a two-run homer to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the second. It was Odor's second home run of the season.

Still streaking: Elvis Andrus came into the eighth inning needing a hit to continue his ridiculous stretch against the Indians. His ground-ball single to right means he has a hit in 38 career games versus Cleveland. That's tied for the second-longest streak against one opponent since 1900. Jacoby Ellsbury hit safely in 38 games against the Baltimore Orioles, and Vladimir Guerrero had a hit in 44 games against Texas from April 9, 2004, to Aug. 4, 2006.

Still streaking II: Gimenez extended his hitting streak to eight games and has reached base safely in all nine games he's started with Texas. He doubled in the second inning and scored a run. Gimenez is hitting .454 (15-for-33) with five extra-base hits in that span.

Web gem: Andrus made a great play to turn an inning-ending double play in the eighth. Despite a good slide by Santana, Andrus was able to step on the bag, turn, start to fall down over Santana and get the throw to first in time for the out anyway. Follow that? Trust me, it was a terrific (but odd) play.

Up next: Rangers RHP Nick Tepesch (2-1, 4.43 ERA) is on the mound for Texas, while RHP Josh Tomlin (3-2, 3.06 ERA) is slated to start for Cleveland. The game begins at 3:05 p.m. CT on FS1 and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

Yu Darvish better than ever? He's not sure

June, 6, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- You notice how little talk there is this year about Yu Darvish's pitch counts? Or whether he can get the job done in close games?

So far this season, since he joined the Texas Rangers' rotation a little later than planned because of a bothersome neck this spring, even nitpicking the Cy Young runner-up from 2013 has been close to impossible.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
Kyodo/AP Photo

When Yu Darvish pitches, the odds of seeing something special seem high. And that frequency seems to have increased during the past month.

Darvish has the second-best ERA in the American League and allowed four runs in his last 31 2/3 innings spanning four starts. He's put up four starts with at least seven shutout innings, tied with Mark Buehrle for the most in the AL. He has at least seven innings with two or fewer earned runs in seven of his 10 starts.

Think about that. It's ace stuff.

Those are just some of his ridiculous numbers in 2014. I didn't mention that he is first in strikeouts-per-nine-innings at 10.77 or has the second-best opponent batting average at a paltry .210.

Just take my word for it that Darvish's numbers, which we could list for a while here, are extremely impressive.

Put his first 10 starts alongside just about any such set he made since his first start in 2012 and you aren't likely to find a more impressive run for him.

He's had stretches of brilliance before. But now in his third season in the league, there's a maturity to his game. Darvish works off his fastball. He isn't afraid to change strategy and throw his devastating off-speed stuff early in counts if hitters start sitting on the fastball. He still has, arguably, the best slider in baseball.

Darvish, though, brushed off the suggestion that he's pitching better than he has since arriving in the big leagues.

"If you look at the numbers, it looks better than last year," Darvish said Wednesday through an interpreter. "But I really couldn't prepare myself the way I wanted because of the offseason. So I'm not sure I could say yes to your question."

My question was whether this is the best he's pitched. His answer makes you wonder what that 2.08 ERA might have looked like if he had gotten his full offseason.

But for Darvish to bring it up means it's still in the back of his mind. He's big on routine and making sure he's fully prepared. And because of a sore back at the end of 2013, he wasn't able to do that the way he wanted this past winter.

Darvish said he's back to lifting heavy weights and doing everything he's supposed to be doing. And his strained neck appears to be fine. He threw 102 pitches in his last start, going eight innings, and is now back on his five-day schedule.

But one thing with Darvish: You feel like he could throw a no-hitter at any time.

Missing a Darvish start comes with a risk that you won't see something special. The frequency of that seems to have increased during the past month. Darvish's job is to continue to pitch at a high level and, just as important, to stay healthy. That last part has been a challenge for the Rangers in general.

Maybe because it's only 10 starts and two months, Darvish isn't ready to say he's pitching at his highest level since he got to the big leagues. Or, maybe, he knows there's still more there. He'll get another chance to prove it Friday night against the Cleveland Indians.

GM pleased Luis Ortiz was still on board

June, 5, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- If Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was putting together a mock draft, he'd have had right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz going long before the Rangers picked at No. 30.

"We were really happy he was there," Daniels said. "We expected him to be long gone."

Perhaps one reason Ortiz, who pitched at Sanger (Calif.) High School, slipped was that he missed a few starts because of a forearm strain. But he returned to the mound and pitched well.

"He was lights out at the end," Daniels said. "We did our due diligence and are comfortable with where he is. The strength of this draft was in its depth and it was as unpredictable a first round as there has been recently."

Various reports state he also lost some weight. Ortiz is committed to Fresno State, but Daniels said he's expressed a desire to play professionally and the Rangers are confident they can get a deal done, once they've completed a physical. He's slotted at $1,760,500 at that spot in the draft.

"He pitched on Team USA and has performed on all the biggest stages," Daniels said. "We liked him as a top-half, elite kind of talent. [He has] good pure stuff and is a strike thrower with a big fastball with life. His out pitch is a power slider. He has a repeatable delivery. He's a big-time competitor."

Ortiz was 5-3 with a 1.04 ERA with 72 strikeouts and just seven walks in 43 2/3 innings pitched this season. He was named World Cup MVP after serving as closer for the gold-medal-winning 18-and-under USA Baseball national team. He got a win and three saves in five appearances with that team.

ESPN.com's Keith Law had him ranked No. 10 on his top-100 prospects and had him going No. 27 overall to the St. Louis Cardinals in his mock draft.

The Rangers selected shortstop Ti'Quan Forbes with the No. 59 pick overall. Law had him ranked No. 41 on his top-100 list.



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