Texas Rangers: Pedro Strop

Pedro Strop wins battle with Josh Hamilton

August, 21, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The 32,146 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday knew the seventh inning was the Rangers' best chance at producing a comeback. After Geovany Soto's two-run homer cut the deficit to 5-3, Ian Kinsler walked and Elvis Andrus singled.

Josh Hamilton came to the plate representing the go-ahead run. And Baltimore manager Buck Showalter quickly trotted to the mound to put Pedro Strop in to face Hamilton. Showalter wasn't going to leave Darren O'Day in the game at that point, knowing Hamilton hit one of his historic four home runs in Baltimore off him back in May.

Hamilton, with the crowd on its feet, got ahead 2-0 and then 3-1 in the count. But he took a check swing on a 3-1 slider in the dirt and went around. Strop went back to the slider and hung one. Hamilton turned on it and drove it deep to right field, but it went foul into the club level.

"Hamilton just got around on it just a hair and pulled it foul," manager Ron Washington said. "If he stays through that ball, on the inside of that ball, a little bit more, we win that ballgame."

Strop was certainly worried about it.

“I didn’t want to throw it for a strike,” Strop said to the Baltimore media. “When I heard the sound off the bat, I thought he got me. Then I saw that it was going foul.”

Strop went back to the slider and said he wanted to bury it and if Hamilton swung, great. If not, he'd load the bases and take his chances with Adrian Beltre, a right-handed hitter. Hamilton did swing at the 3-2 slider in the dirt, ending the inning.

"It was a good battle," Washington said. "Pedro won it."

Hamilton ended up with three strikeouts on an 0-for-4 night. He wasn't the only one who struggled against Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who gave up three runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk in the quality start. The Rangers only had three at-bats with runners in scoring position (and one hit) as Tillman continued his success in Arlington. He out-pitched Cliff Lee in Lee's debut for the Rangers in 2010. Tillman now as a 1.93 ERA in two career starts (three earned runs in 14 innings) at Rangers Ballpark.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Rangers 3

August, 21, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Baltimore Orioles scored four runs in the fifth inning off starter Scott Feldman and the Rangers weren't quite able to come back as Pedro Strop got a big strikeout of Josh Hamilton in the seventh inning in a 5-3 Baltimore victory. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers still can't seem to crack the barrier of 22 games over .500. This was the fourth time they attempted to reach the mark this season. ... It's also the eighth time in the last 12 games the club has scored three or fewer runs. ... The Orioles have won 70 straight games when leading after seven innings, the longest active streak in the majors (Rangers are second at 57).

Former Ranger gets Hamilton: In one of the biggest at-bats of the game, Hamilton came up against Strop representing the go-ahead run in a 5-3 game with two outs and two on base. He got ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1 before swinging at a pitch in the dirt to make the count full. Hamilton then hit a long foul ball off a hanging slider into the Lexus club level in right field. Strop then came back with a slider -- again in the dirt -- and got Hamilton to swing and miss to end the inning and keep the score at 5-3. ... It was a tough game for Hamilton, who had three strikeouts and finished 0-for-4.

Four-run fifth: Feldman was pitching well before running into trouble in the fifth inning of a tie game. Manny Machado hit a fly ball to deep right-center with one and one out. Hamilton dived for it, but it was barely out of his reach and Omar Quintanilla scored to break the tie. ... With two outs, J.J. Hardy hit a double the other way (he got some help getting to second when Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball) to plate Machado. ... Nate McLouth then hit a two-run home run deep -- 393 feet -- to right field to put the Orioles ahead 5-1.

Unearned run: The Orioles scored an unearned run in the top of the first. McLouth walked on a close 3-2 pitch with two outs and then stole second base. Catcher Geovany Soto's throw was well wide of the bag and into center field, allowing McLouth to go to third. He scored when Feldman's fastball was high and off the glove of Soto for a wild pitch.

100 in five: Feldman needed 100 pitches to get through five innings before he was lifted in favor of Michael Kirkman. The fifth inning ended his night when he got some sinkers and cutters up in the zone a bit. But Feldman did have a nice changeup that was full of movement. He got a couple of strikeouts with the pitch, which moved all over the place and had the Orioles confused. ... Feldman had four strikeouts, two of them on changeups.

Long balls: Ian Kinsler hit his 14th home run of the season with two outs and no one on in the third to tie the score at one. Kinsler was 3-for-his-last-37 before the home run, his first since Aug. 2. ... Soto hit his second home run for the Rangers, sending one 370 feet to left with David Murphy on base in the seventh, closing the gap to 5-3.

Impressive throw: Murphy scampered to a single hit toward the left-field line by Machado, who tried to get to second. Murphy turned and threw a bullet to Kinsler at second, who applied the tag for the out. ... It was Murphy's fourth outfield assist of the season, third most on the club (behind Cruz and Hamilton).

It's nice outside: The game-time temperature was 75 degrees, a rarity for August. Last year, the Rangers and Red Sox played on Aug. 21 and the temperature at first pitch was 102 degrees. ... It was the lowest temperature at first pitch in August in Arlington since Aug. 1, 2009, when it was 72 (thanks to Jason Vida at ESPN Stats & Information).

Tidbits: The Rangers' catchers were 12-for-91 (13.1 percent) on throwing runners out coming into the game, and Soto's errant throw made him 0-for-10. ... Elvis Andrus made a nice sliding catch on a foul ball down the left-field line. He had a long way to run and got there as Adrian Belte and Murphy also converged on it. ... Beltre made yet another great play, getting to a hard shot with an awkward hop to retire the first batter of the eighth inning. Beltre got to it to his left, spun and threw the ball on a line to first.

Up next: Rangers left-handed starter Derek Holland (7-6, 4.98 ERA) goes up against former Ranger Tommy Hunter (4-7, 5.49 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Buzz: Neftali Feliz happy with command

May, 9, 2012
BALTIMORE -- If not for Josh Hamilton's four-homer game, Texas Rangers starter Neftali Feliz would have been the story of Tuesday's game.

After a rough start in Toronto, when he gave up four runs on four hits in five innings, Feliz spent time between starts focused on fastball command. His location was better Tuesday as he held the Orioles to one run on four hits in six innings for a quality start.

"I was working on mechanics," Feliz said through a translator. "I was opening up too much."

Feliz said he feels good physically as he settles into a routine between starts. He's slated to pitch Sunday night against Jered Weaver in the finale of the Angels series.

Other notes:

* Mike Napoli is not in tonight's game, but he's healthy. Manager Ron Washington said he just wanted to give him a day off and get Brandon Snyder in the game at third against a lefty. It's rare to see Napoli not playing against a left-handed starter, but the catcher has been struggling. He's just 4-for-27 (.148) on this road trip.

* Adrian Beltre said he feels good and is ready to play the field, but he won't Wednesday because of the threat of wet weather. Washington said he isn't taking any chances, but that Beltre will be back out there on Thursday if the weather is fine.

* Feliz has spent some time with former Ranger Pedro Strop while in Baltimore. The two are close friends and Strop is part of the Orioles bullpen.

W2W4: Rangers will see familiar faces

May, 7, 2012

BALTIMORE -- The Texas Rangers will play four straight nights at Camden Yards, home off the Baltimore Orioles, otherwise known as the Rangers of the AL East.

Texas should feel right at home seeing some familiar faces wearing Orioles jerseys. Buck Showalter, the Rangers' manager before Ron Washington was hired in 2007, is the club's skipper. And he has a gaggle of former Rangers on his team. Some things to watch:

* How tired is the Baltimore bullpen? The O's used seven relievers in Sunday's 17-inning win over Boston at Fenway Park (that doesn't include Chris Davis, who won't be pitching again this season unless it's an emergency, though he did throw two scoreless innings to get the win). Six of those relievers threw at least 20 pitches, and four of them pitched two innings. We'll see what kind of toll that takes as the series begins.

* Davis appears to be figuring things out. He's hitting .299 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the season (and that's despite an 0-for-8 game with five strikeouts Sunday). Davis, a Longview native, has seen limited at-bats against lefties but has hit them well (6-for-18). He has 20 strikeouts and seven walks on the season, but that's actually an improvement in the strikeout area. Davis had 150 strikeouts in 391 at-bats in 2009 for Texas and another 40 strikeouts in 120 at-bats in 2010 before he was sent down. It's good to see Davis getting it together. I still think he needed a change of scenery to make that happen.

* Tommy Hunter pitched in Baltimore's second game of the season and pitched Sunday, so the Rangers won't face him in this series. He's 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA so far in 2012.

* Darren O'Day (2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings) and Pedro Strop (3-1 with two saves and 1.59 ERA) are important members of the Orioles bullpen.

* Endy Chavez is on the bench and is 7-for-55 so far this season.

* As for players that aren't former Rangers, Texas could see closer Jim Johnson this series. He's 8-for-8 in save opportunities this season.

* Catcher Matt Wieters has seven home runs, second behind Adam Jones (eight) for the team lead. Wieters also has a team-high 18 RBIs to go along with his .301 average.

* Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland had three hits Saturday and may be coming into the series feeling much more comfortable. He was 5-for-9 in the first two games of the series against the Indians and is 13-for-29 (.448) in his last nine games. That includes two homers.

* Keep an eye on Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. Hamilton played in Cleveland and Beltre had the big pinch-hit homer Saturday and appears close to becoming an everyday player again as he pushes through sore hamstrings.

* Baltimore won't see Yu Darvish in this series after he pitched Sunday. He's slated to start Friday against the Angels in Arlington.

Rangers ship Pedro Strop to Orioles

September, 1, 2011
Right-handed pitcher Pedro Strop was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles on a waiver claim to complete Wednesday's trade for Michael Gonzalez.

Strop was on the Rangers Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. He was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on May 4 and has gone 4-4 with 11 saves and a 3.59 ERA (19 ER/47.2 IP) in 39 relief appearances for the Express this season.

He went 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA (4 ER/9.2 IP) in 11 games with Texas before being optioned. Strop was signed by Texas as a free agent on September 25, 2008 and has appeared in the big leagues with the Rangers each of the past three seasons, going a combined 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in 33 appearances.

Adrian Beltre, 4 others activated

September, 1, 2011
Release from the Texas Rangers:

The Texas Rangers announced the following roster moves today:
  • Reinstated third baseman Adrian Beltre from the 15-day disabled list.
  • Reinstated infielder Andres Blanco from the 15-day disabled list.
  • Added catcher Matt Treanor (#15), acquired in yesterday’s trade with Kansas City, to the active roster.
  • Added left-handed pitcher Michael Gonzalez (#51), acquired in yesterday’s trade with Baltimore, to the active roster.
  • Purchased the contract of infielder Esteban German from Triple-A Round Rock.
  • Purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Merkin Valdez from Triple-A Round Rock.
  • Infielder Omar Quintanilla outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock.

Beltre was placed on the disabled list July 23 with a left hamstring strain. He suffered the injury while running the bases on July 22 vs. Toronto. He has batted .276 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles, and 76 RBI in 100 games with Texas this season. At the time he was placed on the disabled list, he ranked among American League leaders in several offensive categories and led the circuit in games played. Despite missing over a month, Beltre still ranks third among Rangers in doubles and RBI. He played 2 games on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock, going 2-for-8 on Monday and Tuesday at Omaha, a pair of starts at third base.

Blanco was placed on the disabled list August 9 with lower back inflammation. He was also on the disabled list July 7-30 with a stress reaction in his lower back. Blanco has batted .206 with 2 home runs and 2 RBI in 28 games for Texas this season, making 16 starts. He has played for Triple-A Round Rock each of the past three days at Omaha, going 3-for-12 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI in 3 starts at shortstop. His last game with Texas was August 8 vs. Seattle.

Treanor, 35, was acquired yesterday from Kansas City in exchange for cash considerations. A member of the Rangers’ 2010 American League Champion squad, the Rangers had traded him to Kansas City on March 28 at the end of spring training. He has spent the entire season with the Royals, batting .226 (42-186) with 3 homers, 6 doubles, and 21 RBI in 65 games, including a team-high 62 starts behind the plate. Treanor missed all of August after being placed on the concussion disabled list on July 31, after which he was transferred to the regular 15-day disabled list. He played 7 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas on injury rehabilitation assignment, going 1-for-3 in his last game on Sunday vs. Tulsa. His last big league game was July 30 at Cleveland.

Gonzalez, 33, was acquired yesterday from Baltimore in exchange for a player to be named later. He has gone 2-2 with a 4.27 ERA (22 ER/46.1 IP) in 49 relief appearances for Baltimore in 2011. The South Texas native and resident has held left-handed batters to a .211 (19-90) average this season, and a .212 (96-452) mark in his career. He has tossed 12.1 scoreless innings over his last 13 outings beginning July 22, with opponents batting .122 (5-41) in that span. Gonzalez has allowed runs in just one of his last 19 appearances.

German, 33, has spent the entire season with Round Rock (AAA), batting .301 with 7 home runs, 29 doubles, and 56 RBI in 123 games. He has played primarily third base and second base, but has also seen action in left and center field. He batted .452 (19-42) over his final 11 games with 9 runs scored. German was 44-for-53 (83.0%) in stolen base attempts. Through yesterday’s games, he ranked among Pacific Coast League leaders in steals (2nd, 44), runs (4th, 94), and walks (4th, 72), leading the Express in all three categories. He also led the club with 40 multi-hit games and 13 games of 3-or-more hits. This is the third straight year that German has been a late-season call-up for Texas. He was on the club’s 2010 American League Division Series roster, but did not play in the postseason. He has a career .278 average over 398 games in the majors with Oakland (2002-04), Texas (2005, 2009-10), and Kansas City (2006-08).

Valdez, 29, was signed by Texas to a minor league contract on July 24. He has gone 1-0 with 4 saves and a 2.35 ERA (4 ER/15.1 IP) in 12 relief appearances for Triple-A Round Rock, holding opponents to a .230 (14-61) average with 5 walks and 14 strikeouts. He began the year with Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque, going 4-2 with 4 saves and a 3.58 ERA(20 ER/50.1 IP)in 38 relief appearances before being released on July 18. Valdez has pitched in 69 games in the major leagues with San Francisco (2004, 2008-09) and Toronto (2010), going 3-1 with a 5.53 ERA (42 ER/68.1 IP). The bulk of his big league action came with the Giants in 2008-09, establishing career highs in nearly every category when he pitched 48 games and 49.1 innings in 2009. His last major league appearance was with Toronto on April 25, 2010 at Tampa Bay.

Quintanilla cleared waivers and has been outrighted off the 40-man roster. He appeared in 11 games for Texas after having his contract purchased on July 8. The El Paso native has spent the rest of the year at Round Rock (AAA).

With these moves, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster, including 30 players on the active roster.

Notes: Some updates on Rangers' pitchers

May, 4, 2011
SEATTLE -- There's a lot going on in the pitching world for the Rangers. Some notes on that:

* Brandon Webb, as we noted earlier, is not going to be starting in an extended spring game Thursday. He's going to throw some bullpen sessions, including a long one Thursday, to work on his mechanics with Keith Comstock, the pitching rehab coordinator. Many current Rangers swear by Comstock, and Webb said last week that Comstock believes there's more velocity in Webb's arm.

Webb texted that he's looking forward to figuring out those mechanics in the bullpen rather than on the mound in a game.

"I have been doing some drills and had some real good days," Webb said. "I just think it's better to try them in the pen than to try it while also trying to get hitters out. I feel real good about it."

* Mark Lowe is in Seattle and can pitch tonight if needed. He said he's made two tweaks to his setup. First, he's holding his glove up higher as he stops (in front of his chest as opposed to his belt) and he's not closing his front shoulder as much. He said that he couldn't see the corner of the plate because of that.

"For whatever reason, it's given my slider more depth," Lowe said. "I can't explain it, but it helps."

Lowe's final 4 1/3 innings in Triple-A Round Rock were scoreless. The velocity is still there and if he can find more movement on his slider, he can be more effective. At least that's the hope.

"Maybe he's the shot in the arm we're looking for," manager Ron Washington said.

* Pedro Strop was optioned. He clearly has the stuff to be a big league pitcher. But the Rangers want to see him work on his ability to pitch in the pressure situations and get his mind right.

"If you go to the minor leagues, you'll see better arms than in the bigs," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "You see guys with a lot of stuff. The difference is mental awareness, mental toughness. That's the separator."

Strop had a blown save and a loss in Tuesday's game and gave up three runs.

"We needed to get him in an environment where he can relax," Washington said. "This game is fast. We can't keep beating this kid up."

Washington mentioned wanting Strop to "slow the game down" and relax out there.

* Washington said he would be hesitant to use Cody Eppley if a string of lefties are due up. But if he didn't want to use Arthur Rhodes or Darren Oliver, he'd go with Ryan Tucker or Lowe in that situation tonight.

Mark Lowe recalled, Pedro Strop optioned

May, 4, 2011
SEATTLE -- The Rangers have recalled right-handed reliever Mark Lowe from Triple-A Round Rock and optioned right-hander Pedro Strop to the minors.

Lowe was 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in six appearances for Round Rock. His last 4 1/3 innings were scoreless. Lowe started the season with the Rangers but had a 13.50 ERA in four appearances (2 2/3 innings). He showed good velocity, sporting a 97 mph fastball, but didn't have enough movement. We'll see if that's improved in the last few weeks in the minors.

Strop was 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 games for the Rangers this season. He had a blown save and a loss in Tuesday's 4-3 defeat to the Mariners. He gave up the lead twice, allowing three runs in one inning of relief.

Rangers bullpen can’t hold lead again

May, 4, 2011

SEATTLE -- No one envies Rangers manager Ron Washington when he walks to the mound and signals to the bullpen for a reliever.

These days, it's difficult to know who can come in and nail down the critical outs in a close game. With various players shuffling in and out -- either because of performance issues or injuries -- and the club's closer on the disabled list but due to return on Friday, Washington is trying to mix and match as best he can. It's a major challenge and it's caused some late-inning disappointment on this road trip.

[+] EnlargeRangers
Joe Nicholson/US PresswirePedro Strop leaves the game in the eighth after giving up the lead for the second time in two innings.
On Tuesday, he gave the ball to Pedro Strop, hoping for a better outcome than Monday's blown lead late in Oakland when Arthur Rhodes allowed the tying run and Darren Oliver the winning one. Instead, the results were similar. Strop couldn't hold a one-run lead -- twice -- and the Rangers fell 4-3 in Seattle to drop to 1-4 on this West Coast road trip.

Washington had no choice but to go to the bullpen in the seventh. Alexi Ogando's blister popped up again in the fifth, and at 102 pitches through six, he didn't have much left anyway. So Strop came in and promptly got into trouble, eventually allowing the tying run to score after giving up a single, throwing a wild pitch and avoiding even bigger problems by getting Ichiro Suzuki to hit into a rare double play.

Washington had Ryan Tucker warming up, but decided to stick with Strop.

"I thought his split could do a good job against those lefties," Washington said. "That's why I left him in there."

In that eighth inning, left-handed hitter Adam Kennedy led off and three more left-handed hitters and a switch-hitter loomed in the lineup.

But Kennedy hit a good pitch -- a fastball down and away -- into left field for a soft single that got the inning started. Strop then couldn't field a bunt attempt by Miguel Olivo, the cleanup-hitting catcher, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Former Ranger Justin Smoak then hit a single to right-center to tie the score. That was the end of Strop's night.

"I feel like I couldn't stop the bleeding," Strop said. "I'm upset. That's a part of the game. It happened. I have to try to do better when I have an opportunity."

Oliver came in and gave up a single to Jack Cust to give the Mariners the lead. The lefty got out of the inning without allowing any further damage, but the Rangers ended the game with the tying run at second base in the top of the ninth.

"Ollie comes in and throws a breaking pitch away from Cust and Cust usually doesn't hit that ball, but he did today," Washington said.

The manager can only keep handing the ball to the relievers he's got and see what happens.

"We've got to play," Washington said. "We're not crying about it. Those are the guys we have down there. We've got confidence in them. We have to keep putting them out there and hope they get the job done. That's what I've got."

Feliz's return can't come soon enough for the Rangers. The club's best late-inning option is scheduled to take a mound in Frisco on Wednesday, and if all goes well would be back in the Rangers' bullpen on Friday.

Not that Feliz's return will all of a sudden solve the bullpen problems. But at least Washington would know that he's got his closer back and could better utilize his veteran relievers to get him outs in the seventh and eighth.

Between now and Friday, though, things aren't likely to get any easier.

Bullpen can't hold things late on Sunday

April, 17, 2011

NEW YORK -- The guy the Rangers really needed on Sunday for the eighth inning also started the game.

Before Tommy Hunter's groin injury, the eighth inning was going to be Alexi Ogando's inning in relief as the primary right-handed setup man for closer Neftali Feliz. But with Ogando stepping into the starting rotation, a void was left in the eighth inning.

Manager Ron Washington has used his veteran left-handers -- Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver -- in those situations while trying to figure out what he has in Pedro Strop, Mason Tobin and Mark Lowe. Going into Sunday's game, the Rangers' bullpen had the fewest innings pitched of any in the league. The starters have helped Washington work around the bullpen and utilize his experienced arms.

On Sunday, Washington tried to squeeze two innings out of Arthur Rhodes and couldn't quite do it. Rhodes came in to get the final two outs in the seventh after Ogando's night ended. At that point, it was a 5-4 Yankees lead and Rhodes was trying to keep it that way. He did by getting Brett Gardner to fly out and Derek Jeter to ground out.

The Rangers turned around and scored in the top half of the eighth to tie the game. But after getting Curtis Granderson to fly out to start the bottom half, Rhodes issued a walk to Mark Teixeira on a 3-2 pitch. With two outs and two runners on, Eric Chavez hit a hard ball right up the middle that knocked Rhodes down and bounded into center field, scoring Teixeira with the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Strop came in with two outs and the bases loaded to get the final out of the inning.

Rhodes threw 34 pitches and couldn't quite get through that crucial eighth inning.

"Arthur was the right guy," Washington said. "You've got to give credit to Eric Chavez. You've got to give credit to Teixeira for the walk. It wasn't like Arthur was some rudi-poop out there."

Washington said it was "just one of those games" where the momentum kept swinging and the Yankees got the last big hit they needed.

The challenge for Washington is finding the guys he can trust in the bullpen. That may mean running Strop out there in a big situation and finding out what he's got. He was able to get Russell Martin, who hit a home run in an earlier at-bat off Ogando, to end the eighth inning and keep it a one-run game. Maybe he'll get more chances.

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 5, Rangers 4

April, 12, 2011

DETROIT -- The Rangers fell to the Tigers, 5-4, as Miguel Cabrera drove in the winning run with a ground ball single through the hole between short and third with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. Rangers are 9-2 on the season. Some quick thoughts:

* The biggest news of the game was Josh Hamilton straining his right shoulder and leaving after the first inning. A recap of Hamilton's first inning:

It was a strange double play that ended the inning. Hamilton, after hitting a triple a few pitches earlier, decided to try to catch the Tigers napping. Adrian Beltre hit a pop up near the Tigers dugout with one out. Catcher Victor Martinez went back along with third baseman Brandon Inge to try to get to it. Pitcher Brad Penny was not covering home for some reason, and Hamilton thought he could score. He slid headfirst and hard into home plate but was tagged out by Martinez, who hustled back to make the play. Hamilton got up and had his arm behind his back as he went to the dugout. Hamilton was taken out with a sprained right shoulder. It's not known how long he might be out.

* Darren O'Day couldn't get through the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single and then ended up walking Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn to bring up Cabrera with two outs. Cabrera, one of the top hitters in the league, singled to left to win the game for the Tigers. We'll see how O'Day reacts to the tough inning.

* C.J. Wilson had trouble with shutdown innings. The Rangers scored in the first and then the Tigers came right back in the bottom half to tie it. Texas was leading after a run in the sixth, and Wilson gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Wilson didn't have his best stuff Tuesday, but he went 6 2/3 innings and left with his team in the game. He gave up four runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. But he grinded out there.

* Wilson's curve was a good pitch for him, but his command wasn't consistent. He left a changeup high to Raburn, who crushed it to left for a double and scored the tying run in the sixth. A single by Brennan Boesch gave the Tigers the lead.

* The sixth inning, when the Tigers got the lead, started when Wilson couldn't field a slow roller between the mound and the first-base line. It wasn't the easiest of plays, but one that Wilson, a very good fielder, normally makes. He slipped and Santiago got on base and the inning went from there.

* Beltre's glove continues to help the pitching staff. Inge was swinging away on a 3-0 count with two outs in the sixth and lined one to third, which Beltre snagged to end the inning. He also ended the seventh by grabbing a liner and started the eighth with a catch on a hard-hit ball by Cabrera.

* Texas came back with some solid at-bats in the eighth off former Ranger Joaquin Benoit. Beltre fouled a few pitches off on a 2-2 count and then was hit by a pitch. That put runners at first and second (Michael Young singled with one out in the inning) and brought up Nelson Cruz, who singled to center on a changeup to tie the score.

* The Rangers had some baserunning issues. The most noticeable was Julio Borbon in the seventh. He was at first base with two outs in a one-run game and was picked off by reliever Brayan Villarreal to end the inning. Borbon walked straight to center without looking back at the dugout.

* Young and Cruz had communication issues in the seventh. Casper Wells hit a fly ball down the right-field line. Young appeared to be under it with Cruz chasing, and at the last moment, Young got out of the way and the ball dropped. Wells ended up stranded at third.

* Good two-strike approaches helped the Rangers get a run in the first. Young hit a 1-2 pitch to center for a single and Hamilton hit a 2-2 shot to right for a triple to score Young.

* Mitch Moreland showed smart baserunning, going hard on a ball hit to the gap in left-center. Center fielder Jackson cut the ball off, but Moreland just kept going to second and Jackson couldn't set his feet and make the throw in time. So it was a leadoff double for Moreland in the second. Moreland's hit came on a seven-pitch at-bat. He really has made it a habit of patient at-bats and finding a way to make things happen.

* Ian Kinsler was supposed to get the day off, but had to come in as the DH for Hamilton. The Rangers likely went with Kinsler instead of Napoli because they didn't want to risk losing the DH spot if Torrealba got hurt and Napoli had to go in at catcher.

* The Rangers tried to stay aggressive on bases, but did so at some odd times. With no outs in the fourth, Beltre hit a double to the gap in right-center. Beltre tried to turn it into a triple and was gunned down at third.

* Beltre had a smart at-bat in the sixth. He got behind in the count, but knowing the infield was back with runners at second and third with one out, he hit a high fastball to short to get the RBI. Nothing fancy, but very productive.

* As much as the aggressive play hurt the Rangers early in the game, it helped them get a run to break the tie in the sixth. After Kinsler lined to short with runners at first and second, manager Ron Washington put on the double steal and it worked, putting a runner at third for Beltre, who got him home.

* Pedro Strop came in with two outs in the seventh and got the final out, a soft liner to Beltre. He then came back out and was impressive after allowing a one-out walk in the eighth. Strop got Boesch to strike out on a splitter, and Jhonny Peralta struck out on a 2-2 breaking ball.

* Young had a good day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 13, Orioles 1

April, 9, 2011

The Rangers still haven’t left the clubhouse with a losing taste in their mouths this season.

After being shut out in the first game of the doubleheader, the Rangers came back strong to blow out Baltimore in the nightcap, meaning Texas is the only one-loss team in the major leagues. The Rangers recorded their seventh win with the unbeatable combination of dominant pitching and explosive offense.

*Matt Harrison had his second consecutive dominant start. Just like his first start of the season, the 25-year-old lefty allowed only one run in seven innings. The Orioles’ only run came on a solo shot by Adam Jones to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Harrison responded by retiring the next 18 batters before handing an eight-run lead to the bullpen. Harrison, who gave up only two hits and one walk, consistently attacked the strike zone with a mid-90s fastball. He recorded only three strikeouts, but the Orioles got good wood on the ball very few times, hitting a lot of lazy fly balls.

*The Rangers’ bats finally arrived in Baltimore in the third inning of the nightcap. After being shut out for the first 11 road innings of the season, the Rangers put up six runs in the frame against Plano East and TCU product Jake Arrieta. The Rangers finally got on the board when, with the bases loaded and one out, Elvis Andrus lined a high 2-2 fastball into right-center for a two-run single. After Andrus stole second, Josh Hamilton drove in two runs with a single to right. Adrian Beltre followed that with his second homer of the season, pulling an 0-2 fastball over the left-center fence for a two-run shot.

*One of the reasons trading for Mike Napoli made sense for the Rangers is because he feasts on left-handed pitching. Well, righties have had a really rough go against Napoli so far this season. Two of his three homers have come against right-handers, including his 424-foot solo shot in the fourth against Arrieta. Napoli, who also singled and scored in the third, is 3-for-6 with two homers against righties as a Ranger.

*We might have witnessed Adrian Beltre busting out of his slump. After an 0-fer in the first game, Beltre was hitting .107. That averaged climb 75 points with a 3-for-5 performance, which was just a triple shy of the cycle. Beltre had the two-run homer in the third and an RBI double in the ninth.

*Ho-hum, Nelson Cruz homered again. He busted out the Boomstick on an 89-mph fastball in the ninth for his fifth homer of the season. That leads the majors. The three-run shot was his first homer of the season with runners on base. His 10 RBIs are tied for the most in the majors.

*Andrus, who had only 35 RBIs as a leadoff hitter last season, entered the season with the goal of being a better run producer as a No. 2 hitter. So far, so good. Andrus has seven RBIs, one per game that he’s played.

* The bottom of the eighth was a scoreless roller coaster, courtesy of rookie reliever Pedro Strop. He needed the minimum six pitches to strike out the first two batters he faced. He followed that up by allowing a single and two walks -- with a couple of balks mixed in -- to load the bases. He got out of the jam by striking out Derrek Lee with a nasty slider well off the plate. After the first walk, manager Ron Washington went to the mound to give the hard-throwing righty a pep talk. That was a valuable teaching moment for a young pitcher with potential to play a key role in the back of the Rangers’ bullpen.

Notes: Holland starts Monday, bullpen talk

April, 3, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rather than break up lefties Matt Harrison and Derek Holland by putting Alexi Ogando in between them, the Rangers are going with Holland as the No. 4 starter against Seattle followed by Ogando as the No. 5.

That does allow them to put a righty between Holland and C.J. Wilson on the turn. Pitching coach Mike Maddux isn't concerned about breaking them up, so he'll go with Holland's experience against Erik Bedard in the first game of the Seattle series and Ogando will make his first start on Tuesday.

Other notes:

* Michael Young is playing second base today, his first time in the infield this season. He could also play first base soon, maybe even tomorrow againt the lefty Bedard. More on that shortly.

* The Rangers do not plan on skipping starts. Maddux is sticking with his plan from last year, which is to utilize the off days to give guys extra rest. It worked well with the rotation in 2010, so why change it?

* Pedro Strop was pleased that he was able to get in a game in 2011 and have some success. "One thing I was working on was slowing things down and I did OK with that," Strop said. "Even though I got some big league time last year, I was still nervous the first time out there."

Strop got through his inning and said he was able to throw his sinker and slider for strikes and got a few swings and misses on splitters in the dirt.

* Andres Blanco is the emergency catcher and he's catching some bullpens and working on things to be ready just in case. That became more important with the Matt Treanor trade.

* Darren O'Day was also glad to be back "on the mound that I know and love." O'Day has liked pitching at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "It was good to get that under my belt," O'Day said. "My mechanics are better than they were in spring training. Pitching in the regular season is totally different from a game in Surprise."

Notes: Ron Washington talks bullpen

April, 2, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Manager Ron Washington had some kudos for his bullpen after they gave up one run in the final 3 1/3 innings on Opening Day after struggling during spring training.

Outside of David Ortiz's solo home run (off a fastball that Darren Oliver said caught too much of the plate), the bullpen kept the Red Sox hitters from doing much on Opening Day and the Rangers' offense did the rest. Some notes from Washington's chat with the media:

* He said he did not contemplate going with Darren O'Day to pitch to the right-handed hitting Kevin Youkilis to start the eighth inning.

"Darren Oliver isn't a specialized guy," Washington said. "He can get hitters out no matter what. I wanted him to start his own inning."

* Washington will try to ease Pedro Strop and Mason Tobin into a game much like he did with Mark Lowe on Friday. At some point, Washington will give those guys a shot and see what happens. How they do will determine how many more chances -- and when -- they get them.

* The manager said had the Rangers scored one more run to make it a 5-run game, he likely would have pitched Strop in the ninth and not used closer Neftali Feliz. "But it's the Boston Red Sox and I didn't want them coming back," Washington said. "If they were going to come back, they had to do it against Feliz."

* The animated talk that Washington gave Lowe before the righty pitched to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasn't something the manager wanted to go into detail about. But he said it was a pep talk. "I just gave him some confidence in my way," Washington said. (Wish I could have been on the mound to hear that one).

* Washington said he has a start in mind for David Murphy, but didn't say which game. Sunday has to be tempting as Murphy is 5-for-7 off Clay Buchholz.

Reminder: In-game chat tonight at 7:15 right here on the blog.

Washington to mix, match veterans in 8th

April, 1, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington doesn't really have an eighth-inning setup guy in his bullpen. He's hoping he has several.

The manager said a few hours before the first pitch of Opening Day that he will "mix and match" his veterans. That means if the game is close late today, expect to see lefties Darren Oliver or Athur Rhodes or right-hander Darren O'Day. That makes O'Day the primary right-handed eighth-inning guy for now.

Washington said that Mason Tobin will get in the game in low-pressure situations as a means of easing him in. Mark Lowe and Pedro Strop will "get more innings as we go along." That means Washington will have to pitch them when he can and let their performance dictate how much more time they get on the mound and when.

The uncertainity in the bullpen (and Tommy Hunter's groin) is what led to the trade of Matt Treanor so that the club could carry eight relievers and try to get things figured out down there.



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