Texas Rangers: Ryan Dempster

Buzz: Ross struggles to regain form

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers reliever Robbie Ross keeps working to get back to where to he was before the All-Star break.

It's been a difficult journey.

Ross allowed another inherited runner to score on Sunday, the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth that allowed the Seattle Mariners to top the Rangers 4-3.

[+] EnlargeRobbie Ross
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Robbie Ross has allowed seven of his past 14 inherited runners to score, and the Rangers could send the reliever to Triple-A Round Rock to rebound.

Ross has allowed seven of his past 14 inherited runners to score. Lefties have seven hits in their past 12 at-bats against him, and, going further back, they are 14 for their past 29 with three home runs.

On Sunday, it was Dustin Ackley, who has five RBIs in 73 at-bats against lefties, who had an RBI single against Ross, with two outs in the top of the eighth.

"It's frustrating. Those are the guys I have to get out," Ross said. "I'm not getting them out consistently. That's the way it goes sometimes. I have to battle through it."

The Rangers have to make a roster move to recall Tuesday starter Travis Blackley, and, while that is likely going to be Alexi Ogando -- who has right shoulder inflammation -- they could send Ross to Triple-A Round Rock to get things sorted out.

Ross tried to go with a slider against Ackley to catch him leaning, and it got too much of the plate.

"What’s happened is he probably doesn’t have as much downwards movement on his slider," Rangers CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan said on "Galloway and Company" on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Monday. "Right now, that’s what appears to me from where I sit. I just think the league knows Robbie, know because of him being in the league last year."

Ross said Sunday it has nothing to do with fatigue -- he has pitched in only 13 games since the start of July after a heavy workload the first three months of the season. "I feel better than last season times 10," Ross said.

It comes down to just making his pitches.

"The stuff is there. The issue is he's not executing his pitches," manager Ron Washington said. "His velocity is there, but when he wants to go inside, he's not getting in there. When he wants to go outside, he's not getting it there. He's leaving it over the plate, and they're not missing it."

Baker on A-Rod beaning: Count Jeff Baker among those who didn't approve of Boston's Ryan Dempster drilling the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night.

That's if Baker's former teammate, Dempster -- who pitched for the Rangers last season -- was throwing at Rodriguez on purpose because of the way he handled the 211-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug violations. Rodriguez, another former Ranger, is appealing his suspension.

"I'm not a fan of it," said Baker, who was a teammate of Dempster's with the Cubs. "I respect the heck out of Dempster. He's one of my favorite teammates I've played with. But I'm not on board with it.

"It's not on the players, whether you like Alex or don't like Alex. There's a process to enforce that."

Berkman anticipating Sept. 1: Designated hitter Lance Berkman said Monday he doesn't expect to be activated until Sept. 1.

And while sitting around is frustrating, Berkman, who is recovering from a hip issue and deals with chronic knee problems, said he's willing to wait until then to be activated.

"In a perfect world, Sept. 1 would be tomorrow," Berkman said. "But it's not. The situation is a difficult one for the organization. The roster, the way it is configured, doesn't lend itself to a change, because it would leave us short in other areas. The best thing for us is to wait until Sept. 1, unless somebody gets hurt."

Berkman did take batting practice on Monday. He plans on going on the Rangers' upcoming road trip to Chicago and Seattle.

He can't answer how effective he'll be when he returns. He was 4-for-11 with a home run on a rehab assignment that ended on Wednesday.

"We'll see," Berkman said. "Until you go out there and do it, it's hard to say. If I can help, I'm going to."

Tepesch throws bullpen: Right-hander Nick Tepesch threw 40 pitches in his second bullpen session on Monday. That puts him in line to throw 60 pitches next time in a bullpen on a date to be determined.

Tepesch is coming back from right elbow inflammation.

Short hops: The Rangers have made 54 outs on the bases this season, the most in the majors, according to baseball-reference.com &$133; The Rangers had four minor league players win their league's player or pitcher of the week award for last week: infielder Drew Robinson and RHP Alec Asher of Class A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League; outfielder Nick Williams of Class A Hickory in the South Atlantic League; and RHP Richard Alvarez for Spokane in the Northwest League … Williams batted .400 with four doubles, two home runs and three RBIs.

Lineups: Adrian Beltre (hamstring) sitting out

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
2:33
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BOSTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, still nursing a tight left hamstring, is not in the Rangers' starting lineup for Tuesday night's series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Jeff Baker will play third in his place and bat seventh. Justin Grimm is on the mound for the Rangers and will be opposed by Ryan Dempster. The game is on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM (1540 AM in Spanish) and FSSW. Here are the lineups (Red Sox to come):

PODCAST
Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss how the Rangers could handle Jurickson Profar when Ian Kinsler returns from the DL, how Elvis Andrus talked his way into the lineup and what asset he would add to the roster.

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RANGERS
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
DH Lance Berkman
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mitch Moreland
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Jeff Baker
2B Jurickson Profar
CF Leonys Martin

Matchup: Justin Grimm vs. Ryan Dempster

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
1:30
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers open a three-game series against Boston on Tuesday with rookie right-hander Justin Grimm facing Ryan Dempster at 6:10 p.m. at Fenway Park.

PODCAST
Nick Tepesch joins Galloway & Company from Boston to discuss pitching for the Rangers and playing at Fenway Park.

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Grimm (5-3, 3.93): Grimm makes his 10th start as the Rangers open a six-game road trip. ... He takes a three-game winning streak into his first start at Fenway Park. ... Grimm snapped the Rangers' three-game losing streak in a 9-5 victory over Arizona on Thursday. He allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, throwing 91 pitches while striking out eight strikeouts and not walking a batter. ... He hasn't walked a batter in his last 17 innings (75 batters). ... Grimm is 2-2 with a 4.94 ERA for five road starts. ... Grimm hasn't allowed a home run and has walked only two in his five winning starts. ... He leads American League rookies with five wins and 44 strikeouts and ranks second in ERA.

Dempster (2-6, 4.45): Dempster, who pitched for the Rangers in the second half of last season, will make his first career start against Texas. He was 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA for 12 starts for the Rangers. ... He earned a save against the Rangers in 2007, striking out the side while pitching for the Chicago Cubs. ... Dempster is 0-4 in his last five starts, but he did pitch well against Philadephia last Tuesday, allowing two runs in seven innings with four strikeouts and three walks. ... Dempster has 32 walks in 62 2/3 innings and has allowed 10 home runs.

Hitters: Grimm hasn't faced the Red Sox. A.J. Pierzynski (8-for-25, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs) and Lance Berkman (20-for-68, 6 HRs, 17 RBIs) have had success against Dempster.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The best way to determine which major league pitchers have the filthiest stuff is to examine how many times hitters swing and miss.

PODCAST
Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Rangers' sweep of the Red Sox, if Yu Darvish has been even better than expected and what moves we could see the club make before the trade deadline.

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Right now, Yu Darvish is easily the American League’s best.

Hitters have swung and missed at a league-leading 135 of his pitches. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and Detroit’s Justin Verlander each have 92. Boston’s Ryan Dempster is fourth with 89 and Detroit’s Max Scherzer is fifth with 87.

If we’re talking swing and miss percentage, then Yu is really off the charts. Batters have swung and missed at 40.7 percent of his pitches this season. Toronto’s Steve Delabar is second at 36.8 percent and Dempster is third at 34.4 percent.

Darvish leads the AL with 72 strikeouts in just 45 2/3 innings. As you would expect, he leads the AL with 14.19 strikeouts per nine innings.

Strikeouts are great because they allow a pitcher to work out of jams without giving up runs since he’s getting outs without allowing the ball to be put in play. Once a ball is put in play, any number of bad things can happen.

Darvish is 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .169 against him.

He dominates because he throws several different fastballs and breaking balls at a variety of different arm slots and speeds. All of that makes it difficult for hitters to look for a certain pitch in a particular location.

"He's a No. 1 pitcher. He just had to get his foot on the ground in the United States," manager Ron Washington said. "He has pitches and, because he can throw anything at any time for a strike, it makes him tough.”

And the AL’s filthiest pitcher.

Moment No. 2: Josh Hamilton's drop

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
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Editor's Note: We've now reached the final two moments in our look back at the 2012 season. And by memorable, we mean both good and bad moments.

Moment No. 2: Josh Hamilton's error in the final regular-season game of 2012

It's not fair to place all of the blame for the Texas Rangers' loss to the Oakland A's in Game No. 162 on Josh Hamilton. After all, Ryan Dempster had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth and couldn't hold it. Derek Holland wasn't able to limit the damage, either, as the A's got a bunch of runs late to win, 12-5.

But the turning point in the game was that fourth-inning error by Hamilton. The A's had already roared back from the four-run deficit to tie the score and get their crowd into the game. With two outs and two on, Yoenis Cespedes hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to end the inning. Hamilton came into shallow center field, put his glove up and overran it. The ball nicked off the top of his glove and went behind him. As he chased after it, two runs scored to put the A's ahead, 7-5. They were never threatened after that, winning the game and the AL West. It dropped the Rangers into the wild-card game.

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton
AP Photo/ Bill NicholsJosh Hamilton couldn't catch what appeared to be a routine fly ball that would have ended the inning.
"I just missed it, man," Hamilton said after the game. "I didn't break down on it like I needed to. When you run a long way in like that, you're supposed to break down on your toes so you can get there and if it moves on you, you can make the adjustment. I didn't. I kept going and it came down and I didn't catch it. It sucks."

After the inning ended, television cameras caught manager Ron Washington talking to Hamilton about the play. The skipper's body language indicated he wasn't too pleased. But he didn't get into specifics after the game, saying only that he asked Hamilton what happened. Hamilton said it wasn't any kind of heated exchange.

"He's always animated," Hamilton said. "He asked me what happened and I told him. That's Wash. Wash is animated. Even when he's out there talking to an umpire, you think he's cussing him out but he's just having a conversation with him. That's just Wash."

The play was the end of a rough final 10 days for Hamilton, who struggled at the plate, dealt with an eye issue and had fielding problems in the AL West-deciding game.

It was a difficult moment for Ranger fans, but a memorable one, too.

Moment No. 9: Colby Lewis lost for season

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
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Editor's Note: Before we shift our complete focus to the 2013 season, let's take a quick look back at 10 memorable moments -- games, signings, events -- from the 2012 campaign. By memorable, we mean both good and bad moments.

Memorable Moment No. 9: Colby Lewis is lost for the season with an elbow injury.

No one can question Lewis' toughness, that's for sure. The veteran pitcher knew he had a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, but wanted to pitch. He came off the disbled list (he was on there starting June 26 with right forearm tendinitis) to make one start July 18 at Oakland and was able to grind it out, but he knew it couldn't last. So he had surgery to repair the torn flexor tendon July 27.

[+] EnlargeColby Lewis
AP Photo/LM OteroLosing a steady force in the rotation like Colby Lewis was a big blow to the Rangers.
It was a big blow to the Rangers' hopes for a deep postseason run. Cliff Lee was the big name in 2010, but it was Lewis who had the overall better postseason numbers. C.J. Wilson fronted the rotation in 2011, but Lewis was once again the steady force in the group. Losing someone who was 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight playoff starts in 2010 and 2011 certainly hurt the club.

It was also a bad break for Lewis, who has put up with a hip condition and is a grinder, getting the ball every fifth day. He went to Japan for two years and found his command, returned to the big leagues with Texas in 2010 and pitched more than 200 innings for the first time in his big league career. He did it again in 2011 and at the end of both years was a stalwart in the playoffs.

The loss of Lewis thinned the pitching staff further. Neftali Feliz was also injured and ended up out for the year after Tommy John surgery on Aug. 1. Texas appeared to have plenty of depth in the starting rotation in spring training, but that quickly dissipated. Lewis' injury (and Feliz's, too) started a ripple effect that ended up putting Justin Grimm in the big leagues to make his debut and led to Martin Perez coming up. It also forced the front office to do something at the trade deadline to try to bolster the rotation, which is how Ryan Dempster ended up in Texas.

Lewis, who was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts before his season ended, had successful surgery and has begun rehab. The club hopes he can be a huge midseason addition in 2013 and once again be that rock in the rotation. But losing him in the middle of the summer was a tough blow.

Texas Ten: How does the rotation look?

October, 15, 2012
10/15/12
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Editor's Note: We'll spend the next two weeks taking a look at 10 questions that face the Texas Rangers this offseason as they prepare for the 2013 campaign. We call it our "Texas Ten."

PODCAST
Ron Washington joins Ben and Skin to talk about all the questions surrounding the Rangers heading into the offseason.

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Today's question: How does the starting rotation look?

First, let's start with what we know. Yu Darvish, under contract for five more years, is the unquestioned No. 1 starter in this rotation. And the Rangers certainly hope he stays healthy and productive and fronts this rotation for a long time. Darvish was consistent and impressive in his final eight starts, including a great performance under playoff pressure.

Matt Harrison had the most consistent season of any starter, making the All-Star team and taking a huge step forward mentally. He attacked hitters and didn't allow bad innings or bad games impact him negatively. He learned from his mistakes and gained some confidence.

Derek Holland did not have the season the Rangers -- or Holland -- expected. I've listed him as the club's No. 3 pitcher, but where he falls in the rotation may depend on what kind of offseason work the club does on the rotation. Holland dealt with a stomach virus in June and then went on the DL with left shoulder fatigue. He ended up going 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA in 29 games (27 starts) with 145 strikeouts and 52 walks. He did finish the season a bit better, going 5-0 with a 3.88 ERA in his final 10 starts. But Holland is the first to admit that he took a step in the wrong direction this year and needs to bounce back. He's under contract for the long-term, so I expect the club to be patient with him.

But after Holland, how do things shape up? Ryan Dempster finished the year in the rotation, but is now a free agent. He'd like to return to Texas and I could see that, but only under the right kind of deal. Dempster has quality stuff, but his splits in 2012 with Texas were telling. He pitched well against non-contending teams (Minnesota, Cleveland (twice), Kansas City, Boston and Seattle), going 6-0 with a 1.88 ERA in six starts. But against teams in the hunt for the postseason (Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Baltimore, Oakland), he was 1-3 with a 9.09 ERA in six starts. He's a funny guy who keeps the clubhouse light and he could provide some nice depth. But his value had to be hurt by those splits.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty ImagesAfter a standout rookie campaign, Yu Darvish enters 2013 as the unquestioned No. 1 starter.
The fifth starter was a problem for this club. It seemed liked they just couldn't find anyone to handle that role. Scott Feldman was up and down, sliding at the wrong time. He has a club option for 2013, but that won't be exercised (not at $9.25 million; he does have a $600,000 buy out). That doesn't mean the club won't consider Feldman for depth. Roy Oswalt, signed to be a veteran that could eat innings, wasn't as productive as expected and ended up in the bullpen.

There are internal candidates. Alexi Ogando could be one and that's a question we'll get into later. Martin Perez came up and made some starts down the stretch. He hasn't lived up to the potential, but is still young and could get a shot in spring training. Justin Grimm had a memorable debut, but also struggled at times coming straight up from Double-A. Robbie Ross could still be a starter long-term, but that may not happen in 2013. We'll see. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz could prove to be nice additions at the midpoint of the season, but they can't be factored into the rotation as spring training begins.

So this is an area that must be addressed this offseason. The Rangers could look at potential free agents. They could, perhaps, try to go after another big name (Zack Greinke, anyone?). But with Darvish showing his stuff in the final two months of the season, they don't have to do that. The key is depth. They have to find some more arms so that they've got the ability to compete for some of those final rotation spots.

2012 Rangers timeline: June-July

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
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Rangers All StarsJim Cowsert/US PresswireA club-record eight Rangers players wore All-Star uniforms for Ron Washington's AL squad in Kansas City.
We've now hit the middle of the summer in the 2012 season in our Texas Rangers timeline. Here's a look at some of the highlights from those two months:

June 2: After the Rangers' sloppy 3-2 loss to the Angels in Anaheim, manager Ron Washington called a rare team meeting. He reminded his squad to make the fundamental plays and that they weren’t playing to their capabilities.

June 3: Hamilton is named AL player of the month for May after a league-high 12 homers and 32 RBIs. He also hit .344 for the month. Nelson Cruz hit the longest homer hit in the big leagues at that point, 484 feet way up the hill in left-center in Anaheim.

June 4: The MLB draft begins and the Rangers take Lewis Brinson and Joey Gallo with their first two picks. The club signs all of its first 10 picks.

June 7: Derek Holland is placed on the DL with left shoulder fatigue and Alexi Ogando is tabbed to take his place in the rotation. The A’s beat Yu Darvish and take three of four from the Rangers in Oakland.

June 10: Ogando injures his groin trying to beat out a hit in a start against San Francisco and has to come out of the game after three perfect innings. He ends up on the DL. The Rangers take two of three from the Giants.

June 12: Colby Lewis pitches a complete game in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks for Texas, giving the bullpen much-needed rest.

June 16: Justin Grimm, called up from Double-A Frisco with all the injuries, makes his big league debut and pitches a quality start against the Houston Astros.

June 19: TV broadcaster Dave Barnett undergoes tests after an on-air issue the previous night in San Diego. He does not return to the booth in 2012. Steve Busby takes his place with Matt Hicks joining Eric Nadel on radio.

June 23: Roy Oswalt makes his Rangers debut. He gives up one run in six innings in a 4-1 Texas win.

June 24: Texas gets its 22nd sellout of the season, breaking the club record for sellouts set in 1994.

[+] EnlargeColby Lewis
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/GettyImagesColby Lewis scored a complete-game win over Arizona in June, but a torn flexor tendon in his elbow ended his season before August.
June 26: Lewis is placed on the disabled list with forearm tendinitis. Martin Perez is called up in his place.

July 1: Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli are voted into the All-Star game as starters for the AL squad, leading a club-record eight players into the game (Darvish would get voted in by fans a few days later). It’s the fifth straight All-Star Game start for Hamilton. LHP Matt Harrison, closer Joe Nathan, second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus also make the team.

July 2: Harrison is named AL pitcher of the month for June after going 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six starts. He had 24 strikeouts and 10 walks and opponents hit .224 against him.

July 3: Roy Oswalt gives up 11 runs (nine of them earned) on 13 hits -- both career-highs -- in a 19-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

July 7: Derek Holland returns from the disabled list and gets a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings in a 4-3 Rangers win in 10 innings over the Twins. Nelson Cruz’s walkoff double ended a five-game losing streak.

July 8: Jurickson Profar hit a home run and Mike Olt had an RBI double in the Futures Game as part of All-Star week festivities. Later that night, Ian Kinsler hit a walkoff single in the 13th to give the Rangers a win over the Twins right before the All-Star break.

July 10: The NL beats the AL, 8-0. All of the Rangers play except for Darvish.

July 18: Lewis is activated off the DL to start against the Oakland A’s. After three weeks on the DL with forearm tendinitis, Lewis allowed one run in five innings.

July 22: The Rangers lose to the Angels in the final game of a three-game series and are five games up in the AL West as they leave Anaheim.

July 23: Lewis has a torn flexor tendon in his elbow that will require surgery, ending his season. It’s a huge blow to the club. Lewis was the team’s best postseason pitcher in 2010 and 2011. Perez is called up to pitch in his place.

July 27: One of the bigger fish in the trade deadline pond landed in Los Angeles with the Angels as Zack Greinke was dealt to the Rangers’ AL West rival. Josh Hamilton was 0-for-4 against the White Sox and his average dipped to .145 in July. Some of the fans in Arlington booed the slugger after he struck out in the game.

[+] EnlargeRyan Dempster
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireLongtime Cubs teammates Geovany Soto (left) and Ryan Dempster became Rangers before the non-waiver trade deadline.
July 29: The Rangers beat the White Sox, 2-0, but lose the series. The offense is struggling to score runs consistently as the Angels get set to arrive for a big four-game series.

July 30: Texas falls, 15-8, to the Angels and see their lead in the AL West drop to four games. The club acquires catcher Geovany Soto and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs for minor-league pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named or cash.

July 31: About 10 minutes before the trade deadline, the Rangers acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs for minor leaguers Christian Villanueva (third baseman) and RHP Kyle Hendricks. Dempster gives the Rangers a veteran in the rotation that posted a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts in the NL in 2012. The Rangers announce that Neftali Feliz, scratched from his rehab start two days ago, will have Tommy John surgery. The Angels beat the Rangers, 6-2, to climb to within three games of the AL West lead.

Ryan Dempster, Mike Napoli hope to return

October, 8, 2012
10/08/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two of the club's free agents hoped that Friday wasn't their last games in a Rangers uniform.

PODCAST
A classic showdown breaks out as Ben and Skin talk to Randy Galloway about a possible clash between the Rangers ownership and coaching staff.

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Catcher Mike Napoli, who has played in Texas the past two seasons after he was acquired from the Blue Jays in January of 2011, and pitcher Ryan Dempster, obtained at the trade deadline, aren't sure if they'll be returning. But they want to if things can work out.

"I had nothing but a great time other than today," Dempster said an hour after Friday's 5-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game. "It’s been an awesome experience here, not only how they treat you as a baseball player, but as a human. It’s a first-class organization and a great place to play. I’m going to try to spend the next little while getting over this. I’ve loved my time here."

Dempster was 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA in his 12 starts in Texas. The splits told the story. He had solid numbers against non-contending teams but struggled against the Angels, Yankees and A's.

Napoli, who had a tremenouds second half of 2011 but was not able to replicate it in 2012, finished with a .227 average, but had 24 homers and 56 RBIs in 108 games. He dealt with a left quad strain that kept him out a month.

Napoli said he hopes to come back. He said he didn't think about whether he was hearing the "NAP-O-LI" chants for the final time in Friday's AL wild-card loss.

"It didn’t go through my mind," Napoli said. "I got to the ballpark (Friday) and expected to win. I never thought about that. It will be a long offseason. Hopefully I’ll be here but we’ll see what happens."

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Rangers 1

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers' offense couldn't convert in the key situations -- a recent problem for this club -- and the Baltimore Orioles did, winning yet another close game (no one was better in close games than Baltimore this season) by a 5-1 score. Texas couldn't take advantage of a tremendous performance by Yu Darvish and the AL will have a new representative in the World Series.

What it means: The Rangers' season is over after a late-season collapse. A club that led the AL West by five games with nine to go (and four with six to go) dropped eight of its last 10 to lose the division to the A's and the AL wild-card game to the Orioles. They led the AL West for all but three days in 2012 and won't play in the ALDS. ... Baltimore will head home to host the New York Yankees for the first two games of the ALDS.

Offense disappears: As has been the case the final few weeks of the season, the Rangers offense didn't deliver in key situations. The fourth inning was a prime example. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. But the Rangers couldn't get the runner home from third with less than two outs. Mike Napoli struck out and then Geovany Soto had a check-swing strike on a 3-2 pitch. ... Give Joe Saunders credit for wiggling out of trouble, but the reality is that Texas had multiple chances -- the Rangers put a batter on base in the first five innings and managed just one run, which scored on a double play.

Hamilton gets booed: Josh Hamilton, perhaps playing in a Rangers uniform for the final time, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a double play and a roller to the mound. The final strikeout came with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth. Hamilton saw eight pitches -- all strikes -- in the four at-bats. It ended Hamilton's rough stretch the past few weeks and a terrible last few days for him. He dropped a routine fly ball in shallow center field Wednesday in the division-deciding game and then couldn't deliver on Friday.

Controversial decision: Manager Ron Washington decided to pull Darvish with two outs and a runner at second base in a 2-1 game in the seventh inning (Darvish was at 91 pitches). Washington elected to go with the lefty-lefty matchup with Nate McLouth coming up. He decided on Derek Holland, who threw 50 pitches Wednesday in Oakland and struggled. Holland threw a wild pitch to put Ryan Flaherty at third and then gave up a single to left to McLouth to give the Orioles a critical insurance run. ... Koji Uehara, who has held lefties to a .188 average this season and has been very good against them since coming back from the disabled list, didn't pitch until the eighth, where he struck out the side. That included left-handed hitters Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

Darvish dazzles: The 26-year-old was phenomenal, proving he could handle the big-game pressure. He gave up three runs (one was unearned and another scored when Holland gave up the two-out single) on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. His slider was a tremendous out pitch as he got most of his strikeouts on the pitch, which just drops out of the zone on hitters. ... Darvish got nothing from his offense and hung in, putting up zeroes and at least giving the Rangers a chance to do something.

Double plays: The Rangers took themselves out of three innings with double plays Friday. And even the inning they scored was shortened because of a double play by Hamilton that scored the run, but allowed Saunders to keep it a one-run game. ... After Craig Gentry got on first because of an error by first baseman Mark Reynolds, Ian Kinsler hit into a double play to clear the bases. ... Kinsler got a one-out single in the fifth and Andrus hit into a double play.

Can I get an interpreter?: When Darvish started stretching his neck in the sixth, Soto went to the mound to check on him and looked to the dugout. That brought out assistant athletic trainer Kevin Harmon, Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Joe Furukawa, Darvish's interpreter, tried to come out and was initially sent back by the umpires. But he was allowed onto the field after the umpires conferred. MLB has a rule that allows interpreters to come to the field in case of injuries.

Very early (unearned) run: It took the Orioles just four pitches to get the lead. Michael Young tried to backhand a ground ball to first by McLouth and couldn't get a handle on it. Moments after the error, McLouth stole second easily. He scored when J.J. Hardy hit a ground-ball single up the middle that scored McLouth for the game's first run. ... Darvish then got out of the inning without allowing any further damage, striking out two batters along the way (Davis and Wieters) on sliders.

Rangers tie it quickly: Texas seemed to have an opportunity for a big first inning. Kinsler walked and Elvis Andrus singled on a hit-and-run to put runners at the corners with no outs. Hamilton hit into a double play, which scored the run. But it also kept the Rangers from having a better chance at scoring more runs. Still, the club managed to tie it right away thanks to the top two guys in the lineup.

Great catch: Kinsler had a nice defensive play in the second. Jim Thome smoked a ball on a line between first and second. Kinsler quickly jumped and snagged it to his left. It was a quick-reflex play that prevented a run.

Hanging in: Credit Saunders for his grit and manager Buck Showalter for his decision to start the veteran. Despite numbers that did not seem favorable at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Showalter went with Saunders anyway and it paid off. Saunders put a runner on in each of his first five innings, but allowed just the lone run in the first. He did a great job of getting out of trouble and getting the Rangers to chase pitches outside of the zone.

Two more: Baltimore turned a 3-1 game into a 5-1 game in the top of the ninth, getting two runs off Rangers closer Joe Nathan. The Orioles scored them with a big one-out single from Manny Machado and a sac fly from McLouth.

Rangers must quickly put past behind them

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
9:00
AM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Texas Rangers don’t have a lot of time to move on and try to put the disappointment of not winning the AL West behind them.
They had a five-game lead with nine games to play (and a four-game lead with six to go) and couldn’t close the deal. So Oakland is on its way to Detroit to play the Tigers in the ALDS and the Rangers will be in Arlington on Friday in what David Murphy aptly described as a Game 7.

How do they turn the page quickly with first pitch against the Orioles coming Friday night?

“We don’t have a choice,” veteran Michael Young said. “It’s a big game. You can’t sit there and lick your wounds and worry about it. You have to get ready to play. If you win, you have an opportunity to compete at that point.”

Young conceded that how the club got into the postseason wasn’t how they “drew it up,” but that they still have a chance to attain their ultimate goal.

“It means we have to win 12 games instead of 11,” pitcher Ryan Dempster said.

But first, they have to win one. And it’s the AL wild-card game on Friday at 7:37 p.m. against a Baltimore team with some familiar faces. It’s as if they are Texas Rangers North. Former Rangers manager Buck Showalter helped guide them to their first playoff berth since 1997 and he did it with some players that were with the Rangers organization recently. First baseman Chris Davis has pounded home runs and found his groove. Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter have helped the bullpen.

But it’s a club that has found a way to win close games. They rarely crush an opponent, but they usually find a way of sticking around. And if they’re leading after seven innings, the bullpen shuts things down.

The Rangers played well against the Orioles this season and will try to channel some of those good thoughts as they prepare.

“It’s going to be a tough road,” catcher Mike Napoli said. “We’ll have to win a playoff game and go from there. We’re worried about this playoff game and that’s it.”

Rapid Reaction: A's 12, Rangers 5

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
5:53
PM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers couldn't hold a 5-2 lead Wednesday -- or a four-game lead with six games to play -- and watched as the Oakland A's won the AL West, snatching the division from them on the final day.

Josh Hamilton's error was the game's most memorable play as he trotted in to catch what appeared to be a routine, lazy fly ball but ended up overrunning it as it glanced off his glove. That broke a 5-5 tie and the A's were on their way from there.

Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):

What it means: The Rangers will play Friday in Arlington against the Orioles in the AL wild-card game at 7:37 p.m. CT.

Hamilton has big error: Hamilton inexplicably missed a shallow fly ball by Yoenis Cespedes that would have ended the fourth inning with the score still tied. He appeared to see the ball, coming in toward it. But it looked as if he overran it, and the ball glanced off the top of his glove. The error allowed two runs to score, breaking a 5-5 tie and putting the A's ahead by two. ... In between innings, television cameras caught manager Ron Washington having a lively conversation with Hamilton.

Dempster out early: The Rangers starter lasted just three innings, coming out of the game four batters into the fourth. Dempster gave up a leadoff walk -- usually costly -- and three straight hits as the A's closed the gap to 5-3. He didn't record an out and was taken out in favor of Derek Holland.

Fourth inning the difference: After Dempster struggled early in the inning, Holland couldn't get out of the jam. Coco Crisp hit a two-run double that was inches inside the right-field line to tie the score. Holland appeared ready to keep it tied, but Hamilton's error changed all of that.

Wasted chance in seventh: Beltre singled and Nelson Cruz doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs in the seventh against right-hander Ryan Cook, who was pitching in his fifth consecutive game. Cook got Michael Young to ground out and struck out David Murphy and Mike Napoli to end the threat. It was another disappointing offensive inning for the Rangers, who haven't consistently delivered the big hit.

Beltre ties it: With the Rangers down 1-0, Adrian Beltre hit an RBI single to score Ian Kinsler from third. It was particularly noteworthy in that Kinsler was at third with less than two outs, a situation that has been a problem for the Rangers in recent weeks.

Big inning: That third inning was a huge one for Texas. They got five runs, starting with that Beltre RBI. They did it by doing what the game asked. They just put balls in play, got some good fortune, and took advantage of Oakland's mistakes.

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Two-out production: After Beltre was thrown out on a fielder's choice in the top of the third, the Rangers had runners on the corners and two outs in a 1-1 game. But Michael Young doubled down the right-field line, hitting the chalk to stay fair. That gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He got the double after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off a few pitches. Then, with runners at second and third, Murphy singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, giving Texas a 4-1 lead.

Taking advantage: Still in the top of the third, Mike Napoli hit a popup that should have been the final out. But it appeared that A's third baseman Josh Donaldson didn't see the ball, forcing catcher George Kottaras to try to make the play. The ball sailed a bit and he missed it, and it dropped in fair territory. That put runners at the corners for Geovany Soto, who got a single up the middle to score another run. That hit ended an 0-for-16 skid for him.

A's score first: Oakland got the first run of the game, scoring off Dempster in the first inning thanks to three straight hits with one out, including an RBI double by Brandon Moss. ... Dempster did a good job of keeping the A's to one run, though. He had runners at second and third with one out and managed to wiggle out of it, getting Josh Reddick to pop up in foul ground and striking out Josh Donaldson on a nice slider that dropped out of the zone.

Pouring it on: The A's scored four in the eighth inning, with all the runs charged to Alexi Ogando. The reliever just didn't have it and the A's were relentless. One of the runs was unearned when Kinsler couldn't get a full handle on a ground ball as he tried to shove it to second to start a double play.

Tidbits: The A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,067 for Wednesday's game. That included 1,000 standing-room only tickets. ... The A's came back from at least a four-run deficit six times in 2012, including Wednesday. ... The A's added a run in the eighth on a solo shot by Derek Norris.

Up next: The Rangers will play in Friday's AL wild-card game against the Orioles in Arlington at 7:37 p.m. CT on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Yu Darvish will get the start.

Matchup: Ryan Dempster vs. A.J. Griffin

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
10:00
AM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final Texas Rangers game of the regular season will start today at 2:37 p.m. Central time and features right-hander Ryan Dempster against Oakland righty A.J. Griffin. The game can be heard on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and seen on FSSW. A look at the matchup:

Dempster (12-8, 3.18 ERA): The 35-year-old righty will make his 12th start for Texas since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. ... He has seven wins since Aug. 1, which is tied for the AL lead with Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb. ... But Dempster is 1-2 with a 6.32 ERA in his past three starts, which has pushed his overall ERA over 3.00. ... He has quality starts in six of his past eight and will be working on regular rest after giving up four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels on Friday. ... Dempster won his only career outing against the A's, back on June 16, 2010 (in interleague play with the Cubs). ... In his seven wins, he has a 1.75 ERA, and all have been quality starts. In his four other starts, he's 0-3 with an 11.44 ERA.

Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA): This is his 15th start of the season and seventh since he was reinstated from the DL on Sept. 1. ... Was 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six starts in September. ... Griffin's .875 winning percentage is the second-best in Oakland history among rookies with five or more decisions. ... He's 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in four starts versus the AL West. Opponents have batted just .198 in that span. ... He was the winning pitcher in Oakland's victory over Seattle on Friday, giving up one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. ... He has a no-decision in his only start against the Rangers, a 4-3 loss in Arlington on June 29. He allowed no runs in six innings.

Hitters: Stephen Drew (5-for-11, HR, 5 RBIs), Seth Smith (4-for-11, 2 doubles, HR, 4 RBIs) and George Kottaras (2-for-6, HR) have hit Dempster well. ... He's held Brandon Moss and Coco Crisp to 0-for-6 combined with two strikeouts. ... Only two Rangers have hits off Griffin -- Nelson Cruz (1-for-2) and Josh Hamilton (1-for-3).

Rapid Reaction: A's 3, Rangers 1

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
12:00
AM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- The AL West is now officially up for grabs with one game left in the 2012 season. Oakland's 3-1 win over the Rangers pulled the A's into a tie with Texas with game No. 162 on tap for Wednesday afternoon. It's the first time since April 9 that the Rangers haven't had sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The Ranger bats have disappeared recently and the club has lost six of its last eight and eight of its last 12. That slump, combined with Oakland's five-game winning streak and victories in eight of their last 10, has pulled the A's even after the Rangers had a four-game lead after last Thursday's win over Oakland. Some quick thoughts on this game (more to come from the clubhouse):

What it means: The Rangers and A's will face each other Wednesday with the winner claiming the AL West crown and the loser playing in the AL wild-card game Friday. ... The loss also means that the Rangers need a combination of things to happen to claim the No. 1 seed. But to simplify it, if the Rangers win and the Yankees win or Baltimore loses, Texas will face the Tigers in the ALDS. If they lose, they'll face either the Orioles or the Yankees depending on what happens Wednesday. That game could be played in Arlington if Baltimore loses tomorrow. Stay tuned on the blog for more explaining all of this.

Double plays hurt: Once again, the Rangers couldn't produce enough runs to get a win. They managed just one -- on a Josh Hamilton double in the third. They had a few chances to create something, but double plays hurt. Elvis Andrus walked to lead off the sixth, but Hamilton hit into a double play to erase him. Michael Young's infield hit in the sixth didn't matter as Mike Napoli hit into a double play. In the fourth, Nelson Cruz got on thanks to an error and didn't get to second as Young hit into a twin-killing.

Early chance squandered: Adrian Beltre hit the first pitch he saw in the second for a double off the wall in left-center. But he never scored. Cruz grounded out and Beltre couldn't move over. Young got some good fortune when a high chop went off starter Travis Blackley's glove for an infield hit. But then they had some bad luck when Napoli's line drive -- and it was hit hard -- went right into the glove of third baseman Josh Donaldson, who reacted quickly. Geovany Soto then struck out looking on a great curveball.

Costly Cruz error: Cruz charged a single by Derek Norris with runners at second and third and no outs in the fifth, but bobbled the ball as he tried to get a handle on it to make a throw. That allowed Brandon Moss to score easily. With Cruz's arm, it's possible he might have had a play at the plate had he come up with it cleanly. And it's also possible that Moss scores anyway. But the bobble meant he had no chance to get him. That second run was the go-ahead run in the game.

Hamilton drives one in: With two outs and Ian Kinsler at first base, Hamilton was nowhere near two off-speed pitches and fell behind 0-2. But on a third breaking pitch (curve) that Blackley hung, Hamilton timed it right and hit it to the wall in right-center for a double. Kinsler kept running and when second baseman Adam Rosales dropped the relay throw, allowing Kinsler to score without a play at the plate. Had he not dropped it, it probably would have been close. But credit the Rangers for getting aggressive and forcing the A's to make a play, which they didn't.

Kinsler struggling: Coming into the game, Kinsler had one hit in his last 18 at-bats. And he didn't get a hit Tuesday. He is batting .199 (27-136) in his last 32 games. ... Kinsler is a different hitter on the road than at home -- with 70 points separating the two numbers coming in. He was hitting just .223 on the road before Tuesday and couldn't get a hit. ... Kinsler's last hit with a runner in scoring position was Aug. 31. He is 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position since Aug. 15.

Harrison's night: Matt Harrison came out with a quality start, but was unable to hold a 1-0 lead. He gave up three straight hits to start the fifth and two runs, which gave the A's the lead. ... With two outs and no one on (and after Harrison got Yoenis Cespedes on a pickoff/caught stealing), Jonny Gomes tagged a solo shot to give the A's an insurance run. ... Harrison finished with three runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts, but got the loss.

Blackley better: Blackley gave up five runs in the first inning in a loss to Texas last week and lasted just that lone inning. But on Tuesday, he was impressive, going six innings and giving up just the one run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Tidbits: The Rangers' bullpen did what it could to keep it close. Alexi Ogando pitched a scoreless seventh, Michael Kirkman got both left-handed batters he faced in the eighth and Roy Oswalt struck out Cespedes to end the eighth. ... The A's announced 30,660 as the attendance with a 12,000 walkup.

Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (12-8, 3.18 ERA in NL/AL) pitches for the Rangers against RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) of the A's at 2:37 p.m. CT in the final regular-season game of 2012.

Ryan Dempster can't solve Angels

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
11:15
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't the solo home runs to Mike Trout and Chris Iannetta in the first three innings that bothered Rangers starter Ryan Dempster. It was an inability to make crucial pitches with two outs and extending the Angels' advantage.

Mark Trumbo hit two doubles -- both with two outs -- to score runs. And both were on sliders that Dempster said were not in the right location.

"I've got to make better pitches with two outs, especially when I have an advantage righty on righty, and Trumbo hit two doubles to score runs," Dempster said. "That was the difference in the ballgame, really. I gave up two home runs last game and I won. Solo home runs don't beat you. It's the runs when you don't make pitches with two outs."

Dempster said he doens't know why he struggles so much against the Angels, but added he's "trying to figure that out."

Friday was actually his best start against them in three tries. He gave up four runs on seven hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Dempster was in position for a quality start pitching to Trumbo in the sixth. But the double gave the Angels their fourth run, and when Dempster walked Iannetta he was lifted in favor of Robbie Ross.

Dempster is now 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in three starts against the Angels. The 5 2/3 innings on Friday were the most he's thrown against the Angels. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his last start (and 4 2/3 innings before that).

But since the trade to Texas, Dempster's splits against contenders and non-contenders are telling. He has an 8.46 ERA in five starts against contending teams, including three vs. Los Angeles, one against the Yankees and the other at home against Baltimore. He's 1-3 in those starts. In the six other starts for Texas -- against Boston, Minnesota, Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland (twice) -- he's sporting a 2.43 ERA. That's a split worth noting with the playoffs around the corner.

Dempster will likely get one more shot at a contending team. He's slated to pitch in the regular-season finale in Oakland. The Rangers certainly hope to have the division clinched by then, but it could be a critical game for the A's.

While Dempster has had his issues against those top teams, he did perform well against one possible Ranger playoff opponent: Baltimore. Dempster gave up one run in eight innings in a win in Arlington on Aug. 20.

Dempster said he knew he was going to be in a battle with Jered Weaver on the mound. Weaver got his 20th win of the season and is in contention for the Cy Young Award.

"You can't make a lot of mistakes," Dempster said. "We've done a good job here of hitting against him, I just wasn't able to make some pitches and get some outs with two outs. If I do that, it's a whole different ballgame and it's 2 to 1 instead of 4 to 1. I didn't make a pitch and got us behind."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .323
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 71
RA. Beltre 75
OPSA. Beltre .876
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182