Texas Rangers: Yorvit Torrealba

Texas Ten: What is the outlook at catcher?

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
11:00
PM CT
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."

Today's question: What does the club do about catcher in 2013?

The catching position was not one of strength at the plate for the club in 2012. Mike Napoli began the season as the starter after his magical second half in 2011, which carried over into a terrific postseason. But Napoli, who talked to the club about a long-term deal in the offseason but never settled on one, couldn't replicate those impressive four months. He dealt with some nagging injuries and ended up on the disabled list, but even when healthy Napoli wasn't consistently comfortable at the plate.

The catcher hit .227 in 108 games. He still managed 24 homers and 56 RBIs, but he also had 125 strikeouts in 352 at-bats (he had 85 strikeouts in 369 at-bats in 2011). After putting up an OBP of .414 in 2011, Napoli dropped to .343 in 2012. He was on the DL with a left quadriceps strain for a little more than a month.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireMike Napoli couldn't duplicate his fantastic finish to 2011 and now will test the free agent market.
With Napoli struggling, manager Ron Washington gave Yorvit Torrealba a chance to earn more playing time. But Torrealba didn't hit much better, meaning the position wasn't offering much at the plate. In an effort to create a spark there, the Rangers traded RHP Jake Brigham to the Chicago Cubs for Geovany Soto at the trade deadline. The hope was that Soto's bat, which was quiet in Chicago, might get going with a new team and a new atmosphere. He had his moments, but Soto hit just .196 with five homers and 25 RBIs while in Texas.

Of course, hitting is only part of a catcher's job. He must work with the pitching staff and call a productive game. And Washington has made it clear that's the No. 1 priority of the position. Soto established a rapport with Yu Darvish and became the pitcher's personal catcher. He also caught most of Ryan Dempster's games since he was familiar with Dempster, another trade deadline pickup, from Chicago.

But catcher is one position the front office must deal with this offseason. Napoli is a free agent and will test the market. He'd like to return, but at what price? The club could offer Napoli a one-year deal with the idea that, under the new CBA, if he signs elsewhere they'd get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. But that offer might end up being $11 million or so, so it's a tough call. Still, it might make sense for Napoli to do a short-term deal in a place where he's comfortable (Texas) with the hopes of increasing his value after 2013 for a longer deal. Soto is arbitration eligible in 2013, so the club could elect to offer him arbitration and then find a starting catcher to pair with him. Or they could non-tender him and let him go.

The club could then look at free agents or trades. Kelly Shoppach, a local product, has always intrigued me. But is he a starter? What about J.P. Arencibia from the Blue Jays, who could afford to deal a catcher (they've also got Travis d'Arnaud, though that price is likely to be high as he's a top prospect)? The fact that the Blue Jays claimed Bobby Wilson off waivers could certainly signal a willingness to trade one of their catchers, so the Rangers make a logical trade partner. Does A.J. Pierzynski interest anyone? If the Braves don't pick up Brian McCann's option (he's having surgery and might miss the start of the season), what about signing him up as a guy who could play some DH and not catch every day?

Texas needs more offense from the catching position and you can bet that the front office will be looking to do that via trade or free agency.

What would you do at catcher? Do you bring back Napoli or Soto? Do you go in a completely different direction?

Yorvit Torrealba placed on release waivers

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
11:13
AM CT
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba was placed on waivers Wednesday by the Rangers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. If he is not claimed, he will become a free agent at noon Friday.

Torrealba, who hit .236 with three homers and 12 RBIs this season, was designated for assignment on July 31 after the Rangers acquired catcher Geovany Soto from the Cubs.

Rangers players excited about additions

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
2:02
AM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers pulled off two deals with the Chicago Cubs before the trade deadline to acquire catcher Geovany Soto and starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. Soto will take Yorvit Torrealba's place as the second catcher behind Mike Napoli and Dempster will be used to bolster a starting rotation that has struggled with injuries all season.

Here's what some of the Rangers players thought about their new teammates:

Michael Young --
“I don’t think I’ve ever faced him. I know he’s having a great year. One of my best friends in the game is Mark DeRosa and he says nothing but good things about him as a teammate. We’re excited to have him. To add a guy who’s a veteran, who’s been through big games before and who’s having a great year right now is definitely a plus for us. Now it’s just a matter of keeping our team healthy the rest of the way.”

"Our catching situation is in good hands. We wish Torre well; he was a great teammate. We’re going to miss him. But Soto’s done really well for the Cubs in the past, so we feel like our catching is in good shape. We feel like Nap is one of the best in the game and to add Soto out there to fortify the pitching is good.”

Josh Hamilton --
“It’s good, man. We needed another piece at pitcher and we went out and got it. I’ve faced him a few times, but like I remember. I can’t even remember who we faced yesterday. Like I said, I just show up and play. If he’s doing well, that’s good. We’ll just continue on winning.”

“You hate to see Yorvit go, but Soto’s a great player and he definitely can help us. I never played much against him, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about him.”

Mike Napoli --
“Great arm. He’s having a good year this year and we’re excited to have him. I’ve heard he’s a good teammate, great guy. So we’re excited about that and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

“Torre’s been a great teammate here and a big part of our team. It’s kind of tough to lose him. But that’s what the front office did. We’ll welcome Soto here with open arms and treat him just like anyone else in this clubhouse.”

Ian Kinsler --
“To get a guy of Dempster’s caliber and the type of year he’s had, it’s definitely good for the team. Any time you can acquire a player that can help the team, it’s a boost. Regardless of how good you are, how talented your team is, how well you’re playing or how bad you’re playing, if you can acquire a good player it’s a boost inside the clubhouse.”

"It’s always hard to lose someone that’s been in your clubhouse a couple years. Our clubhouse is a great clubhouse and it’s always tough to lose a guy that’s been a part of it. (Torrealba) is a guy that was a veteran leader and it’s tough to lose a guy like that. But Soto's a very good player. He’s proven at the big league level. He has a reputation of being a very good defensive catcher. Offensively, he’s done it before. It’s just a matter of him getting back to that. It’s good to have a young guy back there that can move around and do the things that he does.”

Nelson Cruz --
“It’s really exciting. That type of pitcher, he works fast. Hopefully he comes through when we need him.”

Scott Feldman --
“He’s pretty darn good, so it’s probably a good acquisition. It’s always a good thing when you can get as many good players in the locker room as possible. We’ve been fortunate enough to be in a position to do that the last couple of years. Seems like we’ve done it again this year with the guys we’ve been able to add.”

“Sad to see Torre go, but hopefully he can catch on with a contending team and finish the season well. He was a pleasure to play with, for sure.”

Roy Oswalt --
“Good add. Good guy, good clubhouse guy. I’ve known Dempster since he pitched for the Marlins back in 2000. Good entertainment in the clubhouse. You’ll see when he gets here.”

David Murphy --
“All I really know about him is what he’s done this year. He’s been in the league a long time, he’s had a lot of success. I mean, obviously he’s had a great year this year and if we go out and get a guy like that, it’s a great move. He’s been a horse for their staff this year, so hopefully he can come over here and do the same.”

Rapid Reaction: Angels 6, Rangers 2

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
9:50
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- A disappointing homestand continued Tuesday as the Rangers fell, 6-2, to the Angels. Texas is now 3-5 in this 10-game stretch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and has lost eight of its last 12 games. Derek Holland struggled, giving up three home runs, and the offense couldn't muster much off Jered Weaver and the Angels' bullpen. Some brief thoughts on the game:

What it means: The Angels are three games back of the Rangers, the closest they've been since June 14 when they were also three back. If the Oakland A's win, they'll be 2 1/2 games back, which would be the closest the division has been since June 11 (also 2 1/2 games). ... Texas must win the final two games of the series to earn a split.

Holland can't finish: Holland started the night strong, retiring the first eight batters he faced and not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. But some pitches got up and some balls got out. Holland ended up allowing six runs for the second time in his last three starts -- both to the Angels. Holland has now given up 12 runs on 14 hits with five homers, five walks and 12 strikeouts in two losses to the Angels this season.

Game 3 rewind?: Albert Pujols hit two homers Tuesday, his first homers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington since belting three long balls in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. Both of Pujols' home runs came off Holland and were hit over the left field wall.

Lots of long balls: Holland allowed three home runs Tuesday and has given up seven home runs in his last three starts. Besides Pujols, Mike Trout continued his ridiculous season (he's got to be the MVP if he keeps this up, doesn't he?) with a 412-foot home run in the sixth.

Costly walk: Holland was ahead 1-2 on Chris Iannetta to lead off the sixth and ended up walking him. By issuing a free pass to the No. 9 hitter, Trout got to bat with a runner on base and took advantage with the homer.

Key double: With the Angels up 4-0 with two outs in the seventh, Tanner Scheppers came in to pitch to Torii Hunter. On a 1-1 pitch, Hunter hit a double to center that scored Maicer Izturis and Trout to give the Angels a 6-0 lead. That turned out to be important as the Rangers tried to start a comeback in the seventh.

No shutout: David Murphy's double to center -- just past the reach of a speedy Trout -- scored Josh Hamilton and Michael Young and allowed the Rangers to avoid a shutout. It was also the final batter that Jered Weaver faced. Kevin Jepsen came on in relief and retired Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland to end the inning.

Still searching for runs: After scoring eight runs Monday -- though many of those came after the Angels had blown the game open -- the Rangers offense was once again fairly quiet. They scored two runs on five hits and weren't able to do much off Weaver and the Angels bullpen. Texas has scored five runs or fewer in 12 of the 16 games since the All-Star break. The Rangers are averaging four runs per game in the second half.

Top 4 quiet: The top four hitters in the Rangers order -- Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz -- were 0-for-16.

Up next: RHP Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.05 ERA) goes up against RHP Garrett Richards (3-2, 3.91 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Deadline talk: Final day is upon us

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
7:48
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- We are now counting down the final hours until Tuesday's 3 p.m. central time deadline as everyone in baseball will be burning up battery power in their cell phones trying to make some deals before the afternoon ends. A few things to watch for as we race toward the finish line:

* The Rangers already made one move, acquiring Geovany Soto and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Jacob Brigham. Soto gives them a backup catcher option, someone who plays solid defense and he's under club control for another year. It could mean Yorvit Torrealba is designated for assignment to make room for Soto, who is hitting .199. But this appears to be more a move to get a good defensive catcher as a backup to Mike Napoli. And don't discount the fact that Soto is under control in 2013. Both Napoli and Torrealba are free agents after this year.

* ESPNChicago.com reports the Rangers have interest in Matt Garza. That may sound a bit surprising in that Garza's start was pushed back because of fluid in his triceps area. But if the medical reports check out, he could add some depth to a thinned rotation. And maybe he can be plucked at a decent price. The Rangers had some interest in Garza at the Winter Meetings this offseason, but a deal never materialized. Perhaps Garza is the type of starter the Rangers can get without feeling like they've mortgaged the future or dealt away any of their biggest minor-league prizes.

* The Garza story also notes that the Blue Jays are very interested as well. It could be interesting to see what happens as we get closer to 3 p.m. in regards to Garza. One other important note on Garza: He's under club control through 2013, his final year of arbitration. That has to make him more appealing to the Rangers in that he's not a two-month rental.

* Word broke Monday that Cliff Lee was being shopped by the Phillies and the Rangers, naturally, had some interest. But a source said Monday that it was "very doubtful" a deal could be reached with Texas. The Rangers would need the Phillies to pay for a good chunk of the remaining salary on Lee's contract -- and it's hefty at $25 million for the next three seasons and a $27.5 million club option that vests based on innings pitched (or a $12.5 million buyout). Plus, the Phillies will want a big haul on prospects. At Lee's age and the fact that he's not quite the same pitcher he was when the Rangers got him in 2010, it likely isn't going to happen. But we put in this trade deadline disclaimer: Sometimes prices drop as the deadline gets closer.

* One thing about the Rangers: They will toss many balls in the air and see if they can catch any of them as the deadline approaches. A right-handed bat off the bench wouldn't be a bad thing for this club. The question is whether there's one that's affordable and makes sense.

* What about the unexpected? With this club, it can happen. There may be a name not mentioned on the rumor mill that pops up. And if there's a player that could be a fit being shopped, you can bet the Rangers have at least inquired.

Rapid Reaction: Angels 15, Rangers 8

July, 30, 2012
7/30/12
9:24
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- A huge sixth inning helped the Los Angeles Angels beat up the Texas Rangers 15-8 on Monday night. Starter Roy Oswalt just didn't have it and allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings, and the Rangers weren't able to mount a comeback. Some quick thoughts on the game:

What it means: The Angels gain a game on the Rangers and are four games back in the American League West. Oakland gains a half-game (now four back) and plays against Tampa Bay on the West Coast. ... The 15 runs are the third-most allowed by the Rangers this season (they gave up 19 to the White Sox on July 3 and 21 to Seattle on May 30).

Rough start: It was one of Oswalt's worst starts in a Rangers uniform. The veteran gave up eight runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and three homers in 5 1/3 innings. In half his starts for the Rangers (six of them), he's allowed at least 10 hits. ... The only start in which he allowed more than that many runs was July 3 at Chicago against the White Sox, when he gave up 11 runs (nine earned) on 13 hits in just 4 2/3 innings.

Homer happy: Oswalt gave up three home runs in the same start for the second time in his six starts. Maicer Izturis hit a solo shot in the second, Mike Trout hit a two-run homer (his 17th of the season) in the third and Kendrys Morales hit one in the sixth. (Morales' second homer came off Robbie Ross.

Ross rusty? Ross, who's been solid all season, struggled Monday. It had been a week since he pitched (last Monday versus Boston), and his command was wobbly. He allowed four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. It was the first time all season he's given up more than two runs.

Huge night for Morales: Kendrys Morales hit two home runs in the sixth inning and scored six RBIs. ... The home runs came on both sides of the plate. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Morales is just the third player to hit homers from both sides of the plate in an inning in MLB history. Mark Bellhorn and Carlos Baerga are the others. ... The last player with six RBIs in one inning was San Francisco's Juan Uribe on Sept. 23, 2010, at the Chicago Cubs. ... Morales is just the second Angel to homer from both sides of the plate. The other one: Rick Reichardt on April 30, 1966. Yep, more than 46 years ago.

Cruz crusher: Nelson Cruz is known for launching long home runs, but as far as homers to straightaway center, the one he hit in the seventh inning had to be one of the longest to that part of the park. It was estimated at 453 feet and went over Greene's Hill, just to the left side of the Batter's Eye Club. Cruz has home runs in four of his past six games.

Sun balls: Two balls hit early in the game caused issues for left fielders with the sun shining in that direction. The 6 p.m. start makes it very tough out there. Albert Pujols' two-out double in the first went just past David Murphy's glove because he couldn't see it even with sunglasses on. Murphy then took advantage and hit a fly ball toward Mike Trout out there, and Trout couldn't see it and was turned around. The double scored Josh Hamilton with the second run of the game.

RISP streak ends at 29: Murphy's double to left in the second ended a streak of 29 straight hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position, dating back to the first inning of Friday's loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers scored two runs in the inning, the first on a sac fly in foul ground down the right-field line by Michael Young. ... Before Murphy's double, the last time the Rangers scored a run on a non-homer hit was Ian Kinsler's bloop in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game against Boston.

Hamilton's extra-base hits: Josh Hamilton ended an 0-for-14 streak with an opposite-field double in the second to put runners at second and third, and get the inning going for the Rangers after Nelson Cruz's walk. He hit a solo homer in the fourth, just over the scoreboard in left field. Both hits went the other way. It was the first time Hamilton had at least two extra-base hits in a game since May 30, when he had two doubles versus Seattle. ... He had a single in the sixth, meaning he had hits in his first three at-bats. It was his first three-hit night since May 11.

Tidbits: Mike Napoli was charged with a passed ball in the third, his eighth of the season. ... The Rangers made a well-timed pitch out with two outs in the fourth. Napoli made a nice throw to Kinsler and got Howie Kendrick easily. ... Napoli thought a strikeout of Morales in the third was the final out of the inning and started to trot off. Oswalt stopped him, as it was just the second out of the inning. ... Michael Kirkman gave up three runs in the seventh inning and had trouble finding the strike zone, issuing three walks. ... Jerome Williams gets a save because he pitched the final four innings (and allowed five runs).

Up next: LHP Derek Holland (7-5, 4.74 ERA) goes up against Angels ace RHP Jered Weaver (13-1, 2.26 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Yorvit Torrealba seeing the ball well

July, 29, 2012
7/29/12
9:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There's no denying the struggles the Texas Rangers are having offensively up and down the lineup, but a guy who has been a surprising spark is Yorvit Torrealba.

Torrealba has tallied seven hits in his last 15 at-bats, including three multi-hit efforts in the last four games when recording an at-bat.

"Obviously, I'm seeing the ball a little bit better," Torrealba said. "I'm trying to swing at good pitches, instead of getting myself out. I was too aggressive early in the year. Lately, it seems I've been a little more patient and seeing the ball better and had quality at-bats."

The Rangers catcher is hitting just .236 for the season with three home runs and 12 RBIs, but those numbers have gone up with the way he's been swinging the bat recently. Torrealba is hitting .278 with a home run in June. It's been a change of approach at the plate, but Torrealba admitted it was tough to go through some struggles throughout the season.

"Because I was getting myself out, I was getting frustrated," he said. "I would go into my next at-bat and try to overdo stuff. I kind of took a step back and tried to make sure I'm able to control myself and get a good pitch to hit and don't miss it. So far, it's been working."

Keeping the momentum going will be a difficult task since he shares time at catcher with Mike Napoli, but Torrealba is up to the challenge.

"It's hard," Torrealba said. "Obviously, all you can do is work as much as you can in the cage and work with the hitting coach. It's always going to be hard. Your timing is the most important thing. If you're not facing pitchers every single day, everything can go off. I just try to do the best I can to get ready for my next start."

Lately, he's been producing when he gets the opportunity, and that's more than can be said about a lot of guys in the Rangers' lineup right now.

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 5, Rangers 2

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
9:57
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers couldn't come through in the clutch, struggling with runners in scoring position, and Matt Harrison gave up a couple of homers in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Some quick notes on the game:

What it means: The Rangers' offense is a mess right now and the club is 8-12 in July. The A's won earlier in the day and are now 3 1/2 games back in the AL West.

RISP issues: The Texas Rangers are not hitting the ball well with runners in scoring position these days. They are 30-for-154 in July (.195). Only the Houston Astros are worse in July (.175). It's been particularly bad the last two games. They were 1-for-8 on Friday and 0-for-13 on Saturday. That's 1-for-21 in the series. The best illustrations of the issues were the fifth and seventh innings Saturday. A look:

* Leonys Martin hit a double after Mike Napoli led off the fifth with a home run, giving the Rangers a little hope for an inning that could let them climb back in a 5-1 game. Craig Gentry's ground ball to short moved Martin to third base. But Ian Kinsler struck out on an inside pitch that wasn't a strike and Elvis Andrus grounded out to second to end the threat.

* Michael Young legged out a leadoff triple in the seventh but couldn't go anywhere. After Napoli walked to put runners on the corners with no outs, Jesse Crain came in to relieve Philip Humber and struck out Martin on a changeup, got Craig Gentry swinging and then benefited from a diving catch in left by Dayan Viciedo on a ball hit by Kinsler. (It seems that slumping offenses don't get many bloop hits.)

* In the ninth, David Murphy hit a leadoff double and Young and Mike Napoli both hit hard grounders up the middle, but nice plays by the White Sox middle infielders kept them from being hits.

Scoring drought: Since scoring four runs in the first inning of Friday's game, Texas has just two runs in its last 17 innings in the losses.

Homers hurt Harrison: For the first time since May 7 against Baltimore, Harrison allowed two home runs in the same outing. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko hit home runs that totaled 823 feet and Harrison gave up five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. It was the first time since May 2 at Toronto that Harrison had given up at least that many runs (he allowed eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings in that outing). ... Harrison has lost two straight games for the first time since April 27 and May 2.

Dazzling defense: The Rangers made two nice defensive plays in the third inning. Young showed nice reaction time, diving and catching a hard skimmer off the bat of Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning. Later, Adrian Beltre charged a ball down the third-base line and made a nice throw to first to retire Eduardo Escobar. It wasn't an easy play, but Beltre made it look routine (as he usually does). ... Beltre made another ridiculous defensive play in the fifth, catching a one-hop relay throw from Elvis Andrus and tagging Escobar in the same motion to get the out.

Konerko crusher: Harrison left a pitch up in the zone and Konerko crushed it, sending it deep to left field nearly over the first section of seats in the bottom bowl. The estimated distance was 416 feet and with Dunn at first base on a base hit (a ball that went under Ian Kinsler's glove as he tried to backhand it in the hole) it gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. ... Dunn got into the act to center field with a runner on. So four of the five runs allowed by Harrison came on homers.

Napoli homers: Mike Napoli got back into his favorite count -- 3-2 -- in the fifth inning and hit his 16th homer of the season to give the Rangers their first run of the game. It was his fourth homer in his last six games. Napoli is batting .304 in his last seven games (7-for-23) with four homers, six RBIs and six walks. He's walking more, too. He's walked at least once in 10 of his last 14 games (15 total walks).

Tidbits: Neither team had a hit through three innings. ... The attendance was 47,580. That's the 29th sellout of the season for Texas, extending the club record.

Up next: The final game of this three-game set with the Chicago White Sox features Scott Feldman (4-6, 5.37 ERA) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46 ERA). The game starts at 6:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

Lack of execution hurts Rangers

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
12:14
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers battled throughout, but a lack of execution ultimately sealed their fate as the Chicago White Sox took the first game of the three-game series 9-5 on Friday night.

Early on, it looked as though it was going to be the Rangers' night as they scored four runs in the first, including the first run of the game that was scored with perfect small ball execution. Ian Kinsler was hit by a pitch and stole second, and Elvis Andrus moved him to third with a ground ball to the right side. Josh Hamilton drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

It was exactly what the Texas offense has been lacking. It could've been a turning point.

Instead, it was just the opposite.

Texas had multiple mishaps in the field and at the plate that put the Rangers in some tough spots. Those mistakes also gave Yu Darvish his first loss in the U.S. or in Japan when having at least four runs of support. Going into Friday's game, Darvish was 59-0 in 63 starts when getting that kind of run support.

"It was one of those games that wasn't as clean as we would like it to be," Michael Young said. "We'll come back tomorrow and make some adjustments."

The Rangers failed to execute at various points in the game, such as:

* Nelson Cruz highlighted the Texas four-run first inning, but that lead was short-lived. Darvish turned around and gave up a two-run home run to Kevin Youkilis. The right-handed rookie had Youkilis in a 0-2 count with two outs when giving up the blast.

"Giving up the home run was a very big part of the game," Darvish said through translator Joe Furukawa. "It was a big unfortunate part of the game."

* In the fourth inning, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham hit a ball into left-center that should've been a single. However, Josh Hamilton looked as though he didn't expect Beckham to try for second and fielded the ball lackadaisically, allowing Beckham to slide safely into second base. The next batter hit a single that scored both the runner on third and Beckham.

* The Rangers had an opportunity to score in the fifth when Craig Gentry and Kinsler reached base with a hit by pitch and walk, respectively, to lead off the inning. Andrus was unable to get a bunt down and dug himself in a two-strike hole. The Rangers shortstop was squared around to bunt again with two strikes, but he took a called third strike. Hamilton and Adrian Beltre also struck out to end the threat.

* When Alexi Ogando entered the game with one out in the seventh inning, he did not pay attention to Adam Dunn, who was standing on first, and Dunn made him pay. Dunn stole second -- his second stolen base of the season -- and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Dunn later scored the sixth and winning run of the game.

* With a runner on first and two outs, Alex Rios doubled to left field. David Murphy overthrew Andrus, who was unable to make a relay throw to the plate to try to get the runner out at home. Andrus was charged with an error on the play because he dropped the throw, but a better throw from Murphy would've resulted in a play at the plate.

With all the miscues aside, the Rangers had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but they didn't.

"I wouldn't call it sloppy, manager Ron Washington said. "But we didn't execute like we need to."

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 9, Rangers 5

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
10:44
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers played about as sloppy as they could in Friday night's series opener with the Chicago White Sox and Yu Darvish didn't have his best stuff as Chicago came out on top 9-5. Some thoughts on the game:

What it means: The Rangers drop Game 1 of this three-game set with Chicago. Texas is now 2-5 against the White Sox. The Rangers have a 4 1/2 game lead on the Oakland Athletics, who won 14-9 against Baltimore, and the Los Angeles Angels, pending the outcome of their contest with Tampa Bay.

Not Yu's night: Yu Darvish had his worst start at home. Darvish gave up six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The six runs are the most runs he's given up at home this year, and the five earned runs tied the most at home this year. He also gave up five earned runs in his major league debut against the Seattle Mariners on April 9.

Rough from the start: Darvish didn't start Friday's game like he had hoped, but it could've been much worse. He allowed a walk and three singles in the first inning, but the White Sox were only able to scratch across a run. Alex Rios came through with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to score the run, but Darvish used a strikeout of Dayan Viciedo to leave the bases full.

Nice response: The Rangers responded to the Chicago first-inning run in a big way. Ian Kinsler started things off by reaching on a hit by pitch. On the first pitch to Elvis Andrus, Kinsler stole second and moved to third on a grounder from the Rangers shortstop. Texas tied the game with some more small ball as Josh Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Kinsler. The inning looked like it was over, but back-to-back singles from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young set up a three-run home run for Nelson Cruz to give the Rangers a 4-1 advantage. It was Cruz's second consecutive at-bat with a home run. He hit one in the eighth inning of Wednesday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox.

Unlucky break: In the second, Darvish looked to be getting into a groove as he got a strikeout of Tyler Flowers before getting the White Sox No. 9 hitter Gordon Beckham in a 1-2 count. Beckham worked himself into a full count before getting a base hit to left field. Darvish got a line out to Andrus for the second out, but it was almost a double play. Andrus caught the ball just inches off the ground. If he had let it hit the ground, Texas would've had an easy double play to end the inning. Instead, Darvish had to pitch to Kevin Youkilis, who made the Rangers pay. Youkilis launched a two-run home run to cut the lead to 4-3.

Aggressive base running: After moving from station to station didn't work in the first inning, the White Sox got aggressive on the basepaths in the fourth, and it paid off. Flowers got a one-out single on a dribbler to third. Beckham followed that up with what looked to be a single. However, Beckham kept the wheels turning as he legged it into a double to put two guys in scoring position with one down. Alejandro De Aza capitalized on the opportunity with a two-run single to put Chicago in front 5-4.

Stealing on Ogando: Last year, it wasn't easy to steal on Alexi Ogando and not too many teams tried. On Friday, however, the White Sox stole twice on Ogando, who came in with one out in the seventh to replace Darvish. Adam Dunn recorded his second stolen base of the season and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Yorvit Torrealba. That mistake proved costly when a fielder's choice brought in the run, giving Chicago a two-run lead. With two outs, Rios got a steal of his own but was left stranded.

Boos for Hamilton: It's hard to believe, but Hamilton was actually booed by some in attendance Friday night. Hamilton struck out on three consecutive pitches in both the third and fifth innings. After the first strikeout, there were a few boos present in the crowd, but those boos grew stronger following the second three-pitch punch out.

Missed opportunity: Chicago starter Chris Sale did his best to let the Rangers tie the game with the White Sox leading 5-4 in the fifth, but Texas missed out on the opportunity. Sale hit Craig Gentry to start the frame and followed that up with a walk to Kinsler to put two on with no outs. Andrus was unable to get a sacrifice bunt down and took a called third strike for the first out. Hamilton then struck out on three pitches before Beltre was called out on strikes.

Left them loaded: Texas cut into the deficit with a run in the seventh inning, but they had a chance to do a lot more. The Rangers had the bases loaded with one out for Hamilton. He drove in his second run of the night by grounding into a fielder's choice. Beltre, then, took a walk to load the bases once again. Young hit the ball hard on a line drive to the outfield, but it was right at the Chicago right fielder to end the frame and waste another golden opportunity.

Stretching out?: With Colby Lewis out for the rest of the season, there are some question marks at the end of the Rangers' starting rotation. Ogando could be a candidate to fill the final spot on the rotation, and the Rangers have mentioned that they would like stretch his outings out whenever possible. And Texas did just that Friday. Ogando pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of the game, giving up three earned runs on two hits with two walks, two strikeouts and a home run.

Ouch: Kinsler was hit by a pitch twice in Friday's contest, but the most painful one came in the seventh. Nate Jones came in for Sale and drilled Kinsler on his left hand. The trainer came out to take a look at the Rangers second baseman, but he stayed in the game.

Struggles continue: Mike Napoli's year at the plate has been one filled with struggles, but the way he's been hitting against left-handed pitchers has been even worse. Napoli was 0-for-4 on the night, including 0-for-3 off Sale. He is 14-for-96 (.146) against lefties with 37 strikeouts and four double plays.

Web gem: As he seems to do every night, Beltre made a spectacular play at third base. It came in the seventh inning when Beltre dove to his left to make a stop, popped up and made the throw to first that was capped off by a nice pick by Young.

Another sellout: It was a cooler 95 degrees when first pitch was thrown at 7:08 p.m. and the fans responded. The announced attendance Friday was 47,638. It is the 28th sellout of the year, extending the record for most in a season.

Up Next:

Sat. vs. CWS: LHP Matt Harrison (12-5, 3.02) vs. RHP Philip Humber (4-5, 6.25), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.

Lineups: Mike Napoli at DH

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
5:49
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mike Napoli says his tight quad muscle won't keep him out of the lineup, but manager Ron Washington is giving him another day off from catching. The lineups:

WHITE SOX
CF Alejandro De Aza (L)
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Adam Dunn (L)
1B Paul Konerko
RF Alex Rios
SS Alexei Ramirez
LF Dayan Viciedo
C Tyler Flowers
2B Gordon Beckham

RANGERS
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

Offense comes through in key situations

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
11:11
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' offense had its share of struggles in Wednesday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox, but came through in some key situations on the way to a 5-3 win that extended the Rangers' home series winning streak to 10 in a row.

“We may have some inconsistent times, but we’ve got a good ballclub," manager Ron Washington said. "They know how to win, and they do whatever they have to do. I still believe before it’s over with, it’s going to click like it’s supposed to.”

The most mind-numbing characteristic about the Rangers' offense over the past month has been the inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Texas was 0-for-5 in those situations in Tuesday's 2-1 loss, and that trend continued early Wednesday.

The Rangers began Wednesday's rubber match 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and nothing stood out more than the wasted opportunity in the third. Yorvit Torrealba and Craig Gentry began the frame with back-to-back singles to put men on the corners with no outs. Ian Kinsler flied out to right before Torrealba was thrown out at the plate on a chopper to second off the bat of Elvis Andrus. Adrian Beltre followed up a two-out walk to Josh Hamilton with a popup to third.

At that point, it seemed nothing could go the Rangers' way. But all of that suddenly changed in the fourth.

Michael Young got a leadoff double, and David Murphy drove him in with a double of his own with one out to get the Rangers on the board. Torrealba followed that up with a single to left to put runners on the corners with one out.

Then, Washington took it upon himself to get something going.

Gentry executed a suicide squeeze to perfection to tie the game at 2-2. Then, Kinsler and Andrus delivered back-to-back two out singles to plate the third Ranger run of the inning.

"We had some good execution tonight," Washington said. "I put on the hit-and-run, we executed. The squeeze, we executed. And I think we put a little pressure on their defense. That’s what it’s about."

The Rangers finished the night 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but those three were huge in the three-run fourth inning.

"We got some big hits when we needed them," Murphy said. "I think that was the bottom line. Some nights it happens, some nights it doesn't."

It's obvious the Rangers' offense still has a ways to go to being the productive bunch that everyone saw at the beginning of the season, but the fourth inning was a bright spot.

"We're getting there," Young said. "I think, offensively, we have a ton of confidence in ourselves. We all know what we're capable of doing. I think now we're getting to the point where we're chomping at the bit. We feel like it's coming and it'll be here for the rest of the way."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Red Sox 3

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
9:54
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took the lead on a wild pitch in the eighth and held on for a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox.

What it means: Texas stays five games up on the A's and Angels, who both won Wednesday. It's the seventh straight series win at home for the Rangers, who are 10-2-1 in the last 13 series overall.

Solid outing: Derek Holland pitched well Wednesday, allowing three runs in 7 2/3 innings on 100 pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 29 batters he faced, and outside of a couple of pitches that turned into homers, kept the hitters off balance. Holland worked quickly and was efficient.

Winning wild pitch: With two outs in the seventh inning and Elvis Andrus at third base, Josh Beckett threw a wild pitch (on a 1-0 count) that ran to the backstop, allowing Andrus to score what became the winning run. It came with Michael Young at the plate.

Insurance long ball: Nelson Cruz, who ended a 21-game home run drought Sunday, hit another one in the eighth to extend the Rangers' lead to two runs. He had just five hits in his last 33 at-bats before the homer, which landed in the Rangers bullpen.

Big shutdown inning: After the Rangers scored three runs to give Holland the lead, he came out and got a 1-2-3 inning without a ball going past the mound. He struck out Kelly Shoppach and got Mike Aviles and Jacoby Ellsbury to bounce back to the mound. He needed just 12 pitches.

Early walk turns into early run: Holland walked the first batter he faced in Ellsbury, and the leadoff hitter ended up scoring in the top of the first. Holland did avoid a big inning, getting Dustin Pedroia to ground into a double play (which scored the run). But the walk hurt Holland early.

Homer happy: One thing that has plagued Holland recently is the home-run ball. He surrendered a solo shot to Will Middlebrooks with two outs in the fourth to make it 2-0 Boston. It was Holland's 12th homer allowed in his last eight starts. ... In the sixth, with the Rangers leading 3-2, Holland gave up a 394-foot solo homer into the visiting bullpen off the bat of Pedroia.

Payback?: With no one on and two outs in the first, Holland plunked Red Sox cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez in the butt. Judging by the situation and the pitch, it was likely payback for Vicente Padilla hitting two Rangers on Tuesday, including Adrian Beltre in the head. Beltre, Young and others said they did not believe Padilla hit Beltre intentionally. But with Padilla's history and the fact that it did hit Beltre in the head, Holland probably wanted to send a message on behalf of his hitters.

Double double: The Rangers got two opposite-field doubles in the fourth inning to score their first run of the game. Young doubled to right field over the head of Cody Ross, and David Murphy followed it up with a double to left-center to score Young. It was Young's first extra-base hit since the All-Star break. Murphy's double ended an 0-for-10 stretch with runners in scoring position for the Rangers. In fact, Texas had three hits with runners in scoring position in the fourth inning alone.

Suicide squeeze: With Murphy at third and Yorvit Torrealba at first in the fourth, Craig Gentry got the bunt down with Murphy coming hard down the line. The suicide sqeeze worked well as Murphy scored while Gentry was thrown out at first. The run tied the game. Texas ended up taking the lead on Ian Kinsler's bloop single as the club scored three runs on five hits in the inning.

Hamilton watch: After a lenghty session with the media prior to the game about his struggles -- read all about that here -- Josh Hamilton was 0-for-3 on Wednesday against Beckett, with a strikeout.

Nathan gets save: Joe Nathan got his 20th save (and his 18th consecutive) in a two-run game in the ninth, which included a nice play to his left from Kinsler to get Gonzalez to start the inning. That came after Mike Adams got the final out of the eighth as Pedroia flew out to Murphy.

Up next: The Rangers are off Thursday before seven more games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. RHP Yu Darvish (11-6, 3.88 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (11-3, 2.37 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21. ... There aren't many seats left for the weekend series against the White Sox, with obstructed view and scattered singles for Friday and Sunday and about 500 reserved seats remaining for Saturday. There are plenty of tickets left for all four Angels games next week.

Lineups: Adrian Beltre doesn't miss any time

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
5:35
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Beltre is back in the lineup for the Texas Rangers and playing third base the day after being drilled in the head by a pitch from Vicente Padilla. He passed his concussion test and said he feels good. Josh Hamilton will DH with Craig Gentry in center field, and Yorvit Torrealba will catch.

The rest of the lineups:

RANGERS

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
DH Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

RED SOX

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
DH Pedro Ciriaco
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RF Cody Ross
3B Will Middlebrooks
LF Carl Crawford
C Kelly Shoppach
SS Mike Aviles

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 2, Rangers 1

July, 24, 2012
7/24/12
10:35
PM CT

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers couldn't take advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position and Joe Nathan gave up the winning run in the top of the ninth as the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 2-1.

What it means: The first two games of the series are split with the rubber match set for Wednesday. The Rangers' lead in the AL West drops to 4.5 games pending the outcome of the Los Angeles Angels-Kansas City Royals game.

Walks hurt Nathan: Closer Joe Nathan came in with five walks in 38 1/3 innings, but issued consecutive free passes to Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia with two outs and then gave up a single on a 3-2 pitch to Mike Aviles, who hit a looping ball just over the glove of Elvis Andrus to score Nava with the go-ahead run in a tie game. ... Nathan has given up at least one run in each of his last four outings. ... It's the first time all season he's allowed two walks in one outing.

First-pitch outs: All three outs for the Rangers in the ninth inning came on first pitches as Nelson Cruz grounded to short and David Murphy and Craig Gentry popped up. Mike Napoli walked prior to Gentry's at-bat.

Successful spot start: As the rotation is currently set up, Tuesday's start was a one-shot deal for Martin Perez with Scott Feldman slated to pitch on Monday in place of Colby Lewis. If this is it for Perez in terms of a start in the big leagues for now, he should gain some confidence. Perez gave up one run on five hits in six innings on Tuesday with two walks and one strikeout. He also had a balk. He pitched out of some trouble and threw 98 pitches (63 strikes) in those six innings. ... Perez is a name that could surface in trade deadline talks and he certainly didn't hurt his value on Tuesday.

Struggles with RISP: The Rangers managed to get runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings and went 0-for-5. They did score a run on a ground ball, but couldn't do more than that when given the chance.

Beltre hit, taken out: Third baseman Adrian Beltre was hit by a Vicente Padilla 92-mph fastball on the helmet in the eighth inning. The ball went pretty high into the air after hitting Beltre's helmet and after athletic trainer Jamie Reed looked him, Beltre came out of the game. Initial exams were "normal." The Rangers shifted the infield to put Brandon Snyder at third, Michael Young at second, Mike Napoli at first and Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate.

Big wild pitch: After Elvis Andrus doubled with one out in the sixth, Clay Buchholz threw a wild pitch to get him to third with one out and Josh Hamilton at the plate. Hamilton was jammed, but got enough on the ground ball to get it past Buchholz to score Andrus, who got a nice break from third. Hamilton came into the dugout and threw his battling helmet against the wall in the tunnel in frustration, but his grounder was enough score the tying run for his 81st RBI of the season.

Murphy likes matchup: Rangers outfielder David Murphy came into the game batting .667 (6-for-9) off Clay Buchholz in his career. He kept that going on Monday with a single in the third and a double in the fifth. He also walked in the seventh.

Defensive miscue: It was scored as a double, but Murphy initially broke in and then hustled back toward the wall as the ball from Kelly Shoppach took off. It went off Murphy's glove at the wall and dropped, allowing Cody Ross to score with two outs for the first run of the game.

Kinsler ejected: Second baseman Ian Kinsler had a short night. He was picked off (it was very close on the replay) by Boston's Clay Buchholz in the bottom of the first, turned toward first base umpire Tim Tschida and said something and was then sent to the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington came out and argued at that point, but that was the end of Kinsler's game. Alberto Gonzalez came in to replace him. It was his first game since July 3 (just his fourth game since June 1) and his first opportunity for more than one at-bat since he started on June 20.

Beltre dances to double: It was one of the more entertaining doubles you'll ever see. Beltre hit a popup to shallow center field in the fourth inning that fell in. Once it dropped, he hustled toward second base, but the throw beat him there. Instead of sliding, Beltre went wide, danced around and dropped to the ground to get to the bag and was called safe. He couldn't stop smiling about it. He was stranded, though.

Gold Glove defense: Beltre also seems to provide a ridiculous highlight defensively several times a homestand. On Tuesday, it was charging the speedy Pedro Ciriaco's bunt down the third-base line in the fifth. Beltre bare-handed it and made an off-balance throw to first while falling away. He got Ciriaco by half a step on a throw that was perfect. It's why he's a Gold Glove player as few in the league could make that play.

Up next: LHP Derek Holland (6-5, 4.84 ERA) faces RHP Josh Beckett (5-8, 4.53 ERA) in the finale of the series at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182