Another week atop the league

By Mark Miller

Thanks to the overall hitting of Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, the timely bat of  Jurickson Profar, and excellent starting pitching by Yu Darvish and Ryan Dempster, the Texas Rangers remained the best team in the American League.

The team went 4-3 last week at Kansas City and Tampa Bay to complete a 6-4 road trip that give them an 83-57 record four games better than the New York Yankees. But the Rangers’ lead in the A.L. West division just barely grew. While the Oakland Athletics were swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, they swept the Seattle Mariners last weekend to enter this week 3.5 games behind the Rangers. The Angels, winners of six straight, were just six games back.

Beltre continued his season-long success with a .300 average, four home runs and six runs batted in last week. Hamilton added four HRs and seven RBI while Young had three homers and seven RBI. Hamilton’s blasts gave him a career-high 40 for the season.

Darvish gave up only three hits in seven innings walking one batter and striking out six in an 8-4 win Monday over Kansas City. Saturday night, he yielded just two hits in eight innings, walking two and striking out eight in a game the Rangers won 4-2 in 10 innings thanks to Profar’s run-scoring double.

It marked the second start for the 19-year-old rookie infielder and second time he shined. In his Sept. 2 debut, he became the first Ranger with a home run in his first at-bat and added a double.

“When you’re talking about Profar, he’s special,” Texas manager Ron Washington told mlb.com. “The game does not scare him. I keep saying it – it doesn’t scare him.”

Dempster handcuffed the Royals through six innings last Wednesday allowing just two runs and four hits while walking one and striking out eight. The Rangers held on for a 7-6 victory.

Texas also took Thursday night’s game 5-4 to win its sixth consecutive series and ninth out of 10. That streak ended Sunday when after splitting the first two with the Rays, the Rangers lost a 6-0 decision Sunday with just two hits against James Shields.

  “We’re playing well. Today wasn’t our day,” Young said. “We battled hard over the last three or four games. Today definitely wasn’t our day, but we’ve been battling hard, playing hard.”

First Indians, then the West

Texas must continue to play hard when it starts a three-game series at home against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. It will be the final set against anyone outside the A.L. West as the Rangers resume inter-divisional play Friday at home against Seattle before hitting the road against the Angels and Mariners.

The final 19 games for Texas will be against division rivals including six against Seattle, six with the Angels and seven with the A’s. In fact, following an off day next next Monday, the Rangers are scheduled to play on 16 consecutive days, a stretch that will determine their post-season fate.

Cleveland will want to atone for dropping two of three at home to Texas to start September. The Indians ended last week with a 59-81 record after losing two of three at Minnesota.

The Mariners, who had played well before last weekend, fell to 67-74 after losing three at home against Oakland. Texas holds a 7-6 season edge

Seattle most likely will be the opponent when the Rangers host their 3 millionth fan for the first time in their history. They entered the homestand at 2,896,275.

Upcoming Schedule

9/12     Indians                        7:05 p.m.

9/13     Indians                        7:05 p.m.

9/14     Mariners         7:05 p.m.

9/15     Mariners         7:05 p.m

9/16     Mariners         2:05 p.m.

9/18     @Angels         9:05 p.m.

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