By Mark Miller
If the Texas Rangers could keep hitting like they did in their series finales and pitch like they did most of last week, they’d have little to worry about the rest of the 2012 seaso It’s the fact they aren’t doing that every day that is keeping them from running away with the American League West division championship. And it’s that inconsistency that keeps giving their fans alternate bouts of heartburn and joy.
In salvaging the last of four games in New York last Thursday, the Rangers pounded out 16 hits to beat the Yankees 10-6. That came after Texas managed just four runs and 14 hits in the three previous games in the matchup of the American League’s best two teams.
Sunday at Toronto, the Rangers had 19 hits, three by Michael Young including his first home run in 89 games. That allowed them to take the series two games to one and the season series 6-3. While they split the previous two games in Canada, they managed just four runs and nine hits.
“It was good to have a good offensive game as a team,” Young told mlb.com after Sunday’s 11-2 victory. “We haven’t had one of those games in a while, so it definitely felt good. We really fed off (Harrison) today. Usually when you have a good offensive performance, you feed off the starting pitcher.”
Young drove in five runs, Elvis Andrus had four hits and David Murphy kept up his hot pace with three of his 10 hits for the week.
While the offense was up and down, the starting pitching shined in five of the seven games. Matt Harrison had two of the strong outings, yielding just one run and five hits in 6.1 innings of a 3-0 loss to the Yankees and two hits in eight innings in Sunday’s win at Toronto.
Yu Darvish gave up just three hits and three runs, walking a season-low one batter and striking out 10 but lost to the Blue Jays 3-2 on Friday. Roy Oswalt, starting for Ryan Dempster, gave up just two hits in 4.2 innings in Saturday’s 2-1 win and Scott Feldman allowed three runs on seven hits in last Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Yankees. Dempster missed the Toronto series reportedly because he forgot his passport.
Home sweet home
After completing a 3-4 road trip, the Rangers returned home Monday to begin a 10-game home stand against Baltimore, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. They held a five-game lead over the Oakland A’s and a nine-game edge over the fading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Texas has won five of six meetings with the Twins in 2012 including two of three at home right before the All-Star break. Minnesota entered this week with a 50-70 record, 15 games behind Chicago in the A.L. Central division.
The Rangers have only met the Rays once this season when they dropped two of three games at home in April. The teams meet six times between now and Sept. 9. Tampa Bay won eight of its previous 10 games through Sunday to trail the Yankees by just 4.5 games in the A.L. East. At 67-54, the Rays are in the hunt for one of two league wild card teams.
The Rangers hope to have catcher Mike Napoli back Sunday, the first day he’s eligible to return from the disabled list with a strained left quad. Reliever Koji Uehara, out since June 10 with a right lateral strain, also may return then.
8/22 Orioles 7:05 p.m.
8/23 Twins 7:05 p.m.
8/24 Twins 7:05 p.m.
8/25 Twins 3:05 p.m.
8/26 Twins 2:05 p.m.
8/27 Blue Jays 7:05 p.m.
8/28 Blue Jays 7:05 p.m.