A Well Deserved Break

A.J. Pierzynski has provided excellent defense and his bat is heating up for the Rangers. Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling
A.J. Pierzynski has provided excellent defense for the Rangers. Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling

By Mark Miller

With everything that’s happened lately to the Texas Rangers, the timing of the All-Star break couldn’t have been better.

The team ended the first part of the season with four losses in five games to fall two games behind the Oakland A’s in the American League West division. It’s the first time in four years the Rangers weren’t leading the division at this stage.

In addition, the injury problems that have plagued the Texas starting rotation all year finally caught up with the team’s ace as Yu Darvish followed Nick Tepesch to the disabled list with a strained right trapezius muscle. With Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando already there, it means Derek Holland is the only opening week starter yet to be shelved.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is despite all the injuries and shuffling of players, the Rangers have a 54-41 record and would be one of the wild cards if the playoffs started now. Plus, Darvish is expected to return July 22 after missing one start and Ogando may be back the next day. So despite everything that’s happened, manager Ron Washington believes the first part of the season was successful.

“Of course I do, I’ve got warriors in that clubhouse,” Washington told Fox Sports Southwest. “We certainly didn’t let the adversity that hit us in the first half bother us. We just came out every day and tried to put the best foot forward and play the best baseball we could. And I think they did that. I’m very proud of them.”

Holland continued his strong pitching last week by winning two of the three games including one-run, five-hit outing for seven innings in a 7-1 win Saturday at Detroit. Holland now has an 8-4 record and 3.08 earned run average in 19 overall starts.

Now if only the offense could find some consistency, things could really turn around in a hurry. The Rangers scored at least seven runs in their three victories but a total of four runs in their four losses. They also failed to score in the first inning of any game during the week and have only scored in the opening frame 16 times all season with a 14-2 record in those games.

Providing the bulk of the week’s offense were third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Beltre had 12 hits in 28 at-bats (.429 average) with four home runs and nine runs batted in. Pierzynski added two HRs and eight RBI with a .357 average.

Perhaps the expected return of Jeff Baker after the break will boost the hitting. The veteran right-hander leads the team in average (.317), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.695) with nine homers and 16 RBI in just 37 games.

Orioles in town for weekend
After splitting their first four games of 2013 last week in Baltimore, the Orioles and Rangers resume play Friday at The Ballpark in Arlington. The three-game series will mark the final time the teams meet in the regular season.

Baltimore won two of three games at home against the Toronto Blue Jays after the Rangers left town for a 53-43 overall record, third-best in the American League East. Former Ranger Chris Davis homered in his last four games to give him 37 for the season, equaling Reggie Jackson for the most blasts before the All-Star Game. He also finished the first half with 93 runs batted in and a .315 batting average.

Davis joined shortstop J.J. Hardy, outfielder Adam Jones, third baseman Manny Machado and starting pitcher Chris Tillman in New York as American League All-Stars. The Rangers were represented by Darvish, closer Joe Nathan and outfielder Nelson Cruz though Darvish did not play. Nathan earned a save and home field advantage for the American League in the World Series. The AL had dropped three All-Star games in a row prior to this one.

Upcoming Schedule
7/19     Orioles             7:05 p.m.
7/20     Orioles             7:05 p.m.
7/21     Orioles             6:05 p.m.