Is Everything Finally Catching Up?

Reliever Joe Nathan saved both of the Rangers wins this week. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
Reliever Joe Nathan saved both of the Rangers wins this week. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Mark Miller

Mounting injuries and a slumping offense resulted in the first losing week of 2013 for the Texas Rangers last week.

In dropping four of six games in Boston and Toronto, the Rangers not only yielded the best record in the American League, they gave up the top spot in their own division for two days, the first time that had happened since April 20. Only because they won on Sunday and the Oakland A’s lost were the Rangers back in the AL West lead.

After losing two of three each to the Red Sox and Blue Jays, the Rangers have a 37-25 record, behind the Red Sox at 39-25 and just a half-game ahead of Oakland’s 38-27.

Texas lost starting pitcher Alexi Ogando for the second time this season and first baseman Mitch Moreland for the first time with injuries and reliever Michael Kirkman after learning he again has cancer. Ogando suffered right shoulder inflammation after yielding just one run with six strikeouts in 5.2 innings Wednesday against Boston. Moreland, among the team’s best hitters all season, strained a hamstring in the Boston series, and Kirkman has a recurrence of cutaneous lymphoma on his right triceps that was first diagnosed in the area in January 2012.

The other reason for the Rangers’ challenges was a lack of runs. Before Sunday’s 6-4 game win when they had three home runs, they scored three or fewer runs in six of their previous seven games, losing five. Adrian Beltre, David Murphy and Nelson Cruz ended that slump Sunday with long blasts.

“We don’t quit,” said manager Ron Washington after Sunday’s win. “We got some big hits in some situations, and that’s what it takes.”

Moreland (.333) was one of just three Texas players to hit .300 for the week. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski led the way at .381 and third baseman Adrian Beltre was at .300 with two homers. Utility player Jeff Baker had three homers and drove in five runs to lead the team.

On the mound, no Texas starter had a win though Yu Darvish pitched well, giving up just two earned runs in 14 innings. Closer Joe Nathan saved both victories.

Maybe home cooking will help
The Rangers return to The Ballpark in Arlington this week to start a 11-game homestand, their longest in five years. They hope to extend their 18-8 home record, best in the American League.

First in town will be the Cleveland Indians who arrive having lost seven straight games and eight of their last 10. That put them at 30-32 and 5.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Cleveland has been led by its outfield – center-fielder Michael Bourn with a .302 average in 39 games, right-fielder Ryan Raburn at .292 in 39 games and left fielder Mickey Brantley at .286 in 59 games. Third baseman Mark Reynolds has been the power source with 13 homers and 41 runs batted in.

On the mound, Justin Masterson has the most wins with eight to go with a 3.68 ERA. Zach McAllister is at 3.43 but has a 4-5 record before going on the disabled list over the weekend. Closer Chris Perez saved six of eight chances before a late May injury.

Following the Indians into Arlington will be the Toronto Blue Jays for their visit this year. Even after taking the series with Texas, the Blue Jays remained 11.5 games behind Boston in the AL East with a 27-35 record.

Upcoming Schedule
6/10    Indians            7:05 p.m.
6/11     Indians            7:05 p.m.
6/12     Indians            7:05 p.m.
6/13     Blue Jays         7:05 p.m.
6/14     Blue Jays         7:05 p.m.
6/15     Blue Jays         3:05 p.m.
6/16     Blue Jays         2:05 p.m.