Whatever bad memories the Texas Rangers had of the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City reversed themselves soon after returning to regular-season action.
The team opened the second half of 2012 by doing what it had mostly been doing before the All-Star break – winning series. By taking two of three at Seattle, the Rangers captured their ninth set in their last 10 and picked up a game on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the process.
Strong pitching by Derek Holland and All-Star Matt Harrison proved the difference while the team’s offense did just enough in those first and third games around a three-hit shut out by Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in between.
At the mid-season classic, Texas batters managed just one hit in nine at-bats, starting catcher Mike Napoli’s single in his first plate appearance.
On the mound, Harrison gave up three runs after two outs in the fourth inning, closer Joe
Nathan needed just eight pitches to record three outs and Yu Darvish did not play.
In Seattle, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre each had at least one hit in the opener in Seattle to back the four-hit effort for 7.2 innings by Holland. Kinsler had two hits in that game and a solo home run in the finale, Andrus had hits in all three games and Beltre hit a two-run homer Friday and had three hits including a two run single Sunday.
Harrison rebounded too with a five-hit complete game shutout in Sunday’s finale to run his record to 12-4 tied with Tampa Bay’s David Price for the most in the majors. It also was his eighth straight win against the Mariners and fifth without a defeat at Safeco Field.
“His confidence is high and he has a real presence on the mound,” Beltre told mlb.com.
“We feel comfortable when he’s out there and gets going. We love the way he’s throwing.”
Interestingly, the All-Stars who fared well or didn’t play ran into problems in Seattle. Napoli bruised his right knee Friday but was expected to only miss two games. Nathan gave up two runs on Friday and Darvish yielded seven runs on Saturday. But in the end, the team came out ahead.
Angels, Red Sox on the horizon
After the Rangers finish a two-game series at Oakland on Wednesday afternoon, they move to Anaheim to face the Angels, then return home to begin a 10-game home stand against the Boston Red Sox. Nothing will come easily against the Athletics who had
won nine of 10 games before this week.
The Angels fell five games behind Texas after losing two of three at the New York Yankees but will have seven chances in the next two weeks to make up ground as the
teams also have a four-game set July 30-Aug. 2 in Arlington.
Boston makes its only visit to Texas this season. The Red Sox have struggled in early July, losing seven of 10 games entering this week to fall to a 45-44 record. But while they trail the Yankees by 9.5 games in the American League East, they are in the thick of the wild-card race.
The Rangers are slated to get a boost by the return of reliever Alexi Ogando against the A’s. Also possibly to return is fellow reliever Koji Uehara. The team also wants a return to its potent offense as it entered the week scoring four or less runs in 10 straight games.
By Mark Miller – firstname.lastname@example.org