Rangers Report

Even with the disabled list becoming more crowded, the Texas Rangers continued finding ways to win again last week.

While injuries forced starting pitcher Colby Lewis and reliever Mark Lowe to join starters Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland, relievers Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara and first baseman Mitch Moreland off the roster, the Rangers still won five of seven games. That left them 5.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Big offensive production proved crucial again as the Rangers scored at least four runs in an inning in all five consecutive wins. The offense only sputtered in the 8-2 and 3-1 losses June 25 and Sunday to the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s, respectively. “We don’t expect to have huge innings, but we expect to score and to put pressure on the other team consistently throughout the game,” second baseman Ian Kinsler told mlb.com. Once or twice a game that can possibly turn into a big inning.”

Kinsler was instrumental in two of the victories with two hits in a 7-5 win in the middle game against the Tigers and four hits in a 7-6 triumph in the opener against the Oakland A’s. David Murphy’s two home runs and five runs batted in fueled a 13-9 outcome in the finale against Detroit.

Craig Gentry’s three-run triple sparked the 4-3 decision over Oakland on Friday night while Josh Hamilton’s three-run home run and four RBI overall keyed a 7-2 win over the A’s on Saturday.

The Month: Stellar June nets 50th win
Texas finished June with a 19-9 record to become the first team in the major leagues with 50 wins. Still, they gained only two games on the Angels who shined with a 17-9 mark.

Offensively, the Rangers had a collective .277 batting average, third in the American League behind the Angels (.299) and Minnesota (.278). Leading the way were Gentry (.455), Murphy (.356) and Adrian Beltre (.343). Beltre led in RBI with 18 and tied with Murphy, Nelson Cruz and Hamilton with four home runs each.

On the mound, Texas had a team earned run average of 3.73, fifth best in the AL. Starter Matt Harrison was 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA while Robbie Ross didn’t yield a run in 10 relief outings, Mike Adams gave up just one in 11 games and closer Joe Nathan two in 12 while earning saves in all eight of his chances.

Ahead: All-Star break on horizon
The first half of the season ends after the Rangers play Wednesday and Thursday at  Chicago, then come home for a weekend series against the Minnesota Twins. That leads to the All-Star break with at least seven Rangers – starters Mike Napoli (catcher), Beltre (third base) and Hamilton (outfield) joining reserve infielders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus and pitchers Harrison, Nathan and possibly Yu Darvish in the July 10 game in
Kansas City.

Joining them there will be pitcher Chris Sale who led the White Sox in June with a 3-0 record and 2.15 ERA to help Chicago maintain the AL Central Division lead at 42-37 after dropping the final two games against the New York Yankees. Closer Addison Reed converted five of six save chances. Center fielder Alex Rios ended June with a .346 average with six homers and 16 RBI. Joining Sale in Kansas City will be first baseman
Paul Konerko and designated hitter Adam Dunn.

For the Twins, who entered this week with a 33- 45 record after sweeping Kansas City, catcher Joe Mauer hit .397 followed by outfielders Ben Revere (.330) and Trevor Plouffe (.327) with Plouffe hitting 11 homers and driving in 21 runs in June. Starter Scott Diamond was 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA during the month. Mauer will be Minnesota’s lone All-Star representative.

By Mark Miller – mmiller@blitzweekly.com