Rangers Report

Even with an offense having troubles at crucial times, the Texas Rangers still split six games last week to extend their American West division lead thanks primarily to starting pitcher Scott Feldman.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander turned in great starting pitching performances to beat the Boston Red Sox on July 23 and the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. The latter effort stopped a two-game losing streak and helped Texas move 4.5 games ahead of the hot Oakland Athletics and five in front of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who came to Arlington for four crucial games beginning Monday.

“He did that at a perfect time to pick us up,” outfielder David Murphy told Fox Sports Southwest.

“He’s become kind of our stopper, ending losing streaks and getting us back when we’ve been in a little bit of a funk,” said closer Joe Nathan.

Feldman’s 2-0 victory over Chicago was his fifth straight win, fourth as a starter, coming in large part because he’s walked just two batters in 40 innings.

“He’s certainly been stepping it up because we’ve needed it with the injuries to our staff,” said Manager Ron Washington.

“He’s always been a security blanket for us and he’s been doing the job for us.”

The Rangers needed Feldman’s efforts after managing just one hit in 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Chicago and 7-for-56 for the week. That prompted a hitters-only meeting after Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the White Sox. “We’ve got to get back to basics,” said Michael Young. “We need to focus on the plan and not necessarily on the result. This isn’t foreign territory for any of us.”

“It tells you if we start getting some hits with runners in scoring position we can turn this around,” Washington said. “That’s what’s killing us right now.”

Trades bring Soto, Dempster

General Manager Jon Daniels’ history of changing the Rangers’ roster before the non-waiver trade deadline repeated itself Tuesday thanks to separate deals with the Chicago Cubs. First, he picked up catcher Geovany Soto to replace Yorvit Torrealba as the backup catcher. Then minutes before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. deadline, Texas added starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. That follows the 2010 deal to add Cliff Lee and last year’s acquisitions of relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez.

After Colby Lewis’ season ended after surgery last week, a starting pitcher was seen as the biggest need. After Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (re-signed) and Milwaukee’s Zach Greinke (traded to the Angels) unavailable and the price tag was deemed too high for Cliff Lee, the Rangers went with Dempster.

That likely means Alexi Ogando will remain in the bullpen that is expected to be bolstered by the return of Mark Lowe from the disabled list. They received a boost Monday when first baseman Mitch Moreland came back from his injury.

Tough road on the horizon

The Rangers finish up their 10-game, 11-day home stand with the final two of four games against the Angels. Then it’s on to Kansas City for the weekend and to Boston for the first two of three games. The road trip will start a stretch of 13 of 16 games away from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Royals entered this week at 41-60 after being swept by Seattle on their way to five straight losses but have beaten the Rangers in their only two games this season in Arlington. This will be the first of two trips to Kansas City. Boston is at 51-51 after winning two of three from the Yankees. The Rangers won both previous games in Boston.

By Mark Miller – mmiller@blitzweekly.com