Still on Top This Week

Outfielder Leonys Martin is becoming quite comfortable as the lead off batter. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
Outfielder Leonys Martin is comfortable as the lead off batter. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Mark Miller

The math was simple for the Texas Rangers at home last week – score more than three runs and win, score less than three and lose. Unfortunately they lost more and scored less than they won, dropping three of five games. Fortunately, that didn’t cost them the American League West Division lead.

After splitting with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Rangers dropped two of three to the Seattle Mariners. That left them with a 71-53 record, just a half-game ahead of Oakland in the division but 3.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild-card spot.

Texas dropped a 5-1 decision to Milwaukee last Tuesday and 3-1 and 4-3 games to Seattle on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Rangers beat the Brewers 5-4 on Wednesday and ripped the Mariners 15-3 on Saturday. The latter game was the first time the Rangers had scored so many runs without a home run in the history of Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. They last achieved the feat at home was in 1977 at old Arlington Stadium.

“The thing that I’ve liked in the last few weeks that we’ve been playing well is we’ve used every bit of our 27 outs,” said Texas outfielder David Murphy, whose drove in two runs Saturday to help the team to seven wins in 10 games through Sunday. “There’s been times this year when we might get those five runs and might not add on the rest of the game and a sense of contentment but this offense is not content until the last out is made.”

Besides the offense, a big reason for the success the Rangers have enjoyed is the improved pitching of rookie left-handed starter Martin Perez. After a complete game against Houston on Aug.11, he gave up just three runs Saturday against the Mariners.

“He’s thrown some real big games for us,” said manager Ron Washington. “We’re watching him grow in front of our eyes. But as I’ve always said, a couple outings don’t make a season so just let the kid continue to pitch and have some fun.”

Astros end home stand
The Rangers end their current stretch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington beginning Monday night with three games against the Houston Astros. Then it’s on to Chicago to face the White Sox where Texas hopes to improve on its major league-leading 34-26 road record.

By completing a sweep in Houston last week, the Rangers ran their 2013 record against the Astros to 11-2. This will mark the second of three times they face each other in Arlington, where the Rangers won two of three in July.

Chris Carter had a big week for the Astros with three homers and nine RBI last week. But nobody else had more than one homer or three RBI as Houston lost four of seven games.

The Rangers haven’t seen the White Sox since losing two of three at home April 30-May 2. Even though Chicago swept the Twins in Minnesota over the weekend, it still entered this week with a 49-74 record, last in the A.L. Central division.

Second baseman Gordon Beckham leads the White Sox with a .301 average. First baseman-designated hitter Adam Dunn is best in home runs with 28 and runs batted in with 73.

On the mound, Chris Sale has the most wins for Chicago with nine against 11 losses and a 2.78 earned run average. Closer Addison Reed has saved 31 of 36 games with three wins and a 3.30 ERA.

This series will feature Texas newcomer Alex Rios’ return to the Windy City.

Upcoming Schedule
8/19     Astros              7:05 p.m.
8/20     Astros              7:05 p.m.
8/21     Astros              7:05 p.m.
8/23     @White Sox   7:10 p.m.
8/24     @White Sox   6:10 p.m.
8/25     @White Sox   1:10 p.m.