RANGERS CREEP TOWARD THIRD

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas took two of three from Seattle this weekend, winning their first series out of the last five, to move within a game of third place in the West. The Rangers managed to score just six runs in the three games, but were able to convert those six into a pair of wins. They clinched the series by winning the first two games, but Hisashi Iwakuma was too much for them in the finale as he pitched the Mariners to a win that avoided a Ranger sweep.

Texas is 34-35 on the season, one game behind Seattle. First place Oakland leads Texas by eight, Seattle by seven and second place Los Angeles by 4.5 games, the second largest lead among the six divisions. Houston is in last place, three games behind the Rangers as they trail Oakland by 11.

Nick Tepesch started game one on Friday night. He had struggled in his three most recent starts, but has been working between outings to make adjustments. It showed Friday. He breezed through five scoreless innings on 47 pitches. His problem in recent starts has come as he faced the opponent for the third time through the batting order. That problem was still present in the seventh inning. Tepesch had allowed just four hits after throwing a scoreless sixth, but he walked two of the first three batters to start the seventh. Ron Washington has noticed the trend too. He quickly got Tepesch out of the game when the trouble began.

Jason Frasor finished the seventh striking out both batters he faced. Shawn Tolleson needed just seven pitches to complete a perfect eighth, and Joakim Soria finalized the shutout with a scoreless ninth in his usual fashion – one strikeout and two groundouts on 14 pitches. The Rangers won when they pushed across the only run of the game in the ninth inning that made Tolleson (2-2) the winning pitcher and earned Soria’s 14th save.

Paradoxically, the Rangers came into the game with the worst ERA in the American League, but finished the night with the league leading 13th shutout of the year. They are just six shutouts away from the Ranger record of 19 in a season.

Texas won game two when once again the Rangers scored in the ninth inning, and Soria followed with a perfect bottom half to win 4-3 and earn Soria’s 15th save. Joe Saunders was the starting pitcher, and he was very good. He completed six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. The performance dropped his ERA to 3.48.

Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez threw five shutout innings at Texas, but was replaced by Danny Farquhar to start the sixth. The Rangers tallied three runs off of Farquhar to give Saunders a 3-2 lead when he left the game. Adrian Beltre doubled home Choo for the first Ranger run, and Robinson Chirinos followed with his fifth home run to account for the three runs. However, Seattle tied the game with a run off Shawn Tolleson in the seventh inning, which took away Saunders’ chance for the win.

The game was still tied going into the ninth, but Leonys Martin delivered a two out single to score Luis Sardinas with what turned out to be the game winning run. Soria needed just 11 pitches to strike out one, catch a line drive himself, and coax an infield pop to second baseman Rougned Odor to earn the save.

Iwakuma improved to 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA Sunday afternoon as he completed eight innings with 106 pitches. He allowed six hits – one the first Major League home run off the bat of Brad Snyder that accounted for the Rangers’ scoring on the day. He struck out six and walked no one.

Nick Martinez was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he threw the staff’s fourth consecutive quality start as he completed six innings and allowed two earned runs. It was ugly, as he was in an out of trouble. He allowed 10 base runners – nine hits and a walk, but in the end, just two Mariners crossed home plate.

Robbie Ross relieved and his struggles continue. He put the game out of reach by giving up three more runs on four hits and a walk. Suspicion grows that Ross may need time at AAA to work out his problems. Ben Rowen pitched a one-two-three eighth inning in his Major League debut for Texas. 5-1 was the final score.

It’s difficult to describe a road trip in June as critical. No matter how this trip goes, there is still more than half the season to be played. However, this IS a critical trip. The Rangers entered play Friday night in fourth place, eight games behind Oakland. The opponents on this nine game road trip are the three teams in front of the Rangers in the West. Every game provides the opportunity to gain a game in the standings against at least one of the three. On the other hand, a bad trip could run the Rangers’ deficit in the West into double digits. They started by taking two of three from Seattle to pull within a game of third place, but still trail Oakland by eight games after the A’s took two of three from the Yankees over the weekend.

The Rangers now have the opportunity to pick up ground on the Athletics as the trip continues Monday in Oakland, the first of three against the Athletics. The announced pitchers for the A’s series are Colby Lewis (4-4), Yu Darvish (7-2), and Nick Martinez (2-2). So far the Rangers and Athletics have split six games this year, with Texas winning three in Oakland, and with the A’s returning the favor in Arlington.

ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Mitch Moreland has not yet decided between the two ankle surgeries. The Rangers have made 20 disabled list moves, the most in the Majors, and the most for Texas in a season since 2010, when they made 25. The Ranger record is 29, set in 2004.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers’ Wednesday game starts at 12:05 PDT (2:05 CDT). It’s the only day game in the next 10 games, as the next scheduled day game is in Arlington on Saturday, June 28 against the Twins at 3:05 PM.

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RANGERS SPLIT WITH MARLINS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers split a pair with the Miami Marlins to complete their home stand with a 3-6 record, winning one game against each of the three opponents. The Rangers lost the opener 8-5 on Tuesday night, but came back to win 6-0 on Wednesday behind a strong pitching performance from Yu Darvish, who threw his first complete game in the Major Leagues. Darvish was the winning pitcher in two of the Rangers’ three wins on the home stand.

The Rangers provided Darvish with all the run support he needed when they struck for four third inning runs on Wednesday They followed with single runs in each of the next two innings. Sin-Shoo Choo drove home three with a third inning double, which snapped an 0-18 streak for Choo. He also drove in another run in the fifth inning with a single.

Darvish (7-2) continued his bid for the All-Star team by blanking the Marlins on six hits. He threw 117 pitches as he struck out 10 and walked three, and the Rangers recorded their league leading 12th shutout of the year. The outing lowered Darvish’s ERA to 2.11, which is good enough to rank third in the American League and fifth among the pitchers on all 30 teams. His 10 strikeout performance was his 24th, which ranks second in Ranger annals to Nolan Ryan’s 34 double digit strikeout games.

Miami’s Jacob Turner (2-4) was the Marlins’ starting and losing pitcher.

Tuesday night’s game was one of the poorer played games of the year for Texas. They committed three errors that led to three unearned runs for the Marlins. There was a lack of effort on one play that was emblematic of the game. Leonys Martin was lackadaisical fielding a soft fly ball to short center field, turning a single into a double for Miami’s Christian Yelich. Martin was promptly lifted for a pinch hitter when the Rangers came to bat and was out early on Wednesday for extra practice.

Texas twice took leads in the game, but each time they were unable to execute the “shut down” inning. They led 1-0 in the second inning, but starting pitcher Colby Lewis gave up a run in the third, two more in the fourth and another in the sixth as the Rangers fell behind 4-1. The offense countered with four Ranger runs in the bottom half of the sixth to re-take the lead at 5-4. However, the Marlins secured the win with a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Jason Frasor (1-1) took the loss, but it was Neal Cotts that relieved Frasor and gave up the hit that scored the game tying and go ahead runs in the seventh inning. Miami reliever Bryan Morris (5-0) was the winning pitcher, and Steve Cishek earned his 15th save by throwing a spotless ninth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Texas woke up Thursday morning in fourth place with a 32-34 record. They trail Oakland by eight games and are equidistant between third and fifth places. They are 2.5 games behind third place Seattle and 2.5 games ahead of last place Houston. The Angels are in second place 3.5 games behind the Athletics.

After an off day on Thursday, the Rangers begin a nine game road trip – three three-game series with divisional opponents, Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles. The announced starting pitchers for this weekend’s series in Seattle are Nick Tepesch (2-2) on Friday, Joe Saunders (0-2) on Saturday and Nick Martinez (1-3) on Sunday. Seattle’s ace Felix Hernandez (8-1) will pitch against the Rangers in Friday night’s tilt.

ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Mitch Moreland was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and Brad Snyder was summoned from AAA Round Rock. Snyder started at first base in both games against the Marlins, his third and fourth professional appearances at first base. The first two came Sunday and Monday for Round Rock. Moreland is still debating between two surgical procedures for his ankle injury. The ankle reconstruction surgery would keep him out for three months. The other procedure would keep him out for only about a month. Jim Adduci re-injured his pinky finger in a minor league rehab appearance, and will be sidelined at least another three weeks. On Wednesday, reliever Tanner Scheppers was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season with inflammation in his right elbow. Ben Rowen was recalled from AAA Round Rock.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers announced the signing of their top draft pick – Luis Ortiz – on Wednesday afternoon. Ortiz, a right-handed pitcher from Sanger High School in California, was selected with the 30th pick overall. He reportedly signed for $1.75 million, the amount allocated to that slot. Ortiz will report to the Rangers’ Arizona Rookie League team next week after going through his high school graduation this Saturday. With his signing, the Rangers have inked seven of their first 10 selections in the draft.

* Wednesday’s Ranger win snapped two streaks. It ended the Rangers’ four game losing streak and ended the Marlins 13 game winning streak in inter-league play.

* Joey Gallo was promoted to AA Frisco and hit a home run in each of his first two games. He has hit 23 for the season to lead the minor leagues.

* The Rangers are 5-7 in interleague play in 2014 after the Miami series.

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QUESTION MARKS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Cleveland routed the Rangers Monday night 17-7 to win the series three games to one. The Tribe blasted Ranger pitching for five home runs, including three by Lonnie Chisenhall, who drove in nine runs in the game. Cleveland arrived in Arlington on a seven game winning streak, so have now won 10 of their last 11 to get back into the races for the a Wild Card berth and the Central Division championship, as they now trail first place Detroit by two games.

It was the third straight series loss for Texas, which is 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Rangers are 2-5 on the current home stand with two games remaining. Texas firmed its grip on fourth place as they now trail the Athletics by a season high eight games, are 3.5 games behind third place Seattle, 4.5 behind second place Los Angeles, and lead the on coming Houston Astros by just 2.5 games.

At this point in the season, the Rangers’ starting rotation is Yu Darvish and four question marks. Each time out, Darvish usually pitches a game that gives the Rangers a reasonable chance of winning on the low end, or he turns in a dominating performance on the high end. The other four starters are question marks that might give the Rangers five or six innings and somewhat of chance to win at the high end, or be knocked out before the fifth inning on the low end. That’s pretty much what happened in this weekend’s series against Cleveland.

Darvish started Friday night. He was not dominating, but he shut down the Indians in the first two innings. The bottom of the batting order then chipped in with four second inning runs. Number seven hitter Leonys Martin drove one in on a sacrifice fly. Number eight hitter, Michael Choice singled home a second run, and number nine hitter Rougned Odor capped off the four run rally with his second home run.

Four early runs with Darvish on the mound looked like a breeze, but it wasn’t, as Darvish coughed up the lead almost as fast as the Rangers gave it to him. He surrendered a three run homer in the third inning to Chisenhall, which got Cleveland back in the game. An inning later, Asdrubel Cabrera tied the game with a solo shot, his sixth home run of the year.

Darvish righted the ship and finished seven innings on 110 pitches. He was touched for nine hits and walked four, but gave up no more runs.

The bottom of the batting order struck again in the bottom of the seventh, as Choice drove in his second run of the game with his fifth home run of the season. That was good enough to make Darvish the winning pitcher, when the bullpen finished off the Indians without further scoreboard damage. The Rangers added an insurance run in the eighth for a 6-4 final score. Darvish improved to 6-2. with his ERA kicking up at notch to 2.36. Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria took over for Darvish, retiring six of the seven batters they faced. Soria earned his 13th save of the year.

On Saturday, a question mark, Nick Tepesch, started for the Rangers. He did well for five innings but the roof caved in in the sixth. The game was tied at one going into the sixth, but Tepesch retired just one of the four batters he faced. The other three scored. The Rangers came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut Cleveland’s advantage to 5-3, but Robbie Ross, who relieved Tepesch ended up allowing three runs to put the game out of reach. Tanner Scheppers also gave up a home run in the seventh inning to complete Cleveland’s scoring. 8-3 was the final score.

The puny Rangers’ offense mustered eight hits on the day, but only one, an Adrian Beltre double, went for extra bases. Tepesch took the loss to fall to 2-2, while his ERA advanced to 4.91. Josh Tomlin (4-2) was the winning pitcher for Cleveland after stopping the Rangers over eight innings.

On Sunday, another question mark in the rotation, Joe Saunders actually pitched well. He went into the sixth inning, allowing three runs, one of which was unearned, on seven hits. He also walked four and took the loss to go to 0-2. Three Ranger relievers held the Tribe at bay over the final 3-2/3rds innings to no avail. The Rangers; offense managed just two runs on five hits off Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, and touched three relievers for one additional hit. 3-2 was the final score.

Masterson (4-4) was the winning pitcher and Cody Allen earned his sixth save of the season. Saunders (0-2) took the loss.

Monday, the Indians scored early and often. They put up three in the first and never looked back. They scored in each of the first four innings including five runs in the second inning. Chisenhall was the offensive star of the night. He went 5-5 with the home runs and RBIs already noted for what is arguably the most outstanding offensive performance in Cleveland Indians’ history. For the series, he went 10-17 (.588) with four home runs, seven runs scored and 13 RBIs.

Nick Martinez was the starting pitcher. He lasted just two innings, allowing eight runs on six hits and three walks. He fell to 1-3 with the loss. Scott Baker relieved, completing five innings to save the bullpen. He gave up the other nine runs on 11 hits, which zoomed his ERA to 7.62.

The Rangers hitters did put some runs on the board, but it was too little, too late. They knocked Cleveland starter Daniel House out in the fourth inning, putting six runs on the board. Unfortunately, that only cut the Tribe’s lead to 12-6 at the time. Scott Atchison relieved and got the win to improve to 3-0.

The Rangers complete the home stand with a pair of games against the Miami Marlins. The Rangers last played Miami in 2011 and are 9-6 all time over the fish. Colby Lewis (4-4), the fourth question mark in the rotation, and Yu Darvish (6-2) will be Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s starting pitchers. So far this season, the Rangers are 4-6 in interleague play. Texas is off Thursday before starting their next road trip.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: On Sunday, the Rangers announced that first baseman Mitch Moreland would undergo ankle surgery. It was first thought that he needed reconstruction surgery such that he would be lost for three months. A day later, an alternative surgery was considered that may keep him out only about one month. No roster move had been made by the end of the Indians’ series.

NOTEABLE:

* Elvis Andrus had hits in the first two games of the series to run his hitting streak against the Tribe to 39 games, the second longest in Major League history. (Vladimir Geurrero owns the longest such streak – 44 games against the Rangers while a member of the Angels.) The Indians finally solved the Andrus problem on Sunday in game three, when Andrus went 0-4.

* The Rangers have promoted third baseman Joey Gallo and pitcher Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez to AA Frisco from High A Myrtle Beach. Gallo played his first Rough Rider game on Tuesday, and fittingly hit a walk-off home run in Frisco’s 7-4 victory. He is ranked as the Rangers’ fourth best minor league prospect, while Gonzalez is considered their sixth best. Gallo was leading all minor leaguers with 21 home runs at the time of the promotion. He was batting .321. Gonzalez was 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 games, all starts.

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ORIOLES TAKE TWO

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

For the second straight series, the Rangers won game three to avoid a sweep, this time a sweep that would have come at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles had beaten Texas seven consecutive games going back to last season before Thursday’s Ranger win. The two losses in three days dropped the Rangers another game behind first place Oakland. They now trail the A’s by seven games with a dead even 30-30 record. The Angels and Mariners are tied for second place, 1.5 games in front of Texas (two in the loss column), while the last place Astros are 4.5 games behind the Rangers (five in the loss column).

The series started with a tightly played game that turned into an Orioles rout late. Joe Saunders, who has been masterful in the past when facing the Orioles, scrambled in and out of trouble as he gave up 10 hits and a walk in six innings. Somehow he lasted those six innings, and somehow he managed to give up just two runs, one of which came on Adam Jones’s seventh home run of the year.

Texas matched the Orioles fourth inning run in the bottom half of the inning with Adrian Beltre’s sixth home run. Saunders left with the Rangers trailing 2-1, as Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez limited the Rangers to four hits over 5-2/3rds innings. That left the game in the hands of the bullpens. Robinson Chirinos took Jimenez’ chances for a win away when he hit his third home run in the seventh inning to tie the game at two.

Alexi Ogando came on to pitch the eighth inning after Jason Frasor retired three of the four batters he faced in the seventh. Ogando once again fizzled. He hit a batter and gave up two base hits, retiring just one batter. All three scored. Neal Cotts, who did not retire a batter, and Shawn Tolleson finished the inning. They gave up three more, all scoring on Nelson Cruz’s 21st home run of the year. That made the score 8-2.

The Rangers added one more run in the ninth to make the final score 8-3, as the Orioles pounded out 17 hits, their second highest hit total of the year. Ogando was charged with the loss, his third against two wins. His ERA ramped up to 6.84, and a day later he was placed on the disabled list, the 18th time the Rangers have placed a player on the DL this season.

Nick Martinez and Bud Norris were the game two starting pitchers. Norris lasted five innings; Martinez one out longer. They gave up all the runs in a 6-5 Orioles win. The birds took the early lead with an unearned run in the first inning. Luis Sardinas, somewhat surprisingly the starter at shortstop, dropped a two out pop off Cruz’s bat. Adam Jones singled him home for the early lead that did not last a half inning, as Adrian Beltre hit a two run home run in the bottom half of the first to give Texas the lead at 2-1.

The O’s re-took the lead with three runs in the third. Nick Markakis started the scoring with a lead-off home run to tie the game. Jones and J. J. Hardy drove home the other two on a single and sacrifice fly. Again, one of the runs was unearned, as Sardinas’s throwing error put Cruz on base, and Cruz scored on the sac fly. The Birds extended the lead to 5-2 on Chris Davis’s fifth inning home run, his eighth of the year.

The Rangers came back to tie the game in their half of the fifth on Beltre’s second home run of the game, this time with two runners aboard. It was the first game this year that a Ranger hit two home runs in a game. The most recent time a Ranger had a multi-home run game was last July when Beltre hit two against Baltimore.

Martinez though quickly got in trouble in the sixth when the first two batters singled and walked. A failed sacrifice bunt attempt nicely played by Martinez ended his night on the mound. Aaron Poreda relieved and was an out away from making it a scoreless inning for Baltimore. However, Markakis singled home the go ahead, and ultimately the winning, run.

From there, the bullpens closed out the game without any further scoring. Martinez (1-2) took the loss, while Norris (4-5) was credited with the win. Zach Britton earned his fifth save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Rangers threatened to make Thursday’s finale a laugher. The first three batters of the game reached base with Sin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus scoring on Mitch Moreland’s single. They came back with three more runs in the second inning. The first two batters singled and homered (Michael Coice’s fourth) to extend the lead to 4-0. Andrus singled home Rougned Odor for the fifth run.

However, this was not to be a laugher. Colby Lewis has an opponent’s batting average of .338. He promptly surrendered a two run home run to Markakis as the Birds pulled to within 5-2 in the third inning. They came all the way back to tie the game in the fifth inning with two runs scoring on Jones’s double, and Jones scoring on Davis’s single.

Lewis was out after five innings, having given up the five runs, all earned, on seven hits, four of which went for extra bases. His ERA rose to 5.77 with the performance.

The Rangers offense rallied back for three seventh inning runs to re-take the lead for good. Tanner Scheppers, activated from the disabled list Thursday afternoon, gave up an eighth inning home run to Jones, the first batter he faced. That was all the scoring. Texas won 8-6, with Robbie Ross (2-4) getting the win, and Joakim Soria earning his 12th save with another spotless ninth inning. Brian Matusz (2-2) took the loss for Baltimore.

The home stand continues with four games against Cleveland over the weekend. Yu Darvish (5-2) is on tap to start Friday’s game. He’ll be followed by Nick Tepesch (2-1) on Saturday, Joe Saunders (0-1) on Sunday and Nick Martinez (1-2) on Monday. The Miami Marlins complete the home stand with games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

ROSTER MOVES/INJURIES: Left-handed reliever Aaron Poreda was recalled from AAA Round Rock on Wednesday to take Ogando’s place on the roster. His stay in Arlington lasted just a day this time, as he was sent back to Round Rock on Thursday to make room for Tanner Scheppers on the roster, who was activated from the disabled list. Ogando was diagnosed with acute inflammation in his elbow and will be shut down from throwing altogether for at least three weeks. A course of action will be determined after those three weeks. Surgery does not look warranted at this time, but he likely is out for two months.

NOTABLE:

* The start time of the Rangers’ game against the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday, June 22 has been moved to 7:05 PM (CDT), as the game was selected by ESPN for their Sunday evening national telecast.

* On the first day of the amateur draft, Texas took right-handed pitcher Luiz Ortiz with the number 30 pick in the draft. It was a compensatory pick for losing Nelson Cruz in free agency to the Orioles. The Rangers forfeited their number one pick by signing Sin-Shoo Choo. Ortiz is a 6′-3″, 220 pound pitcher from Sanger High School in California. They took another high school player in the second round – shortstop Ti’quan Forbes from Columbia (Mississippi) High School. He was the 59th player taken on Thursday.

* 55 of the Rangers’ 60 games have lasted 2:45 or more.

* Jim Gentile, a power hitting first baseman in the 1950′s and 1960′s, most notably for Baltimore, celebrated his 80th birthday at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night.

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DARVISH STAVES OFF SWEEP

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Yu Darvish pitched one of his best games of the year Sunday to avoid the Rangers getting swept in Washington. Darvish and Joakim Soria combined to shutout the Nationals 2-0, for the team’s first win in five tries against a National League team on the road. Texas scored exactly two runs in each game of the series, which was good enough for the one win in three games. Sunday’s game completed the Rangers’ longest road trip of the season with a 7-4 record that pulled their season record over .500 at 29-28.

Darvish was simply magnificent, showing a repertoire of pitches that ranged from 59-95 miles per hour. He struck out a season high 12 batters for the second time this year, including five in a row at one point. He gave up five hits and completed eight innings on 108 pitches (12.75 per inning) to bring his ERA down to 2.08. The win was his team leading fifth of the season against two losses. Darvish has now thrown four consecutive “ultra” quality starts defined as at least seven innings pitched with two or fewer earned runs allowed.

Soria faced three batters using 10 pitches to get a ground out and two strikeouts in the ninth inning to earn his 11th save this season.

The Nationals Tanner Roark (3-4) was almost as good as Darvish. He shutout Texas for the first six innings, before surrendering a home run to Leonys Martin in the seventh. Donnie Murphy drove home an insurance run in the eighth inning to account for all the scoring.

The Nationals clinched the series win in the first two games, both of which were routs, as Washington won 9-2 and 10-2. Texas actually took a 2-0 lead Friday and held the Nats off the board for three innings, before Washington scored in each of the final five innings to take the easy win. On Saturday, the Nats scored early and often, pushing across a run in the first inning, four more in the second, and three more in the fourth to build an 8-0 lead.

Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch were hit hard Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Lewis fell to 4-4 after he gave up nine hits and two walks in 5-2/3rds innings. Tepesch (1-1) was chased after just two innings on Saturday, as he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks.

The Rangers’ offense plated four runs in the two games on 13 hits – seven singles and six doubles. That made six games in a row without a Ranger home run.

Oakland swept the Angels over the weekend to extend their lead over the Rangers to six games. Texas is in third place, 1.5 games (two in the loss column) to the Angels and one-half game ahead of fourth place Seattle (tied in the loss column).

The Rangers are off Monday and open a nine game home stand Tuesday. Texas will send Joe Saunders (0-1), Nick Martinez (1-2) and Colby Lewis (4-4) out to pitch against the Orioles Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Former Ranger Nelson Cruz is now an Oriole and will be facing his former mated for the first time since leaving the Rangers. Cleveland for four games and Miami for two complete the home stand.

INJURIES: Sin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland and Michael Choice were held out of Sunday’s starting lineup with assorted injuries, though Choo pinch hit and walked in the game. Their absence pressed Donnie Murphy into the starting lineup at first base, a position he had never played professionally. There were just three Nationals’ groundouts in the game, which Murphy handled flawlessly.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers are now 4-6 in interleague play this year.

* Colby Lewis singled home a run on Friday, the first hit for a Ranger pitcher this year. Lewis actually has a hit in three consecutive games in which he batted dating back to the 2012 season. The Ranger record for a pitcher’s hitting streak is four, set by Mike Paul in 1972, the first year the Rangers were in Arlington and the last year without the use of the designated hitter in the American League.

* Sunday’s shutout was the Rangers’ Major League leading 11th of the year.

* The Rangers have now scored exactly two runs in 10 games this year and are 1-9 in those games after Sunday’s win.

* The seventh inning home run by Leonys Martin was the Rangers first in their last seven games. After 57 games, the Rangers have not hit a three run home run.

* Starting pitcher Nick Martinez pinch hit for Nick Tepesch on Saturday and pinch ran for Sin-Shoo Choo on Sunday.

* Rangers’ highly regarded prospect Joey Gallo hit two more home runs Friday night, including a grand slam, to bring his minor league leading total to 20. He is expected to be promoted to AA Frisco in the next two weeks.

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THREE MORE IN MINNESOTA

BY: Richard W, Humphrey

For the second straight series, Prince Fielder didn’t play, and the Rangers won three of four games on the road. Texas clinched the series win Thursday afternoon with a come from behind 5-4 win over Minnesota. The win also assured a winning road trip no matter what happens in Washington this weekend. The series win moved the Rangers into third place in the division and cut Oakland’s lead over Texas to four games. The Rangers’ record at 28-26 is now two games over .500.

The series began on Memorial Day, and the Rangers’ hitting prowess from the weekend series in Detroit continued in game one, as they beat the Twins 7-2. The game was much closer than that score indicates. Minnesota scored first with a Trevor Plouffe home run in the first inning. Texas took a brief 2-1 lead in the second when Chris Gimenez singled in Alex Rios and later scored on a Michael Choice double. Eduardo Escobar singled home Josh Willingham in the bottom of the second to tie the game at two.

It stayed tied until the fifth inning, when Elvis Andrus gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead with a double that drove home a pair. The Rangers put the game away in the eighth inning with three more runs, all scoring with two outs. Gimenez drove home two and scored the other.

That secured the win for Nick Tepesch, who worked into the seventh inning to record his second win against no losses. He allowed seven hits and the two Twins’ runs. The outing dropped his ERA to 2.95. Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts finished out the game, retiring seven batters and allowing two hits to the final nine Twins hitters of the game.

Kevin Correa (2-6) took the loss for Minnesota.

On Tuesday afternoon, the sobering news came that Yu Darvish had been scratched from his start with a stiff neck. The condition was similar to the one that landed Darvish on the disabled list on opening day. Scott Baker came back on three days rest to take the start and turned in a magnificent performance under the circumstances. He gave up two runs on three hits, striking out four and walking no one. He completed six innings, retiring 18 of the 21 batters he faced.

Texas took an early 2-0 lead Tuesday to support Baker. Donnie Murphy hit a sacrifice fly and Rougned Odor drove in another with a ground rule double in the second inning. Oswaldo Arcia homered in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead in half, and Joe Mauer doubled home a run in the third to tie the game. Gimenez put the Rangers back into the lead with a six inning RBI single, which qualified Baker for the win.

Texas held that 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning, but instead of a win for Baker, it turned into one of the most disappointing losses of the year. The Rangers were within an out of winning the game, when Eduardo Nunez singled home the tying run off closer Joakim Soria and advanced to second base on the throw to the plate. It was Soria’s first blown save of the year.

A strange play ensued when the next batter grounded to third. Adrian Beltre attempted to tag Nunez running from second base. Nunez ran perhaps as much as 15 feet toward left field to avoid being tagged. He got around Beltre with the maneuver and beat him to third base. Surprisingly, he was not called out for running out of the base line. There is no question that Beltre should have thrown the ball to first base for the out that would have sent the game to extra innings. Since he didn’t, the inning was still alive for the Twins. Their next hitter, Danny Santana, tapped a slow roller to the third base side of the mound. Soria fumbled the ball and could not make a throw to first base, as Nunez scored the Twins’ game winning run on the play.

Soria took the loss and is now 1-2.

The Rangers clinched a tie in the series Wednesday night with an improbable win. Joe Saunders came off the disabled list to start the game. Quite frankly, he was not very good in spring training, and had been less than outstanding in minor league rehab appearances. He struggled through three ugly innings to start the game. The Twins had base runners in all three innings, including loading the bases in the second. Amazingly, they did not score as they stranded six base runners. Saunders stayed on the mound for two more innings and was really good. He finished the night with five shutout innings.

Unfortunately, the prolific offense the Rangers displayed last weekend in Detroit was throttled by the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, a young pitcher the Twins think will be a top of the rotation starter some day. He looked the part Wednesday night as he threw six shutout innings at the Rangers allowing six hits and walking no one.

That left the game to the bullpens. Shawn Tolleson followed Saunders and retired five of the six men he faced. Neal Cotts finished the seventh and got two outs in the eighth as he retired all three batters that he faced. Jason Frasor finished the eighth and Soria was perfect in the ninth, with two strikeouts among the three batters he faced.

The Rangers scratched out a seventh inning run, driven home by Luis Sardinas. That was all the scoring in the game. 1-0 was the final score. It was the Rangers’ 10th shutout of the year, which equals the total for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Tolleson was credited with the win, his first. He became the 15th different pitcher to earn a win for the Rangers this year. Soria was credited with his ninth save.

In Thursday afternoon’s getaway game, Nick Martinez started. He wasn’t at his best, but he managed to pitch into the sixth inning giving up all four Twins’ runs on nine hits. His ERA moved up to 2.75 with the performance.

The story of the game though was the Rangers’ bullpen. Alexi Ogando finished the sixth and pitched the seventh. When Texas took the lead in the eighth, he became the winning pitcher to improve to 2-2 on the season. Frasor pitched the eighth. Cotts retired left-handed batting Joe Mauer to start the ninth. Soria came on to get the final two outs, which included one strikeout. Soria was credited with his 10th save of the year, pitching for the third straight day.

Offensively, the Rangers took a 3-0 lead in the second when Sin-Shoo Choo doubled with the bases loaded and two outs. All three scored on the play. The Twins came back with two runs in the third and two more in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Robinson Chirinos singled home Leonys Martin in the sixth to tie the game at four. Martin also scored the game winning run in the eighth, scoring from third base on a short fly ball to center field. He just beat the throw home to score for the third time on the day.

The Rangers complete the road trip with three games in Washington this weekend. It will be the second time the Rangers have played in Washington’s Nationals Park. Texas has played the Montreal/Washington in three previous series. They played the Expos in Puerto Rico in 2003, the Nationals in Arlington in 2005, and the Nationals in Washington in 2008, the year Nationals Park opened. Colby Lewis (4-3) opens the series Friday night. Nicke Tepesch (2-0) is Saturday’s starting pitcher in a noon start local time that translates into an 11:05 AM start in Texas. Yu Darvish (4-2) will start in Sunday’s series finale.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: The ensuing news on Darvish was good. He underwent an MRI in Minneapolis, which was read by team doctors in Texas. It was clean. He will not be going on the disabled list and is scheduled to pitch this Sunday in Washington. Aaron Poreda was optioned to AAA Round Rock on Wednesday to make room on the active roster for Joe Saunders, Wednesday’s starting pitcher.

NOTABLE:

* Ron Washington became the most tenured manager (including the early years of the franchise in Washington) in franchise history Tuesday night when he managed his 1,187th game to pass Bobby Valentine. Washington already leads in managerial wins with, 639 after the series in Minneapolis.

* The Rangers opponents this week, like the Rangers, all have ties to Washington, D. C. The first Washington Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins when the American League expanded in 1961. One of the 1961 expansion teams was the second Washington Senators, which moved to Texas to become the Rangers. The National League moved the Montreal Expos to Washington in 2005 to become the third Washington Major League franchise.

* The Texas win on Monday was the first this month in which the Rangers did not hit a home run. They added two more to the May total, as they did not hit a home run in the series.

* Alex Rios had at least one hit in each game against the Twins to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest this year by a Ranger.

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NO PRINCE, NO PROBLEM!

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Prince Fielder didn’t play an inning in the field or take one at bat, but Texas scored 35 runs in four games to beat the Tigers three times this weekend to pull back even at .500 for the season with a 25-25 record. Taking three of four from Detroit jumped the Rangers into third place in the West one-half game ahead of Seattle. They cut the deficit with the first place Athletics to five games, after the A’s lost four straight over the weekend.

On Sunday, the top of the batting order did the damage with the starters going 11-23, scoring nine runs and driving in nine in a 12-4 romp. On Saturday, it was the bottom five in the batting order that went 12-26, scoring nine runs and driving in nine in another 12-2 shellacking. In short it was a team effort up and down the batting order to win the two games.

The starting pitchers Colby Lewis (4-3) on Sunday and Nick Martinez (1-1) on Saturday were the recipients of the Rangers’ offensive largesse. It was Martinez’s first Major League win in his ninth appearance (four starts and five relief appearances), and his ERA dropped to 2.14.

Rookie second baseman, Rougned Odor, had a career day on Saturday, going 4-5 with five RBIs and a run scored. Three of the four hits went for extra bases – a double and two triples. Odor is the youngest player in the Major Leagues (20 years and 111 days on Sunday) and is with the club because of injuries to Jurickson Profar and Donnie Murphy, not to mention Josh Wilson’s ineptitude. He’s taking giant steps towards staying in Arlington for a long time. He finished the series with a .300 batting average in 40 at bats after 13 games, with three runs scored and seven RBIs. He’s pretty darn good defensively at second base too.

The series began with an afternoon game on Thursday. On paper, it was the game the Rangers HAD to win, as ace Yu Darvish was paired against rookie Robert Ray. The Tigers surprisingly did not make a roster move to shore their bullpen prior to the game as they had used six pitchers a day earlier in a 13 inning game in Cleveland.

Ray pitched a scoreless first inning, then his day went downhill. He retired just 10 batters and gave up 13 base runners – nine hits and four walks. Seven of them scored. He would have come out sooner had the bullpen been rested. As it was, the pen had to pitch the final 5-2/3rds innings, actually just 4-2/3rds as shortstop Daniel Worth pitched the ninth inning to spare the pen. Worth, who surprising threw knuckleballs on all but one pitch, retired three of the four batters he faced. Chris Gimenez hit the only fastball Worth threw for a single. Michael Choice and Leonys Martin will definitely hear about the ninth inning in the Rangers’ Kangaroo Court, as they were Worth’s two strikeout victims.

The Rangers got on the scoreboard with a pair of second inning runs. Adrian Beltre walked and scored on Alex Rios’ double. Gimenez later singled Rios home. They followed that with a three run third inning. Beltre drove home two and Mitch Moreland scored on a fielding error. Texas essentially put the game away in the fourth with four more runs. Sin-Shoo Choo hit his sixth home run to drive in the first two of the inning. That chased Ray from the mound and out of Detroit, as he was reassigned after the game. Michael Choice singled home two more before the Tigers retired the side.

Darvish was again spectacular. He completed seven innings on 106 pitches, allowing two sixth inning runs on six hits. His record improved to 4-2, 2.35, as he tied Martin Perez for the club lead in wins. Run support for Darvish is either the best of times or the worst of times. The Rangers scored just 11 runs total in the five games he started in April They have now scored 31 in the four games Darvish has started in May. Unfortunately, he’s just 3-1 for the month as the Rangers were shutout in one of those starts.

During the game, Daniel Robertson and Alex Rios collided chasing a fly ball in right center. Robertson had to leave the game. The injury news got really serious after the game though as the Rangers announced that Prince Fielder, pending a second opinion, was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday for a herniated disk in his neck, surgery that likely ends Fielder’s season. Also, Jurickson Profar has been shut down in his throwing program and will be out at least another 10-12 weeks with a strained arm, which is almost season ending.

Scott Baker became the Rangers 10th starting pitcher this season when he started game two, the only night game of the series. Mitch Moreland doubled home a pair of runs in the second inning to stake Baker to a lead. It didn’t last long. Three batters into the bottom half of the inning, Denton native Austin Jackson homered with Victor Martinez on base to tie the game. Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera doubled to open the Tigers’ third inning, giving them a 3-2 lead.

That was all the runs Anabel Sanchez needed, but the Tigers added two more runs in the fifth, and singletons in the sixth and seventh to ease the load. Sanchez completed seven innings allowing the two runs on five hits. He struck out five, walked none, and improved to 2-2, 2.83 for the year. Two relievers retired six of eight Ranger hitters to end the game with 7-2 as the final score.

Baker took the loss and lost his spot in the starting rotation, as the Rangers announced a day later that Joe Saunders would take the rotation slot next Wednesday. Baker gave up six runs on eight hits, four of which went for extra bases. Baker is 0-1, 6.35. Alexi Ogando pitched the last two innings, giving up a run that actually REDUCED his ERA to 6.65.

The Rangers’ injured list extended to the broadcast booths this weekend. Eric Nadel, scheduled to join the Hall of Fame later this summer, left the team on Sunday to take care of personal matters. ESPN.com’s Richard Durrett sat in for Nadel on Sunday. Pre-game and post-game host Mike Peasley joined the team on Monday to take Nadel’s place until he returns. Also, in the television booth, Tom Grieve is scheduled to lighten his load by 25 games this year. He is not on this 11 game road trip, replaced in the TV booth by Mark McLemore.

The longest road trip of the year continues with four games in Minnesota. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Nick Tepesch (1-0) on Monday, Yu Darvish (4-2) on Tuesday, Joe Saunders (0-1) on Wednesday, and Nick Martinez (1-1) on Thursday. Monday’s and Thursday’s games are day games, while Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are night games. ,

INJURIES: Sin-Shoo Choo is still bothered by the ankle sprain incurred earlier this month. He came out of Saturday’s game early when the Rangers built a big lead and was in Sunday’s lineup as the designated hitter.

NOTABLE:

* On Saturday, the Rangers set season highs for hits (19), total bases (33) and extra base hits (eight).

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THE BLEAK GETS BLEAKER

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Thursday’s good news is that the Rangers routed the Tigers Thursday afternoon 9-2, in a game that wasn’t as close as that score indicates. Yu Darvish went seven innings and gave up both Tiger runs to win his fourth game. The offense put up the nine runs over the first four innings. Detroit had a tired bullpen to begin the game as they played 13 innings on Wednesday which required six pitchers. It was so bad Thursday that Detroit manager Brad Ausmus brought in reserve shortstop Danny Worth to pitch the ninth inning. He was their sixth pitcher of the game, and perhaps their most effective as he retired three of the four batters he faced, including two by strikeout.

From there, the news went downhill fast, as the bleak injury situation got bleaker. General Manager Jon Daniels held a 4:30 press conference at which he indicated that Prince Fielder’s year in all likelihood is over. Fielder did not travel to Detroit with the team and was examined today by Dr. Drew Dossett. The result is that surgery (pending a second opinion) to repair a herniated disk in Fielder’s neck is scheduled for next Tuesday, which will likely end his season.

Fielder complained of neck stiffness and was held out of last Saturday’s game against Toronto. He indicated then that he expected to be back shortly and was actually in Tuesday’s original starting lineup. He was scratched before game time though, and did not play again Wednesday.

Reportedly, Fielder’s contract includes disability insurance, such that the Rangers expect to recover $5,000,000 to $8,000.000 of Fielder’s salary from the policy. Also, the Rangers are expected to activate Donnie Murphy from the disabled list on Friday. Murphy has been at AAA Round Rock on a minor league rehab assignment and was pulled from the starting lineup on Thursday night.

One option may be Kendry Morales. He hit .277 with 23 home runs last year for Seattle. The Mariners made him a qualifying offer last October, which means signing Morales involved forfeiture of a draft pick. The draft pick compensation is the main reason why Morales is still available as a free agent. In the Rangers’ case, it would be their second round pick as they have already forfeited their first round pick by signing Sin-Shoo Choo. The draft however is barely two weeks away, and if Morales signs after the draft, the compensatory pick vanishes.

That wasn’t all the bad news though. Daniels indicated that Jurickson Profar has been shut down from the throwing program he recently began. There is no surgical solution for his muscle strain condition. Rest is the only cure. He’s gone for another 10-12 weeks, which likely means he’s gone for the season. Hopefully, he can recover to full strength.

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SEATTLE SPLIT

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas beat Seattle 4-3 Wednesday afternoon to gain a split in the two game series and remain one-half game behind the Mariners for third place in the American League West. Nick Tepesch turned in another fine start to win his first game of the year in his second start. He gave up three runs, all earned in 6-1/3rd innings on five hits, striking out four and walking two. Robbie Ross, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria finished the game, with Soria needing 10 pitches to retire the three batters he faced in the ninth and earn his eighth save.

The losing pitcher was Chris Young (3-2), former star basketball and baseball player at Highland Park High School. He, like Tepesch, went 6-1/3rd innings, giving up all four Ranger runs on seven hits.

Texas took the early lead with three first inning runs. Daniel Robinson walked and Elvis Andrus homered to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead two batters into the game. Sin-Shoo Choo followed with a single and later scored on Alex Rios’ single for the third run. Seattle came back with three runs in the fourth inning. The first three Mariners of the inning tripled (James Jones), singled (Michael Saunders) and homered (Robinson Cano’s second) to tie the game.

That was all the scoreboard damage Tepesch gave up. A boy named Choo broke the tie in the fifth inning with his team leading fifth home run, the run that proved to be the game winner.

The short series began with another disappointing offensive night for the Rangers. They garnered just six hits in Tuesday night’s game – five singles and an Adrian Beltre home run, his fourth in the second inning. Alex Rios singled home the Rangers’ other run in the game.

Colby Lewis was the starting pitcher and completed six innings for the first time in his seven starts. That was about the only good news. Beltre’s home run gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, which was quickly erased as Seattle struck for four runs in the third inning. The first four Seattle batters of the inning reached base on three singles and a walk. All of them scored. Both teams scored single runs in the fourth inning, and Seattle added the game’s final run in the seventh off Aaron Poreda. 6-2 was the final score.

The bottom line for Lewis was five earned runs allowed on nine hits. He struck out six, but walked three and hit a batter as 13 of the 30 batters he faced reached base. Three of the base hits were softly hit, but opponents are now hitting .351 off Lewis for the season. He took the loss to even his record at 3-3, and his ERA increased to 5.40.

Hisashi Iwakuma was very good for Seattle, allowing both runs and all six Ranger hits over eight innings. He missed the entire month of April with a torn tendon in his finger, but improved to 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in four starts since returning to the active roster.

Prince Fielder and Leonys Martin were in the initial starting lineup for Tuesday’s game, but both were scratched with neck stiffness. Neither was available for Wednesday’s tilt either, and Fielder did not accompany the team to Detroit. He stayed in town for further examination, as he has now missed four consecutive games. With Fielder and Martin unavailable, the Rangers had just two position players on the bench for both games – a back-up catcher and a back-up middle infielder.

The Rangers now begin an 11-game road trip, the longest road trip of the season, with four games this weekend in Detroit. Yu Darvish (3-2) will start Thursday, in a rare day game to start the series. Scott Baker (0-0) will become the tenth Ranger starting pitcher on Friday night, as he moves into the rotation replacing Robbie Ross. Friday’s game is the only night game of the series. Nick Martinez (0-1) and Lewis (3-3) will start Saturday and Sunday.

ROSTER MOVES: Catcher J. P. Arencibia was sent to AAA Round Rock on Tuesday, and Chris Gimenez was added to the roster. To make room for Gimenez on the 40-man roster, pitcher Martin Perez was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list, becoming the seventh Ranger on the 60-day DL. Gimenez was on the Rangers’ opening day roster, but did not see action in a game before being designated for assignment. When he played Wednesday, he became the 39th player to appear in a game for Texas this year.

NOTABLE:

* Former Ranger owner, and former United States Ambassador to Australia and Japan, Tom Schieffer was named to the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame. He’ll be inducted prior to the Rangers’ game on August 23. Schieffer, who will become the 17th member of the Rangers’ Hall of Fame, was the driving force behind the design and construction of the Ballpark in Arlington, now known as Globe Life Ballpark, in the early 1990′s.

* The Rangers have failed to win any of their last six series going 0-4-2. They last won a series May 2, 3 and 4 against the Angels.

* Nick Tepesch became the 13th pitcher to record a win for the Rangers this year, the Major League high.

* Three of Colby Lewis’s seven starts have been against Seattle, and his ERA is 6.61 against the Mariners this year.

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JAYS’ BLUES

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers secured their clamp on fourth place in the division by losing two of three to Toronto this weekend. They won the Sunday matinee game 6-2 to end a four game losing streak and avoid the series sweep after losing Friday and Saturday nights. Toronto had won six consecutive games in Arlington before Sunday’s Ranger win stopped the streak. The Rangers have now fallen seven games out of first place, trail second place Los Angeles by 3.5 games and are one-half game behind Seattle (one in the loss column) as the Mariners also dropped two of three games this weekend. Texas is two games under .500 at 21-23 and still lead the last place Astros by five games.

Sunday’s win came behind Nick Martinez’s third start, but his first in Arlington. The former college infielder turned pitcher as a professional has shown tremendous poise and mound presence in his two earlier spot starts, and has certainly done the same in five relief appearances. He was equally poised Sunday as he completed five innings allowing a run on four hits, one of which was a home run off the bat of Juan Francisco, a huge shot into the upper deck in right field. Texas was hoping to get 60 effective pitches out of Martinez, as he had twice relieved earlier in the week in Houston for more than an inning each time and had not started a game for almost a month. He lasted 84 pitches, a touch high for five innings, but effective none the less.

Martinez left the game as the pitcher of record as Texas held a 2-1 lead, thanks to a two run fourth inning triple from Alex Rios. Martinez’ chance for a win went away in the sixth inning though when Aaron Poreda surrendered another Blue Jay home run, this time to Edwin Encarnacion into the visiting team’s bullpen, which tied the game at two.

Mitch Moreland broke the tie in the seventh inning with a two run shot, a hard line drive that barely cleared the fence in right field. Texas padded the lead in the eighth inning with two more runs, driven in by a Sin-Shoo Choo double, who later scored on Adrian Beltre’s single.

Joakim Soria pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation. He put a pair of Blue Jays on base before striking out Jose Reyes to end the game.

6-2 was the final score. Poreda, 2-0, was the winning pitcher. Former Ranger turned knuckleballer R. A. Dickey (4-4) took the loss, as he pitched 6-1/3rd innings and gave up four runs, three of which were earned.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Adrian Beltre and Rios called a players only meeting. After Saturday’s loss, the Rangers had dropped four games in a row and three straight series. A players only meeting is usually a bad sign, and it may ultimately prove to be this time. However, the Rangers were sharper and crisper in their play Sunday and got the win to avoid the sweep. The main problem continues to be the struggling offense. They got just 18 hits in the three games with the Jays, including seven on Sunday. However on Sunday, four of the seven went for extra bases to be the difference in the game.

The series started with a 2-0 shutout by the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchison (2-3), who tossed his first career shutout and won for just the second time this year. It was the second time this week the Rangers had been shut out by teams with questionable pitching staffs. The feeble Ranger bats managed just three hits, all singles off Hutchison.

Yu Darvish was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he was again magnificent. He threw seven shutout innings, before Melky Cabrera doubled home the only two runs of the game in the eighth. Darvish struck out 11, walked three and allowed five hits over eight innings. He’s now 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA.

The start of Saturday’s game was delayed by ceremonies to honor Michael Young, the Rangers’ all time hits leader. Elvis Andrus spoke briefly giving a trip to Disney World to Young and his family on behalf of the team. Vernon Wells, who came through the Blue Jays’ minor league system with Young spoke too. There were video tributes from former teammates Cliff Lee, Mike Napoli, Mark Teixeira, and Mark DeRosa. There were also video tributes from Don Mattingly, Mike Modano and Derek Jeter.

There is talk of Young getting back into the game in some capacity. With the Rangers’ offensive performance that ensued after the pre-game tribute, perhaps that capacity could be playing for the Rangers. Texas had eight hits in the game, but like Friday night’s loss, all the hits were singles. Toronto jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jose Bautista homered off Robbie Ross. A walk and two singles tied the game in the third inning, with Michael Choice driving in the run. Toronto scored single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to secure the 4-2 win.

Ross labored on the mound and didn’t complete the fifth inning. He was constantly in trouble allowing just three hits, but walking four batters. He used 91 pitches to complete 4-1/3rd innings. Five relievers finished the game, but Shawn Tolleson was the only one that was effective. Neal Cotts (1-3) took the loss in relief as he allowed the go ahead run in the eighth inning that broke a 2-2 tie.

The Rangers are off Monday, then play a two game series with Seattle before heading to Detroit for the weekend. Colby Lewis (3-2) faces Hisachi Iwakuma (2-0) on Tuesday night. Nick Tepesch (0-0) makes his second Ranger start Wednesday afternoon against former Ranger and Highland Park High School graduate Chris Young (3-1) on Wednesday.

INJURIES: Friday on ESPN radio (103.3 FM), general manager Jon Daniels said that Prince Fielder had been suffering from neck stiffness. On Saturday, the team announced that Fielder had been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck and had received a nerve blocking injection for the condition. Fielder did not play in Saturday’s game and wasn’t even at the park on Sunday. He is not expected to need surgery for the condition and is not expected to be placed on the disabled list. Alexi Ogando was struck by a batted ball on Saturday night off the bat of the only batter he faced. He was immediately taken out of the game and was not available to pitch on Sunday with a bruised right hand, though he is not expected to be placed on the disabled list. Martin Perez has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery, which will be performed on Monday by team doctor Keith Meister.

ROSTER MOVES: On Sunday, relief pitcher Miles Mikolas was sent down to AAA Round Rock and infielder/outfielder Daniel Robertson was recalled from Round Rock.

NOTABLE:

* Hot hitting minor league prospect Joey Gallo hit his 18th home run on Saturday for High-A Myrtle Beach, which leads the minor leagues.

* The Rangers currently lead the Major Leagues with 13 players on the disabled list. They have used the DL 16 times total, which also leads the Major Leagues.

* When Prince Fielder did not play Saturday, he ended a streak of 546 consecutive games played.

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