HOUSTON -- The Rangers' starting pitching has fallen off since its terrific start to the season.The starters were 11-2 with a 2.76 ERA in their first 18 games as the club raced off to a 14-4 start. They were averaging 6.7 innings per start. Since then, going into Sunday's game, they were 8-10 with a 4.60 ERA in their last 23 games while averaging 5.8 innings per start. "What I've seen is we're not getting ahead of hitters like we used to," manager Ron Washington said. "We're getting into a lot of 3-2 counts, we're putting hitters in hitters' counts and we're not getting outs with two outs. We're giving up too many runs with two outs. "We need to get back to pounding the strike zone, getting outs early and getting out of the inning with two outs." The Rangers' slide in starting pitching began with the game against the Yankees on Wednesday, April 25, when Scott Feldman had to come out of the bullpen and make his first spot start. The Rangers had been rained out in Detroit on the previous Friday and forced to play a doubleheader on Saturday. Since then, the Rangers have made a number of adjustments to the rotation. They have used off-days to give some pitchers extra rest and another rainout in Baltimore forced a second doubleheader. That required the Rangers to make further adjustments to the rotation. The result is the rotation hasn't been as settled or as effective as it was early in the season. "We can't expect our offense to put eight runs up every time," Washington said. "You still have to win scoring four or five runs. You need pitching. Pitching will always be paramount."
Cruz in Rangers' lineup despite tight quad
HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz was in the Rangers' lineup on Sunday. He has been dealing with a sore right quadriceps muscle but said it's not bad enough to keep him out of the lineup."It's just tight, it's not that bad," Cruz said. "I'm getting treatment, doing my exercises and stretching. Sometimes I don't feel it at all. When the game first starts, I feel it a little more because I need to get loose. After the game starts, I don't feel it at all." Cruz came out of Saturday's game in the bottom of the eighth inning. He batted in the top of the inning with two men on base and popped out. He did not come out for defense. Manager Ron Washington said it was a strategic move. He had also used Craig Gentry as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher that inning and wanted to keep him in the game for defense. Without a designated hitter, Washington decided to put the pitcher in Cruz's spot in the lineup. "I put Gentry in the game because of his defense," Washington said. "If we had gotten back to Nelson's spot in the order [in the ninth inning], that would have meant we would have put three or four runs back on the board. I needed defense in the game."
Fighting slump, Napoli gets day off in Houston
HOUSTON -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli was given the day off on Sunday with Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate for Colby Lewis and no designated hitter being used at the National League park.Napoli went into the game hitting .221 with no home runs and four RBIs in his last 20 games. He also had a .294 slugging percentage. His last home run was on April 25 against the Yankees. "I don't know ... sometimes I feel comfortable and sometimes I don't," Napoli said. "I just have to keep grinding away." For the season, Napoli is hitting .244 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs while playing in 37 of 41 games. He has a .333 on-base percentage and a .457 slugging percentage. Through the Rangers' first 41 games last season, Napoli was hitting .200 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He had a .355 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage while appearing in 37 of 41 games. He ended up hitting .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs. "I've been struggling, I haven't felt comfortable and I'm still hitting .240-something," Napoli said. "I take it as a positive. I haven't hit my stride yet, but I feel like I'm making strides. The results aren't there yet but if I keep working, it will come." Napoli remains unsigned beyond this year and can become a free agent after the season. He said that has not been an issue. "I haven't thought about it," Napoli said. "I'm trying to do something every day to help us win. If I go through the season and let it play out, everything will work out. I'm just trying to win. That will take care of everything."
Adams on mend from respiratory infection
HOUSTON -- Rangers reliever Mike Adams has not been available the past two days because of a respiratory infection that has been bothering him for a week and has not gone away. He was hoping to be able to pitch on Sunday if needed."I'm getting better," Adams said. "It was kind of bad. I've never had a respiratory infection like this before. The last couple of days I have been short of breath and my energy level is really low." Adams last pitched on Thursday against Oakland and took the loss in the 10th inning. He faced four batters and gave up three hits before Robbie Ross took over. "I felt good enough to pitch," Adams said. "The last outing I felt I made all my pitches but one. If I'm out there, I feel good enough to be out there."
Double-A Frisco infielder Jurickson Profar, the Rangers' top prospect, was 0-for-3 and had a 29-game hitting streak snapped in a 2-1 win over the San Antonio Missions on Sunday.
Ian Kinsler struck out four times in a game for the first time in his career on Saturday. David Murphy's inside-the-park home run on Saturday was the 23rd in club history and only three have ever been hit in Arlington. Two were hit in Arlington Stadium and just one by a Ranger at the Ballpark in Arlington. That was by Luis Alicea on June 23, 2000. Eight of the Rangers' inside-the-park home runs have been hit in Kansas City.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.