07/23/08 2:14 PM ET
Rangers playing error-free baseball
Team has not had a miscue in first five games after break
By David Just / MLB.com
But the Rangers have played error-free defense since the All-Star break, a five-game streak that matches a team high this season.
The club has handled a total of 175 chances cleanly in the second half, joining Philadelphia as the only other team without an error since the break.
"It's just getting into a rhythm," manager Ron Washington said. "It's easy to play defense when your pitching staff is keeping the ball in play.
"When you're not [throwing] ball one, ball two, strike one, ball three, you know what I'm saying? The last four ballgames, even though Minnesota kinda got us the first two and beat us down pretty good, the ball still was being put in play. At least we were doing something. And that helps a lot. I think that's the reason."
In other words, the pitching has avoided long at-bats and kept the defense busy. Working quickly was particularly prevalent during Scott Feldman's start Monday, when he pitched six innings and allowed only four hits and three walks.
"If they don't swing it's a strike; if they swing they're going to put it in play, whether it's a base hit or whatever." Washington said. "But at least you're not standing around and getting caught.
"I always say they could play defense, but you can't make up for what we did already. We can only get better from this point on."
With the exception of Tuesday night's 10-2 loss to the White Sox, Rangers pitching has been good enough to give the defense the opportunity to make plays over the last week.
Proof of the pitching woes is evident in the fact that Dustin Nippert's four innings of relief Tuesday raised the bullpen's innings pitched to a Major League-high 366 1/3 this season. Only two teams are within 25 innings of the Rangers' bullpen total -- Pittsburgh and Florida.
The total might be high, but the team's pace is still short of the 592 innings thrown by Texas relievers last year, and well shy of the MLB record of 601 1/3 innings -- thrown by the Rangers in 2003.
In the meantime, though, Washington is just glad to take advantage of the good pitching while he's got it.
"It makes a difference in your defense, it really does," he said.
David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.