04/11/11 5:29 PM ET
Washington's strategy pays off in ninth inning
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Quick inning has eluded Rangers' pitchers
DETROIT -- Rangers manager Ron Washington has been preaching lately about the need for his young pitchers to finish off innings. They are getting two outs quickly, but often not getting out of the inning without getting into trouble.The early numbers bear out Washington's observations about a pitching staff that has otherwise been very good, leading the league in ERA as they begin a three-game series with the Tigers at Comerica Park. Rangers pitchers, going into Monday's game, have been holding opponents to a .199 batting average and a .268 on-base percentage, both the lowest in the American League. But that on-base percentage jumps up to .339 with two outs, the third highest in the league. "We get two quick ones, and then I don't know what happens, but we lose focus," Washington said. "We keep challenging ourselves getting into those situations." The Rangers have walked 25 batters in the first nine games, tied for the fourth fewest in the league. But 16 of those walks have come with two outs, the most in the league. But Rangers pitchers are also following through with another Washington tenet. They are pitching themselves out of trouble. Opponents are hitting .214 with runners in scoring position against the Rangers, third lowest in the league. They are .152 with runners in scoring position and two outs, fourth lowest in the league. "That's pretty good," Washington said. "It's easy to get into trouble, but the good ones find a way to get out of it. Our guys are starting to learning about themselves. We need to keep it going."
Pettis compares Rangers skip to Sparky
DETROIT -- The Tigers raised a banner last Friday at their home opener for longtime manager Sparky Anderson, who passed away in November. Rangers first-base coach Gary Pettis remembers Anderson fondly, having played with the Tigers in 1989."He let guys go out and play," Pettis said. "He trusted the fact that we knew how to play the game and put the responsibility on the player to do his job. Just like if you have to move a runner over from second base, he didn't have to tell you, you either bunted or hit the ball to the right side. "It's a lot like what we have going on here. Most of the guys here have been in this environment for three, four, five years. They all know exactly what is expected of them. It's not what some people say -- it's not small ball. It's winning baseball and who you score runs, which is the object of the game." In many regards, Pettis sees Rangers manager Ron Washington being similar to Anderson. "Just in the fact that he trusts his players to go out and lets them perform," Washington said. "He doesn't put added pressure on the players. That comes from the players knowing what's expected and knowing what to do. I'm not saying they're going to do it every time, but if you go about it the right way, you're going to be successful more times than not."
Washington declines Lewis' short-rest offer
DETROIT -- Pitcher Colby Lewis offered to pitch Wednesday on three days' rest, but manager Ron Washington declined. All Rangers starters go on at least four days' rest, and Washington doesn't want to change that right now."We're only nine games into the season," Washington said. "I don't see the need for him to start going short. He carried a big load last season, he had a short offseason, we don't see a need for him doing that." Because of Friday's rainout in Baltimore, Lewis and Matt Harrison had to pitch Saturday in a doubleheader. With Washington not wanting to bring anybody back on three days' rest, the Rangers will likely start David Bush on Wednesday against the Yankees, with multiple relievers following him. The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday, so they can afford to push the bullpen on Wednesday. Lewis may not start until the next homestand. His wife Jenny is expecting to give birth in the near future and Lewis may not be with the team during the three-game series against the Yankees this weekend in New York.
Bosley pleased with Rangers' efficiency
DETROIT -- The Rangers went into their three-game series with the Tigers ranked second in the American League with 58 runs scored. They did so even though they were fifth in both batting average (.270) and on-base percentage (.346).But the Rangers were leading the league with a .546 slugging percentage and with 40 extra-base hits. They were tied for the lead with 18 home runs, all early signs that the Rangers are adopting hitting coach Thad Bosley's goal of being more aggressive in the strike zone. "We all know we have the best offense in baseball," Bosley said. "The term I use is 'Enhance that.' When you're going against a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, you're not going to get a lot of good pitches to hit, so you have to be efficient. "We have been efficient in that when we get a pitch to drive, we've done that. We're also getting better and getting deeper into counts. We're getting ourselves into position to get more extra-base hits, and that puts us into position to score more runs. If we do that and do all the things we did last year -- go from first to third, take the extra base on balls in the dirt, steal bases at a high percentage -- we should be fine." The Rangers' power is not coming at the expense of high strikeouts. Going into Monday's game, Texas is tied for the fewest strikeouts in the league, and it struck out only once on Sunday.
Sunday was the fifth time in 45 career saves that Neftali Feliz was used to get more than three outs. He did it twice last season and twice in 2009 when he was still a setup man. ... Rangers pitchers went into Monday's game with a 1.50 ERA in four day games this season. ... Ian Kinsler's four home runs are the most by a leadoff hitter this season. The Major League record for home runs by a leadoff hitter is 39 by Alfonso Soriano with the Nationals in 2006. He set the American League record of 38 with the Yankees in 2002.
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.