04/29/12 8:00 PM ET
Rangers gear up for 10-game road trip
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
That's why Yu Darvish, who is starting on Monday, flew to Toronto on Sunday afternoon ahead of the team. The Rangers played on Sunday night because they were on the Sunday night game on ESPN.
"I would have rather played a day game, rather than get up to Toronto at 4 a.m.," manager Ron Washington said. "If it were in the United States, we would get there earlier. But we have to go through customs. Going through customs, they're probably going to mess with us and keep us up a while."
This is the Rangers' second road trip and one of their longest of the season. They have ten games in 11 days, beginning with three in Toronto. After an off-day on Thursday, the Rangers have a three-game weekend series in Cleveland, followed by four games in Baltimore. The Rangers won't be back in Arlington until May 11 against the Angels.
The Rangers went 8-1 on their first road trip, matching their best record for any road trip of seven-plus games in club history. Rangers pitchers had a 2.41 ERA during that road trip.
"Awesome pitching," Washington said. "We put some runs on the board, but it was the pitching. They shut down some pretty good offenses. We loosened up on the basepaths and played great defense, but it was the pitching. It was awesome."
Murphy will still get lifted despite defensive gems
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers led, 3-1, going into the seventh inning on Saturday night when left-fielder David Murphy made two excellent defensive plays behind reliever Alexi Ogando. Murphy went to the line to run down Elliot Johnson's line drive and then went to the wall to haul down Jose Molina's long drive.
The Rangers then broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the inning and Murphy ended up playing the whole game. But manager Ron Washington said he is still going to use Craig Gentry on defense for Murphy in close games. In those situations, Gentry would go into center and Josh Hamilton would move to left.
"That's my best defense," Washington said. "That's what Gentry's job is, to be a defensive replacement and to play against left-handers. I want to allow him to do his job. The plays Murphy made [on Saturday], he might not have made last year. But that's Gentry's job. ... I want him to know what his role is and when that situation [presents] itself, he's ready to do that."
Murphy went into Spring Training with the goal of improving his defense. The Rangers believe he has accomplished that simply by being more aggressive and getting better jumps on balls.
"I'm getting good jumps," Murphy said. "It helps me to make any type of play. It's giving me more opportunities and more room for error. That's all I want.
"I don't want to go back thinking, 'Could I have caught that ball?" I had some of those the last few years. I wanted to eliminate those. There were more that I didn't get to than I wanted. I can't catch everything, but I want to be able to say that."
Moreland gets rolling at plate
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were hoping that playing four straight games against right-handed starting pitchers would help get first baseman Mitch Moreland on track at the plate. Evidence suggests it helped.
Moreland was 0-for-3 on Tuesday against Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees, but was 5-for-11 with two doubles and a home run in the next three games to raise his average to .213.
"He certainly swung the bat well," manager Ron Washington said. "He's a grinder, he's a worker and he's a threat. I'm glad we were able to do that for him."
Moreland did not start on Sunday night against the Rays, with left-hander David Price on the mound. Washington said he's planning on starting Moreland against right-handers Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison in the first two games against the Blue Jays this week. Washington said Moreland will likely sit on Wednesday against left-hander Ricky Romero.
Moreland should get plenty of playing time in Cleveland next weekend. The Indians have an all right-handed rotation, and the Rangers are currently scheduled to face Jeanmar Gomez, Derek Lowe and Ubaldo Jimenez during that three-game series at Progressive Field.
"I haven't been in there against lefties," Moreland said. "My feeling is I can hit both just as good. That's the way it goes. I'll be ready to play whenever I get in there. I've been working at it and it seems to be carrying over into the games pretty well. I'm trying to get into the box and hit it hard."
Uehara now has longest walkless streak
ARLINGTON -- Colby Lewis had his streak of 25 2/3 walkless innings come to an immediate end on Saturday night. Lewis walked Ben Zobrist, the second batter he faced, in the first inning of his 7-2 victory over the Rays. He came up four innings short of the club record set by Jon Matlack in 1978.
"I wasn't thinking about that, I was just trying to get outs," Lewis said. "I walked three guys and hit one. That was 20 extra pitches that I threw. I threw 96 pitches and I should have been right at 76 pitches."
Reliever Koji Uehara has the new walkless streak going for the Rangers. He has gone 25 appearances without allowing a walk, two more than the previous club best of 23 straight appearances by Brian Shouse in 2005. Uehara, whose streak goes back to Aug. 6, 2011, has not allowed a walk in 21 2/3 innings.
Lewis has another streak going. Opponents are 0-for-21 against him with runners in scoring position. That's the most at-bats in those situations without allowing a hit in the Major Leagues.
Washington turned 60 on Sunday. The only other Rangers manager older than Washington was Eddie Stanky, who was 61 during his one-game stint.
Washington on Josh Hamilton at the plate: "Hamilton can still get better. He can start hitting more balls on the screws. He can start taking some walks now and then. I'm not going to tell him to do that. He'll figure it out for himself. He'll figure out when they're not trying to throw to him."
The Rangers have not had to make a roster move. They are still playing with the same 25-man roster they had on Opening Day. Over the past 20 years, the Rangers have not gone through an entire April without calling up at least one player from the Minor Leagues.
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.