5/13/2013 9:26 P.M. ET
Kirkman is trying to get turned around
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Rangers reliever Michael Kirkman had an eventful weekend in Houston. On Saturday, he pitched to two batters in the Rangers' 8-7 victory over the Astros, allowing a single and a double in the ninth inning before being replaced by closer Joe Nathan.
On Sunday, Kirkman came into the game in the seventh inning with the Rangers holding a 12-1 lead. This time he set down the side in order, striking out two in the process.
"A real confidence booster," Kirkman said. "I threw some good pitches and got some results, so it was definitely a confidence booster."
Kirkman still has a 7.36 ERA for the season, while opponents are hitting .333 off him. He averages 18.41 baserunners per nine innings, which is the third-highest rate among relievers in the American League. That's not what the Rangers were expecting after Kirkman pitched so well in Spring Training, holding opponents to 6.55 baserunners per nine innings.
"A lot of the year, I've thrown better pitches than in Spring Training and balls have scooted through," Kirkman said. "I just have to keep making pitches and get outs. I've had a few bad games, but overall I've thrown the ball well."
Manager Ron Washington said Kirkman's biggest issue has been missing location, but there was significant improvement on Sunday.
"I thought he recovered well, kept the ball down and focused on spotting his fastball and snapping off his breaking ball," Washington said. "It never has been his stuff. It was his location. That's what he has to continue to do. Hopefully yesterday was a good start."
Murphy is playing through pain
OAKLAND -- Rangers outfielder David Murphy still had a sizable black-and-blue mark in his tailbone area and was still in some pain resulting from a collision with the left-field wall on Saturday in Houston, but he was back in the lineup on Monday night against the Athletics.
"It's still hurts. but it's better," Murphy said. "It's just another something you have to deal with over the course of a 162-game season."
Murphy hit a two-run home run in Sunday's game and also made a nice running catch in the first inning. He had to go far to his left and reach down to snag Jose Altuve's line drive in the gap. The catch saved the Rangers from giving up an early run.
"I was laughing when Altuve hit that line drive to me," Murphy said. "That was definitely a test early on. I felt stiffness in general, but I felt good enough to play. I wasn't 100 percent, but I was good enough."
The home run extended Murphy's hitting streak to seven games and his batting average is at .200 for the season. That's the highest it has been since he went 1-for-3 on Opening Day.
"I feel pretty good, and the results have been good," Murphy said. "I feel like I'm in a good place. I'm a lot more comfortable, and the results are better. I'm making adjustments better, and everything is more focused."
Lewis gets anti-inflammation shot
OAKLAND -- Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis, who is in the final stages of recovering from flexor tendon surgery, has been diagnosed with a mild case of tendinitis in his right triceps muscle. Dr. Keith Meister, who examined Lewis on Monday in Arlington, said the issue was not related to the surgery.
Lewis was given an antiinflammatory injection and temporarily recalled from his 30-day medical rehabilitation assignment. The plan is for Lewis to have a throwing session this weekend in Arlington and then possibly make his next start early next week.
Lewis, who underwent surgery on July 27, had pitched in two extended spring training games before making his first rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. He threw 41 pitches over two innings, then was shut down on Saturday when he felt some soreness. The Rangers are hoping Lewis can throw four innings and 60-65 pitches in his next start.
Right-handed pitcher Kyle McClellan has taken another step in his rehab process. McClellan, who suffered a strained lat muscle in his right ribcage during Spring Training and has been working out in Arizona, made his first appearance in a game on Monday. He pitched one inning in an extended spring training game.
The Rangers are also preparing to put pitcher Martin Perez in the Round Rock rotation. They made room for him by sending pitcher Richard Bleier to Double-A Frisco on Monday. Perez, who is recovered from a broken arm, made two starts on rehab assignment for Frisco and was activated off the disabled list on Saturday. He is expected to be assigned to Round Rock and pitch on Thursday.
Washington: Rangers not seeking revenge
OAKLAND -- The Rangers made their first appearance at the Oakland Coliseum on Monday night since being swept by the Athletics in the final three games of the 2012 season. That sweep cost the Rangers a third consecutive division title, but manager Ron Washington said his team didn't come here seeking revenge.
"We're here to play baseball," Washington said. "They beat us last year. We understand that. We can't do anything about it. I'm not thinking about what happened here in the past. That's not what's fueling us. I'm just happy we're healthy and playing good baseball. If you play for revenge, you stop thinking about what's ahead. It's like frustration. You go blind."
The Rangers had a five-game lead in the American League West with nine to play before getting passed by the Athletics on the last day. This time the Rangers came to Oakland with a six-game lead in the division but with 125 games left to play.
"I don't look at the standings," Washington said. "If we keep doing what we're supposed to do, that will all take care of itself. The standings don't mean anything right now. Those guys were 13 games behind us last year. We just worry about today and the game we're playing."
The Athletics started off well but have struggled lately and the Rangers have been in first place since April 21.
"I think it's more about they're playing well and we haven't played as well coming into this series," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "We're home now, and we like to think this is a good place for us. They're probably playing better than we are now, but it's time to start playing better and turn the tables. There's probably no better team to play at this point to try to get things right than these guys."
Melvin said the Athletics can't rely on the dramatic turnaround they achieved last season.
"You don't want to fall back on that crutch, too, because then you say it's no big deal and find yourself 10 games back again," Melvin said. "To be able to duplicate that is difficult to do. We need to play with some urgency and put ourselves in position where we don't have to do that again."
• Frisco pitcher Randy Henry has been placed on the disabled list with tightness in his right forearm. He is 1-0 with a 0.74 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Frisco and part of a bullpen that has been outstanding.
• Nelson Cruz had played in 137 consecutive games before sitting out Sunday's game against the Astros.
• Adrian Beltre is the only Rangers player to have started all 37 games. Beltre has started 36 games at third base and one at designated hitter. Manager Ron Washington said Beltre is getting due for a day off but it won't be against the Athletics or the Tigers this week.
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.