7/5/2013 1:19 A.M. ET
Washington eyes improvement at plate with RISP
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- If Rangers manager Ron Washington had one wish for his club to improve in an area during the second half of the season, he'd want the Rangers to bat 1.000 with runners in scoring position.
"It might be long, but we'll come out on top with the runs," Washington joked.
While the feat will be impossible to accomplish, the Rangers have been inconsistent in those situations all season. They have the third-lowest average in the American League at .203 (47-of-232) with runners in scoring position. They enter Thursday's finale against Seattle going 2-for-17 so far this series.
"It's been our Achilles' heel," Washington said. "That just goes to show you how much heart they have to be where were are and not really score a ton of runs."
The Rangers have scored four runs or less in six six straight games. They rank in the bottom five in the Majors in on-base percentage, batting average, slugging percentage and runs scored since June. The club has dealt with a number of injuries, yet it remains in a back-and-forth affair with the A's for first place in the AL West. The Rangers hold the seventh best record in the Majors entering Thursday's contest.
"It's an individual thing; you never know what's going through a person's mind when they're standing in that box," Washington said. "They got the physical tools, so it comes down to their thought process, and that becomes mental. It's also a situation where they want to do it too bad."
Slumping Andrus drives in run out of eight-hole
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington dropped Elvis Andrus to eighth in the lineup Thursday to give the shortstop a little break. Andrus went 1-for-2 with a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of a 5-4 win. He now has an RBI in five of the six games on the Rangers' homestand.
Andrus went 0-for-5 in Wednesday's loss to Seattle, but hadn't hit anywhere other than first or second in the lineup since April 17, 2010, when he hit ninth.
"He's been struggling for quite a while," Washington said before the game. "I just want to take a little pressure off him."
Andrus said he's pulling too much because he hasn't seen the ball well. He's hitting .199 (31-of-156) with just two extra-base hits in the last 40 games, dropping his batting average from .282 to .243.
"I'm not the guy that goes deep in the stands," Andrus said. "I just need to put a good swing on it. When you see me hit that many ground balls, especially to third base, shortstop, something is wrong."
Andrus said he knows the adjustment he must make in his swing and he's worked in the cages with hitting coach Dave Magadan to fix the issue.
"[Pitchers are] going to throw a lot of breaking pitches ahead in the count and try to keep the ball," Andrus said. "I know how they're going to pitch me. I really think it's just a small adjustment I have to make to let the ball travel more."
Washington put David Murphy second in the lineup because he's hit in the spot previously this season. Murphy went 0-for-4.
Rare blip on the radar for dominant Cotts
ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Neal Cotts proved he can be hit Thursday on the heels of Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross doing the same.
Cotts didn't record an out against four batters in the seventh inning against the Mariners. He gave up two runs on three hits, throwing 24 pitches as he allowed a two-run shot to Raul Ibanez.
"He faced some good hitters, and Ibanez didn't miss," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Cotts threw 11 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts his previous nine times out and didn't allow an earned run in his last 14 outings (15 1/3 innings pitched). His 1.14 ERA is the best in the Rangers' bullpen.
He received the club's Player of the Month honors for June, along with closer Joe Nathan. He became the seventh reliever in club history to win as many as four games in a single month. Cotts went 4-1 with a 0.59 ERA in 15 games in June.
"Some days it might fall where it just doesn't work," Cotts said. "You just try to make good pitches. Hitters are good, they'll get you some days. I feel like my chances are as good as anybody if you're aggressive and command the ball."
• Washington said Mitch Moreland is "getting close" at the plate. He feels Moreland will get his timing back soon. Moreland is 6-for-41 with three RBIs in 11 games since he returned from the disabled list.
• The Rangers signed 14th-round Draft pick Jarred Smith and 21st-round selection Lucas Lanphere on Thursday. The club has now signed 27 of its 41 selections in the First-Year Player Draft.
• The Rangers have won nine of their past 13 games on Independence Day entering Thursday. They're 23-20 all-time on the Fourth of July. This marks the 15th time in the last 18 seasons the Rangers have played at home on the holiday since 1996.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.