8/27/2013 9:48 P.M. ET
Slider command key for Scheppers
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Reliever Tanner Scheppers retired the side in order in the ninth inning of Monday's 8-3 victory over the Mariners. A terrific diving catch by Elvis Andrus did help, but it was still a positive outing for Scheppers after allowing three runs on six hits over his two previous outings. In both outings he wasn't able to finish his inning.
"It was good to get back out there," Scheppers said. "I think over the course of the season everybody is going to have ups and downs. You just want to make the downs short, minimize them."
Manager Ron Washington said Scheppers was effective on Monday because he had a good slider working.
"If he can get that across the plate, it will certainly make his fastball more effective," Washington said.
Scheppers throws his slider for a strike 56 percent of the time. That's the second-lowest percentage for a pitch thrown by Rangers pitchers (mininum 100 pitches) this season. Joe Nathan throws his slider for a strike 67.1 percent of the time. Neal Cotts is at 72 percent and Joakim Soria is 68.2 percent with his slider.
But opponents also swing and miss at Scheppers slider 42.6 percent of the time. That's the highest percent for a slider among Rangers relievers. Nathan gets a swing and miss on 32.2 percent of his sliders.
The numbers simply reinforce what Washington said. If Scheppers can throw his slider for a strike, it can be a big pitch for him and keep opponents off his fastball.
Washington fine with Kinsler bunting ahead of Beltre
SEATTLE -- Manager Ron Washington said he's not going to stop Ian Kinsler from trying to bunt for a base hit, even if it leaves the Rangers in a situation where the opponent intentionally walks Adrian Beltre.
"That's part of his game," Washington said. "He's going to play his game. He can't think about Beltre batting behind him, and he's got to swing the bat. If Kinsler sees the bunt available, he's going to take it."
Twice in a stretch of seven games, Kinsler has tried to bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out. Both times he was thrown out while moving the runners to second and third. Both times Beltre was intentionally walked. Kinsler did it in the third inning on Aug. 19 against the Astros, and the Rangers scored 11 runs in a 16-5 win. He did it again in the first inning on Monday, and Alex Rios delivered a two-out, two-run single in an 8-3 victory.
"I'd rather have bases loaded with one out rather than Kinsler hitting into a double play," Washington said. "He just didn't get the bunt out there far enough. Another foot and it's a hit."
Beltre has been intentionally walked 10 times this season, fifth-most in the American League and two more than last year. Josh Hamilton had 13 in each of the past two seasons with Beltre hitting behind him. Now A.J. Pierzynski is hitting behind Beltre. The Mariners also walked Beltre in the seventh inning on Monday and Pierzynski hit a three-run home run.
"I was A.J. last year," Beltre said. "They didn't want to pitch to Hamilton. I loved that. I wasn't mad they pitched to me. I was glad. ... I want them to pitch to me. I want to be in that situation. We're trying to win ballgames. It doesn't matter how we do it.
"It's working, so there is no reason to change."
West among seven tabbed for Arizona Fall League
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Matt West, whose transition from infielder to pitcher was disrupted by Tommy John surgery, is one of seven players from the Rangers' farm system selected to play in the Arizona Fall League.
West underwent surgery on Aug. 22, 2012, and has not yet pitched in a game this season. But he has been throwing the ball well in Arizona and is starting a rehab assignment with the Rookie League Rangers on Tuesday night. The Rangers expect him to be ready for the AFL.
West was selected in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft as an infielder out of Houston Bellaire High but switched to pitching in 2011. He has been on the Rangers' 40-man roster for most of the season but was recently switched to the 60-day disabled list.
West will be joined on the Surprise Saguaros by pitchers Will Lamb, Nick McBride and Randy Harvey. Also on the team are catcher Jorge Alfaro and infielders Ryan Rua and Brett Nicholas. This will be a big challenge for Alfaro, who is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rangers' system by MLB.com. Alfaro, 20, spent most of the season at Class A Hickory, hitting .265 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 100 games. He had a .343 on-base percentage and a .457 slugging percentage.
Rua and Nicholas have had two of the best seasons among position players in the Rangers' system. Nicholas, a sixth-round pick out of Missouri in 2010, is hitting .299 with 21 home runs and 89 RBIs in 129 games at Double-A Frisco. Rua, a 17th-round pick in 2011 out of Lake Erie College, has played in 104 games at Class A Hickory and 16 at Double-A, hitting a combined .243 with 30 home runs and 84 RBIs.
Lamb, McBride and Harvey are three pitchers who could use a strong showing in Arizona to enhance their standing within the farm system.
Rangers on track to face Colon in series with A's
SEATTLE -- The Athletics are preparing to bring Bartolo Colon off the disabled list and have him pitch on Thursday against the Tigers. That would mean Colon would be on schedule to pitch against the Rangers on Tuesday in the second meeting of a three-game series in Oakland.
The Athletics' tentatively scheduled rotation for that series is Dan Straily, Colon and Jarrod Parker. But Straily is 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break, so his spot in the rotation is tenuous at best.
Colon has been sidelined with a strained left groin muscle. He is 19-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 31 career starts against the Rangers, tied with Dennis Leonard and Bert Blyleven for most wins by an opponent against them.
• Alexi Ogando, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, threw from 120 feet on Tuesday without a problem. The Rangers are hoping he can throw off a mound this weekend during their short three-game stay in Arlington. The Rangers are still planning to bring him back as a starter when he comes off the disabled list.
• Pitching coach Mike Maddux turned 52 on Tuesday.
• The Rangers' victory on Monday left them 10-7 against the Mariners this season with two games left. They have had a winning record against the Mariners for six straight seasons. The only longer such streak was seven straight against the Rays in 1998-2004.
• Leonys Martin was back in the lineup on Tuesday, leading off and playing center field. He missed two games with a sprained right ankle but was good to go on Tuesday night.
• Right-hander Nick Tepesch, who is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, pitched two-plus innings on Tuesday for Double-A Frisco. He allowed one run on three hits and a walk. He threw 41 pitches in his first game action since going on the disabled list July 7.
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.