9/11/2013 8:23 P.M. ET
Rangers pay tribute on 9/11 anniversary
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers honored the 12th anniversary of 9/11 with a Patriot Day Moment of Silence before Wednesday's game against the Pirates. The 531st Air Force Quintet sang the national anthem and TSgt. Shonda Winkler sang God Bless America.
Former Quartermaster Corps Private First Class Jessica Lynch threw out the first pitch. She was a prisoner of war of the Iraqi military at 19-years-old and was rescued by the United States forces on April 1, 2003. It was the first successful rescue of an American POW since World War II, and the first of a woman.
Texas, along with the other 29 Major League clubs, also wore a special cap with a U.S. flag patch on the side.
"I'm absolutely glad they still do that and we still do that," said Jeff Baker, whose father spent 22 years in the United States Army and retired as a colonel. "The day we lose sight and forget is the day something happens again. I'm not concerned too much going forward about how we're going to respond, because I know the way they've responded for the last 10 years. I think baseball will always do the right thing.
Baker wore a Wounded Warrior Project shirt in the clubhouse before the game, as he so often has throughout the season. He's very engaged in the organization given his background. When the team faced the Yankees in June, Baker and a few of his teammates went to the 9/11 Memorial.
"It makes you realize baseball is a game, it's more for fun," Baker said. "It puts things in perspective for you. Unfortunately, as professional athletes, we think what we do is the most important consuming thing of the day and that's not the case."
Scheppers long past mid-August swoon
ARLINGTON -- Tanner Scheppers' 3.18 ERA in August was the highest in a month this season for the reliever. While he lacked command on his fastball, as evident against the Astros on Aug. 21 when he recorded his first blown save by hitting a batter with the bases loaded, Scheppers said his struggles were a "mix of everything."
They didn't last long. Scheppers allowed six hits and three runs in 1 1/3 innings during back-to-back games, but he's since returned to form.
"Everyone has ups and downs throughout the course of the year, it's just about making those lows as short as possible," Scheppers said. "It's just about making adjustments. All you got to do is going out there and keep pitching."
The Rangers setup man has pitched six scoreless innings in his last six games to help keep the team in games during a rough offensive stretch. He's only allowed three hits in that stretch, with six strikeouts and, most importantly, no walks.
"I think just executing pitches, staying calm and keeping it simple," Scheppers said of the reasons for his recent success. "I'm throwing the ball where I want it."
Scheppers' scoreless innings streak was snapped in Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Pirates, as he allowed a one-out home run to Clint Barmes in the seventh. It was the first home run he's allowed since Aug. 16 and the sixth he's given up this season.
Kinsler at DH despite undisclosed injury
ARLINGTON -- Ian Kinsler remained in the lineup on Wednesday against the Pirates, but he was the designated hitter after suffering an undisclosed injury in Tuesday's 5-4 loss.
"It's a thing," Kinsler said on the injury.
He hinted it was somewhere below his head and above his ankle. Kinsler grimaced as he slid into home plate during the ninth inning on Tuesday. While the injury remains unknown, he's healthy enough to hit. Kinsler and Rangers manager Ron Washington both feel he'll be ready to go after Thursday's off-day for the three-game series against the A's.
"Everyone has problems during this time of year," Kinsler said. "It's something I have to maintain and make sure that it doesn't get worse than what it is."
Kinsler went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in Wednesday's 7-5 loss, but he's still hitting .217 (10-46) this month.
Rangers struggling with runners in scoring position
ARLINGTON -- The last two innings of Tuesday's game were sharp offensively from Elvis Andrus' perspective. The Rangers were able to drive in three runs, but they fell a run short, losing 5-4 to the Pirates.
"We were focused," Andrus said. "We went away a little bit from that. It's the mindset we need to have starting in the first inning today. If we're able to do that in the first inning, it's going to bring a lot of offense back."
Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn't surprised by the late offensive outburst, because the club has put itself in position to score runs. They just haven't drove many in, hitting .195 with runners in scoring position in the last 11 games. The Rangers were 12th in the American League with runners in scoring position, batting .250 this season, entering Wednesday.
"Our issue has nothing to do with none of that, it's just getting a base hit at the right time, because we've been putting ourselves in the right position," Washington said. "We just got to get a base hit. That's what it's been."
Adrian Beltre dropped to 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position when he struck out to end the game on Tuesday. While he recorded two hits in the game, that equaled his total hits in the previous six games.
"He's just not centering the ball," Washington said of Beltre. "When he gets his pitches, he's missing them. He's getting on top of a lot of balls. He's just not getting through them. The couple that he does get through, it seems like there's someone standing there catching them. I'm not worried about Beltre. He's been there before. He'll figure it out."
The Rangers were 6-for-15 (.400) with runners in scoring position, but still lost on Wednesday, 7-5, to the Pirates. Beltre was 1-for-4, but flew out with runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth.
• Said Yu Darvish through a translator about dealing with leg cramps for the second time in a month: "What I think I'm going through I don't think is being hydrated or drinking a lot of water. I don't think this is something that helps or is that big of a factor. It's just something I'm going to have to grind through."
• Tuesday was the second time the Rangers have lost when recording 13 or more hits. The other time was on July 20 against the Orioles. Texas had 14 hits in a 7-4 loss.
• With Alex Rios' 36th stolen base on Tuesday (and 10th for the Rangers), Texas entered Wednesday tied for the second most steals in the Majors at 122 with the Brewers. It's the ninth most in club history.
• Nelson Cruz worked out at the Rangers' complex in Surprise, Ariz., on Wednesday for the first time, doing full defensive drills and batting practice. He will workout again on Thursday as he serves his 50-game suspension.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.