One of the few bright spots on this Texas Rangers team, Beltre pulled his bats out of their bag while downplaying the second biggest race this team will deal with in the next 30 days or so: the AL batting title.
Outside of the Silver Boot and avoiding the worst record in baseball, Beltre is competing with Houston's Jose Altuve and Detroit's Victor Martinez for the batting crown.
Individual titles and other accomplishments mean little to Beltre, who finished his evening 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Astros.
Beltre came in to the game all alone in third place in hitting; now he's tied for third with Robinson Cano of Seattle with a .325 average. Martinez is second at .327 and Altuve -- with his fifth-inning single -- remains in the lead at .332.
Beltre would welcome a first batting crown of his career but doesn't cherish it.
“What is good about this year?” he asked. “I don’t look at it that way. I’m just glad not being one of those guys that got hurt. It’s been so bad that I think that anybody who is healthy is lucky this year. Everything is going south for us, but I don’t look at it as a personal thing. I’m just glad to be out there to contribute and help our team find a way to win ballgames. I’m still trying not to be in last place in this division.”
Injuries have decimated the Rangers this season.
It’s gotten so bad that Yu Darvish, their ace and the best thing going for this team, is out with right elbow inflammation. His season is probably over now, as it should be.
Beltre's season continues as he watches regulars Alex Rios (ankle and thumb) and Elvis Andrus deal with nagging injuries. Shin-Soo Choo is done because he’ll undergo elbow surgery on Friday to remove a bone chip. Choo played the bulk of the season with a sprained ankle, as well.
“Yeah, it’s true, a couple of guys been playing through tough injuries,” Beltre said. “Rios has been playing with ankle and hand injuries; Choo was playing with a bad ankle. For the most part, I’ve been good enough and healthy to be out there every day. Every year through a season, as a player, we always find a way to be out there. Some [injuries] are more difficult to play with. Rios’ is very difficult to play with. He’s trying to battle through it, and we appreciate that. But at the same time, he’s the type of guy who likes to be out there and likes to prove to his teammates that he wants to be out there.”
The batting lineup hasn't provided Beltre much protection. Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (ankle) are done for the season. Rios is having a down season, numbers wise, and GM Jon Daniels is doing all he can to keep this thing together. He’s formulating his plan to improve the club in 2015, and there’s a confidence level he can.
“Besides the difference in protection, the lineup we might have if everybody was healthy and different guys in front of me or behind me hitting, it’s the same stuff,” Beltre said. “I’d still have to do my job every day. It doesn’t matter what the situation [is]; when I’m at home plate, I want to beat the pitcher.
"Because we don’t have the team we’re supposed to have and everything is not going the way we want this year, I’m not going to home plate trying to get an out. It’s not going to happen. I have a job. I don’t think it’s an excuse not to compete well because the team is not doing well.”
HOUSTON -- It was one of those situations when Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington needed to see a few things from his pitchers.
He wanted consistency from 25-year-old starter Nick Tepesch and to check out how 24-year-old reliever Roman Mendez dealt with some adversity.
Each failed Thursday night, as the Rangers' two-game winning streak ended in a 4-2 defeat to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Tepesch was pulled with one out and two on in the fifth inning after throwing 89 pitches, and Mendez was asked to clean up the mess. Mendez couldn’t and sealed his own fate, as well as that of the Rangers, by allowing a grand slam to Jason Castro for Castro's 13th home run of the season.
You could debate Washington's move to take out Tepesch, who didn't seem happy to come out, and bring in Mendez.
At times you need to find something out about your young players, and this is what Washington is doing.
How it happened? The Rangers gave Tepesch a 2-0 lead when Leonys Martin scored on a Mike Carp double play in the first and Robinson Chirinos came in on Carp’s sacrifice fly out in the third.
Tepesch couldn’t maintain the lead and the young pitcher got into trouble in the fifth. After a one-out hit to Jose Altuve, he walked Chris Carter and Washington had seen enough.
Mendez didn’t have his best stuff and Dexter Fowler reached on a slow roller to short. Adrian Beltre, who moved over from third to field the ball could have let shortstop Elvis Andrus make a play on it. It didn’t matter, because Castro sent a shot to right that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead. It was just the second homer allowed by Mendez this season.
Adduci leaves with injury: Right fielder Jim Adduci left the game in the fourth inning with an apparent head/neck injury. Adduci made a wonderful, running catch in foul territory in right. Adduci flipped over second baseman Rougned Odor as he made the catch, and his head hit the track then slammed into the padded wall. Adduci, who went 0-for-2, left on his own power. Team officials said he will be further evaluated.
Mendez has a rough night: Mendez entered the game having allowed no runs in his last seven innings, a span of eight games that lowered his ERA to 1.23. He started his career with eight scoreless appearances, tying a club record set by Alexi Ogando. Left-handed hitters were just 5-for-35 against Mendez until Castro homered off him in the fifth. Mendez did retire the next two lefties, Marc Krauss and Jon Singleton. It was an uneven performance for Mendez, who has been very good this season. He allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
What’s up with the crowd? It was a sparse crowd at the start of Thursday’s game. With the Houston Texans playing their final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers and Texas A&M playing its SEC opener at South Carolina, there were plenty of seats available at Minute Maid Park. The lower bowl wasn’t even half full and the final tally came in at 16,399. It wasn’t the smallest crowd of the season at Minute Maid Park, but it sure looked that way for a while.
What’s next? RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 5.45) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-9, 4.01) face each other Friday night at 7:10 CT. Baker has won games in his last two appearances, one relief and one starting, after the Rangers had gone 0-20 in games he pitched.
McHugh (7-9) earned his third straight win, allowing two runs and eight hits while striking out six.
In his six August starts, McHugh gave up eight runs over 37 2/3 innings.
Castro snapped an 0-for-20 slump with a single in the second. In the fifth, he wiped out Texas' 2-0 lead.
Jose Altuve singled in the Houston fifth and Chris Carter walked, finishing starter Nick Tepesch. Dexter Fowler reached on an infield single to set up Castro's second career grand slam, a drive off Ramon Mendez (0-1).
Holland, who threw 98 pitches, gave up two two-out home runs, a solo shot to Jeremy Hermida and a two-run blast to Matt Pagnozzi.
Before the game, manager Ron Washington said he told Holland he expected him to dominate.
Holland, who is expected to join the club here on Friday, most likely will be activated to the big league roster next week in Kansas City. Whether or not he pitches when the Rangers head to Kansas City is uncertain.
Washington said a discussion with GM Jon Daniels and pitching coach Mike Maddux needs to occur before any announcements can be made.
Batting leadoff in Wednesday's game at Seattle, Martin went 3-for-5 with a two-run home run and two runs scored.
Manager Ron Washington isn't committing to Martin as his full-time leadoff man with Shin-Soo Choo out for the season with a bone spur in his left elbow, but he liked what he saw, at least for one night.
"If Martin swings at strikes, he has tremendous hand eye coordination," Washington said. "That’s where he needs to get to -- trust he can see it and trust he can hit it. He has his best days when he swings at strikes."
As a leadoff man, Martin has a slash line of .326/.415/.478 with a OPS of .893 with six runs and seven walks.
Washington has used four different players in the leadoff spot in 2014 and most likely won't insert Martin against left-handers. Daniel Robertson will continue to maintain that role.
In the last 14 games, Martin is hitting .440 and has reached safely by hit or walk in 13 consecutive starts.
Holland needs to dominate: Left-handed starter Derek Holland will make his final rehab outing Thursday night for Triple-A Round Rock. Washington had one message for Holland, who is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five outings between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco: "Dominate."
Holland reiterated to Washington that he expects to do just that. After Thursday's outing, Holland most likely will get called up to the big league club, but it's uncertain when he'll pitch again. Holland will join the team here Friday and travel with them to Kansas City to conclude the 10-game road trip. Holland could pitch in the Royals series or when the club returns home Sept. 4 against Seattle.
"Let him pitch tonight and then we’ll answer that," Washington said. "When we get here tomorrow, I’ll get with (pitching coach) Mike Maddux and we’ll have more information."
Minor league update: The Texas League announced Frisco 1B Trever Adams, 3B Joey Gallo and utility man Odubel Herrera were named to the postseason team. Jason Wood was named Manager of the Year, Jeff Andrews Pitching Coach of the Year and Mike Coolbaugh the Coach of the year. Gallo hit his 41st homer Wednesday night, tying him with Spokane's Tom Robson with the most ever by a Rangers minor leaguer. Robson set his mark in 1974. Gallo has also been named a Carolina League postseason All-Star and the Player of the Year. Before being promoted to Double-A, Gallo hit 21 home runs and became the first player since Ron Kittle, in 1981-1982, to hit 40 home runs in back-to-back minor league seasons. He's second in the minors in home runs and third with a .621 slugging percentage.
Injury update: RF Alex Rios (swollen right thumb) missed Thursday's game but is expected to play Friday. Rios said he can still bend his thumb and that it hampers his swing. ... Choo will undergo surgery Friday in Dallas. His season is over. ... There is no update on RHP Yu Darvish and whether he'll undergo a MRI to check on the inflammation in his right elbow. Darvish's season most likely is over, though the club hasn't announced it yet.
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What’s up with the Astros?: Houston fell 5-4 to Oakland on Wednesday, blowing a 3-2 lead when they allowed three in the ninth inning. Houston, however, has won 14 games in the last at-bat this season with DH Chris Carter hitting four home runs in those games. Carter (33 home runs and 78 RBIs) leads the majors in HR (12) and RBIs (29) in August. 2B Jose Altuve leads the majors with 181 hits. His slash line is .332/.370/.435. C Jason Castro is 4-for-8 with two RBI against Friday starter Nick Tepesch. The Astros have lost four of five games.
What’s up with the Rangers?: They are a pretty good tear, considering where this team sits in the standings. The Rangers have won three of their last four games and are 2-1 to start this road trip. C Tomas Telis is off to a strong start since his promotion from Triple-A Round Rock. He’s 3-for-8 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the two games he’s played. LF Michael Choice is 0-for-7 with a one run in the two games he’s been here. SS Elvis Andrus has four hits in his last 27 at-bats. 3B Adrian Beltre has had multiple-hit games in six of his last eight contests and has 18 hits in the last 10 games. The Rangers are 21-31 against the AL West.
Derek Holland gets going: Left-handed starter Derek Holland is scheduled to pitch in Round Rock on Thursday night in his final rehab start. If Holland doesn’t encounter any problems, expect him to move to the big club when the rosters expand next week. Holland hasn’t pitched this season for the Rangers as he recovers from knee surgery.
Pitching matchups: Thursday: RHP Nick Tepesch (4-8, 4.45) vs. RHP Collin McHugh (6-9, 3.02); Friday: TBA vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-9, 4.01); Saturday: RHP Miles Mikolas (2-5, 6.44) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (7-10, 4.34); Sunday: RHP Nick Martinez (3-10, 5.31) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (10-9, 3.05).
Erasmo Ramirez (1-6), recalled from Triple-A Tacoma for the start, allowed 10 runs and nine hits in three-plus innings. Seattle, which began the day a half-game ahead of Detroit for the second AL wild-card spot, had been the only major league team not to allow 10 or more runs in a game this season.
Lewis (9-11) allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked one in his second complete game of the season and second in August. He had been 0-3 since pitching a five-hit shutout at the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 5.
Texas, a big league-worst 52-80, won a series for only the third time since the All-Star break. The Rangers took two of three from the Yankees from July 28-30 and also at the Chicago White Sox from Aug. 4-6.
Paxton threw a career-high 118 pitches and came an out away from tying his career high with seven innings pitched. The rookie lowered his ERA to 1.71, the best mark for a pitcher in his first 11 major league starts since 1990.
Cano's towering two-out home run in the first opened the scoring and was his 71st RBI of the year.
Texas starter Nick Martinez struggled through five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks.
While a pitcher's arm is a precious commodity, position players deal with issues as well. Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios have played through sprained ankles of late. Choo has dealt with that ailment since April. Choo also played through a bone spur in his left elbow; the pain finally became too great, so he’s set to undergo season-ending surgery.
You should have seen Elvis Andrus on Sunday before the Rangers headed for Seattle. The Rangers' starting shortstop had both wrists wrapped in ice. Pitchers regularly walk around the clubhouse with ice packs strapped to their arms -- it's all a part of baseball.
Darvish could have handled things differently regarding his stint on the disabled list.
Instead of electing to go on the DL, he probably should have asked for some rest -- because the Rangers would have given it to him. General manager Jon Daniels made the correct call in sitting Darvish, but perhaps the ace should have delayed the DL process a little bit.
Darvish most likely would miss two to three starts before being asked to do anything. If he was still having issues, then he would have been placed on the DL.
Darvish going on the shelf without waiting to see how he felt after a little time off raises some questions and some perception issues.
I look at left-hander Derek Holland's situation and his comments.
Holland could have taken the year off as he recovers from left knee surgery. But Holland has been consistent in his statements that he wants to pitch for his teammates, regardless of how the Rangers' season is going.
“I want to be out there for them,” Holland said.
Pitching injured and pitching through discomfort are two different things. Darvish is not injured. He’s got discomfort, and the Rangers are being cautious with the 28-year-old.
No problem with that.
I just wish Darvish had waited a little while before going on the DL, because you don’t want to come across as quitting on your team.
You could say the season doesn’t mean anything, so what’s the big deal?
You would be correct.
Manager Ron Washington disagrees with you, because the games will go on. Yes, you want to get a handle on younger players such as Tomas Telis, the rookie catcher who picked up his first big league hit Monday night in Seattle, but you also want to make sure the core of your team is committed long term.
Washington himself created a stir about Darvish when he said that everybody encounters inflammation, and that he expected the ace to return. Washington has backed tracked on these statements in recent days and Daniels says everybody is on the same page. Daniels said Monday if anybody had a problem with Darvish wanted to move to the DL they should have spoken up, then, not now.
Darvish is the best pitcher on this team and among the best in baseball. You don't want to place him at risk for further injury.
Darvish, I believe, is committed to the Rangers. I just wish his approach had been a little different.
Speaking to ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, Daniels said it doesn’t make sense to bring the right-hander back given the Rangers’ place in the standings and the amount of time it would take for him to get back up to speed.
Darvish hasn’t pitched since Aug. 9 in Houston, where he lasted just four innings, allowing five earned runs on nine hits.
A few days later, Darvish complained of discomfort in his throwing elbow and a MRI exam revealed inflammation. The Rangers placed Darvish on the DL on Aug. 13, retroactive to Aug. 10. He was eligible to return Monday at Seattle, but didn’t make the trip.
Darvish’s status for this current 10-day road trip is uncertain, and it’s doubtful he’ll see a game the rest of the season.
The only thing keeping it from being official is an announcement from the Rangers.
“That’s how we’re looking at it,” Daniels said. “Admittedly, it’s playing it on the cautious side, but I think with the season we’ve had with the injuries, as important as he and other guys are to us, I just don’t see pushing a pitcher out there when you've got a known injury in the elbow -- and he’s obviously an important piece to us going forward.”
There is some concern that Darvish, 28, has upset some in the clubhouse or in the front office with the stint on the disabled list.
Daniels disputed that, saying it was his call to place the pitcher on the DL and that his manager, Ron Washington -- who expressed a desire for Darvish’s return this week -- was of like mind.
“We’re all on the same page,” Daniels said. “Everyone in the same room. If there had been a desire to challenge Darvish or question his intent, it would have been right there, and Wash was 100 percent on his side and in his corner and wanted to protect him.”
SEATTLE -- Miles Mikolas allowed three hits in eight scoreless innings, J.P. Arencibia singled home the go-ahead run in the fourth and the Texas Rangers opened a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners with a 2-0 win on Monday night.
Mikolas faced two batters over the minimum, erasing two of the three hits he allowed with double plays. The right-hander struck out five and walked one. It is the first time Mikolas has not allowed a run in 10 career starts.
Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his seventh save in eight attempts.
Seattle starter Roenis Elias struggled with command, walking four, but was able to limit the Rangers to one run in five innings. The rookie stranded runners in scoring position in three innings before giving way to the bullpen after tossing 101 pitches.
The move is retroactive to Sunday.
Choo, who didn't make the trip to Seattle for the team's series with the Mariners, will undergo surgery in the next two weeks. The operation is set for Sept. 15 but could be moved up to Friday if Choo's illness subsides. He missed Sunday's game against Kansas City with the flu.
"By the end of October, he would be 100 percent and have a completely normal ... offseason," general manager Jon Daniels said, explaining why the last-place Rangers didn't want to wait until after the season. "We want everything, from a health standpoint, we want 100 percent for 2015."
Choo, 32, struggled in his first season with Texas after signing a $130 million, seven-year contract when he was a free agent last winter. He hit .242 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs in 123 games.
He also played through an ankle injury as well as the elbow issue, which hurt him on long throws from the outfield, Daniels said. Choo appeared in only 75 games in the outfield and made 44 starts at designated hitter.
The arthroscopic procedure will be performed by Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers' team physician.
Outfielder Michael Choice was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Choo.
Choice is batting .267 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 43 games for Round Rock. He started the season with the Rangers and hit .177 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 69 games before getting demoted.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Here’s a preview:
What’s up with the Mariners? A three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox over the weekend pushed the Mariners to a one-game lead over Detroit for the second AL wild-card spot. Seattle is 15-5 in its last 20 games and 65-18 when the Mariners score three or more runs. 2B Robinson Cano (.326/.394/.465) left Sunday’s game with dizziness related to the flu. He’s questionable for the Rangers series. 3B Kyle Seager leads the Mariners with 19 HRs and 80 RBIs. 1B Logan Morrison has an eight-game hit streak and has 21 hits in the last 22 games.
What’s up with the Rangers? The Rangers are 27 games behind first place in the AL West and have been outscored by a major-league high 139 runs. The Rangers lead the season-series against the Mariners, 7-5, and the teams play seven more times this season. Against the AL West, the Rangers are just 19-30. 3B Adrian Beltre is hitting .500 the last eight games and has had multiple hits in five consecutive games. CF Leonys Martin is tied for the AL lead with the Los Angeles Angels Erick Aybar with nine bunt hits. LF/DH Shin-Soo Choo missed Sunday’s game with the flu and will make the trip to Seattle.
Against the King: Felix Hernandez will face the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. In three 2014 starts, Hernandez is 0-1 with two no-decisions. Hernandez, while considered one of the more dominant pitchers of his generation, is 12-21 in 42 career starts against the Rangers with 239 strikeouts in 269 innings. The Rangers, meanwhile, are hitting just .178 against him. Elvis Andrus has 12 RBIs and a .307 career average against him and Beltre is hitting .294. Alex Rios is batting just .244.
The matchups: Monday: RHP Miles Mikolas (1-5, 7.48) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (9-10, 4.09), Tuesday: RHP Nick Martinez (3-9, 5.13) vs. LHP James Paxton (3-1, 2.20), Wednesday: RHP Colby Lewis (8-11, 5.54) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (13-4, 2.07).