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MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - INSIDE PITCH
The Rangers have a five-game winning streak. The Rangers have a new No. 3 hitter: Nelson Cruz.
It's not a coincidence that the two go hand-in-hand.
With Lance Berkman dealing with balky knees and a stiff back, Cruz has breathed life back into the most important spot in the batting order. He had huge performances in the first two games against St. Louis over the weekend and is 8-for-22 (.389) with seven RBIs since moving up to the No. 3 spot. The Rangers have won all five games in which he's hit third.
"He's got it in him," hitting instructor Dave Magadan said. "He's just got to stick with the plan and take what the pitcher gives him."
The plan is a little more complex than that. It also involves shortening and flattening out his approach to the ball to eliminate lazy fly balls and accentuate line drives. It involves being willing to go to right field when pitchers constantly go away, away, away with their repertoire.
So far, so good.
His first-inning single Sunday against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright went to right field, and he finished 1-for-4 as Texas completed the sweep with a 2-1 win. His third-inning homer Saturday off right-hander Shelby Miller went to right field. The two singles Friday that accounted for three of the Rangers' six runs were to center and right center.
That he's done so much damage without the home run is significant to Magadan.
Cruz has the power to hit plenty of homers. Being able to drive in runs when pitchers don't make glaring mistakes is what separates guys with awe-inspiring power from guys who are RBI machines.
"Sometimes a two-run single is what we need," Magadan said. "When you have a good approach and a good path to the ball, you are going to hit home runs. It's what you do in the other at-bats. Those two singles Friday were as rewarding as the homer (Saturday)."
Cruz said, "I've been in good situations. When the team needed me to deliver, I was in the right place. And I am just taking what the pitcher gives me."
MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won five
PAST 10 GAMES: 6-4
NEXT: Tuesday -- Rangers (Yu Darvish, 7-3, 2.84) at Yankees (Hiroki Kuroda, 7-5, 2.78)
--OF Craig Gentry was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a broken left (non-throwing) hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday night against Oakland. He is likely to be shut down from baseball activity for two weeks. Gentry is hitting .216 with one homer and nine RBIs in 51 games, but he is outstanding defensively.
--OF Engel Beltre was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace injured OF Craig Gentry on the 25-man roster. Beltre, 23, was hitting .300 with four homers, 21 RBIs and 13 steals in 72 games for the Express, leading the club in runs (44) and ranking second in hits (88). Beltre's first game with Texas will represent his major league debut.
--RHP Nick Tepesch displayed much better location and execution Sunday of his main pitches (sinker, slider), allowing him to pitch 5 2/3 solid innings and give Texas a chance to beat St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright. Tepesch didn't get the win, but allowed just one run, a vast improvement over his 0-2, 9.77 ERA in his prior three starts.
--RHP Yu Darvish hasn't won in his last six starts, but it's not because he has pitched poorly. Darvish is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA in that span, but has received zero or one run of support four times. Darvish gets the ball Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium against another Japanese right-hander, Hiroki Kuroda.
--RHP Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) made his second rehab appearance Sunday for Double-A Frisco, working a 1-2-3 inning against Corpus Christi with two strikeouts. The former Royals closer, who hasn't pitched in a big league game since Sept. 2, 2011, threw seven of 12 pitches for strikes. He might be able to join the major league roster in early July.
--RHP Alexi Ogando was cleared to resume throwing off a mound. He has been sidelined since June 9 due to right shoulder inflammation, and he began a throwing program June 14.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're right where we need to be. We played great baseball this series. Hopefully, we can keep this thing rolling as long as we can." -- LF David Murphy, after the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals.
MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - ROSTER REPORT
--OF Craig Gentry (fractured left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 21.
--INF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13.
--RHP Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 9. He began throwing live batting practice April 8. Soria suffered a setback in his recovery when he strained a muscle in his chest throwing live batting practice April 19. He began a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on June 20. He might be able to join the major league roster in early July.
--RHP Colby Lewis (right flexor tendon surgery in July 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 6. He began throwing live batting practice April 8, and he pitched in extended spring training May 4. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on May 9, but his rehab was then shut down due to triceps soreness. Lewis began a new rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on May 20, and he started for Round Rock on May 25. On May 28 the team shut him down due to muscular soreness in the back of his right elbow. He was given a platelet-rich-plasma injection. He threw a bullpen session June 17.
--LHP Michael Kirkman (recurrence of cutaneous lymphoma on right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 12. The cancer, which will be treated with radiation sessions, was found during a routine screening in May by Rangers doctors. He was first diagnosed with skin cancer in the same area in January 2012.
--RHP Alexi Ogando (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list June 9. He was out May 16-June 4 due to right biceps tendinitis. He began throwing June 14, and he was cleared to resume throwing off a mound in late June.
--LHP Matt Harrison (lower-back soreness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 25. He had surgery April 23 to repair a herniated disk. He underwent a second operation May 1. He was playing catch from flat ground as of June 18 and is shooting for an August return.
--RHP Neftali Feliz (Tommy John surgery in August 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 24. He has started throwing off a mound in Arizona. He is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
RHP Yu Darvish
LHP Derek Holland
RHP Nick Tepesch
RHP Justin Grimm
LHP Martin Perez
RHP Joe Nathan (closer)
RHP Jason Frasor
RHP Kyle McClellan
LHP Robbie Ross
RHP Tanner Scheppers
LHP Neal Cotts
RHP Ross Wolf
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Lance Berkman
INF Jurickson Profar
LF David Murphy
CF Leonys Martin
RF Nelson Cruz
OF Engel Beltre