Rangers upbeat despite loss to Tampa Bay
AUG 29, 2012 9:13p ET
The Rangers aren't worried about how far Oakland is behind them in the standings (4½ games). They are focused on playing their brand of baseball.
And despite Thursday's 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, they feel like that's exactly what they're doing.
"We just want to continue to play good baseball and we've done that this homestand," said Ian Kinsler, who went 0-for-4 Thursday. "I guess you could say we came out of our shell a little bit and started playing a lot better. We're going to try and take it on the road. There's a long way to go and we need to continue to play well."
The Rangers went 7-3 on the homestand and won all three series, beating Baltimore, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.
Sweeping the Rays, who figure to be a team the Rangers could see in October, would have been a great end to the series. That didn't happen though as All-Star left-hander Matt Harrison had one of his worst outings of the season.
Harrison allowed three runs in each of the first two innings and matched a career high by allowing three homers. By the time Harrison's night ended after 5 1/3 innings, he had allowed seven runs on 12 hits.
And while the Rangers were feeling good about their homestand, Harrison (15-8) wasn't feeling good after an outing that snapped a two-start winning streak.
"I struggled some with my location," said Harrison, who has allowed 14 runs and 26 hits against Tampa Bay in 10 1/3 innings this year. "Once that happened, I got out of my routine and just tried to throw it by hitters instead of making my pitches. It was frustrating because I just started throwing. I've got to be patient."
The Rangers, who have won 10 of 12 games, made things interesting by getting within 6-4 on homers from Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton. But Harrison allowed another run in the sixth and Texas couldn't muster anything against Tampa Bay's bullpen. Tampa Bay relievers have allowed just 17 earned runs over the last 126 innings.
Texas completed a stretch of 20 games in 20 days by going 12-8. The Rangers have an off day Thursday before opening a 10-game road trip in Cleveland.
Texas manager Ron Washington has no problem with where the team is as it preps for its final 32 games.
"Overall we're right where we want to be, playing good baseball," Washington said. "If we continue to win series, we'll be exactly where we need to be. The key is to keep winning series."
The ingredients for that certainly are there. As good as Tampa's bullpen has been, Texas relievers have a 0.99 ERA over the last 19 games despite the homer Alexi Ogando allowed in the eighth Wednesday.
The rotation had a 3.29 ERA in the 15 games before Harrison struggled Wednesday.
Offensively the Rangers have homered in nine-consecutive games and have at least 10 hits in seven of their last 11 games. They just missed making that eight Wednesday as they finished with nine after chasing Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb in the fifth inning.
Hamilton's homer Wednesday gave him 10 RBI on the homestand, which would be great for most teams but was just the third highest for the offense. Moreland's two-run homer in the second gave him 12 RBI over that span while Adrian Beltre was hitless Wednesday but still had 13 RBI in the 10 games.
It wasn't a perfect homestand but it was good enough to send the team on the road on a positive note.
"The goal is to be playing the best baseball come late September," said Kinsler. "I think that's every team's goal. It's definitely ours with the experience we've had over the last couple of years. That's what this team's goal has been and we're starting at the end of this month and hopefully the beginning of next month off on the right foot."
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