After losing four games in a row, Rangers fans are fearing the worst. It's all too familiar of a scenario for a Rangers fan. The trend usually involves the Rangers battling for first place until around the All-Star break, and then a slow and painful collapse ensues.
Recently it may look as though this trend will continue, with losses against the Rays and the Orioles to construct a four game losing streak. The Rangers just can't seem to pull it together, especially against the Orioles, who swept the Rangers in a four game series leading into the All-Star break.
Why will this year be different?
Of their normal eight starters (pitcher not included) the Rangers are consistently fielding two. Mitch Moreland (the newcomer) at first base, and Julio Bourbon (the speed demon) in center field. They are also batting only four of the normal nine starters for the lineup. Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, Julio Bourbon, and Mitch Moreland.
The rest of the lineup consists of bench players, designated hitters, and temporarily called up players. These include David Murphy (bench) left field, Vladimir Guerrero (DH) right field, Jorge Cantu (bench) first and third base, Andres Blanco (bench) infielder, Joaquin Arias (bench) infielder, Taylor Teagarden (Minors) catcher).
Why so few starters? Is the Ranger lineup really so banged up that they can only start a few of their best players?
No not really. They just have such a large lead in the West, why not rest some players?
Lets run down the list and see just how hard the Rangers have been trying to win these past few games.
Michael Young is listed as active, yet has sat the bench a couple of nights, he slept wrong and was a little stiff. You know the team is confident when they sit this guy, he just doesn't miss games.
Ian Kinsler tweaked something. Probably could have played, but definitely don't want to take the risk. By the way, with Ian Kinsler healthy the Rangers are 47-29, without him they are 20-24. They will need this guy at 100 percent.
Nelson Cruz is out just to make sure his hamstring is back to 100 percent before things get real serious for the Rangers. He has had trouble with it before and started to again, but the last thing he said before he went on the DL was that if felt better after two days of it being sore. Precautionary move by Ron Washington.
Matt Treanor hurt his knee running to first base a while back. He ought to be back before very long though. Either way the Rangers hope Bengi Molina will be the primary catcher, supplementing Treanor the way they are doing now with Teagarden.
Elvis Andrus is active, just taking a breather with Michael Young on the bench a little more frequently than normal.
Really, the bottom line is that Ron Washington just wants all of his players to be 100 percent for the final stretch down and into the playoffs. The batting order will likely reflect that of the order used when the Rangers took that 11 game winning streak.
1. Elvis Andrus
2. Michael Young
3. Ian Kinsler
4. Vladimir Guerrero
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Nelson Cruz
7. Bengie Molina
8. Mitch Moreland
9. Julio Bourbon
The differences being in slots seven and eight where Bengie Molina has taken over for Matt Treanor and Mitch Moreland is in for Justin Smoak (dealt to Mariners in part of deal for Cliff Lee).
This is one of, if not the strongest lineup in the majors when all are healthy. This is exactly Ron Washington's plan, and that means taking a few losses right now, to win them when they count.