Posted September 07, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Texas Rangers are starting to get comfortable atop the AL West. The Tampa Bay Rays are anything but content, but they could change that very soon. While the Rangers attempt to continue building their division lead, the Rays will try to stay close in the AL East race in the opener of this three-game series Friday night in St. Petersburg. Texas (82-55) owns the league's best record and has a 5 1/2-game lead on second-place Oakland in the West thanks to an 11-4 run. While the A's were swept by the Angels this week, the Rangers took advantage by taking three of four at Kansas City following Michael Young's run-scoring single in the 10th inning of Thursday's 5-4 victory. Texas is aiming to reach the postseason for a franchise-record third straight year, but so is Tampa Bay (75-62). The Rays are two games behind East co-leaders Baltimore and New York while sitting 1 1/2 back of Oakland for the AL's second wild-card slot. While the Orioles and Yankees square off this weekend, the Rays have a heavyweight matchup of their own to worry about against Texas. After that, Tampa Bay visits Baltimore for three games before three more in New York. The Rays won the first two at home against the Yankees earlier this week before falling 6-4 in Wednesday's finale. "I still like the idea about winning two out of three against a very good baseball club," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "We weren't going to win the rest of our games from now until the end of the season, but if we play with that kind of intensity, intent and effort, God bless it; I'll take it." The Rays have split six season meetings with the Rangers, all in Texas, and most recently lost two of three Aug. 27-29. Derek Holland (10-6, 4.79 ERA) opened that series with a 6-5 win for the Rangers, allowing five runs - three earned - in six innings. That's part of a streak of five starts by the left-hander that have ended in Texas wins. He's 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA in that stretch, getting 8.37 runs of support per nine innings. Holland got much more help than he needed Sunday in an 8-3 victory at Cleveland. He allowed two runs and scattered seven hits in seven innings. Josh Hamilton's recent success at the plate may give Holland another large margin for error. He's hitting .346 with five homers, 14 RBIs and seven walks in his last 14 games, as half of his six hits over the past five have left the park. Hamilton hasn't come close to being that productive at Tropicana Field, batting .167 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 20 career games, five of which have come over the last two postseasons as Texas has eliminated the Rays each time. Adrian Beltre, however, has a .341 average with six homers and 17 RBIs over his last 22 visits to Tropicana Field. That includes the Rangers' last visit in Game 4 to clinch of the AL division series, as the third baseman connected for three homers - with two coming off Jeremy Hellickson, Friday's starter. Beltre enters this series as the hottest player in baseball over the past few weeks, hitting .443 with 11 homers and 21 RBIs in his last 15 games. Hellickson (8-10, 3.41), who was pulled after four innings in Game 4 last fall, hasn't faced Texas since, and he's again had issues at home in the past three months. The right-hander is 1-5 with a 6.29 ERA in his last seven starts in St. Petersburg. He's pitching better overall of late, though. Hellickson has a 2.88 ERA in his last four outings, but is 1-3 due to a lack of run support.

Texas' Young shows signs of improvement

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has been adamant that he won't be sitting Michael Young in favor of any young players while the veteran tries to find his swing. "Before the season is over, he's going to do something grand," was Washington's line. For Young, though, "grand" means consistency. It's only a week, but the Rangers are starting...

Rangers' Beltre starts September with a bang again

There is already a Mr. October. But there might be room for a Mr. September. If there can be such a nickname, Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre is laying claim to it. Beltre had two more extra-base hits, including his 29th home run, in the Rangers' 7-6 win over Kansas City on Wednesday. Over the last two Septembers, Beltre leads the majors in home runs (16), extra-base...

John Kruk reveals how Matt Moore is tipping his pitches

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Johnson's miscues prove costly in Rays' loss

ST. PETERSBURG Elliot Johnson's face still bears the bruises and scrapes from an ill-fated slide into home last weekend. But the lingering marks were nothing compared to the hurt he felt on the inside Wednesday night or the painful loss he ultimately caused the Tampa Bay Rays. It was a triple-frown performance. Three costly miscues one with his bat, one with his glove and...

Joe Maddon zings Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine dragged Joe Maddon’s name into the conversation during his contentious interview on WEEI on Wednesday, and the Rays manager has responded. Valentine was defending himself for arriving to the ballpark later than usual for a recent game when he brought up Maddon. To make himself look better, he told the hosts that Rays manager Joe Maddon only arrives to the park...

Price to miss start against Rangers

Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price has been scratched from his scheduled start Saturday night because of what the team is calling general soreness in his left shoulder. The Rays made the announcement about the AL wins leader before its game Friday night against Texas. ''We feel confident that it's not a major situation,'' Tampa Bay executive vice president...

Rays’ David Price Will Miss a Start

Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher David Price has been the dominate force in the rotation for the team this season. In fact, many are penciling him in as the potential A.L. Cy Young Award winner. But the Rays have decided to skip his next start due to sorensess in his shoulder. Price, who is 17-5 with a 2.54 ERA this season, was told by team doctor Koco Eaton that an MRI was needed and...

Rangers Minor League Roundup – 9/7

The Double-A Frisco RoughRiders finished off a three-game sweep of Corpus Christi on Friday, advancing to the Texas League Championship Series. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

Rangers 7, Royals 6

Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer, Michael Young also went deep and the Texas Rangers held on for a 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night. Ryan Dempster (5-1) gave up RBI doubles to Billy Butler in the first inning and Salvador Perez in the sixth, but was otherwise stingy for the AL West-leading Rangers. He only allowed two other hits in six innings, striking...

Joe Nathan- One of the Best

Joe Nathan is one of the best closers in MLB history.  I know, that probably surprises you.  He’s converted 90% of save opportunities over his 12 year career, only blowing 32 saves.  His career ERA is 2.85, WHIP is 1.10, and he has 50 W to go along with his 291 SV (currently ranked 25th all-time).  As a typical closer, he strikes out better than a batter per inning (826...

Magazine tabs Rays as most affordable team

One week after being named by Businessweek as the smartest spenders in professional sports, the Tampa Bay Rays are back on top of another kind of financial standings. The Rays were named Friday as the most affordable franchise in pro sports by ESPN the Magazine, which published its 10th annual Ultimate Standings, ranking the 122 MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL franchises, ranking clubs across...

Rangers fall to Rays' walk-off HR in 11th

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Ben Zobrist's home run in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night. Zobrist's 16th homer came off Mark Lowe (0-1) after a leadoff walk to B.J. Upton. Wade Davis (3-0) got the win after striking out five of the six hitters he faced in the 10th and 11th innings. The Rays&...
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