Ron Washington and Rangers Keep Winning, Beat Red Sox 2-1
The Texas Rangers held on for a 2-1 victory over the A.L. East Division leading Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday. Kameron Loe pitched six innings, giving up one run and earning his 5th win of the season. Loe has won his last four starts, all of which came after he was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma. He's allowed only two earned runs over that span.
On a larger scale, the victory gave the Rangers two out of three wins in their trip to Boston. The Rangers have won five straight series, with the last two against first-place teams. The Rangers are 10-5 in those 15 games, and finished June with a 14-12 record.
The hot streak has come with infielders Mark Texiera and Hank Blalock on the disabled list. Second baseman Ian Kinsler was also out of the lineup: coincidence? I think not. The players who have filled in for Texiera and Blalock have been able to produce in key situations. During the Young/Texiera/Blalock era, the Rangers have been poor situational hitters, often stranding runners in scoring position. This year the Rangers -especially Sammy Sosa- have been outstanding in RISP situations.
Speaking of Slammin' Sammy, I was shocked to see that Sosa was left off the All-Star roster which was also announced today. Sosa leads the Rangers with 14 Home Runs, and is tied for 4th among American Leaguers with 64 RBI's.
Since each team gets at least one All-Star representative, A.L. manager Jim Leyland selected Rangers shortstop Michael Young. Young, who has lifted his batting average to .293, was selected ahead of Los Angeles Angels’ shortstop Orlando Cabrera who began Sunday third among A.L. hitters with a .342 average.
Just three weeks ago sports talk shows around town were debating whether or not Ron Washington would keep his job through season's end. A 9-20 May didn't help matters, and the Rangers seemed to be spinning their wheels.
But the recent turn in fortune may show that Wash has got a little something. The papers have painted Texiera and Kinsler as two of Washington's biggest critics. Reports are that Texiera has refused to buy in to his manager's philosophy of working counts, and Kinsler has bristled at being called out for his poor infield play this season.
Washington will tell you that he's a baseball man, and in baseball they plan 162 games a year. The Oakland A's, where Washington spent 11 years as a coach, are notorious for slow starts and strong finishes. If the Rangers' starting pitching continues to flourish, they will end up more than respectable this season; even if G.M. Jon Daniels makes wholesale changes before the trade deadline.
CORRECTION: The Rangers lead the series vs. the Red Sox 2-1 with one game left to play on Monday.