09/05/2004 2:19 PM ET
Notes: Starters show consistency
Dellucci out of starting lineup, but available Sunday
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
BOSTON -- From his vantage point behind the plate, Rangers catcher Rod Barajas is beginning to feel some good vibes about what Texas' often-shuffled starting rotation might be able to do in the final month of the season.
|Chan Ho Park's return has helped solidify the starting rotation for the Rangers. (Linda Kaye/AP)
After much trial and error because of injuries and inconsistency, the Rangers' rotation finally seems to be stabilizing behind Kenny Rogers and Ryan Drese. Chan Ho Park, John Wasdin and Chris Young have been solid in recent days behind Rogers and Drese, who have anchored the rotation all year.
"Starting pitching is the key," Barajas said. "What we've been getting lately, we're real happy with it. Our starters are having some success and when they do make mistakes, they're learning from it and making the adjustments. That's a sign of pitchers who really have a plan."
Young is positioning himself for a spot in next year's rotation as he tries to help Texas stay in playoff contention this year. He allowed just two hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings on Saturday at Fenway Park against a Red Sox team which had been on a tear.
"Chris was aggressive with the fastball and worked both sides of the plate," Barajas said. "He worked up, he worked down. They couldn't just look in one spot against him. When a pitcher is using the whole plate from top to bottom and on the corners and is blessed with an outstanding fastball, it's a great foundation."
Barajas didn't catch Wasdin on Friday, but saw Wasdin stay with the same aggressive approach that helped Young a day later. Wasdin gave up only two runs in 6 1/3 innings on a couple of first-pitch solo homers when Wasdin was looking to get ahead in the count.
Then there's Park, who has returned with a flourish after a long stint on the disabled list with lower back issues.
Park has a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings since his return. Both of those outings came against Minnesota.
"Chan Ho has been using his breaking pitches a little bit more," Barajas said. "He hasn't been behind in the count that often and when he is behind, he can throw his slider, curve or changeup for a strike. The hitters can't just sit back when they are ahead in the count and tee off on the fastball."
For most of the year, the Rangers have had the bats and the bullpen. But will the current starting rotation continue to provide the quality it has shown over the past week?
The Rangers' playoff hopes could hinge on the answer.
Great day: Rangers manager Buck Showalter had an all-around great sports day on Saturday.
After watching his Rangers defeat the Red Sox, 8-6, Showalter hung around his office and watched the first half of alma mater Mississippi State's football victory over Tulane. Showalter returned to his Boston hotel in anticipation of watching the second half, but couldn't get ESPN2 in his room.
"My [college] roommate was calling with updates every 30 minutes," Showalter said.
Hot Rod: Barajas went into Sunday's game on a hot streak at the plate.
After seeing his average fall to .235, Barajas went 8-for-19 over the next six games to lift his average to .247. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs on Saturday. When Barajas has had a three-hit game, the Rangers are 7-0.
"I'm kind of a streaky hitter," Barajas said. "I go through my dry spells and I have my hot spells. I'm trying to be a little more consistent. Things are going a little better than they had been and I just want to keep it going."
Dellucci available: Although he didn't start on Sunday, left fielder David Dellucci was available.
Showalter said Dellucci, recovering from a lightheaded feeling and nausea attacks suffered on Friday, should be ready to go on Monday for the start of the Chicago series at Ameriquest Field.
Affiliation renewal: The Rangers and the Class A Spokane Indians have agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2006 season.
The Indians had compiled a 93-61 record entering play Sunday with one game left in the regular season.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.