SEATTLE -- Mitch Moreland was in the lineup for Sunday's 3-1 win over the Mariners against right-hander Blake Beavan, hitting ninth. He crushed a three-run homer in his first at-bat.Moreland batted seventh on Friday and Saturday night, but manager Ron Washington is trying to take some pressure off him. It may have worked. "I'm trying to get him to relax a little bit, so I'm going to drop him down in the order," Washington said. "He's not centering the ball. His timing might be off. He's still seeing pitches, but it's pretty messed up when your timing is off and you're facing the pitching we've faced. Oakland's staff and this staff are pretty good." Moreland went into Sunday's game hitless in his past 14 at-bats and was hitting .161 over his previous 17 games, dropping his average from .299 to .267. His .186 batting average with runners in scoring position was the 10th lowest in the league.
Young a 'role model' to Angels' Kendrick
SEATTLE -- Being selected for the All-Star Game allowed Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick to hang out with Rangers infielder Michael Young. A bond gradually formed between two athletes with similar swings and approaches to the game.
"Michael Young, that guy is one of the flat-out best hitters in baseball," Kendrick said. "Being in the same division and seeing him so much has been fun for me. He's had quite a few 200-hit seasons, and he has moved from second base to shortstop to third, and now he's playing some first base. To see him do that, and take it in stride, tells you a lot about the kind of person he is.
"A lot of guys wouldn't have handled it as well as he has, getting moved around so much. I'm getting an idea how difficult that is, since I'm playing some first base and left field now. It's not easy, but he's still playing great defense, wherever they put him."
It is Young's manner, as much as his skill level, that Kendrick has tried to emulate.
"You see guys like Michael Young, how professional they are, and it makes an impact on you," Kendrick said. "Leading by example is the best way to me, and he's a great guy to have as a role model."
Young has paid close attention to Kendrick, not only as a rival, but as a peer, someone he sees sharing his commitment to playing the game the right way.
"I've known Howie for a long time," Young said. "I've always felt highly of him as a young player and person. The ultimate compliment is when people in the game tell you they respect the way you play. I really appreciate hearing that from Howie."
Young and Kendrick share something in common as hitters. They have the ability to stay back and use the whole field, driving the ball as effectively the other way as the pull side and through the middle.
"I love his approach," Young said of Kendrick, who has brought more power into his game this season. "He goes from left-center to the right-field line. I've seen him get better with his strike-zone judgment and staying off certain pitches. Now that he's doing that, you're going to see Howie take off.
"I'd rather have a guy be ultra-aggressive and have to tone it down than being too passive and have to learn to be aggressive."
For Kinsler, more walks lead to more hits
SEATTLE -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has 57 walks against 43 strikeouts this season and entered Sunday's 3-1 win over the Mariners with a 12-game hitting streak.Kinsler said one led to the other. While the perception remains that he has not had a good offensive season because of a low batting average, he still entered the afternoon sixth in the league in runs scored and eighth in walks. His on-base percentage of .367 was the second highest on the team, behind Endy Chavez. "My season wasn't that bad," Kinsler said. "Obviously it's magnified by the low batting average, but that wasn't affecting my game. I've just been waiting for the day when I got back to feeling comfortable. This game can humble you fast, so you just have to keep your head down and keep playing baseball." In his first four seasons, Kinsler had 206 walks and 291 strikeouts. Last year, he cut that down to 56 walks against 57 strikeouts. The last Rangers player to have more walks than strikeouts in a season, with a minimum of 50 walks, was Rafael Palmeiro. He had 84 walks against 77 strikeouts in 2003. "I think it's a lot of things ... better discipline, better recognition of pitches," Kinsler said. "That's the way they pitch to me. They don't want to give me anything good to hit, so you take the walk. Once they start throwing the ball over the plate, you have to be ready to hit. That's the cycle ... it just could have started earlier."
The Mariners have never had a hit off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. They are 0-for-33 with two walks against him. He has 13 strikeouts. Andres Blanco, on the disabled list with a stiff lower back, planned on resuming batting practice this weekend in Seattle but has decided to wait until the club's trip to Anaheim. He said his back is still improving, but he is being cautious. Darren O'Day pitched two scoreless innings in back-to-back games for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday and Saturday night. He struck one in each outing without giving up a hit or a walk. Pedro Strop has a 1.64 ERA in his last ten games at Round Rock and a 2.11 ERA since the beginning of June.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.