ANAHEIM -- The Rangers' 12-game winning streak has caught national attention, but it is also being pointed out who they have been playing. The first 11 wins came against the Orioles, Athletics and Mariners, teams with three of the four worst records in the American League."All the other clubs -- Boston, New York -- they're playing the same teams," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Did they sweep them? I don't know. But when you're playing good baseball, it doesn't matter. If you want the opportunity to play in the postseason, you've got to play well in the division. "I'll take the way we're playing baseball. If we play that way against anybody, we'll beat them. Maybe not 12 in a row, but we'll beat them." The Rangers have pitched well in this stretch, especially against the Mariners and Athletics. Those two are last in the AL in hitting and runs scored. But the Rangers are also hitting .321 with a .549 slugging percentage and 6.4 runs per game during the streak. Their three division foes may be struggling offensively, but they remain the top three in the league in team ERA. The Rangers have also committed just three errors during the streak. Quality of opposition rarely has something to do with how well a team is playing defense. "If we play good baseball, we're going to win more than we lose," Washington said. "If we lose playing good baseball, that means the other team played better than we did. I can live with that. I just want us to play good baseball."
Rangers rest Cruz as Murphy gets in lineup
ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz was out of the Rangers' lineup on Wednesday night. Manager Ron Washington thought Cruz could use a rest, and this gave him a chance to get David Murphy in the lineup.Cruz was hitting .167 with just one home run and four RBIs in his last 10 games while Murphy started just once in the first five games after the All-Star break. "I don't think I'd ever pull Cruz out of the lineup because of performance because one swing of the bat can give us some runs," Washington said. "I just wanted to give him a rest. I feel like he needs it." Prior to this skid, Cruz went through a 16-game stretch in which he hit .343 with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 18 RBIs as well as a .716 slugging percentage. "He's a streaky hitter, but there are times he is consistent," Washington said. "Right now he is experiencing a little adversity, but it will make him a better player." This was only the sixth start for Murphy since he played three in a row against the Mets on June 24-26. He is hitting .389 (7-for-18) for the month of July, but his playing time has been sporadic with the platoon of Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry working so well in center field. But Murphy insists the sporadic playing time is not bothering him. "It's been awesome," he said. "We've won 12 in a row. How could it not be awesome? I feel like I have always had a team-first mentality. I want to be on the field as much as possible, but regardless of whether I'm playing or not, we're winning games. "It's more challenging. It's not like I've never dealt with this before but is as sporadic as my playing time has been. So when you get your work in during batting practice or the games, you really have to focus. Other than that my body feels great when I get on the field."
Blanco healing slower than Rangers expected
ANAHEIM -- Rangers shortstop Andres Blanco, sidelined with a stress reaction in his back, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday. That's not going to happen. Blanco has still not taken meaningful batting practice since being placed on the disabled list.The Rangers thought it might happen in Seattle, and it did not. He also hasn't been able to go full bore with the bat in Anaheim. He is hoping to be able to take live batting practice this weekend when the team returns to Arlington. "I feel like it's still there," Blanco said. "It's taken a little while more than I thought. I'm working every day, but it's kind of frustrating ... 10-20 minutes and I'm done for the day." Omar Quintanilla was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Blanco as the backup shortstop but hasn't yet played. With the All-Star break and the day off on Monday, manager Ron Washington hasn't seen a need to sit Elvis Andrus.
Oliver hopes extended rest keeps him strong
ANAHEIM -- Reliever Darren Oliver took over for Alexi Ogando in the ninth inning on Tuesday and retired the side in order. It was the first time he has been on the mound in 10 days as the Rangers' fantastic run of starting pitching has reduced the workload of everybody in the bullpen.The Rangers hope a reduced workload benefits Oliver. Last season he had 39 appearances and 39 innings before the All-Star break. This season he had 36 appearances and 33 innings. This difference may be negligible, but the difference between before and after the All-Star break last season was not. He had a 1.36 ERA before the break and a 4.50 ERA after. One of the reasons why the Rangers signed Arthur Rhodes this offseason was to reduce Oliver's workload. "I still felt pretty good last year," Oliver said. "It definitely helps getting the extra rest."
Manager Ron Washington said he still plans on catching Mike Napoli on Thursday afternoon. Yorvit Torrealba started on Wednesday night. Adrian Beltre hit his 20th home run on Tuesday night. Nelson Cruz has 21, and the Rangers are only one of three teams with two 20-home run bats in the lineup. The others are Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson with the Yankees and Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols with the Cardinals. The Rangers entered Wednesday's game having allowed two runs in six games. The only other team to do that over a six-game stretch was the 1974 Baltimore Orioles. They won, 7-1, on Sept. 1, then pitched five straight shutouts before winning, 3-2, on Sept. 7.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.