OAKLAND -- Yorvit Torrealba was behind the plate on Saturday for the third straight game. On Sunday, manager Ron Washington will use him at designated hitter. It will be his sixth start at DH, something he had only done once in his career prior to this season.But with third baseman Adrian Beltre on the disabled list and Taylor Teagarden available as the third catcher, Washington has settled into a routine of having Torrealba and Mike Napoli shuttle between catcher and DH. "I just think both have gotten hot and are swinging the bat well," Washington said. "The fact that we have an opening at DH keeps them both engaged." Torrealba took a 10-game hitting streak into Saturday's game and is hitting .439 (18-for-41) in his last 14 games. Napoli is hitting .375 in his last 15 games. Because of their production, Rangers catchers are hitting .289 with a .464 slugging percentage. That's the highest in both categories from a team's catchers in the American League. They are also the highest for Rangers catchers since 2002, which was Ivan Rodriguez's last full season with the team. Rangers catchers had a .212 batting average and .317 slugging percentage last season. That's why they signed Torrealba as a free agent and acquired Napoli from the Blue Jays in a trade for reliever Frank Francisco. "Those two guys give us a lot of experience," Washington said. "Both have a track record, offensively. The last few years, we have been dealing with so many young guys. We were trying to get them involved with everything that entails catching and get their career going."
Young appreciates Uggla's hitting streak
OAKLAND -- Michael Young took an 11-game hitting streak into Saturday's game. That's well below his career best of 25, and even farther behind the Braves' Dan Uggla. The second baseman took a 32-game hitting streak into Atlanta's game against the Cubs on Saturday, and even Young is taking notice over in the American League."I'm happy for him, really happy for him," Young said. "He's a real good guy. He's got a new team and wanted to show what he could do. He got off to a little bit of a slow start, but he's caught fire now for a really good team. Good for him. I've got to know him a little bit the past few years, and he's a real solid guy. He plays hard and his teammates like him. Those are the kind of guys you root for." The Rangers have never had a player with a 30-game hitting streak. The club record is 28, set by Gabe Kapler in 2000. Young had a 25-game hitting streak in '05 and a 23-game streak in '08. His current streak is his third of 10-plus games this season and the 24th of his career, so he understands how tough it is for Uggla to get to 30 and beyond. "It's not easy," Young said. "People don't realize how hard hitting streaks are, because they look at it in the context of 56 straight games. But 56 is on a different planet. You can't compare it to Joe DiMaggio.
"A 30-game hitting streak is a pretty incredible accomplishment. You only see it every couple of years or so. That shows you how hard it is. And he's not doing it with bunts or infield hits. He's doing some real damage."
Double-play ball can put Harrison in the books
OAKLAND -- Matt Harrison has a chance to make Rangers history in his next few starts.Harrison, who pitches Sunday against the Athletics, has forced opponents to hit into 28 double plays this season, the most in the Major Leagues. It is also tied for the fourth most in club history. The record is 30, set by Rick Honeycutt in 1983 and tied by Kevin Brown in '91. Kenny Rogers had 29 in 2000. "Most have been because of the [sinking] fastball," Harrison said. "I've changed up my times to the plate out of the stretch and that's thrown off the hitters' timing. If I can get the fastball down and away, the hitter will roll it over. If I can get it inside, I can jam them. It's a matter of keeping my focus in those situations and keeping the ball down. If I do that, more often than not I'm going to get the ground ball." Since 1950, the highest number of double plays forced by a pitcher was 45 by Tommy John with the Yankees in 1979. Harrison has forced a double play in 28 of 96 potential double-play situations. That's 29.2 percent -- the highest ratio in the American League. The Rangers went into Saturday's game with 132 double plays as a team, the most in the Major Leagues. The club record is 191, set in 2008.
Rangers' Lowe finding success with slider
OAKLAND -- Mark Lowe picked up another strikeout in his scoreless inning on Friday night and is now averaging 8.69 strikeouts per nine innings on the season. That's slightly above his career rate of 8.02 and reinforces two things Lowe does that Neftali Feliz could emulate.Both are hard throwers, but Lowe has been more effective getting ahead of hitters and using his slider. Lowe has had more 0-1 counts than 1-0 (72-69) and more 0-2 counts than 2-0 (35-36). Feliz is 78-84 and 33-34, respectively, in those two situations. "It all starts with being aggressive and getting ahead of hitters," Lowe said. "If you get ahead, then you can go for the strikeout. If I get to 2-2, then I just want to throw a strike and avoid 3-2. But if you're 0-1 and 0-2, you can go for the strikeout. But the only time I really go after the strikeout is if the situation calls for it, like runners on second and third and one out." Lowe has a fastball that averages 96.8 mph, but he throws it just 65.8 percent of the time. Feliz throws his fastball 82 percent of the time. Lowe uses his slider far more, throwing it 26.7 percent of the time. Feliz throws a breaking ball 15.5 percent of the time. "The slider has been good for me," Lowe said.
Catcher Max Pentecost, the Rangers' seventh-round Draft pick out Winder-Barrow (Ga.) High told the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald that he intends to sign with Texas rather than go to Kansas State. The Rangers have not announced the signing. Nelson Cruz drove in his 75th run on Friday night. The Rangers, with Michael Young (78) and Adrian Beltre (76), are one of three teams that has three players with at least 75 RBIs. The others are the Yankees and the Red Sox. Triple-A Round Rock manager Bobby Jones went into Saturday's game with Sacramento needing one more victory for 1,500 in his Minor League career.
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.