OAKLAND -- Nelson Cruz was back at designated hitter on Tuesday and will be on Wednesday, according to manager Ron Washington. With Michael Young having to play first base, that means Mitch Moreland is on the bench even though Oakland is pitching three right-handers in this series.Moreland is 4-for-25 in his last seven games and hitting .155 in his last 20 games, but Washington said that's not why he is on the bench. "He would be out there if Cruz was healthy," Washington said. "I'm not going to take Michael out of the lineup, so Mitch is the one who is getting a few days off. Mitch's swing is getting a little bit long, but he would be in there if it wasn't for Cruz." The Rangers' biggest concern with Cruz is he's struggling at the plate. He is 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in his first two starts after missing more than two weeks with a strained left hamstring. He came out early on Wednesday to take extra batting practice off pitching coach Mike Maddux, who threw him a bunch of curveballs. "Not good ... I'm still working on it," Cruz said. "I'm going to keep working and working. It will get there." Washington said Cruz will be at DH for the next two games. Then he'll decide on Thursday if Cruz is ready for the outfield or if he needs to wait until they get back to Texas.
Group effort has Texas offense hitting stride
OAKLAND -- The Rangers' offense has moved into high gear in September. The Rangers went into Tuesday's game against the Athletics leading the Majors with a .319 batting average, a .377 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage while winning 11 of 16 games."I just think we have guys up and down the lineup doing it," hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh said. "It's not one guy, it has been getting collective contributions from everybody. That's what is so special about our lineup, one through nine anybody can win a game. There's not just one way of scoring runs, we can scratch out runs and we can hit for power. That's a good combination." Coolbaugh has been preaching to his players about the need to focus on offensive fundamentals and wants them to continue that as they get ready for the possibility of the postseason beginning in less than two weeks. "You always stay focused on fundamentals, moving runners over, getting guys in with less than two outs," Coolbaugh said. "There are a lot of individual accomplishments out there, but as long as you stay focused on winning games and doing the fundamentals right, the numbers will take care of themselves. They know that and they've done a great job of not looking at it from an individual standpoint. "The main focus has been getting in the playoffs." Michael Young has a chance at the biggest individual achievement. He is hitting .331 and was tied for second with Miguel Cabrera going into Tuesday's games. Adrian Gonzalez was leading the league with a .338 batting average.
Washington offers praise for 'Moneyball'
OAKLAND -- Rangers manager Ron Washington attended the premiere of "Moneyball" at the historic Paramount Theatre in Oakland on Monday night and gave it a thumbs up. The movie is based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis about Athletics general manager Billy Beane and his attempts to put together a winning team partly through the use advanced statistical analysis.The book was written during the 2002 season, when Washington was the A's third-base and infield coach. He was portrayed by actor Brent Jennings in the movie and his character has a small role. Washington met Jennings at the premiere. "I just had a few lines, but I thought the guy handled it well," Washington said. "He was decisive in his answers as I am. I thought he did well. I met him. He said he wanted to meet me because he heard so much about me. He said he wanted to do my part justice. He did." As for the movie, Washington said, "I thought it was very good. The whole object of the movie was for the general manager to figure out how to keep the club competitive with money restraints. That was the way Billy had to go, and it worked." The movie also showed the conflict between Beane and manager Art Howe. Washington said he didn't know about that part. But he was good friends with Howe, who was on his staff in Texas. "Art didn't talk to us about that," Washington said. "Art was even-keeled. It's amazing the things that go on around you that you don't know about." Washington said he has read only the first chapter of the book.
Rangers' pitchers chasing franchise records
OAKLAND -- With nine games to go, Rangers pitchers have a chance to set a new club record for strikeouts. They went into Tuesday's game with 1,106 strikeouts after setting a new record with 1,181 last season. They are striking out 7.31 batters per nine innings this season as opposed to 7.30 last year.The Rangers have allowed 11.60 baserunners per nine innings. It would be only the sixth time in club history they have allowed fewer than 12 baserunners per nine innings and the first time since 1983. The lowest was 11.39 baserunners per nine innings in 1981. Rangers pitchers had a .308 on-base percentage in 1981, the lowest in club history. That was also a strike-shortened season that canceled 57 games. The Rangers have a .309 opponents' on-base percentage this season. The Rangers' 2.90 walks per nine innings is also the lowest since 1983. It would be just the fifth time the Rangers have walked fewer than three batters per game. They walked 3.41 last season and the club record is 2.60 in 1978.
The Rangers' game with the Seattle Mariners on Saturday in Arlington has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. CT to accommodate a FOX national telecast. The Rangers officially recalled pitchers Fabio Castillo, Miguel De Los Santos, Cody Eppley and Eric Hurley, catcher Taylor Teagarden and outfielders Julio Borbon and Engel Beltre from the Minors with instructions not to report. All are on the 40-man roster. Rangers relievers went into Tuesday's game having retired 24 straight hitters. C.J. Wilson and Matt Harrison have both induced 30 double plays this season, tying the club record set by Rick Honeycutt in 1983 and Kevin Brown in 1991.
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.