Rangers don't want to miss Murphy's hot bat
Outfielder shows he can hit lefties as well as righties during recent stretch
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals had a left-hander on the mound Saturday night and David Murphy was still in the lineup with Craig Gentry on the bench. Gentry usually starts ahead of Murphy when the opposition starts a left-hander but not on Saturday."He's hot so I figure I'm going to ride him," manager Ron Washington said of Murphy. "At some point you have to take advantage of what's out there." Murphy entered Saturday's game hitting .383 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in his last 38 games. During that stretch, he had a .468 on-base percentage and a .579 slugging percentage. It hasn't all been against right-handers. Murphy is 9-for-14 during that stretch against left-handers. "I've been feeling good for a few months," Murphy said. "I had a conversation with Ian Kinsler one night a few months ago and he said I should scoot closer to the plate. Since I've done that, things have gone well and my timing is good." Murphy said by moving closer to the plate, he is been better at handling pitches on the outside part of the plate. That used to be a "hole" in his approach that opposing pitchers tried to exploit. "Also in the past when I went on a little bit of a hot streak, I get the mindset that I'm playing with house money and I get outside myself," Murphy said. "I start trying to do things like hit home runs and I get out my approach. Recently my approach is as consistent as I've ever been."
Rangers relievers hit 100 on radar gun
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers relievers were lighting up the radar gun on Friday night. Both Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando hit 100 miles per hour with their fastball while pitching against the Royals."I know...I was watching that and thinking, 'I wish I had that,'" closer Joe Nathan said. Scheppers, who hit 101 at the All-Star Futures Game in 2010, said hitting triple digits is not that big of a deal. "As long as I get outs, that's all I care about," he said. "It does something for me if they get outs," manager Ron Washington said. "It doesn't do anything for me if they don't get outs. If it's 100 and not in the zone, it doesn't matter." Ogando and Scheppers are two of 20 pitchers in the Major Leagues who average at least 96 miles per hour with their fastball. Padres reliever Andrew Cashner averages 98.6 miles per hour, the highest in the Majors. Mark Lowe and Neftali Feliz both averaged over 96 last season for the Rangers.
Nathan welcomes recent rest period
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan was given the night off on Friday and again on Saturday against the Royals.Nathan said he isn't experiencing any physical problems but could use a little extra rest. "I'm not bad, it's just one of those times of the year when a few days off is nice," Nathan said. "It gives me a breather and takes the edge off my arm. We're in August and I've thrown a ton of pitches." Nathan pitched one inning each on Wednesday and Thursday against the Angels and threw a total of 62 pitches. "That's too many pitches in two innings of work," Nathan said. "I'm just trying to get rid of some normal soreness, get back to throwing free and easy rather than forcing pitches. When you're fighting it, you get some sore spots that don't normally come up when you're throwing free and easy. I need to get back to throwing free and easy." Alexi Ogando saved both of the Rangers' two wins at Kauffman Stadium -- retiring the side in order for his second save in Friday's 5-3 win. He picked up save No. 3 in Saturday's 4-2 win.
The Rangers are 5-for-5 in ninth-inning save opportunities when Nathan is not available.
Napoli back in lineup against Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Mike Napoli was back at catcher on Saturday after getting two straight days off. Geovany Soto caught his first two games for the Rangers after being acquired from the Cubs on Tuesday.Manager Ron Washington said both will continue to play, but he hasn't come up with a definitive plan on how to divide up the playing time. "It just depends on what I feel I have to do each day," Washington said. The Rangers have also brought up Hector Ortiz to work with Soto. He is the Rangers' roving catching instructor in the Minor Leagues and was with them on their last road trip after the All-Star break. The Rangers brought him back this weekend to work with Soto. "We just wanted to make sure the lines of communication with him are real good," Washington said. "And we wanted to give Hector a chance to see if there's anything that needs improvement. So far Soto has done well."
Lefty starter Matt Harrison's 2.09 ERA since May 22 is the lowest in the American League. Martin Perez is making his first start for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night since being sent down earlier this week. Washington on the number of Rangers fans who are here in Kansas City: "I've seen more Texas Rangers gear on the road than I've ever seen, I've seen more Texas Rangers fans at the hotel than I've ever seen before and I've met more people who claim to Texas Rangers fans than I've ever seen before."
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.