ARLINGTON -- Since manager Ron Washington declared David Murphy an everyday player nearly two weeks ago, Murphy is batting .356 with two home runs and seven RBIs, six of them in his last five games.Murphy, who began the season as a platoon player starting only against right-handed starting pitchers, is hitting .396 against left-handers this season. Murphy is batting .417 over his last 10 games and his 12 doubles since July 24 are the most in the Majors. After leading the Rangers with a .310 batting average last month, Murphy is batting a team-best .368 in August. He's currently on pace to hit above .300 in three straight months for the first time in his career. "It's nice when you know that you're going to play every single day," Murphy said. "At the same time, this year has been different than past years. This year, at least I knew that I would play if a right-handed pitcher was on the mound. It's nice to stick with the same feel, the same routine, and I don't know, I guess things are just flowing a little better."
'Re-energized' Soto coming through for Texas
ARLINGTON -- The biggest difference between playing for the Cubs and Rangers, according to Geovany Soto, isn't anything that happens on the field or even in the clubhouse. It's how the Rangers make their way to and from road trips."The airplanes are really amazing," Soto said. "It was something that really shocked me. It looks weird. It was big first-class seats from the first one to the last one. I felt like I got called up all over again." Since Mike Napoli was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quad Aug. 11, Soto has taken over as the Rangers' everyday catcher. He had only one hit in his first 15 at-bats in that role, but has since gone 6-for-15 with three RBIs in his last five games. "Maybe he's getting re-energized," manager Ron Washington said. "He's playing for something. Maybe we can get it back. He's getting that bat head through the zone. He's settling in. He's getting more and more comfortable. He's certainly doing a good job of catching." The Rangers hold a six-game lead in the AL West entering Tuesday's game against the Orioles and are 12-7 since acquiring Soto and Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, who are 27 games below .500 and hold the second-worst record in the Majors. "I feel like it's somewhat of a new season," Soto said. "I feed off of these guys' energy and the chemistry they've got going. It's pretty special. You try to get on board, try to be part of the family. It feels good."
Andrus' play wows Rangers skipper Washington
ARLINGTON -- After the Rangers scored three times in the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead in Monday's series-opening win, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado led the fifth off with what initially appeared to be a base hit through the left side of the Rangers' infield.But Elvis Andrus backhanded the ball in shallow left field, leaped, and with his body falling toward the foul line in left field, threw Machado out by a half-step. Nick Markakis singled off Rangers starter Ryan Dempster in the next at-bat, but the Orioles did not score in the inning. The Rangers went on to win their third straight game, 5-1. "He hit the ball pretty well," Andrus said. "As soon as I was anticipating catching the ball, I knew that to make the out, I just had to make a good throw. He's a really good runner. He's a big kid, but he can move. I had to make a quick and accurate throw." Manager Ron Washington said it was among the best plays he's seen in five seasons at the helm of the club. "For me, it was No. 1 because if that guy gets on the bag, you don't know what that inning turns into," Washington said. "If he would have taken one more step before he got up, he wouldn't have got him. He caught it, stepped and threw. It was rhythmic. He got there on time. It was perfect."
Nathan being utilized in non-save situations
ARLINGTON -- Despite manager Ron Washington saying earlier this month that Joe Nathan would only be used in non-save situations, two of Nathan's last three appearances have come with the Rangers holding a four-run lead.Nathan pitched scoreless ninth innings in a 10-6 win over the Yankees last Thursday and in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday. A save opportunity for Nathan would require that the Rangers be leading by three or fewer runs going into the ninth inning, although Washington considers a four-run advantage a save situation. "That's one run removed from a save," Washington said. "A four-run lead, with that team, the way they've been able to come back, I want to let them know the comeback is over. Don't even think about it. If you do it, you're going to have to do it against [Nathan]." If the Rangers led the Orioles by five runs, Washington went on to say that he would have used Tanner Scheppers instead of Nathan in the ninth inning. But, protecting a 5-1 lead, Nathan struck out the side to end the game, giving him five straight scoreless outings. Despite Washington's previous comments, he wasn't surprised to take the mound in that situation. "That's not true. I knew it when he said it," Nathan said. "You kind of have to read between the lines a little bit. You can't just pitch in a save situation. It doesn't work for the bullpen. It doesn't work for myself trying to stay sharp. I think they're going to be a little smarter about throwing me in non-save situations after I throw the day before. I'm not overworked."
Yu Darvish experienced tightness in his right quad on Tuesday. The Rangers will evaluate him on Wednesday, and he is still expected to make his scheduled start in Thursday's series opener against the Twins.
Right-hander Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday night, allowing one hit and striking out two, throwing 14 of 18 pitches for strikes in the first outing of his rehab assignment. He's been on the DL with a strained lat since June 15.
Triple-A Round Rock shortstop Luis Hernandez doubled in his first at-bat on Monday, extending his hit streak to 16 games. He's hitting .446 during the streak.
Class A Spokane outfielder Royce Bolinger went 2-for-4 on Monday, extending his streak to a Northwest League-best 21 games. The Rangers' sixth-round pick in this year's Draft, Bolinger is batting .404 during his streak.
Washington said Mike Napoli, who is on the DL with a strained left quad, is "about 90-95 percent" while Napoli said that he is feeling better and has not suffered any setbacks. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.
Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.