ARLINGTON -- Michael Young made his 77th start of the season in the cleanup spot for Wednesday's game, as Rangers manager Ron Washington said he would not meddle with the lineup's recent success."It's been working, so I didn't want to mess with it," Washington said. "At some point, I'll get [Adrian Beltre] back in there at the cleanup spot, but it's been working. Michael gave me the OK if I wanted to change it, it's OK with him, but it never was about that. It wasn't that I didn't change it because I was concerned about Michael." The lineup has paid big dividends since Beltre returned from a strained left hamstring on Sept. 1. The Rangers have amassed at least 11 hits in nine of the 11 games since that date. The club also set a franchise record for most consecutive games with 12 or more hits on Tuesday, doing so for the sixth time. The lineup has not just paid benefits for Young and Beltre, it seems like everyone has been on fire in the last six games. Eight of the nine members of Wednesday's lineup are batting .300 or better in those six games, and four are batting over .400. Washington said early in Beltre's return that he would be back in the cleanup spot eventually, but it seems that Washington will wait for this configuration to cool down before putting Beltre back in the fourth spot. "It's hard to say, because sometimes when I put out my lineup, names come out of it," Washington said. "It might be one day I sit here and his name comes out the fourth slot. I don't know yet. It's gut feel for me, and I feel like when it's time, I'll do it. I just can't give you a certain time."
Outfield shuffle possible; Cruz takes cuts
ARLINGTON -- With Nelson Cruz activated on Tuesday and David Murphy swinging a hot bat, Rangers manager Ron Washington said he would consider moving Josh Hamilton from left field to center field, in order to accommodate Murphy's hot bat."Yeah, that could happen," Washington said. Murphy matched a season high with four hits in Tuesday night's 10-4 win over the Indians, and all three four-hit nights happened in the last 10 games. Cruz took live batting practice Wednesday off top Rangers prospects Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez, two pitchers who spent time in Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and were spending time with the big league organization to give them the opportunity to work with pitching coach Mike Maddux. "It looks pretty good, to be hitting off those kids," Washington said of Cruz, who went on the disabled list on Aug. 29 with a strained left hamstring and was activated on the first day he was eligible. "It's not easy to get into that. He got some swings and took some pitches. It's tough to judge that, but at least he's seeing some live arms." Cruz was available to pinch-hit for Wednesday's game and is still not going to start on Thursday. "There's no timetable on it," Washington said. "He's available, but there's no timetable on it. He'll let us know."
Focused Gonzalez showing promising signs
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Michael Gonzalez retired all six batters he faced when he came in to relieve starter Matt Harrison in Tuesday's 10-4 win against the Indians.Even though Gonzalez carries a 5.79 ERA since joining the Rangers on Aug. 31, he has held opposing batters to a .133 batting average against, a sign that his ERA will come down if he continues to pitch the way he has recently. While both sample sizes are small, it is part of a larger trend in which Gonzalez has held opponents to batting .125 over the last 17 games. "I like to say it's the consistency; consistency is key," Gonzalez said. "I had times early in the season where I was taking a week off. Just like anything, with consistency comes command, with command comes confidence, and before you know it, you're rolling." Gonzalez said that being in the pennant race sharpened his focus from where it was with the fifth-place Baltimore Orioles, who were 27 games out of the Wild Card race when Gonzalez was acquired by the Rangers. "Now you're playing for something," Gonzalez said. "Before, it was kind of, not selfishly, but there were three weeks left and you knew you weren't going anywhere. You'd try to pad numbers or do things selfishly like that. Now, every single game since I've gotten here is the most important game of my career, so I'm taking that in stride." Gonzalez's closest contact with a playoff race came in 2009 for a Braves team that finished third in the National League East, going 86-76. They didn't come within four games of the first-place Phillies after Independence Day. "You come in to a team like this with such great chemistry, you don't really have to do anything," Gonzalez said. "You just have to go along and follow suit. They expect you to do you. If I do me and everyone else does what they're doing, we're going to get far." For Gonzalez's career, he has held lefties to a .210 batting average, and lefties are hitting .202 this season against Gonzalez. It is likely that, going forward, the Rangers will count on him to retire left-handed hitters. Four of the six batters he faced in those two innings were left-handed. "He's getting outs, that's the bottom line," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's a little wild, but it's effective. He gets outs, that's what he's been doing."
The Rangers' four home runs in Tuesday's game were the most since June 21 against Houston. The club has homered in six straight games. Adrian Beltre's 17-game hitting streak entering Wednesday's game matches his career high. On Tuesday, David Murphy became the sixth player since 1919 to have four hits, four runs and 11 total bases in a game in which he had only four plate appearances, joining Lou Gehrig, Dixie Walker, Terry Pendleton, Carlos Delgado and Adam LaRoche in accomplishing the feat.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.