ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington wanted his pitchers to be better fielders this season. That was a high priority and so far they have made just one error in their first 18 games.
But they were all still out on the field four hours before Wednesday's game with the Yankees for another pitchers' fielding practice, known all around baseball as PFP."I told you at some point they'd do it," Washington said. "We decided to break up what they've been doing. They usually come out early to throw and run for their conditioning. There's nothing wrong with a refresher course." "As much as PFP becomes monotonous, it is that important," reliever Joe Nathan said. "We understand these things affect ballgames. If you're going to do it, you might as well focus and get better at it."
Rangers give Feliz rest by pushing back start
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are pushing starter Neftali Feliz back in the rotation to give him extra rest. The immediate schedule allows them to do that and manager Ron Washington said it's better to do it now than later in the season.Feliz, who last pitched on Saturday night against the Tigers, pitched an inning in relief in Wednesday's 7-3 win over the Yankees, setting down the side in the seventh after allowing Raul Ibanez's leadoff homer. Feliz was scheduled to start on Saturday against the Rays but will instead pitch on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. "We either can take the opportunity to do it now, or we would have to do it on the back end," Washington said. The Rangers did not do that early last season with Alexi Ogando in his first year as a starter and he seemed to fade in the second half. He was 9-3 with 2.92 ERA before the All-Star break and 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA afterward. "We really didn't have a plan for Ogando, we just let him fly," Washington said. "We learned from that." The Rangers will pitch Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland during their three-game series with the Rays. Yu Darvish's next start will be Monday in Toronto followed by Feliz against the Blue Jays. Feliz is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his first three Major League starts after spending the past two seasons as the Rangers' closer. He said getting the extra time off is fine with him. "Of course having the extra day is going to help me," Feliz said. "You never know. It's a long season. You never know how hard I'm going to be throwing and how many innings I'm going to work. I think it's going to help me out in the end."
Nathan records a first with one-pitch save
ARLINGTON -- Tuesday night was a first for Joe Nathan and, apparently, for the Rangers. Nathan saved the Rangers' 2-0 victory over the Yankees by getting two outs with one pitch.Nathan replaced starter Yu Darvish in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on first base. He faced Raul Ibanez, threw one pitch and got him to hit a grounder right at second baseman Ian Kinsler for a game-ending double play. Nathan got a three-pitch save against the Tigers in 2004 but faced just one batter. Tuesday marked the fewest pitches he has ever thrown while getting a save. Since 1988, when pitch counts were first kept, no Rangers pitcher ever earned a save by getting two outs with one pitch. "Definitely a first for me," Nathan said. "Always when you put the ball in play you want them to hit it on the ground, but I wasn't thinking double play. I was just thinking be aggressive. We went with the sinker and we wanted to make it run away from him." Nathan didn't want Ibanez, a left-handed power hitter, to pull a tying home run over the right-field fence. "If he was going to beat me, beat me the other way," Nathan said. The pitch allowed Darvish to earn his third victory of the season, and this one came against fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda. "I was thinking just make sure I don't mess this up ... don't ruin this start," Nathan said. "Both guys pitched great. Both guys deserved to win. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way in baseball. Yu was great, keeping those guys off-balance like that into the ninth inning. I wanted to make sure I nailed it down. For him to walk away from that without getting a win would have been a shame."
Focused Andrus enjoying errorless streak
ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus led all American League shortstops with 25 errors last season. But he did not commit one in his last 34 games and, going into Wednesday night, he still had not made an error in 16 games this season.His 50-game errorless streak is the third longest in club history for a shortstop. The record is 60, held by Wayne Tolleson as a backup over the course of 1983-85. Alex Rodriguez had a 52-game streak in 2002. The Major League record for a shortstop is by Mike Bordick with 110. "The last two months of last season I felt my defensive rhythm come back," Andrus said. "Defense is like hitting -- you have good streaks and bad ones, but you have to stay focused. I felt great in Spring Training and carried it into the season. "Right now I'm seeing the ball in slow motion. That means it's like you really anticipate it and you see it better. You get to more balls and your range is better." Rangers manager Ron Washington said he is just seeing a professional fielder playing at his best. "I haven't said a word to Elvis since Spring Training," Washington said. "If I haven't said a word to him, that means he's doing OK. He's doing the same things, he's just doing it with maturity and experience. That breeds consistency."
Yu Darvish's 8 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday was the longest scoreless start by a Rangers pitcher against the Yankees since Bob Tewksbury threw six against them on July 7, 1995, in Arlington. Darvish struck out 10 in his fourth Major League start. He is only the second Rangers pitcher in club history to have a double-digit strikeout game in one of his first four Major League starts. The other was Bobby Witt in 1986. Ian Kinsler has 21 first-inning home runs as a leadoff hitter since the beginning of the 2008 season. That's the most by any Major League leadoff hitter in that stretch. Rickie Weeks has 19.
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.