ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have spent all but three days this season by themselves in first place, leading the American League West by five games entering Friday.
But after a 15-4 start, Texas went on to lose 10 of its next 18 games. Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners, a 5-3 loss, marked the Rangers' 20th game in as many days. They went 10-10 over that stretch. Since April 19, they have never led their division by less than four games.
"We've hit some down time," said manager Ron Washington. "It happened in every area. Pitching, for a while, wasn't right. Offense went south. Things got a little flat. The only way you can deal with that is to work through it. We're not going to make any excuses. It's a long year."
The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in each of their last nine games. They dropped both games of a two-game series with the Royals before splitting a pair of games against the Athletics to complete a seven-game homestand. Then, the Rangers went to Houston and took two of three games from the Astros before losing two of three games against the Mariners.
"It's going to turn back around," Washington said. "Every club does it. That's what good clubs do. They shorten the periods when they're in downside. We're going to break out and get back on a roll. We've just got to go out and play."
The Rangers scored seven runs during their most recent series against the Mariners. It was the first time all year that they had scored less than three runs in three consecutive games. Texas needed only a season-low four hits to record its only win of the series, a 3-1 victory Tuesday. The club has scored 455 runs and boasts a .284 batting average, both of which led the Majors entering Friday.
But Washington is concerned with other phases of the game.
"Offense comes and goes. It all starts with pitching and defense," said Washington. "There are days when the offense will take over. But pitching and defense are constant. They've got to show up every single day. They don't take days off."
Upon return, Feliz wants to remain in rotation
ARLINGTON -- Since Neftali Feliz was placed on the 15-day disabled list, the Rangers have considered signing Roy Oswalt and moved Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, into the rotation.
But Feliz said Friday that he would not want to return to the bullpen. An All-Star closer in 2010, Feliz was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA before being sidelined with right elbow inflammation. He saved 40 games two seasons ago, the most by a rookie.
"It's up to them but, of course, I wouldn't like [returning to the bullpen]," Feliz said through a translator. "My mindset is that I'll start and come back to the rotation."
Feliz said that he began feeling something wrong in his throwing arm a couple of starts ago. He's thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his last three starts, including last Friday against the Astros, when Feliz allowed three hits and one run over 4 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking five in a 4-1 win. He was replaced by Robbie Ross after issuing his second walk of the fifth inning and placed on the DL three days later.
"He's making progress," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "I've seen that erraticness before, so it was a matter of if he could get back in sequence, could he get back in rhythm. He just couldn't get back in rhythm. I didn't know anything was wrong."
Washington also said that Feliz will travel with the team until he can begin throwing again, which Feliz hopes to be doing within three to four weeks. As for what Feliz's role will be upon his recovery, Washington would not speculate as to whether he would return to the rotation or the 'pen.
"First, Neftali has to get healthy," Washington said. "When we get to that point, we'll make that decision. That's what Neftali needs to focus on, not worrying about what he's going to do or not going to do. That's not even a conversation right now because he can't even pick up a ball."
Napoli scratched with upset stomach
ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli was scratched from the lineup before Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays with an upset stomach. Yorvit Torrealba replaced him behind the plate and batted eighth.
"He just feels lousy," said manager Ron Washington. "He tried to move around and do something, but it's not necessary for me to run him out there. We'll give him today off and hopefully he'll feel better [Saturday]."
Napoli was originally listed in the lineup, batting eighth and playing catcher. But he was scratched shortly after the initial lineup was posted.
He is batting .130 with 15 strikeouts in his last nine games, recording at least one strikeout in each of them. Napoli has hit seven home runs, but none since April 25. He had started in 35 of the team's 45 games -- 24 of them at catcher, 10 at first base and one at designated hitter.
Rangers' rap song available on iTunes
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have a new song for 2012.
Reliever Mike Adams called up some friends of his and now a three-minute song, "Texas Back at It" is available for 99 cents on iTunes. The song is by INK, featuring rappers Illicit, Zica, and Pain, mentions nearly every player on the 25-man roster, including Michael Young, Yu Darvish, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre.
"I called him up and asked if he would make a song for the Rangers. And they did," said Adams. "The guys loved it. They wanted to hear it over and over. After a victory, I think we'll play that song."
Adams, who spent three full seasons with the Padres before being picked up by the Rangers in 2011, said that he met the Seattle-based group in San Diego during Spring Training. He had them make songs for the Padres before carrying over the tradition to the Rangers this year.
Michael Young started at first base Friday for the eighth time this season, while Mitch Moreland got his fourth start as the designated hitter.
"I don't want Michael to get stale DH'ing," manager Ron Washington said. "I may end up giving Kinsler a day [at DH] so [Young] can play second base. I just thought it was time to get Michael back on the field."
Two weeks after winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Jason Dufner took a two-stroke lead at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial after firing a 6-under 64. Dufner, 11-under for the tournament, threw out the first pitch before Friday's game against the Blue Jays.
Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.