ARLINGTON -- After providing the offense with a spark on Monday, Nelson Cruz helped secure the Rangers' fourth straight win on defense.
With the Rangers leading, 4-1, in the eighth inning and a runner on first, Matt Harrison was on the verge of picking up his second win over the Mariners in as many starts when Brendan Ryan lifted a ball into shallow center field.
After Craig Gentry made an unsuccessful attempt at a diving catch, the ball trickled into right-center field, where Cruz picked it up on the warning track. Cruz, who homered for the third time in four games in the second inning, quickly relayed the ball to the cutoff man, second baseman Ian Kinsler.
"You can't leave your feet," manager Ron Washington said. "If you leave your feet, you've got to catch the ball. If not, you hold him to a single. You can't let them back in the game there."
In one fluid motion, Kinsler gathered the throw from Cruz in midair and fired it to catcher Mike Napoli. As Ryan rounded third base, Napoli prepared for a collision, blocking the plate with his left foot. Kinsler's throw was an accurate one as Napoli applied the tag on a sliding Ryan, who was denied a two-run, inside-the-park home run, never touching the plate.
"I was going to make the throw regardless, whether or not he was held up," Kinsler said. "[Napoli] put his foot on the plate and made a great block on the plate. If he didn't make that block, he probably would have been safe."
Instead of having the tying run come to the plate with the top of the Mariners' order due up, they were left with no men on base and one out in the eighth. Michael Saunders, who led off the inning with a single, scored on the play to trim the Rangers' lead to 4-2.
"I was trying to cut every base tight, but around second there I tried to get too much angle there and lost myself for about half a step," Ryan said. "I turned around third and tried to get another gear, but there was just nothing there. Kinsler is a spectacular second baseman."
After Harrison induced the final two of his 12 groundball outs to end the inning and Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 11th save, the Rangers had extended their winning streak to four while the Mariners had extended their losing streak to five.
"That was awesome," said Harrison, who improved to 6-3 after giving up two runs on seven hits over eight innings. "I didn't think they would have sent him right there. They could have had a guy on third base with no outs."
"The play was really made by Nelson Cruz, backing up the ball and hitting Kinsler with a strike," Washington said. "He could have been just standing there watching the play but he was backing up, he made the play and he made a strong throw."
Ogando nursing bruised right hand
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando was likely unavailable for Monday's game against the Mariners with a bruised right hand. But Ogando said he expects to be ready on Tuesday.Ogando had to come out of Sunday's game in the eighth inning after getting hit on the hand by a line drive off the bat of Toronto's Brett Lawrie. X-rays showed no fractures. Ogando was able to go out and play catch on Monday afternoon but said he probably needs one day of rest. "It's good. ... It feels good," Ogando said before Monday's game. "One day off and I'll be back out there again tomorrow." Ogando was replaced on Sunday by Yoshinori Tateyama, who finished the eighth inning and then pitched the ninth. It was the third straight game that Tateyama pitched, and the Rangers were hoping to give him a night off on Monday. "His velocity was down, but the whole weekend our bullpen was taxed," manager Ron Washington said. "Normally we wouldn't do that to Tateyama, but we had to. He's never refused to take the ball. That's what I love about him. He never makes excuses. He gets after it." Ogando is usually the Rangers' seventh-inning reliever in winning situations, but Washington is growing more confident that Koji Uehara can handle that role or any other handed to him. He has pitched 13 1/3 scoreless innings over his past 12 appearances. "He's pitched extremely well," Washington said.
Hamilton out with upper respiratory infection
ARLINGTON -- Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton continues to battle what is now being called an upper respiratory infection and was out of the lineup for Monday's game with the Mariners. Hamilton said he has been dealing with this problem since the Rangers were in Houston, but this is the first time that he has not been in the starting lineup because of it."Obviously the last couple of days have been kind of weird," Hamilton said. "Anytime you have sinus stuff or chest stuff, it all goes back to not feeling quite right. I'm just feeling off. I stayed home from the event last night. Went to bed at 8:15. Got up at 1:30 today and rolled over twice maybe. Just when I got up, I still felt off. So I told [manager Ron Washington] I needed a day, just to be sure. I'll try to get some more rest. "I've been on about everything I can be on. I'm trying to get better quicker, and it just seems like one of those things that's just going to have to run its course. But I think coming back in the heat, on top of feeling like I do, has just kind of snowballed on me a little bit and made it a little worse than it probably is." The Rangers aren't sure whether Hamilton will be ready on Tuesday to face Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas. "A day at a time," Hamilton said. "Obviously, I'd like to play no matter what, but if I'm running around out there and getting dizzy and stuff, I probably don't need to be out there doing it."
Rangers celebrate Memorial Day
ARLINGTON -- In honor of Memorial Day, a moment of silence took place before Monday's game against the Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington.Among the other pregame Memorial Day ceremonies included the 531st Air Force Band Brass Quintet playing the national anthem while the United States Marines Honor Guard presented the United States colors. Tech Sergeant Shonda Winkler from the 531st Air Force National Guard Band of the Gulf Coast was also on hand for the seventh-inning singing of "God Bless America." "Memorial Day is very special for any person in this country," Rangers veteran Michael Young said. "We get to do something that seems relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things. To be able to do it and give some entertainment and enjoy it because of what other people have sacrificed for us is a very humbling thing." Along with the other Major League teams, the Rangers wore blue hats with a digital camouflage feature. This season marks the fifth straight year that the Rangers will wear those hats on Memorial Day and Independence Day weekend in a fundraising and awareness effort for the Welcome Back Veterans initiative. The MLB program, which addresses the needs of returning veterans and their families, has raised $17 million over the past several years. "It's a great day for all of baseball," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I think it's an important day for the country and for us as baseball players to try to represent ourselves and our country and support the people that have sacrificed their lives and their livelihoods and their families to keep us free and to keep this country great." The Rangers are 16-20 all-time on Memorial Day with a 11-5 win last season over the Rays on May 30 snapping a three-game losing streak. The Rangers are 9-11 at home on Memorial Day, going 3-3 at Rangers Ballpark.
Darvish set to start Saturday
ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish went through his usual workout on Monday after pitching five innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Darvish had to leave the game because of some stiffness in his lower back, but manager Ron Washington doesn't foresee it keeping him from starting against the Angels on Saturday."He's fine," Washington said. "It's just a little back stiffness. He's getting treatment. He'll be fine." Darvish was also dealing with some discomfort in his stomach, but that is something that he has to deal with on occasion. The Rangers don't expect that to be a problem, either. Darvish has won his first five home starts and is the first Rangers pitcher to accomplish that. Only three Rangers pitchers have ever won more than five home starts in a row: Ferguson Jenkins won eight in a row in 1975, Rick Honeycutt won seven straight in '83 and Kenny Rogers won six straight in 2005.
Kinsler's home run on Sunday was his first in 28 games, going back to April 24 against the Yankees. It was the fourth-longest drought of his career.
Said Kinsler, "Yeah, it was nice. It wasn't that big of a home run or a really important home run. It's cool when they go over the fence. You can jog around the bases. That's a good feeling." Mike Napoli also hit a home run on Sunday, his first in 25 games. It was the longest drought in his career.
Said Napoli, "Can't really get frustrated when it's not going the right way, but I just need to stay on the path and make sure it'll work out. I feel like my swing's been rushed. I'm just trying to be on time and maximize me seeing the ball as long as possible." Kinsler on the Rangers' record-breaking attendance pace: "You really don't know what to say about it. There's people showing up every day. It's a great feeling to come to the ballpark, honestly, and see the amount of people that are showing up and supporting us. I know it's going to get hot this summer but I hope everyone continues to support us and continues to come out and watch us. We enjoy it. We love having the support."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.