The superstar shortstop hopes to lead the resurgent Rangers to their fifth win in seven games as they close out a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
With the likes of Carl Everett, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Hank Blalock hitting around him, Rodriguez has found a way to pound his way to the forefront of one of the league’s top hitting teams.
He is batting .556 (15-for-27) with two homers and 12 RBIs over his last six games. Rodriguez is also batting .556 (5-for-9) with two outs and runners in scoring position this season, driving in nine runs in those situations.
”(Rodriguez) is exactly what you perceive,” first-year Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He cares about his teammates and he cares about winning. He takes it on his shoulders.”
On Saturday, Rodriguez came through in the clutch again, delivering a two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning to lift Texas to a 6-5 win over Cleveland, which has dropped nine of 10.
The win was the Rangers’ first this season when trailing after the sixth inning. Texas had been 0-10 when down after six, and improved to 4-7 in one-run games this year.
Two homers away from No. 500, Palmeiro will miss Sunday’s game after getting hit in the right elbow by a pitch in the third inning Saturday. Palmeiro remained in the game, finishing 1-for-3.
The Indians are looking to win their first series taking two of three at Baltimore to end the season.
Having ended their season-high eight-game losing streak with a 6-5 win in the series opener, the Indians have also begun to break out of their offensive slump. Cleveland has scored 11 runs in the first two games of this series, equaling their total from their previous five games.
STANDINGS:(through May 2) Rangers - 4th place, 4 GB, AL West. Indians - 4th place, 11 GB, AL Central.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: John Thomson (2-2, 4.91 ERA). Thomson is coming off back-to-back wins, and benefitted from his team’s offensive outburst in a 16-11 victory at Toronto on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits over five innings, walking two and striking out one. The Rangers have scored 22 runs in Thomson’s last two outings after scoring just nine in his first four.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: C.C. Sabathia (0-2, 3.79 ERA). The Cleveland ace is winless in six starts despite a very respectable ERA. He has received just 19 runs of offensive support in his outings. Sabathia did not receive a decision in the Indians’ 4-3 loss at Oakland on Sunday, allowing three runs— two earned— and six hits over seven solid innings. He is 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA in three career starts against Texas.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Blalock, .361 avg.; Gonzalez, 11 HRs; Gonzalez and Rodriguez, 26 RBIs; Everett, 27 runs; Rodriguez, 3 SBs. Indians - Milton Bradley, .375 avg. and 16 runs; Karim Garcia, 5 HRs; Ellis Burks, 18 RBIs; Matt Lawton and Brandon Phillips, 2 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: The Rangers are 3-2 on their six-game road trip. … Texas is 24-22 all-time at Jacobs Field. … SS Rodriguez is 4-for-9 career against LHP Sabathia. Indians - OF Bradley has resumed running sprints, and is progressing on schedule in his return from a strained right hamstring. The Indians are 1-8 in the games Bradley has missed. … OF Lawton is 4-for-7 in the series with three RBIs and four runs scored.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers- 6-8 on the road. Indians - 4-10 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - 1B Palmeiro (elbow), day-to-day; C Todd Greene (hamstring), 15-day DL; IF Herbert Perry (knee), 15-day DL; OF Doug Glanville (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (back), 15-day DL; RHP Ismael Valdes (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL. Indians - OF Bradley (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Cliff Lee (abdominal), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL; IF Ricky Gutierrez (neck), 60-day DL.