The Texas Rangers have the most prolific offense in the majors, but lately they’ve been shut down by solid pitching.
They’ll try and break out of their offensive funk when they face a pitcher making his major league debut in Wednesday’s series finale against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
Chicago (56-43) defeated the Rangers 10-2 on Tuesday after scoring nine runs during a three-game losing streak. The White Sox also moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Minnesota, which lost to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
Texas (52-49) lost for the third time in five games Tuesday, as it had little luck against Mark Buehrle, who gave up just a solo homer to rookie Chris Davis in 7 1-3 innings. Davis has eight homers in 22 career games.
The Rangers lead the majors with 549 runs, but have been held to two runs or less in four of their last five games.
“Pitching stops hitting,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I keep saying that. Nobody’s listening. Pitching stops hitting. How can you keep scoring seven runs a night. Nobody does that in the game of baseball.”
The Rangers have a chance to get their offense back on track against Clayton Richard, whose contract was purchased from the minors on Monday after Jose Contreras was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with right elbow tendinitis.
Richard went 12-6 with a 2.44 ERA in the minors this season, and won all six of his starts for Triple-A Charlotte, striking out 29 and walking four in 38 innings for the Knights.
The 24-year-old left-hander has already had a memorable last few weeks, as he started the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium on July 13. He was scheduled to pitch for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing, but had to be optioned to the minors by Tuesday for that to happen.
“This is a dream in itself,” Richard said. “That’s something I can’t really worry about.”
The White Sox gladly welcomed the return of Jermaine Dye to the lineup Tuesday, as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Dye missed Monday’s series-opening 6-1 loss after getting hit in the right knee by a pitch in Sunday’s defeat to Kansas City. He was also hit by a pitch on Saturday night.
Dye made an immediate impact, as he drove in Carlos Quentin with two outs in the bottom of the first. Dye has been instrumental to Chicago’s offense, batting .611 (11-for-18) with a homer, six RBIs and nine runs in his last five games.
However, he is batting only .190 (4-for-21) with a homer in his career against Wednesday’s scheduled starter Kevin Millwood (6-6, 5.23 ERA), who is looking to avoid dropping three straight starts for the first time in three years.
Millwood gave up five runs and 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-0 loss to Minnesota on Friday after allowing five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-7 defeat to Chicago on July 12. The right-hander has not lost three straight starts in a single season since dropping a career-worst four in a row July 2-19, 2005.
For the most part, Millwood has pitched decent against the White Sox. He’s posted a 2.81 ERA in eight career starts against them, but is just 1-4 in those contests.