While all the Texas Rangers have left to play for this season is pride, the efforts from some up-and-coming players are giving them hope for the future.
The Rangers will try to win consecutive games for the second time this month on Friday night when they continue their four-game set with the Oakland Athletics.
Texas (72-75) defeated Oakland 6-1 on Thursday as rookies Chris Davis and Joaquin Arias each drove in two runs, and Dustin Nippert allowed four hits over five innings to win his second straight start.
The Rangers have taken nine of 13 from the A’s this season, and are aiming for their best finish since winning 95 games and the AL West in 1999.
“I’d like to shoot for finishing over .500 and to see everybody keep pushing until there are no more games on the schedule,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Josh Hamilton had three of Texas’ 14 hits on Thursday, and is batting .516 (16-for-31) this month. He left in the seventh inning with a bruised foot, but Washington said he expected the All-Star slugger back in the lineup.
Hamilton has 124 RBIs, the second-highest total by a player in his first year with the Rangers behind Alex Rodriguez’s 135 in 2001.
Cliff Pennington drove in the only run for Oakland (67-79) with a sacrifice fly. Jack Cust struck out three times, giving him 176 to break the Athletics’ single-season franchise record set by Jose Canseco in 1986.
“I guess I’ll be in the record books here. Obviously it’s something I do,” Cust said. “It’s something I’d like not to do but it’s just part of my game. Usually I lead every league I play in in strikeouts and walks. It seems like it’s coming true again.”
Harrison, who won at Oakland on July 26, is 2-0 with a 4.42 ERA in his last three starts. A strong finish could mean a bigger role for him going into 2009.
“Every time he takes the ball is a test,” Washington told the Rangers’ official Web site. “Every time he takes it, it gives him an opportunity to gain a little more experience, wisdom and knowledge. He has been able to go out and keep us in ballgames.”
After failing to record a decision for nearly two months, Smith has gone 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA in his last four starts. On Saturday, he held Baltimore to three hits with five walks over seven innings of a 5-1 win.
“(I was) very happy with the way Greg Smith threw the ball,” Oakland manager Bob Geren told the Athletics’ official Web site. “(That’s) the best he’s looked in a long time, so I’m real satisfied with his improvement the last couple times out.”
Smith, who is making his fourth start against the Rangers this year, is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA versus them. He was tagged for seven runs in five innings, but didn’t get a decision in Oakland’s 13-8 win on June 1.