The Texas Rangers have finally snapped their losing streak, but they’re still trying to break out of a surprising offensive slump.
The Rangers have traditionally presented major problems for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ right-hander, but Garland will be coming off one of his best outings of the season when the teams settle their three-game set in Phoenix on Thursday night.
Texas had dropped five straight before Wednesday, also conceding sole possession of first place in the AL West.
“Contrary to popular belief, the sky wasn’t falling,” third baseman Michael Young(notes) said. “We’re a confident group, man. It was a stretch where we didn’t play very well. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s going to happen at some point again in our careers. The biggest thing is how you come out of it.”
They did that with a 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks, but while a strong performance by right-hander Vicente Padilla(notes) enabled the Rangers (38-32) to remain tied for the division lead with the Los Angeles Angels, they didn’t answer any questions about their uncharacteristically meek bats while managing four hits.
Texas led the majors with 901 runs last year, but despite a better record this season’s club ranks 13th and is scoring nearly a full run less per game.
The problems have been more severe since Josh Hamilton’s(notes) last appearance on May 31. As the slugger recovers from abdominal surgery, the Rangers are batting .215 and averaging 3.2 runs this month - both among the bottom two in the majors.
Young was the only batter in Wednesday’s Texas lineup hitting above .284, and he went 0 for 4.
“We had some good at-bats, and that’s what we needed,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Hopefully, that can springboard us to get back to where we were.”
Seeing Garland on the mound could be a welcome sight after he gave up 20 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings in three starts against the Rangers last year while with the Angels.
Still, Garland (4-7, 4.99 ERA) was sharp in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings Friday against Seattle. He snapped his run of losses in five straight starts, but Arizona’s bullpen blew the lead and Garland has still not won since May 19.
“I actually felt like I controlled the game a lot better than I have in the past,” Garland told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site.
Texas will counter with Scott Feldman(notes) (5-2, 4.02). The right-hander is coming off perhaps his worst start of the year after allowing a season-high five runs in six innings of a 6-4 loss at San Francisco on Friday.
Feldman will try to silence what has been an erratic Arizona offense lately. The last-place Diamondbacks (30-42) have been held to three or fewer runs six times in their last nine games, losing all of them, but they’ve averaged 10.7 runs in their three victories over that span.
The Diamondbacks haven’t won a series against Texas since June 4-6, 1999, dropping 10 of their last 14 to the Rangers.