‘Everyday’ Ian Kinsler back atop Rangers’ lineup

Posted Sunday, Sep. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Ian Kinsler came off the disabled list June 15 for the Texas Rangers’ 68th game of the season. He hasn’t been out of the starting lineup since, and has missed only one inning.

But the second baseman isn’t feeling as much fatigue as might be expected. Between the Rangers’ off days each of the past five weeks and five games at designated hitter since Aug. 1, not to mention 25 games missed while on the DL, he feels good enough to keep playing every day.

“I wouldn’t say I’m fresh in September, but I don’t have any problems,” Kinsler said. “They don’t pay me to take days off.”

He was back at second base Sunday after a DH day Saturday, and he was also back in the leadoff spot. With Leonys Martin still trying to get back in rhythm in the No. 9 hole and with a left-hander pitching for the Angels, manager Ron Washington moved Kinsler back to his familiar spot after hitting third the past 36 games.

Kinsler was 1 for 5 Sunday with a double and run scored during a two-run rally in the seventh.

Alex Rios was the No. 3 hitter, his first game there with the Rangers after hitting there in all 107 games he played with the White Sox before the Aug. 9 trade.

“I just moved it around,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

But the results in a 4-3 Rangers victory Sunday convinced Washington to give the lineup a try again Monday.

Pittsburgh will start hard-throwing rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole on Monday to open a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark. But left-hander Francisco Liriano is scheduled for Tuesday.

Washington might not have been looking beyond Sunday before the win, but he doesn’t expect Kinsler to sit the rest of the way.

“I need his presence,” Washington said. “My time-giving-off will be DH-ing.”

Darvish tiring?

Right-hander Yu Darvish will enter his scheduled start Monday night against Pittsburgh at 179 1/3 innings, 11 2/3 innings behind his total as a rookie last season, and could have four more starts after facing the Pirates.

He is averaging 109.7 pitches per game, second in the majors behind only C.J. Wilson, and in his last start a mechanical issue led to a season-high six walks. He also is riding a four-start streak without a win.

A logical conclusion could be that Darvish is wearing down.

“Everything is normal right now,” he said. “We’re in September. Everyone is tired, including me. You just have to make the best adjustments as possible to get ready for the game.”

Derek Holland, coming off two of his worst outings in back-to-back starts, dismissed fatigue as a reason. He’s 7 2/3 innings short of his career-high total of 198.

“I’m definitely not tired,” Holland said Saturday.

Home, sweet home?

The Rangers return home for six games beginning Monday against two teams that entered Sunday a combined 43 games over .500.

In years past, playing in Arlington was a magic cure for the Rangers, but this season they are only 39-29 after four straight seasons at least 15 games over .500. They have won at least 50 home games the past three seasons.

“I’m as surprised as anyone else,” Ron Washington said. “If we’re ever going to get back to playing well at home, this homestand is going to be it.”

After Pittsburgh leaves town Wednesday and the Rangers have their last off day of the season Thursday, first-place Oakland comes to town for a pivotal three-game series that could determine if the Rangers will win the American League West or have to settle for a wild-card berth for a second straight season.

Getting into the postseason is the key, said Washington, even as a wild card.

“Is that the playoffs? Then I’m in,” he said. “I hope I don’t have to, but I’m in.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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