The .100 batting average Carlos Pena carried into Thursday night might send some players to their bag of tricks for a quick fix to end a 3-for-30 slump.
The Texas Rangers’ latest experiment at first base, though, is sticking to the script. He doesn’t see an issue with his swing, just an issue with his luck. He doesn’t want to search for something that might put him in a bigger hole.
“I have to be careful with that and not give into the desire for results or a desire to please or a desire for praise to mess around with my approach,” Pena said. “I feel really good.”
He slid to seventh in the lineup Thursday against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Pena might sit entirely Friday against New York Mets lefty Jonathan Niese.
But Pena could very well be hitting third again Saturday and Sunday against righties Bartolo Colon and Zack Wheeler.
“I’ve had great at-bats,” Pena said. “I’ve hit balls right on the button. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the fortune factor that comes with this game.”
Rios third again
Right fielder Alex Rios found himself batting third for the 16th time this season and the second time in the past three games. The reason for the Rangers’ using a different lineup for the 18th consecutive game was a left-hander starting for the Orioles.
He has done well from the third spot this season, batting .317 entering Thursday, but manager Ron Washington likes the idea of having Rios batting fifth as protection for Adrian Beltre.
“I’m up for whatever it takes,” Rios said. “I’ve hit in the spot before. I feel comfortable.”
The Rangers have had six different players move through the third spot in the lineup.
Leonys Martin’s highlight play Wednesday came in the second inning, when he leaped to rob Nelson Cruz of a home run that would have put a dent in a 1-0 Rangers lead.
“Nellie is like my big brother,” Martin said. “But that’s a part of the game. I’ve got to help my team.”
But no matter how good it looked, it’s a play that should have been made. What transpired in a 60-second window in the seventh inning, with the game tied 4-4, was more telling of how good and bad Martin can be.
He dropped a bunt against a third baseman who was expecting it and still beat it for a two-out hit. In a flash, though, he was erased on a sloppy pickoff.
“You can’t get picked off in that situation,” Washington said. “You have no excuses. Focus.”
Martin is still learning as a player, still capable of great things and silly things, and still frustrating his manager.
“He’s still got a long ways to go,” Washington said. “That was the first thing in my mind, but it wasn’t in those words.”
Right-hander Miles Mikolas was pleased with his first major league start Wednesday, even though he ended up with a no-decision as Baltimore rallied to a 6-4 win after he exited.
Mikolas was charged with three runs in 5 1/3 innings, throwing only 77 pitches. He was removed after consecutive walks, both of which included pitches that could have been called strikes.
“I tried to get him out of there with a good taste in his mouth,” Washington said. “It fell apart after that.”