Rangers seek clutch hits in rubber match against Marlins

July 26, 2017

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Clutch hitting has eluded the Texas Rangers for maddening stretches this season, especially with runners in scoring position. The reasons why are a mystery.

"We have some series where we hit really well in those situations and others where we do not," Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "The good thing about it is we create situations. If we create situations, we're going to find a way somehow to crack it.

"As long as we create situations, I think we're close to start being more consistent in that situation. It's baseball."

The Rangers were able to do some of that Tuesday in a 10-4 win over the Miami Marlins to even the three-game interleague series. The rubber game is Wednesday night at Globe Life Park.

Texas (49-51) has been overly reliant on home runs at times, and Tuesday the Rangers hit four long balls. However, they also had a sacrifice fly and went 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Jonathan Lucroy and Nomar Mazara snapped long hitless droughts as the Rangers racked up 15 hits. The team's 31 total bases were a season high and the most for the Rangers since 2015.

"We've been struggling as an offense, and we know that," said Mike Napoli, who homered Tuesday. "We've got a lot of good hitters on this club. Hopefully this is a good sign for us going forward where a lot of guys in the lineup start seeing the ball really well and we help our pitchers scoring some runs."

The Rangers still have designs on wild-card spot despite being two games under .500.

"We are trying to win baseball games," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "That's the mindset here every day. That's the only thing we can do is own the day."

The series finale could also be Yu Darvish's last start with the Rangers, as trade rumors are running rampant regarding the right-handed ace. The four-time All-Star hasn't been sharp lately, going 0-4 with a 4.26 ERA in his past seven starts to raise season ERA from 3.03 to 3.44, which remains eighth in the AL.

Darvish has started once against the Marlins, pitching a complete-game shutout while striking out 10 and walking three in a 6-0 win in 2014. It was Darvish's first career shutout.

He took a no-decision Friday in a 4-3 Texas victory at Tampa Bay, allowing three runs in eight innings on five hits. All three runs were on solo home runs, which was just the third time in his career he gave up three long balls.

Darvish struck out a season-high 12 and walked one on Friday, marking the eighth time in his last 10 starts that he issued one or no bases on balls. He has fanned 10 or more 32 times, which is second in club history to Nolan Ryan's 34.

The Marlins (45-53) counter Wednesday with Jose Urena. The 25-year-old righty is 2-1 in July with a 5.21 ERA.

Urena (8-4, 3.78 ERA) is coming off a win at Cincinnati on Friday, when he pitched six innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out four. Urena has never faced Texas.

Miami likely will be without Justin Bour for an extended period of time. The first baseman, who is in the midst of the breakout season, went on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday due to a right oblique strain.

The absence could be considerably longer.

"Usually these really aren't 10-day things for me," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "The average is about 28 days or something like that for a rib cage. I think it would be more along those lines than 10 days."

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