ARLINGTON -- Reliever Mark Lowe is quietly putting together a breakthrough comeback season, even though he's in his third season with the Rangers.
Lowe entered Sunday's action with the fifth-lowest ERA in the American League at 0.77. He hadn't allowed an earned run since giving up a home run to Tampa Bay's Luke Scott on April 27. But on Sunday, he allowed three runs over two-thirds of an inning in the Rangers' 13-6 win on Sunday to see his ERA jump to 2.92.
Lowe was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle in 2010, and pitched in two World Series games that season. He had a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings last year. But Lowe is looking more and more like the pitcher he was in 2009 with Seattle (3.26 ERA) before back surgery set him back.
He is stronger than ever since having the surgery and working with pitching coach Mike Maddux has made his 96-97 mph fastball even more effective.
"The main thing is he's shortened his stroke a little bit," manager Ron Washington said. "Now his fastball is more downhill. There's more quickness and depth on his breaking ball because he's shortened his stroke."The depth of the Rangers' bullpen has helped keep Lowe and the other relievers fresh. He has only pitched on back-to-back days once this season on May 6-7. He went two innings against the Yankees on April 23 for his longest outing since 1999.
Pink the color of the day for Rangers
ARLINGTON -- In honor of Mother's Day and in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer, players all across baseball wore pink on Sunday.
They wore pink wristbands, put on pink batting gloves, and swung pink bats. After his first at-bat, Josh Hamilton opted to use with the same non-pink bat that he's been using this past week, the one that he'd hit all but one of the nine home runs he's recorded in six games prior to Sunday."I got a little sticker on it," Hamilton said earlier this week. "I'm just hoping I don't throw it in the stands."
"She's a special lady," Hamilton said of his mother. "She took care of me and did all the things a mother does. But she also taught me a little about the game. I love her and I wish she could be here but I'll send her some flowers and say, 'Hi,' to her on TV."
Hamilton is hitting .467 with nine home runs in 18 RBIs in his last eight games.
Deep lineup counters avoiding Hamilton
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers welcome opponents pitching around and or intentionally walking the torrid Josh Hamilton, who entered Sunday's series finale against the Angels with nine home runs in the last six games. The Angels did the latter Friday night with first base open.
The problems are two-fold: Hamilton is difficult to pitch around because he is a free swinger, and he is well protected with third baseman Adrian Beltre batting behind him, followed by Michael Young and Nelson Cruz.
Manager Ron Washington said Sunday that Hamilton doesn't have the plate discipline of, say, a Barry Bonds, who walked 177 times in 2001 when he hit a Major League-record 73 home runs. National League pitchers gave Bonds even more respect in 2004 when he walked 232 times, 120 of them intentional.
"He's a swinger, man," Washington said. "If he can see it and he can reach, he'll go get it. If they decide not to pitch him, I'd like to see Beltre up there. Don't pitch to him, then pitch to Beltre. Don't pitch to Beltre, then pitch to Mike. If you don't pitch to Mike, pitch to Cruz. I don't care. Every one of those guys is capable of hurting you. Maybe they won't. Maybe they will.
"They know Barry can see a couple inches off the plate," Washington said. "They don't know if [Hamilton] can see a couple inches off the plate. I don't know if it'll get to that point. Barry Bonds had a ton of discipline. Hamilton is still trying to acquire discipline. There's the difference right there. If you try to walk Barry, Barry'll let you throw it out there."Young said the Rangers are more than happy to have opponents put Hamilton on base.
"Whenever you give up a free base, it always works for the offense," Young said. "If they try to give up a free base, we'll take it all day long."
Cruz a fixture in Rangers' lineup
ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz has started all 34 Rangers games in right field, a big accomplishment considering he has been on the disabled list six times since August 2009 and hasn't played more than 128 games in a season.
Cruz will get a day off soon, manager Ron Washington said Sunday, but not yet. The designated-hitter spot had been tied up for a week by Adrian Beltre, who returned to third base after dealing with inflammation of his left hamstring. Before that, the Rangers had been playing a man down with Beltre out for five straight games.
And the Rangers are also trying to get the slow-starting Cruz back on track. He batted .283 in the last 15 games to raise his batting average to .254 entering Sunday.
Cruz delivered the biggest hit of the night for the Rangers in their 13-6 win over the Angels on Sunday with a third-inning grand slam. He finished 4-for-5 with the four RBIs and raised his average .273."It's going to come soon," Washington said of getting Cruz a day off. "We've got Beltre back. We had to to do what we had to do. Nelson's just gotta suck it up."
The Rangers got a scare with Cruz on Saturday. Cruz was awarded first base by a hit-by-pitch, but that may have been a sell job by the right fielder. It appeared he might not have been hit on the wrist.
Beltre back at third base for Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Adrian Beltre was back at third base on Sunday after being the designated hitter for two days, as Rangers manager Ron Washington tries to ease him back into the field.
"It's a nice day," Washington said. "So we've got him back out there."
Beltre, who missed five games because of an inflamed left hamstring, played third base in the first game of a doubleheader against Baltimore on Thursday. He had been the DH in six of his last seven games.
Washington said the Rangers' playing surface is in good shape -- Beltre missed time in Toronto last week because of the artificial surface at Rogers Centre -- and the weather was improved Sunday after Friday's rain that forced a two-hour delay.Beltre went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in the Rangers' 13-6 win on Sunday and is hitting .310 on the season.
Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore felt light headed during the sixth inning and left the dugout Sunday night. Moore, 73, was transported to Medical Center Arlington where doctors were going to run tests. Moore was feeling better before he left the ballpark and was able to walk to the ambulance. Reliever Scott Feldman is expected to make a spot start Monday against Kansas City, as the Rangers try to get their rotation back in line after Thursday's doubleheader in Baltimore. Manager Ron Washington said he will make the decision official after Sunday night's game against the Angels.
Several Rangers pitchers took early batting practice in preparation for Interleague Play beginning Friday in Houston. Washington said the pitchers worked on hitting -- especially bunting -- during Spring Training.
Triple-A Round Rock second baseman Yangervis Solarte had a 22-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday.
Double-A Frisco shortstop Jurickson Profar extended his hitting streak to 22 games on Saturday with three more hits. Profar led off the 12th inning with a double and later scored the winning run in a 2-1 RoughRiders victory over Corpus Christi.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.