Josh Hamilton rebounds, but Rangers beat Angels 7-3

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Even though Josh Hamilton finished his return to Texas by going 3-for-5, the Rangers claimed the series Sunday night, beating the Angels 7-3.

Unfortunately, Hamilton failed to come through when it would have made the biggest difference. After Yu Darvish opened the top of the first with a walk, a hit by pitch and another walk, Hamilton stepped up with the bases loaded and none out. He swung at both pitches he saw and hit a routine grounder on the second, resulting in a 4-6-3 double play that nonetheless gave the Angels their first run.

The Angels finished the top of the first up 2-0, only to see Jered Weaver give up three runs on back-to-back homers from Lance Berkman and David Murphy in the bottom of the inning.

Both Darvish and Weaver later left with injuries. The blister that Darvish developed in Tuesday’s near perfect game knocked him out after five innings, while Weaver was removed with a sprained left (non-pitching) elbow, the result of an awkward fall trying to get out of the way of a comebacker. Weaver is iffy to make his next start.

With the starters gone, the Rangers won the battle of the bullpens. Ian Kinsler hit a three-run homer off former teammate Mark Lowe in the bottom of the sixth, putting the Rangers up 7-3 and finishing the scoring for the night.

Kinsler finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBI and a walk. He has three homers already this season.

Hamilton’s average bottomed out at .048 before he collected a double and two singles in the middle of the game. He got one more at-bat in the ninth and grounded out to end it, leaving him at .160 (4-for-25) through six games.

Of course, it means next to nothing right now, but with the Angels’ strength supposed to be the top five or six hitters in the lineup, it’s funny to see none of those guys hitting above .280, while Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos are all at .300 or better from the seventh-through-ninth spots.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.