Buzz: Bench production keys rise to first

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' consistent bench production hasn't been lost on manager Ron Washington, who has used platoons and pinch hitters more than ever this season, his seventh in Texas.

"We haven't had this bench since we've been here," Washington said.

Rangers pinch hitters have 21 hits in their 64 at-bats (.344) and they've been on base even more than that. The bench helped win a game Wednesday against Milwaukee and could easily have won Friday's game against Seattle.

Craig Gentry had an important two-run double in a pinch-hit situation in Saturday's 15-3 victory. It turned a 5-3 lead into a 7-3 advantage. Gentry has a single, double and two walks in his past four pinch-hit appearances.

Jeff Baker is 1-for-2 with a walk in his past three pinch-hit chances. Gentry and Baker have helped Washington give David Murphy a chance to get going against right-handers only with other options in left field against southpaws.

"With Baker and Gentry and [Murphy's] struggles, all of that is coming into play," Washington said. "I have to have Gentry and Baker in there. But if you asked Murphy, he wants to be facing everybody. Right now with the roster and the way things are going, this is working well."

A trustworthy bench has allowed Washington to keep his regulars fresh and his bench players sharp.

"Nobody's been complaining about playing time so it helps to move people around and give everybody a chance," Washington said. "We're giving them opportunities. In the past we didn't have too many guys you would pinch hit for. And this is the best we've had."

Still undecided for Tuesday: The Rangers will wait one more day to announce Tuesday's starter against Houston.

Long reliever Ross Wolf got an inning Saturday night to shake off some rust after not pitching for 10 days. It was only the second time he's pitched since July 28.

Wolf is a candidate for the starting nod along with Triple-A Round Rock right-hander Josh Lindblom and lefty Travis Blackley, who is also with the Express after being acquired from Houston earlier this week.

If it is Wolf, Friday helped, from the three outs recorded to throwing about 40 pitches in the bullpen, while Seattle relievers threw 61 pitches as the Rangers scored eight runs in the eighth inning.

"I can give them all I've got," Wolf said. "I can give them 70 pitches."

Garza on four: Matt Garza, who was bumped up a day to start Monday, has allowed four earned runs in each of his past three starts. He's allowed five home runs in the three outings.

Garza's struggles, if you want to call them that, have nothing to do with switching leagues after coming over from the Cubs, Washington said.

"He's pitched in the American League before," Washington said. "If he executes his stuff the way he wants to, it doesn't matter what league he's in."

Short hops: Center fielder Leonys Martin was out of the starting lineup for the first time since July 24, when he didn't play against the New York Yankees. "He just needed a day off," Washington said. Martin had a hit in Saturday's 15-3 victory and is batting .273 with a .672 OPS since his day off ... Washington said Sunday that the Rangers haven't come up with a plan for injured DH Lance Berkman, who last played in a rehab game on Wednesday ... The Rangers have had trouble with sliding over second base the past few nights, a problem that is created by hitting the dirt too late, Washington said ... Top infield prospect Rougned Odor had a walk-off single for the second straight night in Double-A Frisco's 6-5 victory over Tulsa.