ARLINGTON, Texas -- Travis Blackley was hitting the radar gun at 92 mph in one inning of spotless relief Friday.
That was a big improvement on a previous outing 12 days earlier when his fastball was in the 85 to 87 mph range in a start against Minnesota. He lasted 4.1 innings and was charged with eight hits and three earned runs.
Blackley was unsure what caused the downturn in the first place.
“It probably was a little bit of a dead arm,’’ Blackley said. “I kept telling everybody my arm didn’t hurt, but I don’t think they believed me. It really didn’t hurt. It also could have had something to do with it being about 185 degrees that day. Maybe in the heat, you don’t kick your leg as high.
“The main thing is my arm is feeling good, I’m throwing free and easy with good action on my pitches.’’
The Rangers have not penciled in a starter for the second game of the series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Blackley is technically in the bullpen now, but would covet another start.
Nick Tepesch is another candidate for the Tuesday start. Tepesch struggled in a one-inning relief outing Friday, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do,’’ said Tepesch.
Wash’s take: Ron Washington is looking ahead, not behind. “I’m not thinking about anything but winning a ball game,’’ the manager said at his pre-game media conference. “If we can win a game, we’ll see where it goes from there.’’
The manager said he never imagined his hitters would be in this kind of a lull.
Washington had high praise for Saturday A’s starter Bartolo Colon, who twirled his second 1-0 win over the Rangers this season:
“He’s a very athletic guy. He has a good feel for the game and he can put the ball right where he wants it.’’
Lineup shuffle: Oakland made some late lineup changes for today's game, scratching scheduled starting pitcher Jarrod Parker (illness) and designted hitter Yoenis Cespedes (sore left shoulder). The pitching change from a right-hander to left-hander Tommy Milone generated some Rangers lineup changes of their own. Jeff Baker and Joey Butler replaced Lance Berkman and Leonys Martin.
Bad combo: The Rangers have a couple of trends working against them today. They’ve lost six straight at Rangers Ballpark and they are 19-23 in day games.
The six straight home defeats is one shy of the record set in 2005. This is the second time this season the Rangers have lost six straight at home. Only Houston with 11 has fewer daytime wins than the Rangers in the AL.