Extra Bases: Chirinos excels with bat, arm

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A discussion to determine the Texas Rangers' most improved player at the season's midpoint should certainly include catcher Robinson Chirinos.

The 30-year-old Venezuelan had a perfect day at the plate Sunday, going 3-for-3 with a home run in a 3-2 loss to Minnesota.

Behind the plate, Chirinos cut down his 21st would-be base-stealer in 48 games, second only to Detroit catcher Alex Avila (who has 23 in 63 games). And Chirinos came within an eyelash of picking another runner off first.

“I’ve been working hard to improve my game," Chirinos said. “Lately, I’m feeling better at the plate."

Chirinos and the Rangers begin a four-game series in Baltimore at 6:05 CT tonight. Left-hander Joe Saunders (0-4, 5.19 ERA) starts for Texas against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (2-8, 4.70).

Sunday's effort boosted Chirinos' batting average to .247. The 412-foot home run into left-field stands that made it 2-2 in the fifth inning was his seventh of the season.

Chirinos and Chris Gimenez are giving the Rangers solid play behind the plate while projected starter Geovany Soto continues to recover from a right-knee injury that has sidelined him the entire season so far.

Gimenez is batting .305 in 16 starts since his promotion from Triple-A Round Rock on May 20.

Whether the big plays come with his bat or throwing arm, Chirinos isn’t choosy: “Whatever I can do to help the team win."