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And Then ... There Was Baseball. Rangers, Your Move.

When we last left our Rangers they and pitcher Derek Holland were clubbed around in New York by the Yankees. Not, no last Wednesday. Way back on April 16.

It was hours after the Rangers' 5-2 loss in the Bronx that Saturday afternoon that the Mavericks rallied in the last six minutes to capture Game 1 of their NBA first-round playoff series against the Portland Trailblazers.

After that game Blazers' coach Nate McMillan was fined $35,000 by the league for criticizing the officiating. There were approximately nine of us media members on hand to hear his whining. Slowly but surely during the Mavs' run to the title that was as improbable as it was magical that gaggle grew to a throng and the local headlines became more Mavs, less Rangers.

While most of us weren't paying any attention, the Rangers went 28-31 during the Mavs' two-month playoff pursuit. Went in 10-4 and came out -- after yesterday's 4-2 loss in Atlanta -- at 38-35 with a dental-floss thin lead in the AL West.

But now, just in time, the Houston Astros come to Arlington tonight to resume one of sports' lamest "rivalries." Duke-North Carolina. Texas-OU. Mavs-Heat.

The Silver Boot?

While the Astros, their baseball-worst record and triple-digit heat, won't conjure any feelings of October this week at Rangers Ballpark, it is time to dive back into the baseball pool. Watched some Rangers over the weekend. Was reminded how -- compared to playoff basketball -- slow patient the sport is.

Since sweeping the Indians in Cleveland to start this month, the Rangers are only 4-9. On Saturday -- unless I'm missing something -- they stole a rare road victory in Atlanta.

Nursing a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 8th, manager Ron Washington summoned Darren Oliver despite a sparkling performance by Yoshinori Tateyama (three up, three strikeouts). Oliver, unable to channel Colby Lewis' smooth, glove-only sweep "throw" to 1st a night before, fielded a bunt and threw wide down the right-field line. Dan Uggla then spanked a drive off the center-field wall that replays showed hit the top of the fence's yellow line and should've been a home run.

But the umpires -- in their cocky, stubborn wisdom -- somehow didn't even deem the play reviewable via instant replay. Uggla was stranded at 2nd and into the 9th the Rangers went not with a 5-4 deficit but a 4-4 tie. Texas won it in the 10th on an Ian Kinsler double and Adrian Beltre single.

Yesterday the Rangers lost 4-2 despite getting 10 hits. Couple of troubling spots. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba made two errors -- catcher's interference and dislodging a pop-up from the glove of first baseman Michael Young -- and assisted in a wild pitch in the 3rd inning to give Atlanta a 3-0 lead against Alexi Ogando.

In the 9th against Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel with a runner on 1st, was it just me or did Josh Hamilton looked resigned to striking out? He fanned on three pitches, meekly flailing on an offering that was low and inside and then non-chalantly strolling back to the dugout.

Looks to me like the Rangers are struggling with their bullpen lefties and with their defense. Arthur Rhodes allowed another run-scoring hit Sunday and the Rangers made two more errors in the game, giving them a baseball-high 57.

Doesn't look great right now. But it's a long season. Right, Mavericks?


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