4

Paging Mr. Jaramillo ... Mr. Rudy Jaramillo.

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This is a cruel joke.

Texas Rangers fans who for decades have yearned for pitching are finally getting it, only to see their woody go limp when they finally need it. Something I thought I'd never type:

The Rangers can't pitch hit.

Spent Father's Day plopped on the couch not believing my eyes. Ricky Barnes leading the U.S. Open in a train conductor's cap. And the Rangers - long the best boppers in the American League - going 34 at-bats without a hit over two games. In their last 20 innings the Rangers have managed only six hits, while striking out 20 times.

That kind of futility at the plate creates no margin for error on the mound or in the field. The result? They lose a game Saturday night on a wild pitch and yesterday dropped another - their fourth in a row - when Elvis Andrus threw away a run and Nelson Cruz totally whiffed on an attempted sliding catch in the 7th.

It also prompts questions. Urgent questions.

*Is Josh Hamilton that vaulable?

*Can the Rangers afford to give Chris Davis to the All-Star break to get a clue? (On Saturday he reached 100 strikeouts in 219 at-bats.)

*What more can Ron Washington do to shake up the lineup?

*Where, oh where, is Rudy Jaramillo? Considered to be one of baseball's best hitting coaches and a survivor of numerous organizational rebuilding plans, it's time he validated his reputation.

*Is this only a temporary June swoon, or a sign that the Rangers are still a year away from being legit contenders?

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