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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rangers hit Fenway having times of their lives

ARLINGTON, Texas –The Texas Rangers needed their off day Monday to determine where – and when – they’ve been. And are going.

When they open a series Tuesday in Boston, a matchup of the American League’s top two teams, the Rangers will have their ninth different starting time – and be in their fourth time zone – in a nine-game stretch. ...

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ARLINGTON, Texas –The Texas Rangers needed their off day Monday to determine where – and when – they’ve been. And are going.

When they open a series Tuesday in Boston, a matchup of the American League’s top two teams, the Rangers will have their ninth different starting time – and be in their fourth time zone – in a nine-game stretch.

“It’s been weird,” Rangers closer Joe Nathan said. “Baseball’s never really regular. It’s what we’re used to. But we’ve been thrown some curveballs this year for sure.”

Even before 20 games in 20 days, it’s already been a long, strange stretch.

The Rangers’ last eight games, in Central time, have been played at 9:10 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 2:40 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. (split doubleheader), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m., 3:05 p.m. and 2:05 p.m. Add 6:10 p.m. (7:10 p.m., EDT) in Boston, the scheduled time for all three games at Fenway Park.

Texas played a 13-inning game a day before its first scheduled doubleheader in 22 seasons. A home game was postponed because of an unplayable field long after a storm had passed, a 20-year-old top prospect hit a couple of significant home runs, and ace Yu Darvish went without a win despite two impressive starts.

“You get in one of these schedules, so some reason, there’s going to be an extra-inning game that’s going to come into play,” said bench coach Jackie Moore, unable to recall during his 56 years in professional baseball a stretch like this for the Rangers:

After beating Felix Hernandez on a Saturday night in Seattle, the Rangers were going for a three-game sweep the next afternoon when Jurickson Profar, in the leadoff spot for the first time, became the youngest player since 1958 to start a game with a homer. But with Texas up 3-2 in the 11th inning, Nathan gave up a homer, only the third time in his 13 seasons to blow a save on his first pitch. That ended two saves streaks for Nathan: a career-best 16 in a row to start a season, and his major league record 31 in a row on the road for a team before his first blown save away from Rangers Ballpark. Texas lost 4-3 in 13 innings, its longest road game in four seasons.

Texas spent Memorial Day in Arizona playing its first scheduled doubleheader since 1991. After a 5-3 loss in the opener, Darvish struck out 14 in the nightcap. But the ace allowed a tying home run in the eighth, and the Diamondbacks scored in the ninth for a 5-4 win.

The sweep by the Diamondbacks gave Texas its first three-game losing streak this season.

The Diamondbacks then followed the Rangers home, for the first scheduled consecutive games against the same team on the road and at home since 1998. But it became only one game in Texas when the scheduled opener, after a day off, was postponed due to unplayable field conditions, thanks to a severe thunderstorm that swamped the infield.

Kansas City arrived in Texas as the sun was rising Friday after finishing its previous game at 3:14 a.m., a 4-2 victory with 51⁄2 hours of rain delays that ended an eight-game losing streak.

Asked if he felt for the Royals’ situation, Texas manager Ron Washington bluntly responded, “No. Nobody had sympathy for ours.”

Texas won the opener but lost 4-1 in the second game when the Royals tied the game on a two-out passed ball in the fifth, and scored three times in the 10th to hand Robbie Ross his first career loss. In Sunday’s series finale, Darvish allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings and left with a 1-0 lead.

The bullpen gave up the lead before Profar’s two-out, tiebreaking homer in the eighth.

After Boston, the Rangers have two 12:07 p.m. games in Toronto before their longest homestand of the season – 11 games in a row, including eight that are scheduled for 7: 05 p.m. at Rangers Ballpark.

“It is strange, all these different times,” Washington said. “But you’ve got do what you’ve got to do. ... It is what it is.”