Happy times for Texas fans means seeing Francisco Cordero on the mound in the ninth inning with a save on the line. But going into Saturday's game, Cordero has been a lonely figure in the bullpen over the past month. Since May 27, Cordero's save chances have consisted of a blown save in Detroit on June 2 and a converted save against Atlanta on June 15.
Consequently, Cordero has had to stay sharp by pitching often in mopup situations. Manager Buck Showalter wants to get his closer into a game at least every three days, one way or the other.
"I don't think I've ever gone this long before," Cordero said of the recent dearth of save chances. "Sometimes it goes like this and sometimes you've got to be ready to save a game every day."
Despite the lack of recent save opportunities, Cordero began the day tied for fifth in the American League with 17 saves. He has blown three saves and has a 3.77 ERA.
Whether Cordero's lack of activity in June will hinder his chances of making the All-Star team remains to be seen. The club and Cordero would have to go on a serious tear for Cordero to equal last year's team record 49 saves. Cordero finished the 2004 season with a 2.13 ERA.
"I went to the All-Star Game last year and it was really nice," Cordero said. "I would love to go again this year, but I'm not really thinking about that. My thoughts are on this team winning some games and going to the playoffs."
Soriano struggles: Whereas the ball looked as big as a grapefruit to Alfonso Soriano on the last homestand, it looked more like a pea through the opening four games of the road trip.
Soriano went into Saturday's game just 1-for-17 on the road trip, which dropped his average from .300 to .285. He had hit four homers on the last six-game homestand.
"You take the approach that there's always a good streak around the corner with him," Showalter said. "When you add it up at the end of the season, he'll be a force."
Making a stand: By losing four games in the standings through the opening four games of their road trip, the Rangers are taking the approach that the upcoming four-game home series with the the first-place Angels, while not critical, has taken on added significance.
"I wouldn't say it's a sense of urgency, but there's definitely a need to make an adjustment, and it needs to be against the team we're chasing," outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. said. "That's the way I feel personally, and I'm sure it's the way the team feels."
Around the horn: The Steve Karsay experiment continues in Frisco. Karsay, trying to resurrect his career, is building arm strength. But he was touched up for four hits and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings Friday night against Wichita. ... Triple-A Oklahoma fell, 2-1, to Iowa on Friday for its 10th straight defeat. That's the longest losing streak in RedHawks' history. ... The Rangers went into Saturday's game leading the Majors with 113 home runs.
Coming up: Chan Ho Park hopes for a big rebound Sunday when he takes the mound for the finale of the Houston series. Park surrendered 10 hits and eight runs while getting just three outs in his last start against the Angels. The Astros will counter with left-hander Andy Pettitte.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.