CLEVELAND -- The Rangers have long been known as a team that can hit the ball hard and hit the ball a long way. They have long been known as a team dependent upon the home run. Manager Ron Washington is trying to change that, and 19 strikeouts in Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Indians are a reminder that the Rangers are having a tough time doing that. "They're trying to do too much rather than play to the situation," Washington said. "These guys are so used to banging, it's hard for them to shorten their stroke and put the ball in play.
"It's difficult. Like anything else, it's a habit that is hard to break. I'm not trying to break the mentality of banging, but if the other team is not allowing you to bang, then play the game that they are allowing you to play." The Rangers entered Thursday's games ranked fourth in the American League in home runs, but 13th in on-base percentage. They were sixth in runs scored. "Everybody wants to bang and be a hero," Washington said. "When you try to be a hero, you end up being a zero. Be who you are, and whoever ends up being the hero, is a hero. If you get guys in runners in scoring position, don't try to pick them all up. Get them in one at a time and pass the baton." The 19 strikeouts are a new club record. The Rangers have struck out 18 times in a game on three occasions, and all came against the Seattle Mariners. One was a 16-inning game. The other two came with Randy Johnson on the mound. Teixeira watch: Mark Teixeira continues to get extensive treatment on his left knee, which has been an issue for him since Spring Training, and Washington would like to get him at least one game at designated hitter in Toronto. The Rangers will be playing on artificial turf for the first time this season, and that can be hard on the legs. But Teixeira said the knee has not been a factor in what's going on with him offensively. "I've been working hard to get it better and it's close to 100 percent," Teixeira said. "It's feeling pretty good. [Rangers conditioning coach] Jose Vazquez and I have been doing a lot of strengthening exercises, and I'm happy with the way it's responding."' Teixeira went into Thursday's game hitting .225 with no home runs and three RBIs. He has a .385 slugging percentage. Sosa playing every day: Sammy Sosa has started in 18 of the Rangers' first 20 games, and was in the lineup on Thursday against the Indians. His playing time isn't about to be reduced any time soon. Washington made it clear that Sosa has earned himself a job as an everyday player for the Rangers. Sosa, going into Thursday's game, was hitting .224, and was second on the Rangers with four home runs and 16 RBIs. "I certainly don't want to pull his bat out of the lineup," Washington said. "They may get him out, but it's a tough out." McCarthy better: The Rangers were encouraged by Brandon McCarthy's two scoreless innings in relief against the Indians on Wednesday. McCarthy had allowed 12 runs in three innings in his two previous starts before being skipped this week because of Tuesday's rainout. The rainout allowed the Rangers to use McCarthy in relief on Wednesday. "He was spotting his fastball better, and had more depth to his breaking ball," Washington said. "The biggest thing was his changeup was down. He didn't leave it up in the zone. When he does that, he's effective." McCarthy was also more relaxed and more deliberate on the mound, rather than rushing everything. "I get anxious to pitch," McCarthy said. "I can't wait to get on the mound, and then when I'm out there, I can't wait to make the next pitch. When I do that, my mechanics fall apart, and it takes away from my natural ability. When I slow down, I'm able to make quality pitches." He said it: "It was like a childhood dream. I used to spend most of my time in the old Municipal Stadium. The last couple of years I'd circle the date when we'd play in Cleveland but it never worked out. Last night was nice." -- Matt Kata, who went to high school in Cleveland, on playing his first Major League game in his hometown on Wednesday Wednesday's Minor Stars: Top performances from Wednesday's Minor League games: Gold: Class A Bakersfield outfielder Brandon Boggs was 3-for-4 with a double, run scored and one RBI in a 5-2 victory over Visalia. Silver: Reliever Scott Shoemaker, in his first appearance for Bakersfield, pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief to get the victory, allowing three hits and striking out two. Bronze: Double-A Frisco catcher Salomon Manriquez had another home run in the Roughriders' 8-5 loss to San Antonio. He is 5-for-13 with three home runs and eight RBIs in his last four games. Briefly: The Rangers, after Wednesday's loss, were 2-8 on the road. That ties the 1973 team, which also started out 2-8, for the worst road record after 10 games in club history. ... Infielder Wally Backman has been moved from extended spring to Class A Clinton, and Bakersfield pitcher Anthony Pluta has been activated off the disabled list. Up next: The Rangers open a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday. Right-hander Robinson Tejeda is scheduled to pitch for the Rangers. The Rangers are 31-12 against the Blue Jays over the past five years.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.