HOUSTON -- The Rangers' starting pitching has fallen off since its terrific start to the season. The starters were 11-2 with a 2.76 ERA in their first 18 games as the club raced off to a 14-4 start. They were averaging 6.7 innings per start. Since then, going into Sunday's game, they were 8-10 with a 4.60 ERA in their last 23 games while averaging 5.8 innings per start. "What I've seen is we're not getting ahead of hitters like we used to," manager Ron Washington said. "We're getting into a lot of 3-2 counts, we're putting hitters in hitters' counts and we're not getting outs with two outs. We're giving up too many runs with two outs.
"We need to get back to pounding the strike zone, getting outs early and getting out of the inning with two outs." The Rangers' slide in starting pitching began with the game against the Yankees on Wednesday, April 25, when Scott Feldman had to come out of the bullpen and make his first spot start. The Rangers had been rained out in Detroit on the previous Friday and forced to play a doubleheader on Saturday. Since then, the Rangers have made a number of adjustments to the rotation. They have used off-days to give some pitchers extra rest and another rainout in Baltimore forced a second doubleheader. That required the Rangers to make further adjustments to the rotation. The result is the rotation hasn't been as settled or as effective as it was early in the season. "We can't expect our offense to put eight runs up every time," Washington said. "You still have to win scoring four or five runs. You need pitching. Pitching will always be paramount."