Washington says Kirkman 'unlucky' in relief

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said reliever Michael Kirkman is going through a stretch of "bad luck" lately. Kirkman entered Thursday's game against the Diamondbacks in the seventh with a 9-3 lead, but couldn't finish the inning.

Instead, Kirkman gave up two runs on four hits while getting just two outs, and the Rangers had to bring in Neal Cotts to finish the inning.

Kirkman has allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in his last three innings over four appearances entering Friday's series opener against the Royals. He has one strikeout. For the season, Kirkman has a 6.97 ERA and opponents are hitting .337 off him.

"He has been pitching in bad luck," Washington said. "Yesterday, he got two ground balls that could have got him out of the inning, they just weren't hit hard enough. There is nothing wrong with his stuff. I see good stuff, I just see bad luck.

"I see a short breaking ball and life on his fastball. He's making good pitches, they're just finding a way to get a bat on it. It hasn't been because he's not making pitches. When you're struggling, you just get in that mode and you've got to fight through it."

Kirkman is one of four left-handers in the Rangers' eight-man bullpen. The others are Cotts, Joseph Ortiz and Robbie Ross. Cotts and Ross have emerged as the primary late-inning left-handed relievers, with Kirkman and Ortiz being used in middle relief roles.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Christian Corona is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.