Lefties keeping Blalock on the bench

Lefties keeping Blalock on the bench

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are about to run into a phalanx of left-handed starting pitchers. That may not be good news for Hank Blalock, who has already seen circumstances reduce his playing time.

The Rangers are likely to face five southpaw starters in the next seven games, beginning with Brett Anderson on Saturday and Dallas Braden on Sunday for the Athletics.

The Rangers are off on Monday, then open up a three-game series with the Yankees on Tuesday at the new Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are expected to pitch right-hander A.J. Burnett on Tuesday, followed by left-handers Andy Pettitte on Wednesday and CC Sabathia on Thursday. They're scheduled to face left-hander Jon Lester on Saturday in a three-game series with the Red Sox.

Blalock started the second game of a doubleheader against the Athletics on Friday but it was just his third start in the last eight games. He made one start against the Astros last weekend when Michael Young missed a game because of a sprained right ankle and just one of three games against the Yankees. He sat on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Yankees even though they had right-handed pitchers on the mound.

Washington used Josh Hamilton at designated hitter on Tuesday and Andruw Jones on Wednesday. Washington said he wanted to use Jones on Wednesday to get him ready for the run of left-handers coming up.

Washington wants to get Jones in there against left-handed pitchers as much as possible. He could use him in left field, but that would mean taking Marlon Byrd's right-handed bat out of the lineup. He could replace Chris Davis at first, but the Rangers are trying to get Davis going at the plate.

"He's our first baseman," Washington said. "We're going to continue to run him out there. If I need to get him a break, I will, but I'm not going to run him away from [left-handers].

"I'm still a Hank Blalock fan. That hasn't changed. He's going to be in there."

Blalock started 34 of the Rangers' first 40 games before suddenly finding his playing time becoming sporadic.

"I don't want to draw any conclusions," Blalock said. "I want to play every day but Wash makes out the lineup. I'm not going to comment on it. We're in first place."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-2, 4.67 ERA)
McCarthy pitched his first career shutout in a 5-0 victory over the Astros on Sunday, allowing nine hits and one walk while striking out six. He has pitched at least seven innings and thrown at least 105 pitches in his last three starts and is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts at home this season. He lost to the Athletics, 9-4, on May 7 by allowing seven runs in four innings and is 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in his career against them. That's his highest ERA against any team.

OAK: LHP Brett Anderson (2-4, 4.98 ERA)
Anderson is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts after going 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA in his first six. He beat the Mariners, 6-1, on Monday by going six innings and allowing one run on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. He pitched against the Rangers on April 28 in Arlington and allowed three runs -- one earned -- in five innings. Anderson was one of six players acquired from the D-backs in 2007 for pitcher Dan Haren.

Tidbits
Davis nearly reached baseball infamy on Friday when he came within one strikeout of setting the record for most in a doubleheader. Davis struck out six times before flying out to deep left-center. ... The Rangers pushed the A's to 10 games out of first place with Friday's sweep and moved to 10 games above .500 for the first time this season.

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Up next
• Sunday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 4-4, 3.25) vs. Athletics (Dallas Braden, 4-5, 3.69), 2:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Rangers (Derek Holland, 1-2, 5.70) at Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 3-2, 4.78), 6:05 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.