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Opposing No. 9 hitters getting best of Rangers

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are getting smoked by the No. 9 hitters in lineups this season, which goes against the trend that they're supposed to be the easiest out in baseball.

Opposing No. 9 hitters are batting .320 off Rangers' pitching with a .393 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. They have two home runs and 10 RBIs. That leads the American League in all categories.

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino is 4-for-12 with a home run and three RBIs as No. 9 hitter in the first three games of the seres. Zunino wasn't in the lineup for Thursday's day game -- John Buck got the start for Seattle -- so it's to be determined if the trend will continue.

"Whatever," said starter Robert Ross Jr., who is coming off a start in which he threw eight scoreless innings. "It's funny. It's hilarious. There's a stat for everything. That's one of those things that happens. Obviously it can change in a second. The nine-hole guy is the guy you want to get. Sometimes you don't."

Rangers historians will note that shortstop Kevin Elster had 24 home runs and 99 RBIs as the team's No. 9 hitter in 1996. That was the Rangers' first season to make the playoffs.

Todd Willis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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