Rangers finish April in thick of AL West race

Rangers finish April in thick of AL West race

SEATTLE -- The Rangers, finishing one game under .500, didn't play their best baseball in April. They also had to deal with injuries to outfielder Nelson Cruz, second baseman Ian Kinsler and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

But they woke up on Saturday morning just a half-game out of first place in the tightest race in the Major Leagues. Entering May, the Angels and the Athletics were tied for first place in the AL West at 12-12, while the Rangers and the Mariners were 11-12.

"You can look at it in different ways," third baseman Michael Young said. "Right now, Seattle is excited to get Cliff Lee back, so they're getting better. Anaheim hasn't hit [its] stride yet, but they'll be fine. Everybody knows what they can do. Oakland is going to be in it all year because of their great young pitching, and we're just trying to get our lineup back to full strength.

"If you ask the players, we all expected four good teams, and that's what we've seen so far. We have four good teams getting after it. I haven't seen anything shocking at all."

The Rangers finished April hitting .240 as a team. That's their fifth lowest batting average for the month of April in the last 30 years. But their team ERA of 3.69 is also their fifth lowest in the last 30 years too.

The Rangers' 11-12 record marked their fourth straight season with a losing record in April. But this is the closest they've been to first place at the end of April in that time. They were 2 1/2 games out of first at the end of April last season, 7 1/2 games back in 2008 and 4 1/2 games back in 2007.

"I think this division is the best and the deepest it's been since I've been here," outfielder David Murphy said. "I don't think Anaheim is the same team it's been the last few years, but you have to respect them. They are still a good team, and they know how to win.

"If there is any team that's a question mark, it's Oakland because they're so young. But you can't question their talent. Seattle has Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez at the top of their rotation, so you know they're going to be tough. They're having a tough time scoring runs, but everybody has yet to play their best baseball."