Despite a rash of injuries and a losing record, the Rangers are only three games out of first after they clobbered first-place Seattle 10-1 Monday night at The Ballpark in Arlington.
Left fielder Rusty Greer has been sidelined for nearly a month. Right fielder Gabe Kapler is on the disabled list. Second baseman Frank Catalanotto is also sidelined. There are concerns about Justin Thompson's surgically repaired left shoulder. The third base situation has been a mess.
Texas can be thankful it's in a division that lacks a dominant team. Seattle also has injury woes. Ditto Oakland. The Rangers (14-17) would trail New York by 71/2 games if they were in the AL East but are making a move by defeating their division rivals.
"We just need to stay close until we all get healthy," first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. "We knew the youngsters would play well. They just needed time to learn up here."
Two youngsters played a pivotal role Monday. Ruben Mateo had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, longest by a Rangers rookie since 1987. Mike Lamb had three hits, including two doubles.
Rick Helling pitched six shutout innings before leaving with a bruised hand, the result of a smash off Tom Lampkin's bat in the second. Helling (4-1) lowered his ERA to 2.44, second in the AL.