University of Missouri product Aaron Crow has been in the big leagues for six weeks, but he got a big-league baptism of fire Friday night when, in the eighth inning, the Kansas City rookie was called in to protect a 3-0 lead with Cardinals sluggers Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday coming up and a man at first with two outs.■ Ian Kinsler hitting third today, but come Monday where will he be? (Dallas News)
"Pujols has been the best hitter in baseball the last 10 years and Holliday's having a great year. So it was exciting to have that opportunity," said Crow. "They're probably the best two hitters I've faced all year."
As his struggle at the plate only continues to mount, the Rangers may soon be facing a difficult lineup decision with 2B Ian Kinsler.■ Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer takes first loss (Detroit Free Press)
Kinsler has already been dropped from first in the lineup to third with the hope that his style would be more productive there with Josh Hamilton out. That has not happened. Kinsler enters Saturday's game hitting .243 in the No. 3 spot and is hitless in his last 16 at-bats. He is now hitting .228 for the season.
Hamilton is expected to return from the DL Monday. Also returning is likely No. 6 hitter Nelson Cruz. It may mean the Rangers will either have to give Kinsler another shot at the top of the lineup or move him to the bottom third. Kinsler has hit lower than sixth just once since the start of the 2008 season.
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The other issue with Kinsler is a deepening trend of poor road performances. Kinsler is now a career .243 hitter on the road and is hitting a major-league worst .143 for road games. He also ranks 168th among 184 qualifiers in road on-base percentage (.250) and 174th in road OPS (.497).
With the Tigers’ recent bullpen and offensive struggles, the margin of error isn’t very wide for the starting pitchers.
And when someone like Max Scherzer, who has been brilliant, is off slightly, the Tigers have been unable to win.
Such was the case Saturday night against the Pirates when Scherzer left in the sixth with the Tigers trailing by only one run — only to see Ryan Perry yield three runs as the Tigers dropped their fifth straight, 6-2, in the second game of the three-game interleague series.