• With a 9-2 Frisco victory over the Tulsa Drillers on Friday night, right-handed pitcher Michael Schlact earned his third victory in as many Double-A starts.
The 21-year-old surrendered only one run on five hits in six innings, walking two and striking out two.
Although Schlact said he didn't have his best stuff during the outing, he was able to fight through it.
"I had a little trouble locating at the beginning," said Schlact, "but it was something I worked through and overcame. I don't think [my stuff] was as good as it has been, but they say a lot of pitching is being able to pitch without your best stuff. That's what I tried to do."
When the Rangers selected Schlact in the third round of the 2004 draft, he already had an outstanding upper-80's sinker and an advanced changeup. However, the 6-foot-8 hurler has used the last two seasons to develop a slider and a four-seam fastball.
The Georgia native threw a good amount of four-seamers during Friday's start, with most clocking in at 91 and 92 miles per hour on the radar gun. Schlact says he has been using both his slider and four-seam fastball more often lately.
"I've been throwing more sliders just to get guys off the fastball," he said. "Lately I've also been throwing more four-seamers for a different look to the fastball."
• First baseman Emerson Frostad, who is hitting just .168 since the Texas League All-Star break, reached base three times in the contest. The 24-year-old singled and walked twice, giving him eight walks in his last nine games.
• Casey Benjamin, another second-half struggler, had a solid game on Friday as well. At the plate, Benjamin hit an RBI single and a solo home run. In the field, the shortstop made a brilliant diving stop in the hole between shortstop and third base.
• Left fielder Steve Murphy, who was 1-for-5 in the game, also hit a home run. He hit a two-run shot, his 10th, to give the ‘Riders a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Murphy believes his blast helped set the tone for Frisco's fourth consecutive victory.
"It was a fastball in," said Murphy of the pitch he hit out of the park. "I've been working on trying not to chase out of the zone. It was good. It set the tone early for the team and everybody kind of fed off that."
When we spoke with Murphy at the end of July, he was going through a major overhaul in his swing. The left-handed hitter was working to put his legs back into his swing, a move he felt would bring him more power.
With three home runs in his last seven games, Murphy is confident the adjustment is beginning to work.
"It has worked out pretty well," said Murphy when asked about his swing change. "It's tough to change your swing in the middle of the season, but I've worked with [hitting coach Scott] Coolbaugh and I'm doing some stuff in the cage. I've been using my legs a little bit more and I've been able to see the ball better."
Since the promotion of catcher Taylor Teagarden – who was soon followed by Chris Davis, Michael Schlact, and Brennan Garr – the RoughRiders have posted an 11-4 record, propelling them back to first place in the Texas League's Southern Divison.
Murphy says the addition of those players has helped re-ignite the team after a slow start to the season's second half.
"It's always good to have guys coming in, especially Schlact coming up and pitching well for us," said the Kansas State product. "It's good to see young talent come up and perform right away. It's a big boost for this team and I think it'll help us in the end during the push for the playoffs."
• Centerfielder Brandon Boggs began serving a three-game suspension on Friday. He was disciplined for charging the mound in Thursday night's game. Third baseman Chris Davis, who was in uniform but did not play, should return to Frisco's lineup on Saturday evening in Wichita.
• Relief pitcher Brennan Garr was promoted to Double-A Frisco and was in uniform for Friday night's game. His last appearance came on Wednesday, when he threw two scoreless innings as a member of the Bakersfield Blaze.
• Second baseman German Duran had an outstanding night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI, but he was equally impressive in the field. In the game's third inning, Duran ranged up the middle to stab a ground ball and made an off-balance throw to nail the runner at first base.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Duran after the game for a quick Q&A.
Jason Cole: How do you feel the move to second base has helped you defensively?
German Duran: I'm more relaxed over there. Last year it seemed like I was trying to take a lot of information from our infield coach. I wasn't helping out at short, so they moved me to second base. I'm more relaxed over there and it's a little bit easier. I feel more in control with my defense over there.
Cole: As you've gained a reputation as one of the top hitters in the Texas League, do you feel pitchers are attacking you differently now?
Duran: They throw me a lot more offspeed stuff. I don't know if I've gotten a reputation. I just feel like those guys don't want to give up runs in tough situations. With a guy on second base or third base, I just feel like they are facing any other hitter. I don't think it is because it's me, I think it's because it's the situation I'm put in. They aren't going to throw me something I can hit so they throw me more offspeed stuff.
Cole: You are hitting .358 with runners in scoring position this season. Do you approach those at bats differently than with nobody on?
Duran: Yeah, I try to put the ball in play and hit the ball up the middle. Dave [Anderson] has talked a lot about that. With guys in scoring position and less than two outs, you just put the ball in play up the middle. A lot of good things happen and you can square a lot more balls up. Instead of trying to pull the ball you get the ball up the middle. All of the sudden you're a little early and you still pull it and get a base hit. If you're a little late, you still get a ball in the gap.
Cole: You have 21 home runs this year, but you don't have one in August yet. Any worries there?
Duran: No, I'm not a home run hitter. I'm not worried about that. If they come, they come. If they don't, they don't. I think I've proven that I can hit them.
Instant Analysis: Frisco at Tulsa (8/17)
Future Rangers Top Stories
Chris Carter to New York, Napoli to TexasSenior Expert Adam Ronis analyzes Mike Napoli's return to the Texas Rangers and Chris Carter's arrival to New York! How will these moves affect the Fantasy Baseball landscape?
Rangers Release James LoneyRangers trim roster, release veteran first baseman James Loney
Hardball ScoopYesterday at 12:02 PM
Smoke Signals - League Digest 1.2Jake and Jamie return to the airwaves to discuss the latest news in baseball from this week, including some player extensions and the World Baseball Classic, as well as some…
Indians Baseball InsiderSaturday at 9:37 PM
Storylines: Odor, Rangers agree on extensionThe Rangers and Rougned Odor have agreed to a contract extension, plus all of the other news from around baseball on Saturday in today's Storylines....
Indians Baseball InsiderSaturday at 9:00 PM