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August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Rangers notes

Manager Ron Washington called the play Elvis Andrus made on Monday night, going to his right and making a jump throw to gun down Manny Machado to start the fifth inning, a top-10 play.

Washington said it was the No. 1 play of the night, as the Rangers were up 3-1 and that could have started an Orioles rally.

"You don't know what that inning turns into," Washington said. "It was a rhythmic play. If he would've taken one more step, even one-half step, he' ssafe. That's getting to the ball on time, catching it and everything happens after that on time."

Washington said only a handful of shortstops in the big leagues could make that play, including the Royals' Alcides Escobar, the Blue Jays' Adeiny Hechavarria, the Angels' Erick Aybar, the Mariners' Brendan Ryan and possibly the Yankees' Derek Jeter.

Andrus takes pride in the jump throw, and said he modeled his after Jeter. He went on to say that his defense has improved this season, but not because of those highlight reel plays.

"I've really focused on routine ground balls and making those plays," Andrus said. "I've taken more pride in those, and feel my defense and offense have been better this season."

Here are a few other notes:

* Derek Holland, who starts Wednesday, said he feels like he is one pitch away from turning the corner for good. He seemed to do that against Detroit on Aug. 11, but then gave up five runs (four earned) in the sixth inning Thursday in New York. But he wasn't too unhappy with his outing, saying he made one bad pitch to Andruw Jones, who roped a two-run homer.

* Ron Washington is pleased with the defense of Nelson Cruz, saying the right-fielder is playing through aches and pains this season. Cruz made an ill-timed jump for a ball Monday, but that isn't a cause for concern. "Nelson is pretty good," Washington said. "Might not be up to par with what we’ve been seeing in the past, but he’s also been nursing a lot of stuff out there. That’s a lot of man. ... He gives up his body, so I'm pleased."

* Ron Washington on using Joe Nathan to protect a four-run lead in the ninth against Baltimore: "A four-run lead with that team, with the way they've been able to come back, my mind is I want to let them know the comeback is over. Comeback? Don’t even think about it. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to have to do it against him."

* Roy Oswalt is not available in the bullpen tonight, but should be ready to go Wednesday. ... Koji Uehara is scheduled to throw an inning of relief at Triple A Round Rock tonight. ... There is no update on Mike Napoli. He is taking it slow and has yet to catch bullpen sessions or run the bases.

-- Drew Davison

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