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Rangers start season sloppy on both sides of the ball

OAKLAND -- The Rangers' final line score summed up their night off the mound: no runs, three hits, four errors, six runners left on base.

The first two of the hits were infield singles: a bunt that Leonys Martin beat out in the first and an infield chopper that Delino DeShields did the same in the eighth. Prince Fielder's ninth-inning double was the only extra-base hit, and Texas has just two in three games.

The Rangers' offense, overpowered by Scott Kazmir for seven innings on Wednesday, has not started the season on fire. They are hitting .130 through three games with a .152 slugging percentage and have scored in just two of 27 innings. They have had just 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position and have yet to hit the ball out of the ballpark.

"We had some tough at-bats tonight," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Kazmir was really good commanding his pitches. He threw his fastball and changeup and was really effective. We need to be more aggressive on the fastball. It's still early. Everybody is trying to find their offensive rhythm."

Kazmir and two relievers combined to strike out 13 hitters. In three games, the Rangers have struck out 24 times and walked just three times.

"If you've got two strikes, you've got to dig in, and have a good two-strike approach," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "With Kazmir, we knew he was going to come at us with his fastball. I know we had a good game plan, and even though he had good life on his fastball, you've got to be ready to hit off the fastball. It's early. It's three games. I expect our offense to find our rhythm just like the defense."

The defense was excellent on Tuesday but hardly the same on Wednesday. There were four errors, but that hardly told the whole story. One run scored on a passed ball. After three games, the Rangers have six errors, three more than the number of runs they have scored.

"We've got to handle the baseball better," Banister said. "We'll wash this one out and be ready for tomorrow. We're a better defensive ballclub than this."

Andrus has committed four errors in three games at shortstop. He had two throwing errors on Wednesday, although one of those could easily have been scored a hit.

"I'm feeling good defensively," Andrus said. "It's been a few little bit unlucky days for me, but all around I feel good. Turn the page, it was a crazy game all-around today for the team."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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