ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are going to need Jeff Baker's offense in the next five days. The Rangers went up against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel on Wednesday, the first of three left-handed pitchers they will see in the final five games of the season.
The Rangers are scheduled to face the Angels' C.J. Wilson on Friday and Jason Vargas on Sunday. Baker has been one of their best right-handed bats against left-handers, and was hitting .317 with a .683 slugging percentage against them going into Wednesday's game.
Baker is also dealing with a strained groin muscle/sports hernia that limits him to designated-hitter duty.
"It's good enough to swing, and the running part is getting better," Baker said.
Baker said he is hoping to be ready to play the field in the postseason if needed and is expecting to be available all through October, if necessary.
"Yes, 100 percent," Baker said. "I will be able to play. I feel like it is getting better. I have had a lot of medicine and a lot of shots down there. I think it's all helping a little bit."
The Rangers could get Nelson Cruz back for the playoffs, but right now they don't have a lot of right-handed options to use against left-handers. The Rangers have given up on the idea of using either Jurickson Profar or Lance Berkman as switch-hitters from the right side. With Baker limited to designated-hitter duty, left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland continues to start at first base.
Moreland went into Wednesday hitting .240 with a .419 slugging percentage against left-handers. But he also had four hits in his last 11 at-bats against them including a big home run off the Rays' Matt Moore last Thursday in St. Petersburg.
"My options are limited, so I put him in there," Washington said. "He may catch one. He is my best first baseman, so I'm going to take my chances and see what happens."
Rangers monitoring Darvish's health as season ends
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish has struggled with his command in his last two starts, walking 10 batters in 10 1/3 innings. It could be a physical problem, although it's unclear if Darvish is dealing with general fatigue or if there is something specifically wrong with him.
Darvish was vague when asked about it after the Rangers' 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
"Everybody is dealing with something, and I'm dealing with something," Darvish said.
Darvish lasted just 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday night, and has now pitched 204 innings on the season. He is scheduled to start on Sunday against the Angels.
"Now that I've thrown over 200 innings, I've done the minimum of my job," Darvish said. "There are still games to play and I'd like to pitch as many innings as I can."
Darvish spent two weeks on the disabled list in July with a strained trapezius muscle in his shoulder and missed one start. But his 204 innings are the 14th most in the American League going into Wednesday.
"Everybody has issues, his are no different," manager Ron Washington said. "The grind of a Major League season is like no other grind anywhere else."
Reliever Frasor thriving against left-handers
ARLINGTON -- When Rangers right-handed reliever Jason Frasor got Astros left-hander Carlos Corporan to pop out in the eighth inning on Wednesday, it lowered his opponents' batting average against left-handers to .156 for the season.
That's tied for the seventh lowest by a right-handed pitcher against left-handed hitters in the American League with a minimum of 50 batters faced. They also have a .225 on-base percentage against him. Last year, left-handers hit .273 with a .415 slugging percentage off Frasor while he was with the Blue Jays.
His success this season is based on the usual criteria for right-handed pitchers against lefties. Frasor has a good changeup and a cut fastball he can run inside on left-handed hitters.
"He's good at spotting his fastball," manager Ron Washington said.
Frasor's success against left-handers is why he has earned a prominent role in the Rangers bullpen. Washington called him into a 3-2 game with runners at the corners and two outs in the eighth. Retiring Corporan on a popout to center was the biggest out of the game.
"It was fun," Frasor said. "It was fun when it was over. It's not fun out there. It's fun when it's over and you've done your job and maintained the lead. You could feel the intensity. It was a serious moment."
Frasor went into Wednesday's game with a 2.20 ERA in his last 38 games.
"Early on, he was just having trouble getting going," Washington said. "But the more we've been able to get him the ball, the more in tune he has become with his stuff."
Rangers keeping wary eye on scoreboard
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were an out away from being tied for the second Wild Card spot with the Indians on Tuesday night. While Texas was up, 3-2, on the Astros, Jason Giambi hit two-run shot in the ninth to give Cleveland a 5-4 walk-off win over the White Sox.
"Wasn't shocked, not shocked even at 42 years old," said manager Ron Washington, who has a long relationship with Giambi going back to their days together with the Athletics. "Big-time hitter, always has been clutch. Always has been. That's why Cleveland got him, even though he's hitting 170-something. He's sitting there for a reason."
Washington didn't know Giambi was the hero of the Indians' victory until after the game, but he had a clear view of the scoreboard in left field and knew Cleveland would remain a game ahead of his ballclub entering Wednesday's games.
"It's fun, it's nerve-wracking, it's all of the above," Washington said. "No matter what, I'm proud of these guys for the way they have fought all year with all the adversity. They never complained. It's fun, it's nerve-wracking and your stomach gets in knots. But what doesn't get in knots is your focus. You have to do what you have to do. You've got to live with what's going on in front of us."
Washington, like some of the players, can't help but watch the scoreboard to see how the Rays and Indians are playing in what's shaping out to be an exciting conclusion to the regular season, but they don't want to be consumed with how other teams are playing this week.
"To be honest, it's kind of difficult not to look," Ian Kinsler said. "You want to know what's going on in other games, but you want to try and stay away from anything that's going to subtract from what you're doing here. As long as you can keep the focus on the task at hand, whether it's your at-bat or someone else's at-bat, whatever you can do defensively to take away from watching the scoreboard."
Purpura to be reassigned by Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Rangers senior director of player development Tim Purpura will be reassigned within the organization before next season, MLB.com learned Wednesday.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported the shakeup. The Rangers will likely announce the move and the replacement in the offseason. General manager Jon Daniels has started to seek a replacement, but he did not comment on the move.
"We are evaluating ways to improve," Daniels told MLB.com. "In the meantime, all our focus is on the pennant race."
Purpura spent two seasons in the role overseeing the Rangers' Minor League System. He was previously the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Minor League Baseball for four seasons before he was hired by the Rangers in 2011. Purpura spent 14 seasons in the Astros organization, including as the club's general manager for 2 1/2 seasons. The Astros made their only World Series appearance with Purpura as the general manager in 2005.
• Joe Nathan has 41 saves this season, but he has yet to be used for more than one inning in a save situation. Angels closer Ernesto Frieri has seven games of four outs or more, but Rangers manager Ron Washington does not want to use Nathan for more than one inning.
Said Washington, "I don't foresee that. I'm not saying that won't happen, but I have guys who can get the ball to him. I haven't seen any reason to do it. That's asking a lot for a guy who has been a workhorse all year."
• Adrian Beltre entered Wednesday leading the American League in hits with 193. The last third baseman to lead the American League in hits was Kevin Seitzer with the Royals in 1987. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore's Manny Machado, both also third basemen, ranked second with 189.
• The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, along with Elvis Andrus, Joe Nathan and Derek Holland, made a check presentation to the Southeast Arlington Little League before Wednesday's game to aide a financial crisis within the organization. The Rangers also provided over 500 tickets to the organization for the game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.