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01-18-2018, 12:33 AM
BALTIMORE -- The Texas Rangers finally ran out of patience with left-hander Joe Saunders, who was designated for assignment Tuesday after going winless in eight starts. Saunders gave up four homers and seven runs in five innings on Monday night in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles. That left him 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA. "I just dont think its worked out to his liking and we just wanted to try something new and different at this point," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright Saunders to the minor leagues. But it appears likely his time with Texas is over. "It was something we discussed, and we felt like it was best we go in another direction," manager Ron Washington said. "We appreciate everything Joe done. He was a pro. Sometimes, things just doesnt work out." The Rangers (37-5) had lost 10 of 12 through Monday and were mired in fourth place in the AL West, 14 games behind division-leading Oakland. So instead of waiting to see if the 33-year-old Saunders could break his extended slump, Texas recalled 25-year-old Miles Mikolas from Triple-A Round Rock. Although Levine labeled Mikolas "a work in progress," he said and the right-hander will start Wednesday at Baltimore and become part of the starting rotation. Mikolas was 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 16 games, including six starts, for Round Rock. He entered the year with just 11 career starts at the minor league level, all in 2009, his first professional season. But Mikolas was 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA after joining the Express rotation on May 30. So the Rangers bid farewell to Saunders and welcomed Mikolas to the big leagues. "It just so happens we have a starting pitcher at Triple-A who our manager and Triple-A pitching coach are highly recommending we give a chance at the big league level," Levine said. "So I think those two paths cross and we decided to make this move at this point." Saunders signed with Texas on March 5 and was given a job in the starting rotation on March 25, but he went on the 15-day disabled list after one start and did not return until May 28. He never got in a groove after that. Including Mondays outing in Baltimore, Saunders yielded 20 runs in 15 2-3 innings over his last three starts. "They have been miserable," he acknowledged. "Its tough man." Saunders owns an 89-86 lifetime record and made the AL All-Star team in 2008. He broke into the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2005 and also pitched for Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle before latching on with the Rangers. "He tried out with us in spring training this year, and he had strong beliefs that he could help us win major league games," Levine said. "I think what he ended up doing is he came in and gave us some very valuable innings. He also has been a consummate professional since hes been here." 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"We hit them hard and hit them early. Its a lot more comfortable going out there, and youre able to pound the zone." Niese allowed less than four earned runs for the 19th consecutive start, giving up three in six innings. "The offence really busted out, and Jonathon did another great job," teammate David Wright said. "Every time he takes the ball, you think hes going to go nine innings, and offensively we havent done a lot to pick him up. Im glad we were able to do that today." Niese -- batting eighth -- drove in a run with a bunt in the second inning. Manager Terry Collins joked that he hadnt called for a suicide squeeze since 2006, and Niese said it might have been the first of his career. "Luckily was able to get a pitch I could put down," Niese said. Kirk Nieuwenhuis scored without a play for a 2-0 lead. "The squeeze was huge," Collins said. "We dont do that much, but I wanted to see if we could get something started, so we tried something different." The bulk of the offence, however, came from higher in the order. Wright drove in a run for the sixth game in a row. Curtis Granderson thrived again in the leadoff spot, reaching base four consecutive times. He and Lucas Duda each had three hits. Murphy had two hits, including his sixth homer. Nieuwenhuis, making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A, doubled twice. "Weve been waiting a long time to break one open," Collins said. "People think we play ugly game. Were getting beat 4-3 and 3-2. Were hanging in there. Wee get a lot of guys on, we just havent been able to get big hits.dddddddddddd When you have big hits, you look great." Rookie Anthony DeSclafani (1-2), making his fourth major league start, gave up seven runs in 3 2-3 innings and departed with a 7.59 ERA. He was unable to keep the ball down or throw breaking pitches for strikes. "I fell behind hitters, and the fastballs were flying up in the zone," he said. "When that happens, youre not going to get the results you want." The Marlins (37-38) fell below .500 for the first time since April 30. Ten days ago they had the best home record in the majors, but they went 3-7 on their longest homestand of the year, losing all three series. "You just have to keeping grinding and stay positive," Garrett Jones said. "Its a long season. Every team runs into this type of thing where the offence isnt clicking and the pitching isnt clicking." The Mets had scored a total of 13 runs in Nieses previous five starts, but he led 7-0 before giving up three runs in the sixth. The left-hander then struck out Derek Dietrich with the bases loaded to end the inning and his afternoon. Nieses performance was part of a trend. Mets starters have an ERA of 1.74 over the past six games. The Mets have won four of their past five, but they still trail NL East leader Washington by five games. "If we keep the starting pitching going and keep the offence going, I think we should climb back in this thing," Niese said. NOTES: Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria (elbow) sat out his second game in a row but was feeling better available to pinch-hit. ... Marlins Spanish-language radio announcer Felo Ramirez celebrated his 91st birthday. ... The Mets improved to 16-11 in day games. ... The game drew a crowd of 24,613, plus 605 dogs on "Bark in the Park" day. ... The Mets begin a two-game homestand Tuesday when RHP Bartolo Colon (7-5, 3.88) pitches against Oakland. ... The Marlins begin a four-game series at Philadelphia on Monday when RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-3, 3.76) pitches against RHP Roberto Hernandez (3-5, 4.52). 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