Ron Washington and his Texas Rangers got a much-needed day off Monday, the first time in three weeks they didn't have to be at a ballpark for a game.
It was only a short reprieve from the second miserable start in two seasons under Washington, whose job is now in jeopardy.
By taking two of three at home from Minnesota, the Rangers (9-17) helped Washington stay employed at least until his 56th birthday — which is Tuesday. But it's going to take much more than one weekend series to keep him around.
After meeting with team owner Tom Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels before the Twins series, new team president Nolan Ryan said it was important to see how the team responded to the adversity after getting home.
"In the big picture, that's beneficial," Ryan said.
"Obviously, you want to let your fans know that you're concerned with what you're seeing and that you're going to try to do what's realistic to change that," he said. "But also, I don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction and not make good decisions, or decisions in hindsight that weren't the right approach."
Even in winning two of three against Minnesota, there were some of the same problems that have plagued the Rangers all season.
Texas trailed 5-0 in the series opener, the fifth of six straight games with a deficit at least that big. But the Rangers won 6-5 to snap a seven-game losing streak, celebrating like they'd won a title after David Murphy's RBI single in the 10th inning.
The Rangers had three errors — and other key plays that could have been — while allowing five unearned runs in a 12-6 loss Saturday night. But on Sunday, Vicente Padilla threw a complete game and Josh Hamilton went 3-for-4 with a homer in a 10-0 victory.
Hamilton, who leads the majors with 27 RBIs, said it was the first game "where we've done everything we needed to do. We pitched, hit and played defense. We were having fun in the dugout and it carried over onto the field."
Still, Texas has already set a team record for losses in April, after tying the previous mark with 15 losses in Washington's first season. Despite the series victory over the Twins, they've still lost 13 of 17 games.
The Rangers were already seven games back in the AL West, with that deficit to grow by another half-game after division leaders Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels played Monday night.
Daniels has said he supports Washington, the manager he hired after the 2006 season to replace the fired Buck Showalter. But Ryan and Daniels haven't answered directly when asked if Washington's job is safe.
Still, Washington didn't plan to change his approach to the off day that preceded another long stretch of games — 16 in as many days.
"I'm not going to do anything (Monday) but relax. It gives you a chance after 19 days in a row," Washington said.
"He's been upbeat. He knows just like we do what kind of talent we have," Murphy said, adding that the criticism pointed at the manager is unfair. "It isn't what he's been doing. It's what we've been doing."
Texas has committed an American League-high 27 errors, which has led Washington to consider organized fielded drills when the homestand resumes Tuesday with the opener of a three-game series against Kansas City.
The errors have resulted in a major league-worst 22 unearned runs. Plus, the pitching staff has a 5.34 ERA while allowing 122 walks and a .298 batting average — all the worst in AL.
Attendance at Rangers Ballpark has suffered, too.
There was an announced crowd of 19,911 on Sunday, the fifth time in 10 home dates with fewer than 20,000 people. The average attendance is 24,917 — about half the stadium's capacity.
"That's a concern of mine," Ryan said. "You understand the repercussions of a start like we've had."
Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and David Jimenez contributed to this story.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.