Scott Feldman Wins His Fifth Straight Decision By Tossing Eight Great Innings To Stymie the White Sox.
BY: Dic Humphrey
Scott Feldman pitched a stellar game Sunday night for the Rangers to win his fifth consecutive decision and avoid a sweep of the weekend series with Chicago. He completed eight shutout innings to run his record to 5-6 and reduce his ERA to 4.76. Texas won three games this week, and Scott Feldman was the winning pitcher in two of them, his two best performances of the season. His command of his pitches was extremely sharp in both outings, as he threw 15 innings and walked no batters.
Joe Nathan came on to close out Sunday’s game with a scoreless three up three down ninth inning to complete the 2-0 win and record his 21st save.
The start of the series on Friday could not have gone much worse. The news broke shortly before the game began that Zach Greinke had been traded. The Rangers were supposedly the leading candidate to land Greinke on Thursday night, but the Angels swooped in at the 11th hour and bettered the Rangers’ offer. Not only was he not joining the Rangers; he was joining the Rangers’ division rival.
The game started well enough. After giving up a first inning run that was earned, but should not have scored because of a fly ball that should have been caught and wasn’t; the Rangers came back to score four in the bottom half of the inning to seemingly take charge of the game. It was only the third time this season that White Sox All-Star Chris Sale had allowed four runs in a game. The great start to the game was for naught, though. Not only did the Rangers go on to lose 7-5, but the Angels and Athletics also won to cut a game off the Rangers’ lead.
Yu Darvish started and didn’t pitch well. He gave up five earned runs (six total) on the night, and has now allowed 14 earned runs in three starts totaling 19.2 innings since the All-Star break. He threw 6.2 innings Friday night, using 118 pitches, 73 of which (62%) were strikes; and took the loss to move his record to 11-7 and run up his ERA to 4.05.
Alexi Ogando finished the game, getting the final eight outs on 44 pitches, the most he has thrown in a game this season. Manager Ron Washington hinted earlier that Ogando could soon make a start, and Friday’s appearance was obviously an effort to stretch him out to be able to complete at least five innings as a starter.
Saturday’s game was a clunker. Texas looked lifeless losing 5-2. There were plenty of scoring opportunities, but the offense continually misfired, going 0-13 with runners in scoring position. Matt Harrison (12-6, 3.19) started and took the loss. He gave up all five runs on seven hits over seven innings.
The offensive showing was so pathetic that the position players held a hitters only meeting after the game. The team looked more upbeat on Sunday. Winning was good, but the hitters again failed to get a hit with a runner in scoring position (0-10) and left 13 runners on base.
It is now obvious that this team is not clicking on all cylinders and hasn’t been for a while. In Friday’s game alone, there at least four mental errors, the most glaring of which was Josh Hamilton’s misplay of a routine fly ball in the first inning that led to a run scoring and ran up Darvish’s pitch count. The offense started the month being inconsistent. It ended July being bad. Texas has scored just 71 runs this month with two games to go, which is dead last in the Major Leagues. That’s an average of 3.38 per game, which is the worst scoring average for a full month since September of 1992 (3.21 RPG).
There is no question that Josh Hamilton is the most significant contributor. He’s hitting .141 in July with three of his 10 hits being home runs and he has driven in 10 runs. He has struck out 21 times and walked eight. This comes on the heels of June, in which he hit .223 with 35 strikeouts. This downturn is far more than a bump in the road. In the last week, Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington have publicly made negative comments. Obviously, they are extremely frustrated with the situation to publicly voice these comments. When Hamilton struck out in his first two plate appearances Friday night, he heard boos, as fans are now fed up too.
Washington took him out of the lineup Saturday against Hamilton’s wishes, hoping the day off would refresh him. Hamilton was back in the lineup Sunday, but was in the fifth spot in the batting order instead of his customary third. He was 0-2 Sunday, but he contributed to one of the Ranger runs by moving a runner from second to third on a ground out, and he walked twice. He says he is close to turning it around. This team is in deep trouble if he doesn’t. At this point, there are no alternatives. Washington will continue to write his name in the lineup every day, and if Hamilton doesn’t hit, the Rangers have big problems.
When the smoke had cleared from a 3-3 week, the Rangers still held on to a 4.5 game lead in the division. Surprisingly, it was Oakland in second place. The A’s actually trail by five games in the loss column. Los Angeles had slipped to third on Saturday and stayed there after Zach Greinke took a loss to Tampa Bay in his Angels’ debut. L. A. is five games out of first place but actually trails by six games in the loss column.
The Texas record is now 59-41, which ties the 1999 and 2010 teams for the best record in Ranger history after 100 games. Los Angeles arrives for four games to finish the home stand. Monday’s game time has been moved to 6:05 to accommodate ESPN’s national telecast. The other three are scheduled at the usual 7:05 start time. Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Monday Roy Oswalt (3-1, 5.22) vs. Ervin Santana (4-10, 6.00)
Tuesday Derek Holland (7-5, 4.74) vs. Jered Weaver (13-1, 2.26)
Wednesday Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.05) vs. Dan Haren (8-8, 4.69)
Thursday Matt Harrison (12-6, 3.19) vs. C. J. Wilson (9-7, 2.88)
- Neftali Feliz was scratched from his third minor league re-hab start Sunday for AAA Round Rock in Memphis with discomfort in his elbow. The Rangers are awaiting a report from Dr. Keith Meister before commenting on the severity of the problem, but this set back puts his return this season in doubt.
- All three games of the White Sox series were official sellouts, bringing the sellout total to 30 games in 51 dates this year. It was the sixth time this year that the Rangers have sold out Friday, Saturday and Sunday home games. Also, 41 of the 51 games have attracted a crowd of at least 40,000.