By Mark Miller
Believe it or not, the Texas Rangers had never won two 1-0 games in the same series. Until last weekend, that is.
Because they did, the Rangers managed another split of six games. Thanks to outstanding pitching by Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, the Rangers won the first and last games at home against the Houston Astros by that margin after dropping two of three in Boston. That left them at 6-6 and feeling pretty good about themselves.
“It’s been pitching,” said Texas manager Ron Washington. “Our young kids are starting to get a little better and starting to get out there and fight a little harder in certain situations. The whole idea is to match zeros. It was two low-scoring games. They had good pitching out there. Even though it’s the Houston Astros those young kids they’ve got can throw the baseball and they’re showing improvement and we’re showing improvement.”
Darvish gave up just one hit and struck out nine in eight innings in Friday’s game won by the Rangers in the 10th inning. Perez followed two days later with eight shutout innings of his own, giving up just five hits. It was the third-straight strong game for Perez and the Rangers have won them all.
“He just continues to grow and again we’re seeing do it before our eyes,” Washington said of Perez. “He’s executing, keeping the ball at the bottom of the zone which is what he does very well and he continues to do it. That’s how he rattled off the games he rattled off last year when he was on a roll.”
While Washington would love to see more pitching like Darvish and Perez have produced, he knows the team can’t keep having to rely on it to win.
“With Seattle coming in we’re certainly going to have to put some more runs on the board,” Washington said. “But if we have to play in these type of ballgames and my pitchers continue to get strong because of these type of ballgames, I’ll take that every time.”
Lewis’ return highlights week at home
The Rangers’ pitching staff gets another boost Monday with the return of right-hander Colby Lewis to open a four-game home stand against the Seattle Mariners. That will be followed by a three-game weekend series at home with the Chicago White Sox. Lewis hasn’t pitched in a game in nearly two years after elbow and hip surgeries. As a non-roster invitee, he threw well in the spring and in a couple of rehab assignments to net the call-up.
“Like our other pitchers we just want him to keep us in the ballgame,” Washington said. “If he goes out there and does that, we have chance to win the ball game. I’m not wanting him to come here thinking he has to go out there and prove anything to anyone but Colby Lewis. He certainly doesn’t have to prove anything to me. Just be Colby, execute his pitches and whatever happens, happens.”
The Mariners come to Globe Life Park in Arlington with a 6-5 record after losing the final two games at home against the Oakland A’s. They feature several new faces including former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and former Milwaukee Brewers’ outfield Corey Hart. Cano leads Seattle with a .333 average while Hart is tied for the most home runs with three. Felix Hernandez is back strong with a 3-0 record and 2.11 earned run average. James Paxton, who started four games for the Grand Prairie Airhogs, in 2010, was 2-0, 2.25 before going on the disabled list. Former Detroit Tiger and Tampa Bay Ray Fernando Rodney has three saves as the closer.
The White Sox are after the Mariners and entered the week with a 7-6 record. They are led offensively by shortstop Alexi Ramirez, whose walk-off home run Sunday against Cleveland gave him a .420 average with three homers and 12 runs batted in. Catcher Tyler Flowers is next in average at .382 while Cuban rookie first baseman Jose Abreu leads the team with four homers and 14 RBI. On the mound, Chris Sale is 3-0, 2.66.
4/14 vs Mariners 7:05 p.m.
4/15 vs Mariners 7:05 p.m.
4/16 vs Mariners 7:05 p.m.
4/17 vs Mariners 1:05 p.m.
4/18 vs White Sox 7:05 p.m.
4/19 vs White Sox 7:05 p.m.
4/20 vs White Sox 2:05 p.m.