Decimated by illness, unable to generate much of anything against Royals ace Zack Greinke, the Texas Rangers got just what they needed from Scott Feldman.
Feldman outpitched Greinke with eight scoreless innings and the Rangers extended their winning streak to five games with a 2-0 victory over the slumping Kansas City Royals on Friday night
The illness-depleted Rangers learned before the game that pitcher Vicente Padilla has swine flu and didn’t put up much of a fight against the Royals, managing four hits. They didn’t need more the way Feldman (9-3) was pitching.
The right-hander pitched beyond the seventh inning for the first time, allowing four hits for his career-high ninth win. Marlon Byrd‘s homer in the fourth inning and Hank Blalock‘s run-scoring single in the eighth was all Feldman needed.
“He outpitched the best pitcher in baseball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Hit hard by the flu this week, the Rangers pushed their flight to Kansas City back a day to give everyone extra time to recover. Padilla, who missed his start on Wednesday, tested positive for swine flu earlier in the day and catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia was scratched because of flulike symptoms.
The Royals proved to be the weaker team, though, managing just five hits for their ninth shutout loss. The Royals have lost 10 straight overall, their longest since dropping 12 in a row in May 2008, and have a seven-game home losing streak for the first time in two years.
“It’s not so much scratching your head as it’s pulling your hair out, really,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Feldman had something to do with it.
Coming off his first loss in five starts, the right-hander had little trouble against the AL‘s worst-hitting team.
Feldman allowed a single to Mark Teahen in the second, another to Yuniesky Betancourt in the third and little else the first five innings. Willie Bloomquist hit a double in the sixth inning and reached third on a wild pitch, but was stranded after Feldman got Teahen on a lazy fly to right.
Feldman allowed a single to lead off the eighth, but got Bloomquist to line out with a runner on third to end the inning. He didn’t come out for the ninth and C.J. Wilson closed it out for his 10th save in 12 chances.
“You don’t have much margin for error when you’re throwing against those guys’ (aces), but I didn’t change anything I was doing,” said Feldman, who’s reached the fifth inning in all 17 starts this season. “I tried to do what I usually do. This time I was able to keep my pitch count lower and go a little deeper in the game.”
Greinke (10-6) matched Feldman almost pitch for pitch. Almost.
He threw a first pitch strike the first 11 batters he faced and breezed through the first three innings. Greinke made one mistake in the fourth, leaving a curveball up to Byrd, who hit it out to left for a solo homer, his ninth.
Turned out to be his only mistake. The right-hander lasted seven innings, allowing one run and three hits to lower his major league-best ERA to 2.04. In other words, he was good enough to win.
“I thought for sure we’d get a couple,” said Greinke, who had 10 strikeouts. “It really didn’t cross my mind if one run wins it – that’s pretty rare. You can’t do anything about that really. I’m just trying to keep them down, so we can come back.”
He should know better than to expect a comeback.
The Royals have scored three runs in his past four starts and he’s 0-3 in July despite allowing seven runs in 26 innings. It’s not too much of a surprise: Kansas City ranks last in the AL in runs and on-base percentage, and next to last in average, homers and slugging percentage.
At least the bullpen didn’t blow up. Kansas City relievers had allowed 23 runs in 19 innings the previous five games of the homestand. This time, John Bale gave up Blalock’s run-scoring single in the eighth and that was it.
“We’re better than some of the teams we’re facing, but we’re just not getting it done,” Greinke said.
The Rangers are 12-4 on Friday. … The Royals had two errors to raise their season total to 73, second-worst in the AL. … Texas has 19 homers in 12 games.