Familiar face helps Texas continue dominance
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rangers continued their domination of National League teams Friday by unveiling a former National League pitcher.
Roy Oswalt made his debut in an American League uniform and helped the Rangers improve to 13-3 in interleague play in a 4-1 win over Colorado.
The 34-year-old Oswalt, a three-time National League All-Star, made just four minor league starts after signing with the Rangers on May 29. But he looked in prime form in holding the Rockies to one run over 6 2/3 innings.
“He was ready to pitch and he pitched like Roy Oswalt,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He threw strikes, worked fast, kept the defense engaged, got off the field.”
The win is the seventh in a row for the Rangers. It was also the seventh consecutive quality start from the rotation.
And for the seventh game in a row, the Rangers allowed three earned runs or fewer.
On Friday, the Rangers scored all four of their runs in the first four innings, but pitching and an errorless defense made the lead stand up.
“You pitch well, you win. Simple as that,” infielder Michael Young said. “We’ve been playing good defense behind them and we’re finding ways to execute offensively. We still haven’t really broken through, I think, offensively as a team. But at the same time we’re pitching well, playing good D and we’re winning.”
The Rangers’ 13-3 record in interleague play leads the majors, percentage-wise. Overall, they’ve won 10 of their last 11, all against NL teams.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Adrian Beltre, who’s hitting .483 with three homers and 10 RBI over his last 10 games.
After a Nelson Cruz double knocked in another run in the fourth, Mike Napoli followed with a solo shot to right field for a 4-0 lead.
That was more than enough for Oswalt, who took a shutout into the seventh inning. He was pulled after giving up a run on a triple and a double, both with two outs, and having thrown 110 pitches.
Oswalt left to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 46,964 at Rangers Ballpark. “I wouldn’t say I wasn’t nervous,” Oswalt said. “But when you don’t have the butterflies anymore, you need to quit playing.”
The bullpen took over from there, as it has done throughout the hot streak. Robbie Ross and Mike Adams got the ball to Joe Nathan in the ninth without allowing any more runs, then Nathan converted his 14th straight save opportunity with a perfect inning.
“Joe did what he’s been doing all year: shutting the game down,” Washington said. “Our bullpen is our strength, more or less, because when you give the ball to them, you feel pretty good that they will get you the outs that you need.”
The Rangers have to feel good about just about everything after climbing to 44-27, the club’s best record ever after 71 games. They own the best record in the majors at 17 games over .500.
“I don’t see anything different in what we’re doing, we’re just playing good baseball,” Washington said. “We’re doing a lot of good things. We’re playing defense, we’re running the bases, we’re getting timely hitting and pitching.
“It all starts with the pitching and the defense, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the past seven games we’ve been playing. We’ve been catching the ball and we’ve been pitching the ball and we’ve been getting timely hits.”
And, in the case of Oswalt, the timely addition of what appears to be another quality arm. That’s another thing the Rangers can thank the National League for.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire