Scott Feldman started the season in the bullpen. He’ll end it as a Cy Young award candidate.
Feldman (16-4) pitched seven shutout innings, Esteban German went 5 for 5 and Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer as the Texas Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 10-0 on Wednesday, completing a three-game sweep within 24 hours.
Feldman tied New York’s CC Sabathia and Detroit’s Justin Verlander for the AL lead in victories despite not entering Texas’ rotation until April 25. Verlander was scheduled to pitch Wednesday night at Kansas City.
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Feldman allowed five hits and struck out five to win his eighth consecutive road start, a new club record. His 12 road victories this year are also a new team mark and tops in the AL.
“I think it’s a pretty humbling game, so you can’t get too high or low,” Feldman said. “I just try to focus on my next start and stay prepared.”
Feldman has been one of the biggest surprises in the AL after entering this season with a 7-13 career mark and a 4.97 ERA. He has allowed one earned run in his last four starts, going 4-0 with a 0.34 ERA.
“I know he’s getting credit in Texas, I don’t know if he’s getting it other places,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “As long as he keeps winning ball games, I couldn’t care less if he gets (attention) nationally. It’d be nice for Feldman, but it’s all about us right now.”
The victory assures Texas will keep pace with Boston in the AL wild card standings. The Rangers entered the day two games behind the Red Sox, who host Baltimore Wednesday night.
The Rangers, who started the day 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Angels, return home Friday to open a nine-game homestand against AL West opponents. Texas is 24-13 within the division this year.
“It’s a big one,” Washington said. “It’s going to be a tough nine days. It’s going to be huge.”
The Rangers can only hope to hit the ball as well as they did against the Indians.
Even without sluggers Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, who are out with injuries, Texas battered Cleveland pitching during Tuesday’s doubleheader and then again on Wednesday. Indians starters Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Laffey and Carmona combined to give up 16 earned runs in just nine innings. The Rangers scored 31 runs on 48 hits, including seven homers, in the three games.
“We certainly have been looking for this to happen with our offense,” Washington said. “I’m glad they’re feeling good about themselves because it’s been awhile since we really put some runs up. Hopefully this offense is finally putting it together.”
Texas knocked out Tribe starter Fausto Carmona (3-10) with a five-run first inning, then added five more in the ninth. Three of the game’s first four batters scored on Byrd’s three-run homer, his second in as many nights.
Byrd, who had been 0 for 12 lifetime off Carmona, went 9 for 14 in the series with two homers and seven RBIs. Ivan Rodriguez also hit a two-run homer in the first inning and finished with three RBIs.
Carmona lasted just two-thirds of an inning, the shortest start of his career. He has battled with his mechanics this year, being demoted to rookie ball in June.
“Today was a step back” for Carmona, Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “That goes without saying. Today was not a good day.”
Carmona left without speaking to reporters.
German more than doubled his batting average to .320 with his perfect day at the plate. The five hits are a new career high after he entered with three hits for the season.
It marked the first time Texas swept a series in Cleveland since 1992. Texas improved to 8-1 against the Indians this year.
SS Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the first. … Hamilton is questionable for the start of the Rangers‘ homestand Friday. He received a second shot for a pinched nerve in his back Monday. … 3B Michael Young (strained left hamstring) could return during the Rangers‘ homestand. He’s playing catch, but has yet to resume other baseball activities. … Indians OF Grady Sizemore had surgery on Wednesday to relieve inflammation in his left elbow. He will have lower abdominal surgery next Wednesday.