Josh Hamilton’s return has certainly sparked the Texas Rangers
offensively, but one of baseball’s best lineups hasn’t been asked
to do too much lately.
The Rangers have given up six runs and posted three shutouts
during five consecutive wins, a streak that began with an
outstanding performance Colby Lewis hopes to replicate in Monday’s
opener against a visiting Detroit Tigers team looking for its
seventh win in eight games.
Hamilton had 12 RBIs in 12 games upon returning from the
disabled list, but manager Ron Washington gave the reigning AL MVP
a day off Sunday in Cleveland.
Texas’ offense didn’t need him. The Rangers’ third shutout so
far in June came courtesy of C.J. Wilson and two relievers, a 2-0
victory that finished off a four-game sweep of the AL
This is the third time this season Texas (34-26) has posted
back-to-back shutouts. The Rangers last had three in a row May 7-9,
“Our pitchers have led the way the last few weeks,” designated
hitter Michael Young said. “That’s the way it has to be if we’re
going to get where we want to go. If our pitchers keep pitching
like this, I like our chances.”
The stellar streak began when Lewis (5-5, 3.48 ERA) took the
hill Wednesday in Tampa. The right-hander held the Rays to four
hits over eight innings, striking out eight, in a 3-0 victory.
Lewis is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA in seven starts after opening the
season 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA.
“The biggest thing is my fastball command,” said Lewis. “When
I’m able to command my fastball, it makes all my other pitches
better. Right now I feel comfortable out there, and everything is
Lewis was 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts versus Detroit
(31-27) last season, and it was AL Rookie of the Year runner-up
Austin Jackson that gave him the most trouble. Jackson went 5 for
10 with a homer against Lewis.
Jackson got the Tigers started in a big fourth inning Sunday in
Chicago. His single was one of six hits – Ryan Raburn’s grand slam
was the key blow – in a six-run inning, sparking a 7-3 win that
pulled Detroit within 2 1/2 games of Cleveland.
Raburn was in a 6-for-52 slump before the slam, but he has hit
safely in five consecutive games.
“I’m getting close,” he said. “Consistency is still not there
but I feel a lot better and as long as I can keep getting that one
hit, hopefully it will turn into two or three hits.”
Facing the Rangers could help. Raburn’s a .383 (18 for 47)
career hitter against Texas, and had seven RBIs in his last three
games in Arlington in 2010 – including a pair of doubles against
Max Scherzer (6-2, 4.38) is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts –
all quality – against the Rangers, but his two most recent outings
have been dismal. The right-hander gave up seven runs in two
innings May 26 in a 14-1 loss to Boston, then surrendered seven
over 6 2-3 before leaving without a decision in Tuesday’s 8-7 win
Scherzer’s ERA has gone up nearly a run and a half in those two
Young, who’s 4 for 11 with three extra-base hits against
Scherzer, has a 15-game hitting streak versus Detroit in which he’s
hitting .443 with 16 RBIs.