Texas Rangers Week Five Review: Pitching Dominance Leads to Success

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IMay 11, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 13:  Pitcher Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Chicago White Sox in the 1st inning on July 13, 2008 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After finishing the month of April one game under .500, the Texas Rangers pulled their record back to even just in time for a road trip that included divisional rivals Seattle and Oakland.

Texas started the road trip with two games in Seattle, followed by another short, two-game series in Oakland, and finally finished the trip off with three games in Chicago.

The Rangers would have a wonderful road trip winning five of the seven games and passing the Mariners for the lead in the AL West. 

The Rangers offense, which always seems to lead the way, was not as potent this past week as usual. However, not a problem because the Rangers were lead by some spectacular pitching outings that put the team in winning situations.

Monday: W, 6-5 (13-12)

Coming into the series the Mariners had a 2.5 game lead on the Rangers in the AL West and both looked to make a statement early in the season.  Even though it was a short, two-game series both teams used their top two pitchers in the games.

Kevin Millwood and Felix Hernandez dueled in the first game. However, this game would not be the pitchers duel that was expected as the Rangers were lead by two-run homers from Michael Young and Chris Davis.

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Tuesday: W, 7-2 (10) (14-12)

The fans watching this game got the pitching duel that was expected the day before, as Vicente Padilla and Erik Bedard battled deep into the game. Bedard went seven innings, striking out seven, and the only run he allowed was a solo home run by Nelson Cruz.  Padilla performed even better, allowing only one unearned and one hit over eight innings.

Both pitchers would get no decisions at the teams stayed tied at one going into the tenth.  That is when the Ranger bats finally woke up, as they scored six runs in the extra frame, which was highlighted by a grand slam by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Wednesday: W, 3-2 (15-12)

In the ideal winning score for manager Ron Washington, in the stadium that he used to coach third base in, Texas won and surpassed the Mariners for first place in the AL West.

Again Texas got another solid pitching outing, this time it was Scott Feldman allowing only two runs over the six innings he pitched. The Rangers took the lead early with an Elvis Andrus home run in the first inning and never relinquished it.

Frank Francisco got his AL-leading ninth save of the season. Francisco still boasts a 0.00 ERA and has accomplished the nine saves in nine opportunities.

Thursday: L, 4-9 (15-13)

The Rangers strong starting pitching outings and five-game winning streak both came to crashing ends at the same time. Brandon McCarthy got shelled for seven runs through four innings of work, and the Ranger offense only plated one run off of A's starter Trevor Cahill through seven innings.

Texas had 11 hits in the game and eight of those went for extra-bases, seven doubles and one home run. But 3-15 hitting with runners in scoring position kept the Rangers from getting any time of rally started.

Friday: W, 6-0 (16-13)

Texas left Oakland and headed to Chicago looking to get the solid pitching outings back on track with Matt Harrison and his consecutive scoreless innings streak sitting at ten.

The Rangers not only got a solid outing out of Harrison, they got arguably his best career outing. Harrison went all nine innings, shutting out the White Sox, giving up only four hits, walking one, striking out five, and doing so with only 111 pitches.

Harrison got the offensive support he need as the Rangers score the eventual game-winning run before he even took the mound.

Saturday: L, 2-3 (16-14)

In another pitching duel involving the Rangers, former Texas pitching prospect John Danks bested Millwood. Danks was only able to go six innings, but in his time he allowed only one run, four hits, and struck out 10 Ranger hitters.

Millwood had another quality start going seven innings, but the three runs he allowed was enough to get the White Sox the victory. Again it was poor timely hitting that kept the Rangers from beating Chicago as Texas went 2-11 with runners in scoring position.

Sunday: W, 7-1 (17-14)

In the rubber match of the series, the Rangers got another superb outing from Padilla.  Vicente became the first Ranger pitcher to ever have back-to-back 7+ innings pitched, one-hit outings. He went exactly seven innings and allowing only one earned run. 

Vicente got the run support he needed as Texas scored four runs in the fifth inning, which was highlighted by Davis's eighth home run of the season and a bases loaded walk drawn from Cruz.

Hank Blalock also provided the necessary offensive help with his eighth and ninth home runs of the season.

The Rangers will be activating Josh Hamilton off of the 15-day DL on Tuesday, sending Joaquin Arias back down to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Young should also return to the field after a couple days off due to back spasms while in Chicago, both players are expected to be in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game.

Texas is currently 17-14 and in first place in the AL West. However the Rangers have only a half game lead on the Angels (16-14).  After that the Mariners are 1.5 games out of first at 16-16, and the A's five game out at 11-18.

The Rangers had a very productive 5-2 road trip and return home for a six game home-stand against AL West rivals Seattle and Los Angeles.  Texas has Monday off before Tuesday's match-up with the Mariners.