video thumbnail

TEX@CLE: Wilson outstanding in domination of Tribe

CLEVELAND -- The Indians may have the best record in the American League, but no team has had better pitching lately than the Rangers.

That stunning fact is reinforced by a 2.54 ERA in their last 24 games and six shutouts in the last 20. C.J. Wilson and relievers Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz combined on the latest shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field to complete a four-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.

"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."

Who wouldn't? The Rangers have now won 10 of their last 14, and 16 of their last 24 since this run of terrific pitching first began.

The Rangers were 18-18 after a 7-2 loss to the Athletics on May 9, and their staff ERA was a season-high 4.16. They have brought that down to 3.50 over the past 24 games. At 34-26 on the season, the club is eight games over .500 for the first time since its 9-1 start.

"We're playing Rangers baseball," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "This is a lot of what we are capable of doing. We're getting Josh [Hamilton] and Nelson [Cruz] back and we have a lot of talent in our lineup. We can run and hit with power ... and the pitching has been great. They are throwing a lot of strikes. We know they have a lot of talent, if they can keep pounding the strike zone, they are going to be great."

They certainly were this weekend against the Indians, who had been the talk of the AL for the first two months of the season. But Indians manager Manny Acta could only speak in admiration over what he saw from the Rangers.

"There's no other way to describe it," Acta said. "These guys just came in and outplayed us. They have a very good team, and they came in here and showed us why they are the American League champs. They have a very good ballclub. They're talented up and down, and very deep, too. Even when things are not going well for us, I still think that they just outplayed us."

The Rangers were without Hamilton on Sunday. He was given the day off while Young, Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre were a combined 1-for-18 at the plate. But a second-inning home run by Mitch Moreland and a third-inning home run by Andrus provided enough offense.

"You have to be at all cylinders, a team like ours, to be able to compete with those guys and beat them," Acta said. "They're good, man. Their lineup up and down and their bench is so deep, it's ridiculous. I can see why they were so good last year, and why probably the title is going to have to run through Texas again."

Sunday's victory also left the Rangers with a 6-1 record on the road trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland, and 15-15 on the road this season. They were 9-14 away from Arlington going into this trip, but still have a 10-game trip coming up right after their three-game series with the Tigers that starts on Monday at Rangers Ballpark.

"We played good this week," manager Ron Washington said. "We're just playing ... we don't have any mojo on the road. All of a sudden have we become road warriors? I don't know. I just want to be warriors, period, and we're really playing good baseball."

Wilson went 7 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and two walks while striking out seven. He threw 104 pitches but was having some late-inning trouble with the mound. Concerned that he might be getting out of whack, Wilson warned the Rangers to be ready. That's why Oliver and Feliz were called upon to finish up.

"I didn't see a need to take a chance," said Wilson, who otherwise was in complete control on the afternoon. He is now 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA on the season.

"It was like a video game, I used every pitch I had," Wilson said. "I didn't try to play country hardball and just throw the ball by people. I threw everything I had up there and used all my weapons. The biggest thing was the defense was awesome today."

With Wilson's performance on Sunday, Rangers starters are now 12-2 with a 2.36 ERA in the past 24 games. Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland all threw complete games for three of the Rangers' six shutouts in that stretch. Matt Harrison missed a complete game by two outs in one, Lewis went eight scoreless in another and the bullpen was needed for four outs on Sunday.

"These guys are executing," catcher Mike Napoli said. "I don't know what else to say, except their execution has been great. It has definitely been fun. They have a good game plan and they follow it."

MLB.com Comments