Feldman claims eighth road win
Hamilton nails two-run double among four hits in series finale
CLEVELAND -- Scott Feldman looked like he worked up enough sweat for two pitchers on an August afternoon at Progressive Field.Neftali Feliz looked like he didn't sweat at all. "Not much," Feliz said. "He's something else," Feldman said admiringly after the two combined, along with closer Frank Francisco, to pitch the Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Indians on Thursday. "I go out there, pitch six innings and get five or six strikeouts," Feldman said. "He matches me in two innings. Pretty impressive."
That's a pretty good description of the Texas pitching staff as a whole after it took two of three from Cleveland and won for the fifth time in seven games. The Rangers have allowed just one run in their past 23 innings and have allowed the opponents to score in just two of their previous 37 innings pitched."Their pitching the last couple days has been very good," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I was really impressed with their pitching this entire series. They've always hit, but the difference this year is their pitching. It has to start with the starting pitching. We were able to shut them down and score a couple runs the first night, and that's exactly what they did to us these last two days." Rangers pitchers have a 2.66 ERA in their past seven games, while allowing just 50 hits and 14 walks with 63 strikeouts over the same span. That allowed them to take five of seven and finish with a 5-5 road trip going into their three-game series with the Red Sox that starts Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas, with back-to-back wins against Cleveland, is now just a half-game behind the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race. "This was a good series," said Josh Hamilton, who was 7-for-8 in the final two games. "[The Indians] have been playing well. Hopefully we can go back with some fire under our tails against Boston." Feldman goes back home with a 12-4 record and a 3.90 ERA. He is tied for third in the AL in victories even though he didn't make his first start until April 25. He is also 8-1 with a 3.50 ERA on the road. "I try to prepare the same way no matter where I pitch," Feldman said. "I really don't know about that." Thursday's victory was not about preparation or being on the road but just being able to work out of one jam after another with good hard sweat. Feldman allowed seven hits and two walks in six innings, but the Indians were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position off him. The Rangers turned one double play, catcher Taylor Teagarden threw out Grady Sizemore trying to steal and Feldman made one big pitch and one big catch in the biggest moment of the game. That came in the third inning. Hamilton had given the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the top of the third with a two-run double, but Sizemore and Jamey Carroll led off the bottom of the inning with a pair of singles. Asdrubal Cabrera bunted them to second and third. But Feldman struck out Shin-Soo Choo to leave Sizemore standing on third and then snatched Jhonny Peralta's line drive back to mound to end the threat. "I saw it coming," Feldman said. "I'm not sure how hard he got it, but he might have got it off the end of the bat a little bit, because I was able to catch it." That was the biggest play of the game. The 3-2 fastball to Peralta, which was clocked at 92 mph, was probably the biggest pitch. Feldman entered the game averaging 4.66 strikeouts per nine innings, the third lowest in the league among 37 ERA qualifiers. But he showed he could throw a little gas past a hitter when needed it. "What ... 92 miles per hour?" Feldman scoffed. "That's not gas. Feliz throws gas."
That is true. Feldman left after six and Feliz took over. He faced six hitters and struck out the first five he faced. That gave him seven in a row going back to his last appearance against the Angels, tying a club record set by Nolan Ryan in 1991."He has a chance to be special," Wedge said. "He has a special arm." Feliz has now struck out 13 of 20 hitters over 6 2/3 innings and four appearances since being called up from the Minor Leagues. "I'm gaining confidence," Feliz said. "I've been working on my offspeed stuff, and the more I throw it, the more comfortable I feel." It's easy to stay comfortable when you're not working up much of a sweat.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.