NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on April 16, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Derek Holland
The focus on the Rangers recent five-game winning streak has been centered mostly around the return of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, and rightfully so. But another factor which can’t be overlooked is the starting pitching.
After CJ Wilson’s 2-0 shutout over the Indians on Sunday, completing a four-game sweep in Cleveland, the pitching has picked up the pace. Wilson finished with seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, but more importantly gave up just three hits and two walks to a very hot Indians team.
This followed Saturday night’s 4-0 complete game gem by Derek Holland, with Dutch tossing a five-hitter, with five strikeouts. That’s two straight shutouts in two straight days for those keeping count at home.
And don’t forget the season Alexi Ogando is putting together. Ogando won his sixth straight game Friday night to run his record to 6-0. Plus, Colby Lewis has caught fire, evening his record at 5-5.
More good news for the Rangers is Tommy Hunter appears to be improving during his injury rehab, and Brandon Webb is throwing again. Matt Harrison is recovering from a kidney stone, but isn’t expected to miss any time.
Of course, you could always use more help in the bullpen, but Neftali Feliz now looks like the Feliz from that nailed down save after save last year. However, the bullpen hasn’t been much of a factor over the past week since the starters have been on a roll.
For the Rangers to stay atop the AL West and forge a return to the playoffs, the pitching will need to be strong. The Rangers can score some runs, so that’s not much of a worry. The dog days of summer are here, and at the moment the arms are showing no effects of cooling off. That will be put to the test this week when the Tigers come to Arlington, and the temperatures will be in the high 90’s.
But if they can make it through the summer heat and long schedule, the Rangers may be known more for their pitching than anything else once fall rolls around.