Ranger reax: Wilson, Oliver and relief
"It's nice to smile," manager Ron Washington said. "We were on the verge of getting a win and I'm glad we got it. The monkey is off our back and we can relax a little more and go play. I never questioned those guy's efforts. They played hard. Boston beat us last night and some unfortunate stuff happened the first night, but they played hard. That's all you can ask."
Starter C.J. Wilson deserves most of the credit. He got the better end of a pitcher's duel with Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings and throwing 105 pitches. Wilson has been the club's most consistent starter the first three weeks of the season, pitching three quality starts and posting a 1.37 ERA. He's figured out the importance of being efficient and not trying to do too much. And he's not afraid to attack hitters.
Wilson said his cutter and sinker were especially effective.
"I was just able to work the corners of the zone and really just kind of keep them off balance," said Wilson, who allowed four hits and didn't put a runner in scoring position until the seventh. "It was one of those freak things were I didn't have my off-speed stuff, but my fastball had some extra life to it."
Washington said the key with the Red Sox was not putting too many men on base where a big hit could do damage. Wilson had two walks, but stranded both runners. He kept the ball down, getting 13 outs on ground balls. His velocity was good and he stay in a nice rhythm, helping his defense stay involved.
Wilson got plenty of help from his defense, which was consistent on the routine stuff and came through on some hard-hit balls or strange bounces.
"It's the kind of game that we typically play well in -- pitching, defense and some big hits," third baseman Michael Young said. "It got us back to the drawing board. C.J. picked us up. We needed him to go deep in the game and pick up our bullpen.
"He threw a ton of strikes. Against a team likeNew York and Boston, you've got to pound the strike zone, otherwise they'll drive your pitch count up and get in that pen real quick. He did a great job of attacking the zone."
Other reaction and notes:
* The Rangers finish the road trip at 3-6. It was not what they had planned.
"It's disappointing," Washington said. "We came on this road trip expecting to continue to play good baseball. The one got away from us in Cleveland, we went into a little tailspin in New York. The fifth inning of the second game in New York, we started playing better baseball, we just couldn't put anything together. We had a lead in the second game, a lead in the last game. We came here, we played good the first night, they took it. Last night they beat us and tonight they won. We've been playing good baseball, we just haven't got the 'Ws.' If we continue to do that, we're going to be fine."
The Rangers scored an average of 3.7 runs on the trip. The starting pitchers in the four starts in betwee those made by Wilson gave up 17 earned runs in 15 innings for an ERA of 10.20. So what Wilson did was important in trying to break that trend.
Texas dropped to last in the AL West as well, the only team under .500 before Thursday's game.
* Darren Oliver pitched 1 2/3 innings of scorless baseball (with two strikeouts and no walks) to get his first save since Bill Clinton was in his first term in office. His last save was July 25, 1994 (vs. Minnesota), a span of 497 games between saves. Oliver was playing for Kevin Kennedy in Texas at the time. He's the oldest pitcher (39 years, 198 days) to earn a save since Rick Honeycutt on May 17, 1994.
"We won the game and it's all about winning," Oliver said. "Our closer was down and Washington needed somebody to finish the game today. It was important to get the win."
* Closer Neftali Feliz was unavailable for Thursday's game after telling the club before the game that he didn't think he would be able to pitch after throwing two innings on Wednesday. "He threw before the game and thought he didn't have it," Washington said. "I wasn't going to doubt him. He's fine."
Feliz has yet to pitch on back-to-back days and Wednesday was the first time he had thrown multiple innings this season. He should be available to close, if needed, Friday against Detroit.
* Andres Blanco's drag bunt was completely his idea. There was no directive from the dugout. "It was a smart play," Washington said. "He didn't get it past the mound, but he forced a tough play." Blanco's bunt scored David Murphy in the eighth with the third run of the game. It was also Blanco's first hit of the season.
* C Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught seven innings, as scheduled, for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. He went 1-for-4 with a solo home run. He's expected to catch nine innings on Friday.
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