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Monday, June 28, 2010
Wash: 'It's going to be about the pitching'

By Jeff Caplan

The Texas Rangers head into their three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels boasting the best team batting average in the major leagues.

Batting a collective .283 and hitting the ball, one through nine, as well as they have all season, the Rangers look to have the advantage at the plate against the Angels, who rank 18th in the majors and eighth in the American League with a .258 team batting average.

Rangers manager Ron Washington doesn't care.

"What’s going to be determined in that series is the pitching," Washington said. "How well [Scott] Feldman matches up with [Joel] Pineiro. How well Colby Lewis matches up with [Scott] Kazmir and how well [C.J.] Wilson does with Jered Weaver. It’s going to be about the pitching. It doesn’t come down to the threat that either offense has because good pitching will stop offense. There’s no doubt about it."

Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman, who seems to be finding his groove this season, gets first crack at the Angels this week.
Of the three Rangers starters that will take the hill against the Angels, only Wilson has faced them this season. He got shelled in Arlington, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Texas outscored L.A., 8-7. Derek Holland won the first meeting, 4-3.

Feldman gets the ball for Tuesday night's series opener. The staff ace last season, Feldman (5-6, 5.32 ERA) is still trying to right himself after a slow start to the season. Tuesday's start, his 16th of the season, is his biggest to date. It kicks off 17 games against the Angels in the final 87 games. Getting the first one would push the Angels 5.5 games back of the Rangers with the All-Star Game quickly approaching.

"The first game of the series is the main one you want to take, really," Washington said." Feldman’s the one guy that’s in the position to give us that opportunity. If you take the first one you have a chance to win the series. I certainly won't talk to Feldman or to Mike [Maddux] to put any added pressure on anybody; just pitch his game. If he pitches his game and he’s able to sink the ball and get ground balls, which is his game, I think our chances are great."

In his last start against Pittsburgh, a 6-5 Rangers win, Feldman worked six innings, but surrendered five earned runs on 12 hits, matching his career-high.

Feldman seemed to be finding a bit of a groove. He's logged at least six innings in three consecutive games and in seven of his last eight outings. After losing four straight decisions from April 17 - May 15, he's won four of his last seven starts, going 4-2 with a 4.76 ERA. In five June starts, Feldman is 3-1 with a 4.41 ERA.

Feldman has won four of his last six starts against the Angels.

"If we play defense behind him, we’re going to get our opportunity to score runs," Washigton said. "But, we have to consistently pitch. We’ve just got to not give them extra outs."