Sunday, July 24, 2011
Rangers bats go silent against Brett Cecil
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- An unpredictable, rare feat happened for the second straight night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. But this one didn't involve any dramatic comebacks.
One night after three consecutive sacrifice bunts -- the first time an AL team has done that in more than 30 years -- keyed a Rangers victory, Texas' potent offense was shut down by Brett Cecil, a 25-year-old without a complete-game shutout on his resume.
It was the fifth time the Rangers had been shutout, but the first time all season a pitcher threw a complete-game shutout at home against Texas. And it hasn't happened in Arlington since Aug. 28, 2010, when Dallas Braden did it to the Rangers.
Braden seems a lot more likely to turn the trick than Cecil, who came in with a 19.29 ERA in seven career innings against the Rangers (15 runs on 17 hits). But the Rangers couldn't solve his off-speed stuff, including a changeup that had great movement.
"You can get shut out by anybody if they make their pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We couldn't stay back on the off-speed stuff. He kept us off-balance. You have to give him credit."
Texas managed to get just one runner into scoring position and that wasn't until the eighth inning. It was painful, too. Craig Gentry got aggressive and tagged up from first on a fly ball. He slid headfirst into second and his shoulder hit the leg of Aaron Hill as he tried to apply the tag.
"It was jarring and it shook me up," Gentry said. "But once it was over, I was fine. I was trying to be aggressive and get something going."
It didn't matter. Cecil got the next two batters, striking out Elvis Andrus on a nasty changeup to end the frame. The game ended on a strikeout by Mike Napoli.
"You give him credit, but we have to find ways to score, it's as simple as that," said Michael Young, who had one of the club's four hits. "No matter what goes on out there, how well the pitcher is throwing, I'll job is to find a way to score and back up our pitching staff. We couldn't do that tonight, so we'll refocus and get ready for tomorrow."
The Blue Jays played solid defense behind Cecil, who got most of his outs on fly balls and popups. Jose Bautista made the play of the night, diving in shallow right field to rob Mitch Moreland of a hit. Bautista, the third baseman, was in right as part of an overshift Toronto played against the left-handed hitting Moreland and Josh Hamilton. Moreland said he saw a similar shift employed by the Tampa Bay Rays.
"The majority of my ground balls do go to the right side," Moreland said. "I had a feeling they might do that when the opportunity came up."
Moreland, though, said Cecil should get the credit for pitching a solid game.
"He stayed out of trouble all night," Moreland said. "He worked both sides of the plate and stayed ahead. You do that and you're going to have a good game."