Battling a seemingly never-ending string of injuries -- particularly to the pitching staff -- the Rangers were opening a 10-game homestand against a tough opponent while trying to keep a Los Angeles Angels team playing some of its best baseball of the season at arm's length.
And when the Rangers needed a boost the most, Scott Feldman rose to the occasion and delivered his best performance of the season. Coupled with some rare run support, the Rangers steamrolled the Red Sox, 9-1.
"It was a tremendous outing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly needed him to give us a chance tonight, and he went way beyond what we expected. We knew he had it in him. He had a crisp fastball, he had a good sinker working, he used his breaking ball. He really pitched well tonight, and we certainly needed it.”
Feldman pitched seven innings for the first time this season and allowed one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out five against a Boston team that leads the AL in runs scored. The lone run came on a solo home run by former Ranger Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second inning. The Rangers' season-high nine runs of support for Feldman certainly didn't hurt his outing either.
“My mechanics felt pretty good," Feldman said. "I just tried not to think about the extended rest that I had and just tried to go out there and compete, throw the ball into Nap’s glove and try and get some guys out.”
Feldman has bounced back and forth between starting and relieving all season. But after an 0-6 start to the season, Feldman has won his last four decisions. Feldman said the key to his turnaround is his attitude.
"I just try to keep a good attitude and not think of anything negative," He said. "I think that’s a big thing in this game, attitude. There’s a lot of negative things that you can think about and maybe sometimes I’m guilty of thinking too many negative things. I’ve just got to stay positive and not think of anything more than just making my pitch.”
With Feldman's stock trending upward, his performance against the Red Sox makes for an intriguing case as to why he could fill Lewis' spot in the rotation. Washington said he is not ready to anoint a new starter yet, but Feldman has the pedigree to compete at a high level.
"Feldman won 17 games for us before, so he knows what it’s like to go out on that rubber and maintain and get things done," Washington said. "We’re very fortunate to have a veteran like him, that when the opportunity presents itself he can go out there and keep us in the ballgame. Tonight he gave us seven innings with one run. That was huge. That was real big. Especially the way we’re starting to lose pitching.”
The Rangers still have time before the trade deadline to pursue an ace and put an effective band-aid on the rotation for the rest of the season. But perhaps if a trade does not work out, Texas could have a sufficient backup plan ready in their locker room.