Texas Rangers: Brett Cecil

Matchup: Alexi Ogando vs. Brett Cecil

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
1:00
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers get their second crack at Toronto LHP Brett Cecil after his four-hit shutout at Rangers Ballpark last Sunday. It's a rematch with Texas RHP Alexi Ogando looking to get even.

Ogando (10-4, 2.79 ERA): The surprise of the season will be making his first career appearance at Rogers Centre in Toronto. He enters the game with the seventh-best ERA in the American League and ranks sixth in both opponents batting average (.213) and opponents slugging percentage (.326). His 1.72 average against right-handed hitters is the lowest in the AL. His last start against the Blue Jays wasn't a bad one, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks, and he struck out six in 6 2/3 innings. Tonight's start will be his second in a row against the Jays and third of his career. He is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in his two starts this season.

Cecil (3-4, 4.71): The last time faced the Rangers five days ago, the lefty certainly looked far tougher than his record and ERA indicated. He shut down the potent Texas Rangers on just four hits. The 25-year-old has won two of his last three starts after losing three in a row. He does have two complete games this season, the only two of his three-year career. He has struck out 42 and walked 22 in 57 1/3 innings pitched.

Hitters: Elvis Andrus and Michael Young are the Rangers' top two (active) hitters against Cecil with three hits each in seven at-bats. Nelson Cruz has the only home run off of him and is batting .375 (3-for-8). ... . Craig Gentry owns a .500 average against Cecil (2-for-4), but he won't make the trip after going on the seven-day disabled list Thursday. Gentry's replacement on the roster, Taylor Teagarden is 1-for-2 against Cecil. ...Yunel Escobar has singled in all three meetings against Ogando. Jose Bautista is 2-for-4 with a double and two walks.

Rangers bats go silent against Brett Cecil

July, 24, 2011
7/24/11
10:09
PM CT


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."

Rapid Reaction: Toronto 3, Rangers 0

July, 24, 2011
7/24/11
9:28
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A three-run sixth inning for the Blue Jays combined with an excellent start by Brett Cecil was enough to avoid a sweep and beat the Rangers, 3-0. The Rangers offense just never got anything going (no runs, four hits) and the club's lead in the AL West dipped to three games after the Angels won today. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse):

* For the first time all season, a starting pitcher threw a complete-game shutout against the Rangers. Texas couldn't do much of anything off Cecil, who mixed his pitches well and benefited from some good defense behind him. Cecil has two complete games, but this was his first shutout. It was a surprising performance considering the Rangers blistered Cecil in two previous starts -- 15 earned runs on 17 hits with two homers in seven innings for a 19.29 ERA.

* Cecil didn't allow a Rangers' batter to get into scoring position until Craig Gentry tagged up from first on a fly ball in the eighth. Cecil got plenty of harmless popups and flyouts and didn't allow two leadoff singles to turn into any kind of opportunity for the Rangers to start a productive inning. Cecil's changeup was particularly effective.

* The sixth inning, one that manager Ron Washington talked about before the game as normally a pivotal one, hurt the Rangers on Sunday. Ogando was pitching well until he got a few sliders higher than he wanted, allowing the Blue Jays to score three runs thanks to three doubles. Ogando made a mistake to Jose Bautista. Rarely do pitchers survive mistakes to Bautista. Ogando threw a slider (his fourth straight) on a 1-2 count and left it up. Bautista drilled it to the gap in left-center. After Adam Lind was retired, Ogando threw another hanging breaking pitch and Edwin Encarnacion hit it to deep center. Travis Snider followed that up with a first-pitch swing at a 95 mph fastball and the ball went just over the first-base bag for the final double.

* Just like against Anaheim, Ogando threw a heavy dose of sliders. It was quite effective the first five innings. The key is that he can get the movement on it and still throw it for called strikes. It's anywhere from 75 to 84 mph or so, meaning it looks like a curve at the slower end of that range. You mix in a fastball that was clocked as high as 97 mph and it's sure difficult to hit.

* Ogando got a big out early Sunday, striking out Bautista with runners at the corners and two outs. Ogando threw a first-pitch slider for a called strike and then went to his 95-mph fastball and got a foul ball, threw one out of the zone and then got Bautista to swing through one for the strikeout. That kept the game scoreless at that point.

* Ogando had a quality start, allowing the three runs in 6 2/3 innings. But he walked off the mound with a frustrated look following that rough sixth inning. He took the loss, his fourth of the season.

* The Rangers had just four hits. Michael Young had one of those. That's not surprising, considering that besides all the hits in his career (nearly 2,000), he was hitting .380 off lefties going into Sunday's game. That was second in the AL behind Dustin Pedroia.

* Mike Napoli was behind the plate on Sunday and continues an impressive streak. Rangers pitchers have allowed four earned runs in the last 54 innings he's caught. Impressive.

* The Rangers had a nice defensive eighth inning. Ian Kinsler, ranging to his right behind the bag, turned and threw a bullet to first to get Lind. He then got to another tough ball to get Encarnacion, and Mitch Moreland made a diving stop and flipped to Tommy Hunter to end the 1-2-3 inning.

* Gentry had two of the Rangers' three hits. He also slid head first into second base on an aggressive tag-up play from first in the eighth and was shaken up (his head and shoulder hit Aaron Hill's leg).

* Hunter had a solid outing in relief. He recorded the final seven outs of the game, five on ground balls and two on strikeouts.

* Blue Jays used a big overshift on left-handed hitters Moreland and Josh Hamilton a few times, moving Jose Bautista from third to shallow right field. Bautista made a great catch on a ball hit by Moreland in the sixth. Neither player got a hit off that shift.

Matchup: Alexi Ogando vs. Brett Cecil

July, 24, 2011
7/24/11
11:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The finale of this three-game series is at 7:05 p.m. on FSSW and ESPN 103.3 FM and features RHP Alexi Ogando vs. LHP Brett Cecil. Here's a brief look:

Ogando (10-3, 2.72 ERA): Additional rest appeared to help Ogando in his last start as the 27-year-old beat the Angels last Tuesday, allowing no runs on four hits in eight innings with three walks and five strikeouts on 116 pitches. ... He retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. ... It was his first start since July 6. ... Ogando ranks among the AL leaders in opponents slugging percentage (sixth, .322), opponent average (sixth, .209) and ERA (eighth, 2.72). ... Ogando took a no-decision in his only career outing against Toronto on April 28, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings. ... He's 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts in Arlington this season.

Cecil (2-4, 5.77 ERA): The lefty has a 3.42 ERA in his last three starts, including two quality starts early in the month. ... Cecil's last outing was a no-decision in which he gave up five runs on nine hits in seven innings. The Blue Jays won the game, 6-5. ... In two starts against the Rangers, Cecil is 1-0 with a 19.29 ERA. That's 15 earned runs on 17 hits in seven innings. ... His last start against Texas was May 14, 2010. He gave up eight runs on eight hits in two innings in a 16-10 Toronto win.

Hitters: The Blue Jays are hitting .231 as a team off Ogando. ... Rajai Davis, who seems to hit every Rangers pitcher, is 2-for-4 with an RBI. ... Adam Lind's only hit off Ogando in three at-bats is a homer. ... Edwin Encarnacion and Mike McCoy are a combined 0-for-6 with three strikeouts off Ogando. ... Current Rangers are 14-for-39 off Cecil. ... Nelson Cruz is 2-for-4 with a homer and seven RBIs against Cecil, while Josh Hamilton is 2-for-5 off him. ... Mike Napoli is 0-for-4 with two walks.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 18 73 77
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 73
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182