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07/01/08 12:34 AM ET
Rangers take opener behind Feldman
Righty tosses 5 2/3 solid innings; Hamilton notches 80th RBI
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Rangers manager Ron Washington called it a "beautiful" baseball game. "At no time in the game did I have jitters in my stomach," Washington said afterward. "It looked like we had it under control all the way." The vast majority of the 53,045 fans at Yankee Stadium might have felt otherwise, knowing that opposing teams often crumble in this pressure-packed baseball cauldron in the South Bronx. The Rangers did not. They held on behind the pitching of starter Scott Feldman and a bullpen that is starting to regroup for a 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night. Feldman went 5 2/3 innings to get just his second win of the season and the first road victory of his career. Frank Francisco, Jamey Wright and C.J. Wilson made it happen by retiring 10 straight Yankees over 3 1/3 relief innings. Texas relievers have allowed just four earned runs in their past 31 innings combined and have a 2.60 ERA in their past 20 games. "That was awesome," Wilson said after cutting down Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada in order in the ninth for his 18th save in 20 tries. "We're trying to usher in a new era of Rangers baseball -- hold them down with pitching and defense. "Coming in to play these guys in this old stadium and with their reputation, it was great, because all we heard coming in here in the cabs and the newspapers is we were going to get swept because we can't pitch." The Rangers did pitch last night and are now two games over .500 for the first time since Sept 22, 2006. They have won three of their past four games and finished 14-13 in June. "Huge," Wright said. "Awesome. That's what we needed right there -- win the first game on the road, Yankee Stadium, 2-1. It's a beautiful thing. If that doesn't give you all the confidence in the world, I don't know what would." Feldman had some trouble early, walking three batters in the first two innings but was able to escape without damage. He won for the first time since May 9 in Oakland. He was 0-7 with a 6.35 ERA in 43 career games on the road before beating the Yankees on Monday. "It's awesome to come into Yankee Stadium and win a game like that," Feldman said. "I would have loved to have my pitch count lower and go deeper in the game, but the bullpen guys came in and shut the door." Feldman outpitched Mike Mussina, the Yankees' 18-year veteran who was going for his 18th career win against the Rangers. That would have been the most by any active pitcher, but the Rangers got one off him in the third on a double by Ian Kinsler and a two-out single by Josh Hamilton. The double extended Kinsler's hitting streak to 13, and the single gave Hamilton 80 RBIs on the season. The Rangers then made it 2-0 in the fourth, when David Murphy led off with a walk and scored on a one-out double by Chris Davis. Mussina struck out Davis in his first at-bat. "He's a good pitcher, and in my first at-bat, he kept me off balance," Davis said. "He threw a couple of curves and then ran the fastball away. The next time, I was just trying to see the curveball over the plate and put it in play." New York managed to get a run in the bottom of the fourth, when Alex Rodriguez crushed his 16th home run of the season deep over the left-field fence. But that came with the bases empty. It was a different story when the Yankees had runners on base, as Rangers pitchers held them to 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The biggest at-bat came with two outs in the bottom of the sixth after Jason Giambi drilled a triple to right-center off Feldman. That was the last batter he faced. Washington called in Francisco, who has carved out a role as what Wilson called "our crisis guy." He's the guy the Rangers bring in during the middle of the game to shut down an opposing team's rally, and Francisco did just that. He pumped fastball after fastball at Posada and finally struck him out on a full-count heater that was clocked at 97 mph. "Francisco comes in and just pounds the strike zone with a good fastball, and that's what he did tonight," Washington said. "We certainly needed it." The Rangers seemed to get everything they needed to win a terrific game in the South Bronx.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.