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09/09/09 10:56 PM ET
Feldman's 12th road win finishes sweep
Byrd, Rodriguez homer; Rangers have two big innings
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Scott Feldman has not only become the king of the road but also the king of the Rangers' rotation.
He may not have the resume or the pedigree of a No. 1 starter, but he is pitching like one as Texas goes into the most critical stretch of the season.
Feldman not only broke two club records for winning on the road, but he also won his seventh consecutive decision overall as he pitched the Rangers to a 10-0 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
The victory kept Texas within 2 games of Boston in the American League Wild Card race. The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 7-5, Wednesday night.
Feldman, 16-4 with a 3.46 ERA on the season, hasn't lost since July 30 against the Tigers, and that was at Rangers Ballpark. He hasn't lost on the road since June 19 in San Francisco, as he has now won eight in a row and 12 overall on the road on this season. Both are new club records.
"I don't know, I'm not doing anything different on the road than I am at home," Feldman said. "The preparation is the same. This game can be humbling, so you try not to get too high or too low. I just go out and pitch and hope we keep playing good baseball, keep this going and keep playing into October."
C.J. Wilson and Willie Eyre finished up Wednesday, and Texas now leads the American League with 11 shutouts, its most since 1988. Feldman has started five of those 11 shutouts, including three in his past four starts.
"When you have your ace on the mound, you expect to win," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "You get a couple of runs early and you feel you have a 'W' in hand. He has been unbelievable this year when he steps on the mound. He started the season in the bullpen and now he has 16 wins. He just keeps getting better."
Feldman pitched seven scoreless innings on Wednesday afternoon and has now allowed just one run in 26 1/3 innings over his past four outings. He is the first Rangers right-hander to allow just one run over four consecutive starts.
"He's good, man," catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "I think I've caught him three times since I've been here, and he's a guy who doesn't do too much. He keeps the ball down, uses his breaking ball and changeup and throws everything in the strike zone. He's doing a great job."
Rodriguez and Esteban German also made a little history for themselves on Wednesday afternoon. German, joining with Omar Vizquel as Texas' third-base combo while Michael Young is out, had five hits for the first time in his career. Rangers third basemen were 2-for-23 in six previous games since Young's injury until German broke through Wednesday.
"We miss Mike," German said. "He's a leader on this team. We have to help out. This is a huge game for me. My first five-hit game and we had a win. That's very important."
Rodriguez combined with Byrd to give Texas a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Byrd put the Rangers ahead with a three-run home run off of Indians starter Fausto Carmona and Rodriguez added a two-run home run.
That was Rodriguez's 298th home as a catcher, tying him with Hall of Famer Gary Carter for sixth all-time. Mike Piazza has 396 home runs as a catcher, the most all-time. Up next for Rodriguez is fifth-place Lance Parrish, with 299.
"That would be another good thing to do at home," Rodriguez said. "I'm not looking at records, I'm just trying to play hard and keep winning, but it's another nice thing for my career."
A five-run lead was more than enough for Feldman. He cruised through seven innings, allowing just five singles and two walks. The Indians had two baserunners on in an inning just once. They just had three hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position in seven innings against Feldman.
"Good pitcher," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He does a great job with his breaking ball. You just look at the way he used that breaking ball to left-handers and to right-handers, and he does an outstanding job with it. He has a live fastball. It looks like it's a heavy ball."
Feldman struck out five and let the defense do much of the work. Second baseman Ian Kinsler had a particularly good day, making several nice plays going to his right and making tough throws from behind second base to get outs.
"He was all over the place and made everything," manager Ron Washington said. "We made some good defensive plays behind Feldman. It was a 10-0 ballgame, but the defense shined today."
So did the Rangers' ace of their pitching staff.