The Texas Rangers have been one of the AL’s biggest surprises, and interleague play hasn’t slowed down the division leaders.
Perhaps a trip to San Francisco will.
The Rangers have lost eight straight games in the Giants’ home park, and they’ll have to go through old nemesis Randy Johnson(notes) if they hope to end that skid in the opener of a three-game set Friday night.
The gap between Texas and the red-hot Los Angeles Angels—winners of six in a row—has been narrowing. Still, the Rangers (37-28) still hold a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL West despite losing 5-3 to Houston on Thursday night.
“You don’t look behind you,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Everybody knew the Angels would put something together. We’re focusing on our day to day.”
Washington’s club took two out of three from the Astros to move to 6-3 against the NL, but the Giants have presented problems in the past. The Rangers have lost eight of nine overall to San Francisco, getting swept in each of their last two series by the Bay.
Texas managed five total runs while losing three straight there from June 27-29, 2006, and the lineup has also had trouble producing on the road this year. The Rangers are hitting .249 and averaging 4.4 runs away from home, as opposed to a .275 average and 5.4 runs per game in Arlington.
Facing Johnson doesn’t figure to help, either. The 301-game winner brings a 16-5 record and 3.35 ERA in 32 career starts against the Rangers.
Although he has faced them only twice since 2000 and is not the same pitcher at 45, Johnson (6-5, 4.89 ERA) has been effective lately. He has averaged fewer than six innings in his last five starts, but is still 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA over that span.
The left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 5-2 win over Oakland on Saturday - his fifth victory at home.
“I’m at a different point in my career now when 91 pitches in seven innings is pretty good,” said Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner. “I don’t care much about strikeouts at this point. I care about being around late in the game.”
He’ll try to help the Giants (34-31) avoid a fourth straight loss after they were swept at home by the Angels earlier this week. San Francisco entered the series having won 14 of 19 overall and nine of 10 at AT&T Park, but it was outscored 21-11 as its pitchers faltered.
The Giants’ 3.74 team ERA ranks among the top three in the majors, but the Angels batted .328 in the series, scoring three runs in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 4-3 win to finish the sweep.
The right-hander should be well rested after throwing only 57 pitches in five shutout innings before a power outage caused a delay that ended his outing Saturday as the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to a 3-1 win.
“It was pretty frustrating,” Feldman said. “I felt I was throwing pretty good and wanted to go back out there.”
Feldman (5-1, 3.70) has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts since entering the rotation, and he has won his last four road outings. Born in Hawaii, he attended high school and college in the San Francisco area.