The Rangers and Blue Jays hooked up in an unexpected pitching duel earlier this week in the Texas heat. Alexi Ogando(notes) and Brett Cecil(notes) won’t have to wait long at all for the rematch, this time north of the border.
Ogando and the Rangers will try to gain some revenge against Cecil and the Blue Jays on Friday night when they begin a weekend set in Toronto.
On Sunday, it appeared on paper the Rangers had the advantage. Texas had won nine in a row at home and Ogando was looking to win his fourth consecutive start for the AL West leaders while the Blue Jays went with Cecil, who had a 19.29 ERA in two career appearances versus Texas.
Instead, Cecil (3-4, 4.71 ERA) fired a four-hitter for his first career shutout and second complete game of the month in beating the All-Star 3-0. Cecil, who won 15 games last year, was sent to Triple-A on April 21 after getting off to a 1-2 start with a 6.86 ERA.
“It’s a great accomplishment, to come back from where I was at the start of the season and floating around the whole season, it’s a huge thing for me to get back on the right path,” said the left-hander, who walked two and struck out seven. “I just hope it continues.”
However, Cecil has performed poorly at the Rogers Centre since being recalled, going 0-1 with a 7.43 ERA. He’s been tagged for 11 runs and 17 hits in 13 1-3 innings.
Ogando (10-4, 2.79) lasted 6 2-3 innings Sunday, giving up three runs and seven hits en route to his first loss since June 25, capping a three-start skid. Manager Ron Washington doesn’t think the right-hander will fall into another slump.
“I think he had his serious hiccup,” Washington told the Rangers’ official website. “I don’t think he’s the type of pitcher that you’ll see go through what he went through again where he’s going to have games that will go back-to-back-to-back like that.”
Texas (60-46) salvaged a split of its four-game set with Minnesota after a 4-1 win Thursday. Matt Harrison(notes) completed an unbeaten July by allowing one run in 7 1-3 innings, and Neftali Perez pitched a perfect ninth to get his 21st save after Washington said he wanted to see more emotion from his closer.
Nelson Cruz(notes) was 0 for 4 but still hit .448 (13 for 29) with a homer and 12 RBIs during Texas’ 4-3 homestand. Cruz went 4 for 4 with a homer and career-best eight RBIs last Friday in a 12-2 win over the Blue Jays.
Though the Rangers have one of the best home records in the AL at 35-21, they’re just 25-25 on the road.
Toronto (53-52) took two of three from Baltimore after rallying for an 8-5 win Thursday. New center fielder Colby Rasmus(notes), acquired from St. Louis in a three-team deal Wednesday, went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and was the only Blue Jays starter not to reach base.
“Fun to watch, that was awesome,” Rasmus said of his new team’s offensive showing. “I was ready to get in on some of the action. I wasn’t able to do it today but I felt pretty good, I feel good about the situation. I think it’s going to be a good time.”
Toronto has won 12 of 17 at home over Texas.