Using dominant starting pitching to sweep their last series, the Texas Rangers tied for baseball’s best record. They’ll look to rookie Nick Tepesch on Monday night at Wrigley Field to keep it going as they match up with the Chicago Cubs, who will start Scott Feldman in his first game against his former team.
The game is a makeup of a contest that was rained out April 17, with the teams splitting their two other meetings last month.
The Rangers (20-11) saw Yu Darvish strike out 14 on Sunday and capped a three-game sweep of Boston on Adrian Beltre’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win. That left Texas tied with the Red Sox and St. Louis for the majors’ best record.
“We showed a lot of heart right there,” said Elvis Andrus who scored the winning run after delivering a two-out single. “That shows for us how good we are right now.”
Darvish’s performance followed strong outings from Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando as the three starters limited the potent Red Sox, who average 4.9 runs, to four runs over 21 innings while striking out 27. Texas’ rotation owns a 3.15 ERA this season that ranks near the top in baseball.
Tepesch (2-2, 3.54 ERA) didn’t post an impressive line his last time out as he was charged with five runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the White Sox. But manager Ron Washington blamed himself for leaving Tepesch in to face one batter too many, with Alejandro De Aza connecting for a two-run homer off him with two outs in the seventh. The game was tied 2-2 entering that inning.
The right-hander had yielded six runs in 21 1-3 innings before that game.
The Cubs (11-20) counter with Feldman (2-3, 3.34), who spent his first eight seasons with Texas before signing a free-agent deal with Chicago in November.
“I’ve seen a lot of those guys for a lot of years, and they’ve seen me for a lot of years, so it’s not going to be a big thing of trying to trick everybody,” Feldman told MLB’s official website.
The righty comes off one of his best performances, throwing a three-hitter for his first career complete game in a 6-2 win over San Diego on Wednesday.
“He was as good as anyone I’ve seen all year,” Padres third baseman Chase Headley said of Feldman, who struck out a career-high 12 batters.
As good as Feldman was his last time out, the pitchers who would come after him don’t appear imposing. Chicago relievers have an 8.44 ERA during the team’s current five-game losing streak, including two blown saves to run their season total to eight.
The bullpen gave up three runs over four innings in a 7-4 home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.
“We’re obviously going through a tough stretch right now,” said reliever Shawn Camp who surrendered two runs to push his ERA to 7.15. “We’ve got to pick it up a little bit. It can get ugly real fast. It’s May. It’s time for us to step up.”
The Cubs were without leading hitter Welington Castillo (.307) after he took a pitch on the ankle Saturday, but manager Dale Sveum said he’s OK.
Texas owns a 6-5 advantage in the all-time series.