ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Texas Rangers pitchers keep posting zeros—31 in a row, to be exact.
“It’s a contagious thing,” reliever Jamey Wright said. “You want to come in and keep the momentum going. You really want to be in there right now.”
The surging Rangers got their third consecutive shutout, and extended the second-longest scoreless streak in team history to 31 straight innings, when Scott Feldman, Wright and two other relievers combined on a four-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
“You’re not worried about breaking the streak, but it is contagious,” said Feldman (1-1), who pitched six innings. “You see other guys going out there, how they pitch, how they attack the hitters, and try and do the same thing.”
Wright took over from Feldman and tossed a perfect seventh for 29 scoreless innings in a row, and making it the second-longest streak. Joaquin Benoit and C.J. Wilson—the normal eighth- and ninth-inning guys—finished it off for 31.
Brandon Boggs, playing only his 11th major league game, recovered from an early hard crash into a wall to go 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs as Texas ended the A’s four-game winning streak.
Texas has won four straight games and 10 of 14 to escape last place in the AL West since owner Tom Hicks met with president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels two weeks ago to discuss the team’s direction.
“If we pitch and catch the ball the way we are now, our offense will put enough up there for us to be successful,” said manager Ron Washington, whose job no longer appears to be in imminent jeopardy.
Florida was the last major league with three consecutive shutouts, in August 2005. The last American League team to accomplish that feat was Minnesota in July 2004.
The only time Texas pitchers have had a longer scoreless streak was in April 1981, when they had a record 39 in a row during a span of four consecutive shutouts. That is also the only other time the Rangers had had more than two shutouts in a row until now.
On Thursday night in Seattle, Wright was among five pitchers who combined for the shutout. Starter Kason Gabbard left in the fourth inning of that game a few pitches after Richie Sexson charged the mound to tackle the pitcher and spark a bench-clearing brawl. A trio of Rangers held the Mariners scoreless on Wednesday night.
For rookie left-hander Greg Smith (2-2), it was the third straight start in which the Athletics failed to score any runs behind him.
“I put the team in a hole early,” said Smith, who allowed four runs and six hits over six innings. “I kind of don’t pay attention to the opposing pitcher because I’ve got my hands full with what I have to do. But (Feldman) threw the ball well.”
Feldman limited the A’s to two singles, the first not coming until one out in the fifth. The right-hander walked four and struck out one before leaving after 87 pitches.
After Jack Cust’s leadoff single in the sixth, the A’s didn’t have another baserunner until Cust and Frank Thomas had consecutive singles off Wilson to start the ninth. Emil Brown then grounded into a double play before Bobby Crosby struck out to end the game.
Feldman took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning in Oakland on Sunday before Thomas doubled on a ball lost in the sun and Cust homered, leading the A’s to a 3-1 victory.
Boggs was lunging for a foul ball near the left-field corner in the first inning when he stumbled and slid on the ground. His right knee slammed into an unpadded part of the concrete side wall and a small pipe running along it. He remained down for several minutes before finally getting up, wiping off his torn pants after what he later described as “probably one of the hardest crashes I’ve had.”
The Rangers led 2-0 after Boggs hit a one-out solo homer in the second.
“Definitely, it’s a great pain reliever,” Boggs said of his three-hit night.
Josh Hamilton had a double in the sixth, on a ball that skimmed off the heel of leaping right fielder Brown’s glove at the wall, and Milton Bradley walked before Boggs’ two-run double made it 4-0. Boggs is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with two homers and eight RBIs through his first 11 major league games.
Ian Kinsler led off the Rangers first with a double and came home on a grounder by Hamilton, who got his majors-best 37th RBI. ^Notes: Eight of 17 runs allowed this season by Smith have come in the first inning. … Gabbard’s knees were “bruised, scarred.” But Gabbard said he should be fine and ready to make his next scheduled start: Tuesday vs. the Mariners. … Rangers RF David Murphy was the AL rookie of the month in April. … Oakland has gone six games without an error since having four against the Rangers on May 2.