Colby Lewis will try to duplicate the terrific pitching performance the Texas Rangers received on Monday when they play the second test of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer broke up a combined no-hitter with a one-out single off Neftali Feliz in the ninth inning, but Texas rolled to a 4-0 win in the opener.
“You definitely don’t want to get no-hit,” Mauer said. “It’s nice to get a hit up there but we want runs.”
Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Darren O’Day, and Feliz came within two outs of tossing the first official combined no-hitter in the majors since Houston used six pitchers to blank the New York Yankees, 8-0, on June 11, 2003.
Harden (5-4) went 6 2/3 frames in the start, fanning six batters and walking five. He tossed 111 pitches before being pulled with Jim Thome coming to the plate.
Harrison got Thome to line out to keep the combined no-no alive. O’Day came on in the eighth and almost gave up a hit to the first batter. Delmon Young hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line. The ball made a sharp turn after it hit the dirt. Mitch Moreland stopped the ball with his glove and tossed the ball to O’Day, who was covering first. The next two batters went down on strikes.
Feliz took to the mound in the ninth with history on the line. The anticipation built after Denard Span flied out. Orlando Hudson then walked to bring Mauer to the plate. Mauer laced an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to halt what would’ve been the sixth no-hitter in Rangers history. Following a wild pitch, Feliz retired the next two batters to end the game.
It would’ve been the first no-hitter for the Rangers since Kenny Rogers tossed a perfect game on July 28, 1994.
There has been five no-hitters in the majors this season.
Twins starter Nick Blackburn (7-8) lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He also struck out five and walked no batters as the Twins saw their lead in the AL Central trimmed to 4 1/2 games over the White Sox.
Despite the loss, Minnesota has still won eight of 11 and 21 of 28.
Lewis is 0-5 over his last six starts and was charged with the loss on Thursday in Baltimore, as the Orioles roughed him up for four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. He is 9-10 on the year to go along with a 3.37 ERA.
“Sometimes you get pitchers who go out there and they don’t have the luxury of getting runs, and just lately, Colby has been that guy,” said Texas manager Ron Washington. “We just haven’t been able to put runs on the board for him. He battles and we battle, and the time is going to come when we’re going to pick him up.”
In six games (two starts) against the Twins Lewis is 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will counter with righty Carl Pavano, who at 15-8 is a big reason why the Twins sit atop their division. Pavano, though, was charged with the loss on Thursday against Chicago, as he was pounded for 15 hits and seven runs in six innings to raise his ERA to 3.52.
Pavano beat the Rangers the last time he faced them and is 1-2 in four starts against them with a 9.00 ERA.
Minnesota swept the Rangers in a three-game set at Target Field earlier in the year and has won seven of the last 10 matchups in the series.