Despite all the offensive firepower and a solid pitching performance from Scott Feldman, the Rangers were cooled by Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero on Saturday, as he shut out the Rangers, 6-0, at Rogers Centre.
"It was Romero, all right," manager Ron Washington said, after his team was kept off the scoreboard for the first time this season. "He used his pitches effectively, changed speeds, moved the ball around -- we just couldn't get anything going on him."
The left-handed sophomore was indeed spectacular, throwing 81 of his 116 pitches for strikes en route to his fourth win of the season and the first complete game of his career. Romero permitted only six baserunners, utilizing his highly touted changeup to strike out an impressive 12 Rangers.
"[Romero] threw the ball real well," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "His changeup kind of has a split action to it, a little dive down in the zone. It's a good pitch, a plus pitch for him, and you could tell early on that he had a lot of confidence in it."
Only one Rangers baserunner was able to reach scoring position all afternoon -- David Murphy, who made it to second on a wild pitch in the fifth. Unfortunately, that scoring opportunity was squandered when both Justin Smoak and catcher Matt Treanor flew out to end what proved to be the Rangers' only threat.
While Washington has continuously praised the Rangers' lineup, the club did not have more than a single baserunner in an inning throughout the game, making Romero's job that much easier.
"We were just flat today, offensively," Washington said, "and when you face a guy like that, he really makes you look flat."
In spite of the outcome, Feldman pitched serviceably for the Rangers, proving to be their only silver lining. Feldman went 7 1/3 innings, surrendering five runs -- two of which were inherited by Darren O'Day -- on nine hits with five punchouts. The right-hander also induced several ground balls, an indication of the effectiveness of his sinker.
"I thought Feldman did a great job," Washington said. "That first inning could have been a disaster, but he fought to get out of it and got us into the eight inning. That's a great positive right there."
Washington also credited Feldman for going deep into the ballgame, preserving an overworked bullpen that had thrown 20 1/3 innings over four games heading into Saturday.
The loss marks the sixth consecutive start in which Feldman has not managed to earn a win, dropping his record to 1-4 on the season with a 5.48 ERA.
"I made some better pitches, but the bottom line is, we didn't win today," Feldman said. "I think I threw better than my last few, and hopefully I can just build on this one and keep rolling here."
In the final frame, the Rangers' frustration was evident. Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, the last batter of the game, began a heated exchange with home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt over a call, prompting Washington to intervene.
"I was not arguing balls and strikes," Washington said. "I was arguing with him about taking his mask off and getting in Cruz's face. What was that all about?"
All in all, the Rangers mustered few positives in a lackluster affair. Fortunately for them, they still have street cred.
"That's a tough lineup right there," Romero said. "To be able to hold them to a shut-out, that's pretty special."