"He does not get caught in any patterns and he never pitches according to the score," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said recently. "He's always trying to put a shutout inning up there and get us back in the dugout. He's pretty special."
Indeed. The results are equally special.
Rogers went 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA -- the lowest ERA of any qualifying Major League pitcher for May -- during 46 innings in six May starts. Rogers' efforts marked just the third time in Rangers history that a pitcher has recorded six wins in a month; Ferguson Jenkins accomplished the feat in August of 1974 and Rogers did it for the first time in August of 1993.
The Rangers left-hander became just the second Major League pitcher in the last two seasons to win six games in a month -- the other was Minnesota's Johan Santana, the 2004 Cy Young Award winner, who won six games last August.
Rogers does it the hard way -- by not throwing hard. He mixes his pitches well, throwing a cutter, curve, sinker, and an occasional fastball that can still reach 91 to 92 mph.
"He creates stuff," Rangers catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. said recently. "He mixes it up different ways. He's crafty and knows how to survive out there. He's a big competitor."
Right-hander Rick Helling was the last Rangers pitcher to win the award when he picked up the honor in September of 1998. Rogers has also won each of his last seven starts and leads the AL with a 1.65 ERA, the second-lowest figure among qualifying Major League pitchers.
"It's pretty amazing what he's done," Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench said recently. "He's not trying to trick anybody ... just throwing strikes and getting outs."
Tough play at first: Ultimately, it might not have mattered in the game's final outcome, but the Tigers got a break in the third inning Thursday.
Speedster Nook Logan hit a ball that first baseman Mark Teixeira fielded cleanly, but pitcher Chris Young ran to the bag at the same time. Logan avoided the tag, but replays showed he didn't touch the bag.
"It was a tough play, he's a fast runner," Young said. "I got in Teix's way. I didn't know where Logan was. It's my fault."
First-base umpire Derryl Cousins ruled Logan was safe. Rangers manager Buck Showalter thought otherwise.
"I told [Cousins that Logan] never touched first base and he said, 'Well, I didn't see that,'" Showalter said. "He also was out of the baseline evading the tag, so take your pick which way he was out."
Teixeira said he understood why Cousins called Logan safe.
"That's a tough call for the umpires," Teixeira said. "He didn't hit the bag, and I saw that. That's why I went back and tagged him. But it's a tough call for the umpire because you've got three guys almost in a collision. No
one gets tagged so they just assume that he was safe. It's a tough call."
Logan eventually scored along with Brandon Inge as the Tigers took a 3-2 lead.
Lineup change: It was a very odd sight for the Texas Rangers when they looked at Thursday's lineup.
Hank Blalock was not listed as starting at third base. Instead, Mark DeRosa got just his sixth start of the season, his first since May 16 at Chicago.
For Blalock, who is batting .290 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs, it is just the second time this season he has not started at third base. He also leads all Major League third basemen with a .993 fielding percentage. Blalock has
committed just one error in 140 total chances.
DeRosa is making his second start at third base. He had just 16 at-bats coming into the game and was hitting .063 with one home run and three RBIs.
Manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to get DeRosa some at-bats, while resting Blalock, who was 2-for-14 against Detroit's left-handed starter, Nate Robertson.
But Showalter acknowledged Blalock probably would have preferred to play.
"These guys, they love to play," Showalter said. "They're baseball players. They like to help the Rangers win. But I want to keep everyone feeling a part of this."
Pudge weighs in on Rangers' chances: If there's one player who knows something about the Rangers, it's former
Ranger and current Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career with Texas, thinks the Rangers have a good chance to contend this season.
"If they keep playing the way they're playing right now in June, July with the hot weather ... and contend for the playoffs, they can win the whole thing," Rodriguez said. "They have a great coaching staff and they have good players."
The future Hall of Fame catcher, who won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003, says team chemistry can't be underestimated.
"I think the reason they're in first place [tied with the Angels] in their division is because they're a close-knit team," Rodriguez said. "Those players, they've been together for three or four years now. They know each other
pretty well. When you have a team together for three or four years, it feels like a family."
Series oddities: In addition to a rare loss Wednesday night, the Rangers and Tigers game had another odd occurrence.
The two teams combined for no walks, which is only the sixth Major League game this season with no walks.
It is the first time since Sept. 5, 2001, that the Rangers played in a walk-free game, and only the 13th time in team history it has happened.
Oddly enough, two of Texas' last four no-walk games have come in Detroit, with the earlier one occurring Sept. 2, 1999, at Tiger Stadium.
In other strange Texas-Detroit news, Thursday's game marks the conclusion of the season series between the two teams, the fewest number of games between the teams in a season.
The two teams played May 9-11 in Arlington.
Not including years involving labor disputes, this is the earliest the Rangers have completed a season series against an American League opponent.
Time's-a-changing: The time of the Rangers' game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, June 15, has been changed from 7:05 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. CT.
The change was made because ESPN chose the game as their early primary telecast.
On deck: The Rangers travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals in Game 1 of a three-game weekend series on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Pedro Astacio gets the start for Texas against Royals righty Jose Lima.