Rangers look to Feldman to stop sweep

Rangers look to Feldman to stop sweep

ARLINGTON -- When the Red Sox called up rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz to the Majors for the first time last August, manager Terry Francona said it would only be for one start, even if he threw a no-hitter.

Everybody thought that was funny and Buchholz did not throw a no-hitter in his first start. He did beat the Angels and then was sent down. But when he was recalled two weeks later, he did throw a no-hitter against the Orioles in his second Major League start.

The Rangers don't expect Scott Feldman to throw a no-hitter in his first Major League start on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. But even if he does, manager Ron Washington said he'll still be going right back to Double-A Frisco when the game is over.

"If Francona can say it, then I can say it," Washington said.

A no-hitter might seem far-fetched considering Feldman was just converted to a starter at the end of Spring Training. But Feldman flirted with a no-hitter in his first and only start for Frisco this season.

Pitching against Springfield (Mo.), Feldman retired the first 13 batters he faced and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He ended up giving up a run on three hits in the seventh, but was still the winning pitcher as Frisco defeated Springfield, 2-1.

"For my first start, it was a lot of fun," Feldman said. "I pitched a no-hitter in high school but never in college or pro baseball."

The closest was in 2006 in Frisco when he, A.J. Murray and Steve Karsay combined on a perfect game against Corpus Christi. Feldman retired three hitters in the ninth inning to finish it off.

This last outing was the best indication yet that Feldman has taken to the three-quarters delivery that he and pitching coach Mark Connor have been working on since last September. Prior to that Feldman was strictly a side-arming reliever, but the new delivery gives him a more complete repertoire to be a starter.

He used to rely on the sinker, but now he can come after hitters with his fastball, breaking ball and changeup. The delivery needed some time to get used to it, but Feldman said it started to click with consistency at the end of Spring Training.

"Now I feel like I can do what I always wanted to do and what I'm best suited to do," Feldman said.

Feldman threw 90 pitches in his last outing, so he should be stretched out for at least six innings. He is here because the Rangers had a doubleheader on Thursday and don't want to bring back either Kevin Millwood or Kason Gabbard on three days rest. The Rangers still have five healthy starters so Feldman will pitch this game and go back to Frisco.

"I'm not worried about that," Feldman said. "I'm just worried about the game."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Scott Feldman (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Feldman has made 73 career relief appearances at the big league level over the past three years but this will be his first start. He has made five starts in the Minor Leagues. He has made two relief appearances against the Blue Jays and allowed four runs in three innings.

TOR: RHP A.J. Burnett (1-0, 6.75 ERA)
In two starts this season, the Blue Jays have seen two different sides of Burnett. In his first start against New York, Burnett stifled the Yankees bats through six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, with three strikeouts and a walk. In his second start against Oakland, the hard-throwing right-hander was not as successful, allowing six runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 frames. Burnett has been solid in three career starts against Texas, posting an ERA of 3.27 to go along with 25 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Milton Bradley was off on Saturday and is still riding a seven-game hitting streak. ... The Rangers have lost two straight for their first losing streak of the season. ... The Rangers have allowed just one run in the first inning over their first 11 games.

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Up next
• Monday: Rangers (Jason Jennings, 0-2, 7.45) vs. Angels (Ervin Santana, 1-0, 3.00), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 1-2, 1.29) vs. Angels (Dustin Moseley, 1-1, 7.36), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Rangers (Kason Gabbard, 1-0, 2.13) at Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 2-0, 3.38), 6:07 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.