ARLINGTON -- Something about "Rangers Ballpark in Arlington" and "shutout" just doesn't click. Nevertheless, the Rangers -- who boast the highest-scoring offense in the Major Leagues -- were shut out on Thursday night in a 3-0 loss to the Yankees. The loss came against one of Texas' competitors in the American League Wild Card race. It came in the final game of the Rangers' 11-game homestand, dropping them to 6-5 on the stand and 6 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card standings. And it came in front of a crowd of 44,603 -- the second-largest home crowd of the season for Texas -- that arrived, for the most part, to support the Rangers in a game with playoff implications.
Still, the Rangers weren't frustrated that their prolific offense came up short against Yanks righty Mike Mussina, while Scott Feldman put forth perhaps his best effort of the season. "No, not at all," Marlon Byrd said. "You have to understand that when a guy like Mussina is on the mound, you're going to have a game like this. He's had a great season, and he had a great game tonight and he shut us down. In particular, Mussina shut down the key components in the Texas lineup. All-Stars Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Josh Hamilton went a combined 0-for-12, as the Rangers' offense compiled just eight hits. Gerald Laird and Chris Davis, who have been instrumental for Texas as it challenges for the AL Wild Card, each went 0-for-3. "Tonight, he was throwing everything for strikes," Young said of Mussina. "His cut fastball was really hard to pick up, for me." The only Rangers who experienced any success against Mussina were Byrd, who went 3-for-4, and Frank Catalanotto and Ramon Vazquez, who each went 2-for-3. Brandon Boggs contributed the only other Texas hit of the night. Other than back-to-back hits by Byrd and Boggs in the second inning, Texas couldn't string any hits together. To compound their troubles, the Rangers hit into three double plays. "Moose has been big for us all year," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "We needed a win, and Moose provided it." Mussina shut the Rangers down for seven innings, allowing just nine baserunners while striking out six. Mussina matched the Angels' Jered Weaver for the longest shutout appearance against the Rangers this season. "One thing about Moose is he knows how to pitch," Girardi said. "He's going to get ground balls when he needs to, and he kept the ball in the ballpark, and that's not always easy to do here." After Mussina's exit, though, the Texas offense was even less productive. A bullpen combination of Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte and Mariano Rivera kept the Rangers off the bases for the final two innings. The result was the second shutout of the Rangers this season and the first shutout at home for Texas since Aug. 11, 2007 -- a span of 80 games. "A loss is a loss," Young said. "We do things as a team and we don't really categorize our losses." Feldman also didn't categorize Thursday's loss as a frustrating one, despite allowing just two runs in seven innings. Although he posted his 10th quality start of the season, he was saddled with his fifth loss of the season. "There's nothing really to get frustrated about," Feldman said. "We have the best offense in the league. Tonight probably would have been enough to win any other night, but not the way Mussina was pitching. He pitched an unbelievable game. We have a great offense, but he was able to shut them down." Other than allowing a solo home run to Derek Jeter in the first inning and having a leadoff single come back to bite him in the fifth, he matched Mussina nearly pitch for pitch. He also allowed just nine baserunners in seven innings and coaxed the Yankees into hitting into three double plays. "That's where you know he's growing up," Laird said. "Good pitchers get into jams and get themselves out of them." Manager Ron Washington also chose to seek out the positives from the series. Rather than focusing on the shutout or the missed opportunity to make up ground in the AL Wild Card race, Washington was proud of his club for splitting with a team that could be playing in the postseason. "I feel great," Washington said. "We played four games against the New York Yankees, and I think we held our own. They're a playoff-caliber team and I think we proved we're a playoff-caliber team. We definitely didn't have anything to hang our heads about."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.