ARLINGTON -- The Rangers wanted Paul Byrd, and asked the Indians about him right before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Problem was the Rangers were one of the teams listed in his partial no-trade clause and a deal couldn't be worked out. The Red Sox later picked him up instead. But the Rangers -- as they found out on a Sunday afternoon -- were at least on the right track. Byrd has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the second half of the season, and he was again on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, pitching the Red Sox to a 7-2 victory over the Rangers.
The loss was the Rangers' ninth in 10 games to the Red Sox this season. "We caught the wrong guy on the wrong day," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his team finished 3-3 on the homestand. Byrd held the Rangers scoreless for 6 2/3 innings and is now 8-1 with a 2.61 ERA in his last nine starts combined with the Indians and Red Sox going back to July 21. That was about the time the Rangers started asking teams if there were any pitching available. "I kept the ball down a little bit better today," Byrd said. "This ballpark is a hard one for me to pitch in the way the wind carries the ball and I'm a fly ball pitcher. But today I was able to mix my pitches well and keep them down in the zone." The Red Sox, on the other hand, apparently caught Brandon McCarthy on the right day and knocked him around for six runs on seven hits and three walks in 51/3 innings. "They're a good hitting team," McCarthy said. "Combine that with less-than-stellar command and some pretty bad pitches, and it made for a long day. I couldn't throw my curveball and changeups for strikes and my fastball was below average. Stuff-wise, it was a bad day." McCarthy wasn't a complete bust. He did give up two runs in the second inning on a two-out single by Jason Varitek, a triple by Alex Cora and a single up the middle by Coco Crisp. But, trailing 2-0, he still had retired seven straight hitters before he walked Crisp to lead off the fifth inning and set up the pivotal moment of the game. Crisp stole second and went to third on Jacoby Ellsbury's little tap just in front of home plate. The Rangers then brought in the infield and that kept Crisp at third when Dustin Pedroia grounded out to third baseman Chris Davis. That brought David Ortiz to the plate with first base open and Kevin Youkilis on deck. In the past, the Rangers have walked Ortiz to get to Youkilis -- they've intentionally walked him three times previously this season. This time, Washington decided to let McCarthy go after Ortiz. "I thought about it," Washington said. "You pick your poison, but Ortiz hadn't been taking good swings off him." McCarthy threw a curve for a strike, then missed two changeups in the dirt. Catcher Taylor Teagarden called for a fastball and McCarthy threw it past Ortiz for strike two. Teagarden called for another fastball. Ortiz was waiting on it. "You can't sneak the cheese past the rat," Washington said. Ortiz crushed the pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run home run that gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead. "We were trying to induce a ground ball early in the count," McCarthy said. "When we got later in the count, we tried to go fastballs. I should have shook him off, that's my fault. I should have gone with my instincts. If I execute my pitch, maybe get it more inside or up a little more, it might have been different. But that's a high-risk, little-reward pitch. I've got to do a better job." Byrd was more than happy with a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox turned two double plays and Byrd got a big out in the third when he struck out Michael Young with two outs and the bases loaded. "He was cutting the ball pretty well and I was having trouble with recognition on pitches," said Young, who struck out three times on the afternoon. "It was tough to see but I still have to make an adjustments. It was a combination of him throwing well and us not making an adjustment." The Red Sox made it 6-0 with a couple of run-scoring singles by Ellsbury and Pedroia in the seventh. Byrd took a three-hit shutout into the seventh, but walked a couple of people and left-hander Javier Lopez had to be called upon to strike out Davis to end the threat. Byrd left to a big ovation from the large number of Red Sox fans in attendance Sunday afternoon. "I love the fans we have in Boston," Byrd said. "I don't think I've ever been cheered like that coming out of a game on the road. I didn't know if I should tip my cap or not because I didn't want the Rangers to get mad at me." The Rangers probably don't mind that as much as perhaps being placed on his no-trade list. They could have used somebody like him.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.