Someone call the jeweler, the Rangers pitching staff just cut a gem.
Cole Hamels and the Texas bullpen tossed a one-hitter at the World Champion Houston Astros, shutting them out 1-0 in a good old-fashioned pitching dual.
It was the Rangers first shutout of the year. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Justin Verlander has been super human since coming to the Astros. But last night, Cole Hamels went toe to toe with him. And came out ahead.
Even though in his last six starts Hamels was 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA, he hadn’t been pitching badly at all. He certainly solved the first-batter home run problems that plagued him his first three games.
Last night the key was Hamels’s curve ball, which manager Jeff Banister said was his best all season. It was masterful, keeping Astros hitters off stride. In fact, the only hit was an Evan Gattis bleeder through the infield to lead off the fifth.
In every 1-0 game there is a hard luck story as well. Verlander has faced the Rangers three times this season. He has given them just two earned runs. The Rangers have won two of those three games.
But the Rangers are on the good side of this because Gallo worked a walk in the seventh, after being down in the count, to loaded the bases with no outs against Verlander and knock him out of the game (thank you, pitch count baseball). Jurickson Profar hit a sac fly to score the lone run.
The Rangers bullpen made it hold up.
But the story was Hamels. Even though he hasn’t been winning games, that is deceiving in this era of six-innings-and-out baseball. Ever since his bad start in Toronto where he gave up five earned in 5.1 innings, he has given up two, four, two, one, two, and now zero earned runs. And he is routinely going six innings. The Rangers just aren’t scoring runs for him.
They didn’t last night, either. So he just made sure it didn’t matter.
Texas has won three out of the last four, and those three victories have been, by far and without question, the most enjoyable three games of this trying season. The first two because the offense rallied.
This one was a classic pitchers’ duel, ala Koufax-Gibson.
Most games like this this season have been the result of ineptitude of offense. This one was masterful pitching.
This was a baseball game.
Verlander was brilliant. Hamels was brillianter.
Doug Fister (1-3, 4.02) vs. Charlie Morton (4-0, 2.16)
Game time: 6:10