DETROIT (AP) — The Texas Rangers know they can’t give away games as they try to grab the last AL wild-card spot.
On Thursday night, they never had a chance.
Alfredo Simon threw a one-hitter in his first career complete game and the Detroit Tigers beat the Rangers 4-0.
“I’ve seen him pitch this well in Cincinnati, but now he’s added a different arm angle,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He was throwing 95 (mph) to both sides of the plate, and then he’s changing speeds on his breaking ball. There’s not much you can do against that.”
Texas entered play 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild-card spot, while the Tigers were three games further back.
The Rangers’ only hit came with two outs in the fifth, moments after first baseman Victor Martinez had made a diving stop to rob Mitch Moreland of a base hit. Rougned Odor ended the no-hitter with a double to left, but Texas never got a runner past second base.
“That pretty much summed up the night,” Moreland said. “Simon pitched a great game, and when we did hit a ball hard, they made plays. We just come back tomorrow and try again.”
Simon (11-7) walked two and struck out five. He threw 116 pitches, three short of his career high.
“I kept the ball down today, and attacked the hitters,” said Simon, who has been pitching with a groin strain. “My leg felt better today, and all of my pitches were working.”
Martin Perez (1-3) took the loss for Texas, giving up three runs, six hits and three walks. He struck out four.
“Perez just didn’t have the range on his pitches,” Banister said. “He did a decent job of limiting the damage, but he pitched himself into too much trouble.”
The game was Prince Fielder’s first at Comerica Park since he was traded to the Rangers after the 2013 season, and he was loudly booed in every at-bat. Fielder, who grew up at Tiger Stadium and helped Detroit to the 2012 World Series, left after angering the fans with what was seen as a too casual attitude to the Tigers’ loss to Boston in the 2013 ALCS.
“I got booed the last time I was here, so why would it change?” Fielder said before the game. “What people think of me is none of my business.”
The Tigers loaded the bases off Perez in the first and third innings, and both times, Nick Castellanos drove home Miguel Cabrera with the only run of the rally. In the first, one night after hitting a grand slam in Chicago, Castellanos singled, and in the third, he hit a sacrifice fly to right.
Cabrera made it 3-0 in the fifth, driving in Ian Kinsler with a single, while Martinez added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Rangers: The Rangers placed OF Josh Hamilton on the 15-day DL with knee inflammation, retroactive to Aug. 16, and purchased the contract of OF Will Venable. Hamilton had missed four straight games, and a cortisone shot didn’t provide any relief.
Tigers: Detroit placed two starting pitchers — LHP Daniel Norris (oblique strain) and RHP Anibal Sanchez (rotator-cuff strain) — on the DL, and called up relievers Guido Knudson and Jose Valdez from Triple-A Toledo.
The teams continue their four-game series Friday with Justin Verlander (1-5, 4.11) of the Tigers facing Colby Lewis (13-5, 4.49). Both pitchers started when the teams faced each other in the 2011 ALCS, but they didn’t face each other. Despite Verlander’s lack of wins — the Tigers are 2-9 in his 11 starts — he has allowed one earned run in five of his last seven outings.