ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels had never had a start quite like Saturday night.
Actually, no pitcher in the majors had in nearly three decades.
Hamels gave up a career-high 14 hits over seven innings, but only two runs in the AL-best Rangers’ 2-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
“Baseball is a funny game,” Hamels said. “When it really comes down to it, you just have to bear down and keep guys from scoring.”
Which Hamels (12-4) did for the most part, including some help with standout plays by all three outfielders.
The last pitcher in the majors to give up that many hits and two earned runs or less in at least seven innings was Montreal’s John Dopson, who allowed two runs and 15 hits in 8 2-3 innings against Atlanta on July 3, 1988. The last in the AL was Rick Sutcliffe for Cleveland in 1983, with 14 hits and two earned runs over nine innings at Milwaukee.
“Really only gave up two hard hit balls,” manager Jeff Banister said. “The rest of the game he managed well. He made pitches, got the outs that he needed to, but you don’t see that line much any time. Gritty performance by Cole.”
Casey McGehee had four of Detroit’s 14 hits, Matt Boyd (4-2) limited Texas to two hits over seven scoreless innings and the Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak.
Detroit opened the fifth with three consecutive singles, McGehee leading it off and scoring on a hit by Victor Martinez for a 1-0 lead. McGehee added an RBI double an inning later.
The Tigers had runners thrown out at third and home by outfielders in the fourth.
Mike Avilies tried to advance from first on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single to left, but Jurickson Profar got his first career outfield assist with a one-hop throw to third baseman Adrian Beltre. The inning ended with Saltalamacchia out trying to score when Ian Kinsler blooped a double down the line that ricocheted off Shin-Soo Choo when he slid trying to catch it. But the right fielder got up, retrieved the ball from foul territory and threw to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who made a sweeping tag for the out.
In the fifth, right before McGehee’s double, All-Star center fielder Ian Desmond ran a long way to catch Kinsler’s deep flyball into the left-center gap.
“I don’t think I would have made it without the big plays in the outfield,” Hamels said. “The outcome would have been a little different.”
Hamels also walked three, but the Tigers left 11 runners on base against him, seven in scoring position.
His only 1-2-3 inning was his last one, when Hamels had consecutive strikeouts before giving up a single to Aviles and promptly picking him off first base.
“Probably best pickoff I’ve had in a long time,” Hamels said. “Just going out there and trying to plug away. … Obviously work on something toward the next game.”
SHORT HOPS: Shane Greene worked the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez the ninth for his 33rd save in 36 chances. … It was Detroit’s sixth shutout of the season, while the Rangers were held scoreless for the sixth time. … It was only the fourth time in Rangers history that a starter allowed 14 hits, the first since Matt Harrison against Tampa Bay in 2012. Harrison was one of the players sent to Philadelphia last summer in the trade to acquire Hamels, who is since 19-6 in 35 starts for Texas. … Detroit had lost six in a row to Texas.
Rangers: Colby Lewis threw a 30-pitch bullpen, and is expected to throw 40 pitches Tuesday. Lewis, 6-1 before a strained right lat in June, is eligible to come off the 60-day DL next Sunday. … RHP Tanner Scheppers, out all season after left knee surgery, threw live BP, and is now expected to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with one inning for Double-A Frisco.
Tigers: Rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer (9-3, 2.43 ERA) takes his sixth shot at becoming the first AL rookie to win 10 games.
Rangers: The Rangers have won the last four starts by A.J. Griffin (5-1).