ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Cole Hamels was masterful on the mound for the AL-best Texas Rangers, and Carlos Gomez provided a big blast in his debut with a fresh start.
Hamels allowed only two singles over eight innings for his 14th victory and Gomez hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat as the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 9-0 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series matching division leaders.
“You can always tell the passion he has in the game. … It’s nice to be able to have him on this side because he’s a tremendous asset,” Hamels said of Gomez. “It’s going to be dramatic in our lineup.”
Hamels (14-4) struck out eight without a walk and retired 19 straight batters after Francisco Lindor’s solid two-out single to left in the first. The only other baserunner for the Indians against the lefty was Carlos Santana after a leadoff hit in the eighth, though he was stranded at second after advancing on a passed ball.
“He’s got the whole thing. He’s got a fastball, he can cut it, a great changeup,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had everything working tonight, and you give him a lead, he knows what to do with it.”
Gomez hit a drive deep into the seats in left field for a 3-0 lead in the second. Adrian Beltre added his own three-run homer in the fifth to make it 8-0 and chase Josh Tomlin (11-8).
“The first home run of my career that I feel that I want to cry,” Gomez said.
Gomez made his Rangers debut five days after signing a minor league deal with the team and playing three games at Triple-A Round Rock. The 30-year-old two-time All-Star outfielder hit .210 with five homers in 85 games this season with the Houston Astros before being designated for assignment and then last week given his unconditional release.
“He’s hungry, he wants to prove to the baseball world that he’s still a very relevant player in this game, kind of a perfect storm for a guy that got a little discombobulated,” manager Jeff Banister said. “But an instant impact. He can do this type of stuff.”
Rougned Odor also homered for the Rangers (75-53), who matched their largest winning margin of the season.
The AL Central-leading Indians (72-54) were shut out for the fourth time this season, and that came after being held to exactly one run in each of their three games at Oakland earlier this week.
Tomlin lost his fifth consecutive start in August and has a 10.80 ERA in those games. This was the fourth time in that stretch the right-handed Texas native didn’t make it out of the fifth, allowing eight runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Hamels improved to 21-5 in his 38 starts since the Rangers acquired him last season when he was coming off a no-hitter in his last start for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the longest scoreless outing for a Texas starter this season.
“You have to stick to your game plan, but at the same time you have to have some sort of surprise just so they can’t sit on certain pitches,” Hamels said. “That’s kind of been the main focus this whole year, is really be able to execute all four or five pitches I throw, both sides of the zone, not really stray away or be afraid to try something new. That’s what we were able to do.”
WINNING AGAINST WINNERS
The Rangers are an MLB-best 52-26 against teams currently with a .500 record or better. They are 23-27 against sub-.500 teams.
LOT LESS STRAIN
In his last home start Aug. 13, Hamels had allowed a career-high 14 hits plus three walks. He still allowed only two runs in a 2-0 loss to Detroit.
Tony Barnette pitched the ninth to wrap up the third shutout this season for the Rangers. … Texas had eight hits, one each by eight players. The only Texas starter without a hit was Beltran, who is in an 0-for-28 slide after going hitless in four at-bats.
Indians: Instead of activating reliever Tommy Hunter from the DL next week as planned, the Indians released the right-hander who has been out since the All-Star break with a back issue.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (right lat strain) said he was “sore in all the right places” after throwing 44 pitches in his first rehab start Wednesday. He will make another rehab start Monday and hopes to return to the Rangers rotation Sept. 3.
Indians: All-Star RHP Corey Kluber (13-8), the 2014 AL Cy Young winner, is 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA his last eight starts.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (8-9) is 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 13 home starts this season.