5/6 Cubs 9, Rangers 2
Scott Feldman had every reason to be pumped Monday night. The right-hander was coming off his first complete game and facing his former team, the Rangers, who he started with back in 2003. One of the reasons Feldman signed with the Cubs was the chance to be a full-time starter, something he couldn’t do with Texas. If he had something to prove, he did so calmly, following the same game plan he did against the Padres in his last start, and now the right-hander leads the Cubs in wins.
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both hit two-run singles in a five-run fourth and Rizzo added a two-run home run in the eighth to back Feldman, who helped himself with an RBI single, to give the Cubs a 9-2 victory over the Rangers.
“He was commanding every pitch,” Welington Castillo said of Feldman, who held the Rangers to two hits over seven innings but had to leave because of a hand cramp. “He executed the pitches and he got out of the innings. He made the pitches when he needed to make them — that’s not an easy lineup to face. I give all the credit to him.”
The only problem Feldman had was with his right index finger in the eighth. He fell behind in the count 2-0 to David Murphy opening the inning, and was then lifted because of cramping. What happened?
“It was weird,” Feldman said. “I threw my last warm-up pitch and my finger was getting stuck. I tried to stretch it out and do a couple more throws. Finally, on the last one, I realized it wasn’t going to work.”
He had flown out to center in the seventh inning, and said the at-bat didn’t affect his hand. He did get a major confidence boost as the crowd of 32,618 cheered loudly when he was at the plate.
“I thought I was getting a standing [ovation],” Feldman said. “Then I came into the clubhouse and [clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann] had to burst my bubble and said it was because the Bulls won [against the Heat]. I thought I was raking.”
He was pitching. Feldman is the first Cubs pitcher to throw at least seven innings and give up three or fewer hits in consecutive starts since Rich Harden did so Aug. 11-19, 2009. It’s the first time in Feldman’s career he’s given up two earned runs or less in five consecutive starts, and he now has a 1.63 ERA in his last four starts.
“That’s really encouraging to see — that’s three or four really good outings in a row, especially two very impressive outings in a row,” Sveum said. “He’s got a feel for [his cutter] right now and it’s impressive, especially to go along with his two-seamer. He didn’t throw a whole lot of offspeed pitches tonight.”
The Cubs scored five runs in the fourth, all with two outs. Luis Valbuena doubled and the Rangers intentionally walked Darwin Barney, who was hitless in his last 16 at-bats. Feldman lined a single to left-center to score Valbuena, and make it 2-0.
“Anybody would do that, walk a big league hitter to get to a pitcher,” Feldman said. “Luckily, I was able to find a hole there.”
Feldman was originally scheduled to start against the Rangers in April but was skipped because his back tightened up. Was it tough to face his former teammates?
“I tried to relax out there but obviously I know a lot of those guys and have a lot of respect for them and had a great seven, eight years over there and made some good friends,” Feldman said. “When we’re not playing against them, I hope they do good, and on a night like tonight, I’m trying to get them out.”
– Carrie Muskat