July 24, 2011

Blue Jays' Cecil cools off Rangers in 105-degree heat

The Rangers suffer their second home shutout in the past two years.

ARLINGTON -- A two-month stint in Las Vegas usually doesn't provide many lasting benefits to its visitors, but Brett Cecil is on his way to proving otherwise.

The left-hander was exiled there earlier this season to work on the craft of pitching at Triple A, where he won eight times for a team that plays in an outrageously hitter-friendly ballpark.

Rangers Ballpark is also considered a place where pitchers would rather not work, but Cecil was there Sunday night looking perfectly at ease in 105-degree heat.

Cecil limited the Rangers to four singles, only two of which left the infield, and Toronto scored three times in the sixth inning against Alexi Ogando to beat the Rangers 3-0.

The performance was the best of Cecil's career and marked only the second home shutout of the Rangers over the past two seasons. The loss allowed the LA Angels to move within three games of the Rangers in the American League West.

"You can get shut out by anybody if they make their pitches and they're good," manager Ron Washington said. "He was good. He's a big league pitcher, and there will come some time that he will pitch a heck of a game. Tonight was it."

Craig Gentry had two of the hits and was the only Rangers base runner to advance to second base. He, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz were the only Rangers hitters immune to Cecil's ability to change speeds and get ahead in counts.

He was especially tough against the three left-handed hitters in the Rangers' lineup. Josh Hamilton, Chris Davis and Mitch Moreland were a combined 0 for 10, though Toronto benefitted from its funky defensive shift against Moreland to rob him of a leadoff hit in the sixth.

"They moved over there for the right reason," Moreland said. "They got Josh on one two nights ago, and me tonight. So, I guess it works."

The Rangers, who entered with a baseball-best .314 average in July, needed that hit after Toronto had collected four hits in the top of the inning against Ogando.

Yunel Escobar, who went 3 for 3 with three singles, started the inning with a single and scored the game's first run on a double by Jose Bautista. Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider followed with two-out doubles before Ogando (10-4) could get the Rangers back in the dugout.

"I was using all the same pitches when I was on the mound, but what happened is they made the right adjustments and they hit the ball," said Ogando, who lasted 6 2/3 innings and conceded that his mound foe was just better. "He did awesome. He pitched well, and we couldn't hit him. Sometimes that happens."

The Rangers took no solace in the fact that they won the three-game series, which players often voice as a key to reaching the postseason. Instead, they were stumped and a little miffed by their performance at the plate against Cecil, who has posted a quality start in three of his past four outings.

"We'll give credit where credit is due, but at the same time, we've got to find a way to score," said Young, who had a single to start the second.

"You don't sit there and play with house chips because you won the first two games of a series. I come out and try to win every night. Our job tonight was to come out and play well and try to find a way to win a ballgame. We didn't do it."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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