Scott Feldman did to the Texas Rangers on Monday night what they were hoping he would consistently do to foes after they signed him to a multiyear extension in 2010.
He was their Pitcher of the Year in 2009 after winning 17 games, but only on occasion over the next three seasons did he pitch anything like he did in Monday’s makeup game at Wrigley Field.
Simply put, Feldman dominated his old team, and he beat them with is bat, too.
The right-hander allowed two hits in seven innings, and he also collected a single to plate the first of five two-out runs in the fourth inning as the Chicago Cubs rolled past the Rangers 9-2.
The only downer for Feldman was that an injured finger forced him out of the game two pitches into the eighth inning. Rangers starter Nick Tepesch, though, had no shortage of regrets.
Tepesch allowed six runs in four innings in what rates as the worst start of his brief career. His inability to put away hitters, including the Cubs’ light-hitting pitcher, proved costly.
“If he’d gotten Feldman, he would have been fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He just didn’t have his sinker, and his breaking ball was inconsistent. He was trying to get the ball on the inside part of the plate, and he couldn’t do it.”
The Rangers didn’t do much to back Tepesch (2-3) as their only offense came in the ninth inning. They hardly touched Feldman, who allowed only a pair of two-out singles and a two-out walk and was up 7-0 when he exited.
An unearned run in the first gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead, but Tepesch needed only to retire Feldman, who entered the game 1 for 11 on the season, to escape the fourth still down by just one run.
Tepesch had intentionally walked No. 8 hitter Darwin Barney to get to Feldman, who fell behind 0-2 in the count on two breaking balls. But he extended the at-bat four more pitches and singled sharply to left on a fastball to make it 2-0.
“I didn’t make a pitch right there, and that was basically it,” Tepesch said. “I didn’t get the pitch where I wanted it.”
After Tepesch walked the next batter, David DeJesus, after again getting ahead 0-2, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo followed with two-run singles.
Tepesch finished off the inning but was done after allowing six runs on 89 pitches. The Cubs added three more runs against the Rangers’ bullpen, two of which came on a Rizzo homer off Derek Lowe in the eighth.
Tepesch has hit a speed bump his past two outings, in which he lost both and allowed a combined 11 runs. The rookie’s ERA has jumped from 2.53 to 4.50.
“Rookies don’t only have [bad starts],” Washington said. “Every pitcher that steps out there on that rubber has them.”
Feldman, meanwhile, was coming off the first complete game of his career and quickly got out of the only sign of trouble he faced all game.
Nelson Cruz singled in the fourth, stole second base and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Welington Castillo. Feldman, though, got Mitch Moreland to ground to second base to end the inning.
The last out of the fourth was the first in a stretch in which Feldman retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
Feldman’s best start after signing his extension just before spring training in 2010 came last year, when he tossed eight scoreless innings against the White Sox. Overall, though, he went 15-22 with a 5.15 ERA from 2010-2012.
He bounced between the bullpen and rotation much of last year, though he did make 21 starts. But the yo-yo treatment didn’t sit well with him, and he and the Rangers predictably parted ways in the off-season after the club chose to pay him a $600,000 buyout rather than exercise a $9.25 million club option.
Feldman signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Cubs. He looked like a $6 million man Monday night.
“He threw the ball really well tonight, and I wish him the best the rest of the season,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “I don’t want to take anything away from him, but I don’t feel like we showed up to play. I don’t know what the right word is for a game like this, but you don’t want to play too many of them.”