Arlington, TX (Sports Network) – Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer broke up a combined no-hitter with a one-out single off Neftali Feliz in the ninth inning, but Texas used sensational pitching to defeat the Twins, 4-0, in the opener of a four-game series at Rangers Ballpark.
Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Darren O’Day, and Feliz were close to tossing the first official combined no-hitter in the majors since Houston used six pitchers to blank the New York Yankees, 8-0, on June 11, 2003.
Harden (5-4) went 6 2/3 frames in the start, fanning six batters and walking five. He tossed 111 pitches before being pulled with Jim Thome coming to the plate.
Harrison got Thome to line out to keep the combined no-no alive. O’Day came on in the eighth and almost gave up a hit to the first batter. Delmon Young hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line. The ball made a sharp turn after it hit the dirt. Michael Cuddyer stopped the ball with his glove and tossed the ball to O’Day, who was covering first. The next two batters went down on strikes.
Feliz took to the mound in the ninth with history on the line. The anticipation built after Denard Span flied out. Orlando Hudson then walked to bring Mauer to the plate. Mauer laced an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to halt what would’ve been the sixth no-hitter in Rangers history. Following a wild pitch, Feliz retired the next two batters to end the game.
It would’ve been the first no-hitter for the Rangers since Kenny Rogers tossed a perfect game on July 28, 1994.
There has been five no-hitters in the majors this season.
The Rangers scored the only runs they would need in the first inning. With two outs, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero hit consecutive infield singles. David Murphy drove in both men with a triple to center.
Harden retired the first nine batters he faced before walking Span to lead off the fourth. After Hudson lined out, Harden walked Mauer. Jason Kubel flied out and Cuddyer struck out to keep Harden’s bid for a no-hitter alive.
Thome led off the fifth with a walk. Young grounded into a fielder’s choice and Danny Valencia grounded into a double play to end the frame.
Texas added a run in the home fifth. Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus singled to put men on the corners with one out. Michael Young hit a grounder to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who stepped on second for the second out before throwing to first. The throw was high, though, allowing a run to score.
Harden retired the first two batters in the seventh before walking Cuddyer. With Harden’s pitch count at 111, Rangers manager Ron Washington made his way to the mound. Following a lengthy discussion, Harrison came in from the bullpen to relieve Harden.
Hamilton’s sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 4-0.
Twins starter Nick Blackburn (7-8) lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He also struck out five and walked no batters as the Twins saw their lead in the AL Central trimmed to 4 1/2 games over the White Sox.
Minnesota swept the Rangers in a three-game set at Target Field earlier in the year and has won seven of the last 10 matchups in the series….Texas activated catcher Matt Treanor and Harden from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game. To make room on the roster, the club optioned catcher Taylor Teagarden to Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed pitcher Scott Feldman on the 15-day DL…The Twins started a seven-game road trip on Monday, while the Rangers got a seven-game homestand underway.