HOUSTON -- Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels has now won 12 straight decisions after a 9-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tying the club record set by Bobby Witt in 1990.He gives the credit to the run support."I think I have been fortunate with the run support," Hamels said. "Early
HOUSTON -- Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels has now won 12 straight decisions after a 9-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tying the club record set by Bobby Witt in 1990.
He gives the credit to the run support.
"I think I have been fortunate with the run support," Hamels said. "Early in my career, I was not used to getting many runs. When you play for a team that has an incredible offense, you know guys are going to put runs on the board. You don't have to worry about coming out of games early because you didn't get any run support. You can just keep plugging away."
Hamels' excessive generosity toward the Rangers' offense does have a point. The Rangers seem to be better at delivering runs when Hamels is on the mound. The 12 straight winning decisions have come over a course of 19 games in which the Rangers averaged 6.15 runs per nine innings when Hamels is on the mound.
Part of it is the Rangers are a little more relaxed and confident when their No. 1 starter has the ball.
"The confidence is very high," designated hitter Prince Fielder said. "We have a lot of confidence, and his track record is the reason. It's not about this year, it's what he has done in his career. The track record doesn't lie."
The Rangers had scored just five runs in their previous three games going into Sunday. They matched that with a five-run third inning against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
"Our guys know if they give Cole run support, he knows how to pitch from up front," manager Jeff Banister said. "He'll keep us in the ballgame and hold the lead. He gets us back in the dugout. When we have the other [pitcher] on the ropes, he gets us back in the dugout."
Hamels did that on Sunday, allowing two runs (one earned) in eight innings. He allowed five hits, walked two batters and struck out 11, the most by a Rangers pitcher this year.
"He's pretty good," catcher Bobby Wilson said. "He's really good. He can do about anything. He's one of the best pitchers in the league."
The Rangers swept the Astros by holding them to four runs in the three games. Hamels, like Colby Lewis and Cesar Ramos before him, exploited the Astros' youthful aggressiveness at the plate.
"There is a certain mindset, but you never stray away from throwing strikes," Hamels said. "They are aggressive, but if you make a well-located pitch, it will be in your favor because we have tremendous defense."
Hamels threw 112 pitches, and 75 of them were strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 32 hitters and is now 5-0 to start the season for the first time in his career. He is 12-0 with a 2.99 ERA in his last 19 starts, and the Rangers are 17-2 in those games.
"He was in control today," Banister said. "He had command of the fastball and command of the strike zone."
The offense did the rest.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.