ARLINGTON – Considered a “hitter’s park” since it first opened in the spring of 1994, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has been the home to several big pitching performances including left-hander Kenny Rogers’ perfect game in 1994.
It might be about time to rethink the “hitter’s park” nickname, especially if Waxahachie’s Nick Moore is on the mound.
In two starts at the ballpark Moore is 2-0 with eight strikeouts and has not allowed an earned run to score while only surrendering 10 hits in 12 innings pitched.
“I would say this is more of a pitchers park in high school because it is a little big bigger than most high school fields. I just kept the ball down a lot better this game and it made a difference,” Moore said after picking up a 3-1 win against Midlothian Monday afternoon in a non-district contest.
With his offspeed pitches dancing around the zone Moore kept Midlothian hitters off balance most of the game and allowed three hits in five innings of working while fanning three.
It was his second strong outing in a row as he struck out a career high 12 batters in the Indians tournament win last Thursday in Fort Worth.
Before the Texas Rangers opened their 2010 American League Championship season at the Ballpark it was Moore who took the mound and showed pitching can thrive in Texas.
Moore pitched a complete game last March as the Indians defeated Grapevine 2-0. He went seven innings and allowed seven hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out five.
The Rangers went on to advance to the World Series and the ballpark played host to the big game for the first time in its history. While several pitchers for Texas and the opposition had big games on the mound in 2010, very few could top the success of Moore over the last year.
“I think the Rangers should draft me and just let me pitch home games,” Moore, an Evangel University signee, said.
Ten MLB players made at least two starts at Rangers Ballpark in 2010 with none posting a better record than Moore. Mark Burhrle and Ervin Santana were both 1-1 in their two starts while New York Yankee A.J. Burnett did not pick up a decision and Oakland’s Trevor Cahill was 1-0.
Moore was the only pitcher with two or more starts at Rangers Ballpark that did not allow a run and ranked third in strikeouts among the 10 pitchers with two starts. Burnett was first with 10 while Santana had nine.
Cahill allowed six hits in two starts while seven pitchers threw a complete game in 2010, but Moore was the only one with a complete game shutout.
Texas pitchers Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland each had perfect home records in 2010 as Hunter was 7-0 in 11 starts at the Ballpark while Holland was 2-0 in four starts.
Last season Texas acquired ace Cliff Lee near the trade deadline and the southpaw made seven starts at home but finished with a 2-2 record.
A left hander like Lee, Moore is off to a better start in his first two appearances at Rangers Ballpark and might come a little cheaper in the June MLB draft than it took for Lee to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason ($120 million, five years).
In two appearances hitters have made weak contact with Moore’s offspeed pitches resulting in 14 fly ball outs and nine ground ball outs.
Only one of the 10 hits allowed by Moore went for extra bases in his two appearances and that came off the bat of Midlothian’s Justin Shealy but he was thrown out at third trying to stretch a double into a triple.
Ryan Cawthon relieved Moore after five innings Monday and was just as effective against the Midlothian bats.
The right-handed pitcher allowed two hits in two innings while striking out two.
“It was nerve-wracking out there, but I loved it. It was fun,” Cawthon said. “It is a little different pitching out there. Richards is home but out here you can feel the crowd, you feel real small.”
Surrounded by a stadium that hold close to 50,000 people both Waxahachie pitchers showed that on the big stage that have what it takes to come up with big performances.
Now it is time for those who call Rangers Ballpark a “hitter’s park” to call it a “pitcher’s home” or at least the place where Nick Moore can not be beat.