Wilson keeps rolling against White Sox

Wilson keeps rolling against White Sox

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter C.J. Wilson was terrific on Tuesday night. So was an unusual and unexpected supporting cast behind the plate and out of the bullpen.

After making five roster moves on Tuesday afternoon and sorting through a depleted bullpen, the Rangers pulled it all together behind that cast of characters and held off the White Sox, 4-2, at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Matt Treanor, officially now the Rangers' No. 1 catcher, provided much of the offense by driving in three runs with a home run and a double. Dustin Nippert provided two scoreless innings in relief and Frank Francisco, with Neftali Feliz unavailable, finished it off with a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season.

Wilson went six innings, holding the White Sox to two runs to get the victory and turn in his fourth consecutive quality start. He is now 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and the first Rangers pitcher to begin a season with four quality starts since Kevin Brown and Charlie Leibrandt in 1993. His 1.75 ERA is the lowest by a Texas pitcher after four starts since Brown had a 1.14 ERA over his first four starts in '93.

"Getting off to a good start is important, but my goal is to have a great season," Wilson said. "But it's better to get off to a good start, rather than try to crawl out from behind a rock."

His supporting cast was huge.

Just before the game, the Rangers announced that both catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden had been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, while Max Ramirez has been called up.

Manager Ron Washington said both Treanor and Ramirez will play. Ramirez will start at least one game of each series, but it's likely that Treanor, based on his experience, defensive ability and pitch calling, will get the majority of the starts.

Offense like this helps, too. Treanor gave the Rangers a lead in the second inning with a home run off White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and added a two-out, two-run double in the fourth to make it 3-0.

That was not only Treanor's first home run since July 4, 2008, but these were also the first extra base hits by a Rangers catcher this season. The last home run by a Rangers backstop came from Ivan Rodriguez on Sept. 9 last season.

"I'm taking it all in stride," Treanor said. "Nothing changes. My game plan stays the same. My job is to grind out at-bats and contribute when I can offensively, but the main focus for any catcher is to get pitchers through their ballgames."

Treanor did that with Wilson on Tuesday night.

"It was awesome," Wilson said. "He had a great game. I really like throwing to him."

The two were in sync when things turned tough. Wilson breezed through four innings while his team built a three-run lead. But then he had to battle through the fifth and sixth. A double by Alex Rios and a single by Carlos Quentin made it 3-1 in the fifth.

The White Sox then cut the Rangers' lead to one on a two-out bases-loaded single by Alexi Ramirez in the sixth. That left the bases still loaded for White Sox catcher Don Lucy and set up the pivotal moment of the game.

Wilson threw three straight balls, putting him one pitch away from walking in the tying run. He didn't offer ball four. He threw six straight strikes with a combination of cut and sinking fastballs. Lucy fouled off three straight full-count pitches before striking out to end the inning.

"That was great," Wilson said. "The crowd was really into it. Treanor and I had good eye contact. We knew what we had to do, mix up the cutter and the sinker on both sides of the plate. [Lucy] was just nipping pitches, and I knew I could get him to miss one if I put it in the right spot."

Dustin Nippert took over in the sixth. With Darren O'Day down with a strained back and all other setup relievers having pitched on Sunday, Nippert picked up the bullpen with two scoreless innings.

"He was awesome," Washington said. "He came in the seventh, picked us up and didn't throw many pitches. So he came in the eighth and picked us up again."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.