Ogando gets clutch save on D from Cruz
OAKLAND, Calif. -- After no-hitting the Oakland Athletics for five innings Wednesday, Texas Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando found himself in a jam in the sixth.
With power-hitting Brandon Moss coming to the plate, Rangers manager Ron Washington decided it was time to make a trip to the mound.
"I had to let Ogando know that he's come too far and done too much right now to let this blow up in his face," Washington said. "Just throw the ball across the plate and let the defense make a play behind you. And I'll be darned, [Nelson] Cruz made one."
Moss sent a shot to right-center that appeared likely to fall and drive in two runs, but Cruz ranged far to his right and made a diving catch, ending the inning. The Rangers went on to win 6-2 and capture the series, two games to one.
"That was about the biggest [catch] that he's made in a long time because if that ball gets by him, no telling what that game will end up being," Washington said. "That was a grand play. We needed it right there. Ogando needed it right there. The team needed it right there. And he made it. And it saved the game for us."
Cruz is known more for his power at the plate than his defense in the field. And true to form, he launched a three-run home run in the fifth inning -- his team-leading 10th blast -- off A's reliever Jesse Chavez to increase the Rangers' lead to 6-0.
But Cruz said he enjoyed his diving catch even more than his three-run shot because it came at such a critical point in the game.
"It was a great catch and a great moment," Cruz said. "It looks like they're coming back."
Cruz said he wasn't sure if he'd even have a chance to make the catch when the ball came off Moss' bat.
"Four or five steps before I dove for the ball, I thought I had a chance to catch it," Cruz said.
Cruz has his share of critics who question his defensive skill, but Washington isn't one of them. Far from it.
"I think he's a very good defensive player," Washington said. "I've never questioned his defense. He's a very good outfielder as far as I'm concerned."
Cruz definitely made a fan out of Ogando. That diving catch kept a very good outing from turning into bad one.
"It was an excellent play that helped me so much," Ogando said. "That's what we needed at that moment."
Ogando didn't need much help through the first five innings, when he tallied all three of his strikeouts and dominated the A's.
"I was commanding all the pitches where I wanted to throw them," said Ogando, who improved to 4-2. "So overall I felt very well."
Ogando said he still felt strong in the sixth inning but started leaving his pitches up. Then after Ogando allowed a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson in the seventh, Washington took him out.
"The average starters get through the lineup three times," Washington said. "The good starters get through the lineup four times. He's been able to get through the lineup three times before I've had to get him. I'm looking for the time when he can get through four times.
“It's a learning process. It's only his second year as a starter. He's doing a good job of it. He really is."
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