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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Rangers' bullpen is going the distance

By Jeff Caplan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- To nail down two wins over the Los Angeles Angels Monday and Tuesday, Rangers manager Ron Washington had to roll the dice with eight relief pitchers over 8 1/3 innings -- nearly a full game.

The bullpen pulled through with scoreless relief in both games. In the last five games, which includes the two big wins over L.A. in Arlington and three consecutive losses at Toronto, the Rangers have received one quality outing from their starters. The bullpen, which leads the American League in innings logged, threw 16 1/3 innings.

"At some point we're going to have to start getting more out of the starters, but [Monday] night and [Tuesday night] we needed them and they showed up. That's their job," Washington said. "We get to the point where we want to back off, but we have to do what we have to do to try to win a ballgame. Those guys want the ball. I know at some point it might catch up with us."

After rallying from a 7-3 deficit to take an 8-7 on the Angels Tuesday, the Rangers relied on middle relief from Dustin Nippert, Darren O'Day and Chris Ray, and late-inning relief from Frank Francisco and flame-throwing closer Neftali Feliz.

O'Day's sixth inning, in which he struck out two and allowed one hit, earned him his first win since May 22, 2009 at Houston. He's now retired 20 of the last 23 batters he's faced.

On Monday, Nippert, former Angel Darren Oliver and Feliz closed the door over 3 2/3 innings.

With Baltimore in town for two games starting tonight, the bullpen is hoping it won't have to continue a similar work schedule.

"I don't think anybody wants to see that," Darren O'Day said. "No bullpen can maintain four to five innings a night, but if we have to battle, so be it if that's what it takes to win games."