Saturday, April 23, 2011
Bullpen: The young and the ageless
By Art Garcia
ARLINGTON, Texas -- On the night 40-year-old Darren Oliver became the oldest Ranger ever to record a save, 25-year-old rookie Cody Eppley made his major league debut with two shutout innings. Meet the latest incarnation of the Texas bullpen.
Manager Ron Washington praised the work of both his relievers in Saturday night's 3-1 win over Kansas City, while maintaining that the closer-by-committee plan hasn't deviated.
"Ollie did a good job tonight," Washington said. "We'll see where we go tomorrow if the opportunity presents itself."
Eppley pitched two scoreless innings starting in the seventh, working around two hits. Called up from the Triple-A Round Rock Express, the side-armer struck out the first big league hitter he faced, former Rangers catcher Matt Treanor. That helped quiet the butterflies.
"After that first strikeout I was able to get across, I think my nerves calmed down a little bit," Epply said. "I was able to drop down and make some pitches."
Oliver, pitching in the 602nd game of his 18-year career, actually admitted to the butterflies churning some in his stomach when he went out for the ninth. He worked a perfect inning, getting a strikeout, fly ball and ground out for his fourth career save.
Oliver also staked a place in the franchise's record books for recording a save at the age of 40 years and 199 days. The previous record holder was Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, who was 40 years and 18 days old when he picked up his last save for Texas in 1991.
Oliver's record might not last long. Arthur Rhodes, 41, will no doubt have his chance to seal a win in the near future as Washington puts a closer committee to work.
"I figure if you're 40 years old, you're probably going to be in a lot of history books on something," Oliver cracked. "This is probably just one of them. Just think if Arthur saves it tomorrow, then he'll be the oldest guy."