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Monday, April 11, 2011
Looks like Rangers made the right choice


Alexi Ogando
Ogando
During Spring Training, the Texas Rangers decided to keep Neftali Feliz -- last year's AL Rookie of the Year -- in the bullpen as their closer. So when Tommy Hunter went down with an injury, that meant Alexi Ogando, with 44 relief apperances and no starts in his major-league career, would be in the starting rotation.

It's worked out well; Feliz has four saves in six scoreless appearances, and has allowed just two hits and one walk. Ogando has been even better.

He threw seven scoreless innings Monday afternoon, allowing two hits and a walk, as the Rangers beat Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 2-0. It was Ogando's second career start; he allowed two hits and no runs in six innings in his first start, a 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.

That makes him the fifth pitcher in the Live Ball Era -- and the first since Roger Clemens -- to win his first two starts of a season while pitching six innings and allowing two or fewer hits in each one. And he's the first to do so without allowing a run.

Ogando shut the Tigers down by getting ahead. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 23 hitters he faced. As a result, he had only two plate appearances that exceeded five pitches, and didn't need more than 14 pitches to get through any inning.

His slider was working Monday; he threw 28 of them, 22 for strikes, and Tigers hitters were 0-for-10 in at-bats ending with a slider. Seven of those 10 outs did not leave the infield.

With the win, Texas improves to 9-1 and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the second franchise in major-league history to win nine or more of its first 10 games of a season after playing in the World Series the previous year. The only other franchise to do that was the Giants in 1918, 1923, 1938 and 2003.

In the loss, Verlander was excellent for the Tigers, going the distance, allowing six hits and two earned runs. It's the 10th time in his career he's gone nine innings and the first time he took the loss in such an outing.

That puts him in pretty good company. Last season, only Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Dan Haren went the distance in a game and got a loss.