Rangers savor security blanket in Francisco
Texas closer is 8-for-8 in save opportunities this year
SEATTLE -- The Oakland Athletics bullpen has the lowest ERA in the American League. The Mariners are fourth. The Angels, who have a well-deserved reputation for great bullpens, are struggling.The Rangers? They have the third-highest bullpen ERA in the American League. They also have Frank Francisco and others don't. One month into the season, Francisco, 29, has proven to be the most reliable closer in the American League West, if not all six divisions. "He has been incredible," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "When he comes in, we feel the game is over. He has the perfect demeanor for being a closer. We have all the confidence in the world in him." The numbers bear out that confidence. Francisco is 8-for-8 in save opportunities, tied with Padres closer Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers for the most saves in the Major Leagues. He has saved seven of the Rangers last nine wins. He has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings to start the season and has retired 41 of 53 batters. Since becoming the Rangers closer on Aug. 22 of last year, after Eddie Guardado was traded to the Twins, Francisco is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 13-for-13 in save opportunities. In 26 1/3 innings, he has allowed one unearned run, 10 hits, seven strikeouts and struck out 31. "I'm just trying to do what I know I can do," Francisco said. "I'm making the hitters hit my pitches. I hit my spots and don't give in. For the first month, that's what I've been doing. I'm not leaving any cookies over the plate." Francisco did not get a save on Tuesday. The Rangers were up 7-2 with one out in the 10th when Francisco entered the game. The Mariners had a runner on first base. It was not a save situation but manager Ron Washington didn't care. With the chance to emerge victorious in what had been a dazzling pitching duel between Vicente Padilla and Erik Bedard, Washington wanted the game over. Francisco walked one batter but struck out Franklin Gutierrez and retired Yuniesky Betancourt on a fly ball to center to end the game.
Save leaders in the Major Leagues
|Jonathan Papelbon||Red Sox||7||7||1.51||.222|
|Bobby Jenks||White Sox||6||6||2.00||.176|
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.