Ogando wins another one for Rangers
Hurler does a little of everything as Texas wins fifth in a row
MIAMI -- Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, caught up in a visa scandal in the Dominican Republic, had to wait five years to get to the United States.He had to wait another four months before he was called up to the Major Leagues. Now that he's here, Ogando is having a great time.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
He has pitched in two games, won them both, and he collected his first Major League hit in a 6-4 victory over the Marlins on Thursday night. After five days in The Show, he has a 1.000 winning percentage, a 1.000 batting average and a 0.00 ERA."MVP," manager Ron Washington said. "He should quit," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "He makes it look so easy," third baseman Michael Young said. "Now if he can learn to throw hard, he might have a future in this game."
Ogando can throw hard. He threw 96-98 mph in 2 1/3 scoreless innings while earning his second win in three nights as the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins. Ogando, a converted outfielder, also had a single in the Rangers' three-run fifth inning when they overcame the Marlins' 3-1 lead. Who cares if he missed a bunt sign? He is the first Texas pitcher to earn wins in his first two Major League relief appearances."It's something that's incredible, the five days that I've been here," said Ogando, who was called up while the Rangers were in Milwaukee last weekend. "I thank God what's happening. I owe everything to him. It's been incredible." Ogando picked up the victory, Neftali Feliz earned his third save in three nights and Texas is now 5-1 on the road trip going into its three-game series with the Astros that starts Friday in Houston. The Rangers have won five consecutive -- all on the road -- and have a 2 1/2-game lead on the Angels in the American League West. "We just have to keep grinding," Kinsler said. "We understand we're a good team. We talked about it at the beginning of the road trip. We were going to face good starters in Milwaukee and we were going to face good starters in Florida. We had to step up for the challenge, and so far we have." Before this, the Rangers had not won five straight on one single road trip since 2002. They were 10-16 on the road this season before this trip began. "We wanted to be a little more consistent on the road," Young said. "We're making progress in that area, but we still have a little ways to go. We just need the same mindset at home in that we feel we're never out of a game." The biggest question right now is what shape Texas' pitching staff is in going into the Astros series. The Rangers' bullpen was needed for 15 2/3 innings over the past three games after Dustin Nippert could only get through three on Thursday night. But Washington said the team would not have to make a roster move before Friday's game. "We should be all right," Washington said. Nippert faced 16 batters while throwing 74 pitches, and eight of the 16 reached base on seven hits and a walk. The Marlins scored three times off him in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. "Nip left his heart out there," Washington said. "He gave us everything he had." Ogando took over in the bottom of the fourth after Vladimir Guerrero's home run off Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco in the top of the inning. Ogando pitched a scoreless frame, then made his contribution with the bat in the fifth. Julio Borbon led off the inning with a walk. That brought up Ogando, who missed on a first-pitch bunt attempt. Ogando then swung away and grounded one through the left side for a single, putting runners on second and third. "I was once an outfielder," Ogando said. "I haven't hit in five years, but not all of it is lost." But what made Washington take off the bunt sign and let him swing away?
"I didn't take it off," Washington said with a smile. "He had the bunt sign. He missed it. I guess he was smarter than we were on the bench. He certainly showed he could swing the bat."Elvis Andrus dropped a sacrifice bunt and Nolasco threw wild to third. The ball got away from third baseman Jorge Cantu, allowing Borbon to score and the other runners to move to second and third. After Young struck out, Kinsler doubled to left-center field to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. They added two more in the seventh. Chris Ray, Frank Francisco and Feliz followed Ogando to the mound, and it was Feliz -- pitching for the third consecutive night -- who earned his league-leading 18th save. That's impressive, but it can't match Ogando's numbers. "A hit in his first at-bat," Young said shaking his head. "Unbelievable."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.