Rangers' bullpen picks up slack for Ogando
After rare misstep, relief crew allows one hit the rest of the way
DETROIT -- It's one thing to have one or two shutdown arms in the bullpen in October. It's quite another to have a whole stable of them, as the Rangers do.
In their 7-3 win over the Tigers on Wednesday in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the Rangers showed off the full arsenal.
It didn't initially appear the majority of the bullpen would be needed. In his second inning, Alexi Ogando was cruising with a 3-2 lead and two outs in the seventh inning when the Tigers' Brandon Inge ripped an 0-2 fastball over the left- field wall to tie the game.
Ogando confirmed after the game that he let the ball catch too much of the middle of the plate.
"I was trying to throw all the way [outside]," Ogando said through an interpreter. "But I left it right in the middle, and you pay. He made me pay."
It was a rare slip for Ogando, who hadn't allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings this postseason prior to Wednesday night. It allowed the Tigers to take momentum into the late innings at home.
Enter the rest of the Rangers' cavalry.
Mike Adams, Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman turned away the Tigers in succession, the Rangers put up four runs in the 11th and Neftali Feliz entered to finish the job.
Wednesday's performance was just another day at the office for a bullpen that has allowed just two runs in 21 innings so far this series.
"They just come in and shut stuff down," Adams said of the Rangers' bullpen. "The key to winning playoff baseball games is pitching, and we're doing an excellent job of that so far."
The bullpen had help from some stellar defense on Wednesday, most notably Nelson Cruz's missile to nail Miguel Cabrera at the plate in the eighth, and Mike Napoli's throw to catch Austin Jackson stealing in the 10th after a Feldman pitch nicked Jackson's jersey.
"Obviously, if they score, the game is over," Feldman said. "I just went out there and Nap made a great play behind the plate. It was at the point of the game where we we had to buckle down and shut them down, and get our guys back in there to hit."
That's exactly what the Rangers' relievers did, allowing just one hit after Inge's home run. Their impressive performance set up another dramatic late-inning victory and helped put the Rangers within one win of a trip to the World Series.
That accomplishment would be due in large part to the contributions of the whole staff throughout the series -- a fact that isn't lost on any member of the group.
"We have a full set of guys down there, not just one or two guys," Adams said. "You can't say enough about the job the bullpen has done out there this series."
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.