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09/24/08 2:14 PM ET
Francisco blossoming as closer
Reliever has converted five straight save chances
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Frank Francisco has some pretty high standards now that he's the Rangers' closer. Going 5-for-5 in his save chances since stepping into the closer role will do that.
So, when he walked three batters Monday night against the Athletics, he was determined to make up for it his next time out.
"The last time I got out there, I was all over the place," Francisco said. "I hadn't been up there in so long, but I just tried to put it in the past."
And that's what he did Tuesday night, tossing a perfect ninth inning to earn his fifth save in as many chances since Aug. 27.
That kind of consistency has made life a little bit easier on manager Ron Washington.
"You never relax until you get that last out, but he's throwing strikes," Washington said. "He's throwing his secondary pitches for strikes, and when he does that, they haven't been able to sit on his fastball."
Washington has had little reason to worry when he's handed Francisco a lead at the end of games.
Francisco hasn't allowed a run since blowing a save on Aug. 18 -- a span of 12 appearances and 11 2/3 innings.
"That's something that, when it happens, I just try to move on and make my mind think like nothing happened before," Francisco said.
During that same span, he's allowed just three hits and he's struck out at least one batter in 11 of those 12 appearances. His only game without one came when he faced just one batter.
His strikeout-to-walk ratio over that period is 19-to-4.
That kind of efficiency is going to make Francisco the favorite for the closer role heading into next season. The chance to be the closer is all Francisco wanted, and now he's proving he deserved it.
"My confidence was about getting the opportunity," Francisco said. "I was waiting for the chance. Now that I've got it, I'm doing whatever I can to keep my job."