5/26/2013 3:08 A.M. ET
Nathan on pace for free-agent option
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan earned his 16th save with a 1-2-3 inning in Saturday night's 5-2 victory over the Mariners. Nathan is now tied for second in the American League in saves, but he ranks first in games finished with 21. The number is significant in regards to his contract.
Nathan is in the second season of a two-year, $14.75 million contract. The Rangers also hold an option on 2014 for $9 million with a $750,000 buyout. But Nathan has the right to void that option and become an unrestricted free agent if he has 55 games finished this year and a total of 100 in 2012-13. He had 62 games finished last season, so both numbers are reachable for him.
But Nathan's concern is not voiding the option. He is hoping to pitch well enough to convince the Rangers to pick up the option.
"Yeah, I do know the significance of games finished, and I know what it means to my contract," Nathan said. "I don't see it as being that big of a deal. I still want the team to pick up the option. That's the ultimate goal. You always want your team to want you there. It is nice to have a choice, but at the same time you want the team to feel confident about picking up the option. If I stay healthy, at the end of the day, my games finished will be where they need to be. But ultimately you want the organization to want you."
Nathan has been successful on 16 straight save opportunities, the longest streak of his career to begin a season. Nathan has also saved 31 straight on the road for the Rangers and 36 straight overall on the road going back to his time with the Twins. That's tied for the fifth-longest road save streak since 1969. Eric Gagne holds the record with 64 straight road saves from 2002-07 with the Dodgers and Rangers.
Murphy enjoying hot streak
SEATTLE -- Lefty-swinging David Murphy was back in the No. 2 spot for the Rangers on Saturday night with right-hander Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners. Manager Ron Washington said moving Murphy behind leadoff man Elvis Andrus has helped him get untracked at the plate. Murphy said he is still not quite there yet.
"I don't know if I can put my finger on it yet," Murphy said. "I'm moving in the right direction, but I don't think I'm as hot like I can be. I think it definitely helps being in a spot where I have a lot going on around me. Elvis is getting on base in front of me and I have some great hitters behind me. I'm seeing good pitches to hit. It's still a matter of executing and putting the sweet part of the bat on the ball."
Murphy did not start on Friday night with left-hander Joe Saunders on the mound. Jeff Baker started and was 2-for-2 with a home run. When the Mariners went with right-hander Danny Farquhar, Murphy came in to pinch-hit. He later had a single off left-hander Lucas Luetge.
But the Rangers' plan right now is to continue to get Baker at-bats against left-handed pitchers. Baker is 13-for-34 with five home runs against southpaws this season.
"What's going on with the team is more important than what's going on with me," Murphy said. "Everybody knows I want to play every day, but right now Baker is doing an unbelievable job. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity against left-handers, but he's doing a great job. Every time a left-hander starts, he's hitting a home run or doing something big."
Lewis goes four innings for Round Rock
SEATTLE -- Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis made his third start on a medical-rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday and allowed three runs over four innings against Memphis. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out two.
He also hit his target of 60 pitches, including 34 for strikes. The Rangers will see how Lewis recovers from this outing, but his next start will likely be on Thursday, either for Round Rock at New Orleans or for Double-A Frisco at home against Springfield. At that point, the target will be five innings and 75 pitches.
Monday will mark 10 months since Lewis underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. If all goes well, Lewis will still need 2-3 more starts as he builds up stamina, durability and arm strength before he can be an option at the Major League level.
Wolf moves into Rangers' bullpen
SEATTLE -- Ross Wolf, who earned his first Major League victory on Wednesday when he started and allowed one run in five-plus innings against the Athletics, became a long reliever when the Rangers decided to call up southpaw Martin Perez to start the first game of their doubleheader with the D-backs on Monday.
"That was the recommendation of the people down there," manager Ron Washington said of Perez's impending promotion. "He threw the ball we down there. It's his turn, we decided to bring him up. [Wolf] can help us in the bullpen, a long guy out of the bullpen. It's taking nothing away from Wolf. We still have a guy we can spot start until we get the pitching staff together. You never know, he may get another chance."
Perez sustained a broken left arm in Spring Training and was sidelined for two months. He is 1-2 with a 6.05 ERA in four starts since his return, but he threw seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out seven Reno Aces.
The Rangers still expect right-hander Alexi Ogando to return to the rotation sometime in the next two weeks. Ogando, who is sidelined with triceps tendinitis in his right arm, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. The Rangers will decide after that if he will need at least one start in the Minor Leagues.
• Lance Berkman's home run on Friday night was his fourth of the season, but Washington said, "He's going to drive in runs in other ways. We don't have the Lance Berkman of Houston, but we do have a Lance Berkman who knows how to play and get a lot of big hits. That's most important."
• Berkman's home run on Friday was his first at Safeco Field. He has now hit a home run in 34 Major League ballparks. Adrian Beltre is the active leader with a home run in 39 ballparks.
• The Rangers claimed outfielder Joe Benson off waivers from the Twins and assigned him to Frisco. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rangers transferred Matt Harrison from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Benson was a former top prospect for the Twins but was hitting just .192 with one home run and nine RBIs in 42 games at Triple-A Rochester. He played in 21 games for the Twins in 2011 and hit .239.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.