ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yoshinori Tateyama and Michael Kirkman not only ensured that Martin Perez would get a win in his first major league start against the Oakland A's on Saturday night, they also saved a thin Texas Rangers bullpen.
Tateyama entered the game with one out in the sixth inning on his first day back from his brief stay in the minor leagues. He got through 1 1/3 innings and struck out two batters in the process.
Tateyama said that he used his time in the minors to improve his fastball command and that helped him Saturday. He also said he got much-needed rest in the minors.
Kirkman took over for Tateyama in the seventh inning and led the Rangers through the final 2 1/3 innings of the game. Kirkman threw a strikeout and allowed one walk.
Neither Tateyama nor Kirkman allowed a hit or run.
"It says that those guys have done the job before," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Michael has been here and he had a little struggle earlier, but he's started to settle down. I knew Tateyama would come in and give us strikes, which he did. It gave us another opportunity to give that bulpen a little break. They did an outstanding job.
Through their combined 3 2/3 scoreless innings they gave the bullpen needed rest and set it up for Sunday's series finale against Oakland and the three-game series against the Chicago White Sox after an off-day Monday.
“That's our job, to save those guys when they don’t necessarily need to be used," Kirkman said. "Anytime we can do that it’s huge."