SEATTLE -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said he isn’t concerned about Alexi Ogando's recent struggles and plans to continue using the reliever as planned.
With Seattle clinging to a 4-3 led Friday night, Ogando gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Miguel Olivo in the bottom of the eighth. Washington doesn’t think nagging injuries have anything to do with the pitch or Ogando's performance lately.
“He just hung a slider,” the skipper said. “If I was sitting in the box, I think I may have been able to hit that. He just made a bad pitch. It happens.”
Ogando was coming off five days of rest to help his arm recover from minor stiffness. He has a 4.71 ERA since coming back from a hamstring injury on July 17 and carries an 7.71 ERA over his last seven appearances.
Washington added that Ogando and reliever Koji Uehara are interchangeable.
“I’ve decided that if Ogando is available and the right situation comes up, I’ll give it to Ogando,” he said. “If he’s not available, I’ll give it to Koji. No more simple than that.”
Ogando was a key pitcher both during the regular season and playoffs last year. Though Washington has some depth in the bullpen, losing an effective Ogando would be a big blow for Texas.
Scoreboard watching: Nelson Cruz walked into the visiting clubhouse Saturday afternoon, and 20 or so people were crowded around a television airing the Oakland-New York game.
“What is this, a movie? A drama?” Nelson joked to teammates.
There was certainly drama in the Bronx with important implications for the American League West standings.
The Yankees were down 9-5 in the 13th inning, but Raul Ibanez crushed a two-run homer to cap a rally that tied the game at nine. That sent off some raucous cheering in the clubhouse that could be heard all the way from Washington’s office.
“That’s OK. Ain’t nothin’ I can do about that,” the skipper said. “We have our hands full with Seattle.”
The Yankees went on to win the game in 14 innings, much to the delight of the Texas players. With the Oakland loss, the Rangers opened up a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West and could push that to five games with a win tonight against Seattle. The Rangers' magic number for clinching the AL West fell to eight after the A's loss.
Cool customer: If there is one person on the Texas roster who shouldn’t be affected by the cool weather in Seattle, it’s Ryan Dempster.
The veteran will make his 10th start for the Rangers on Sunday in Seattle, just 125 miles south of his hometown of Gibsons, B.C. Dempster was a Mariners fan growing up and has about 30 family members coming to each game in Seattle.
He’s lived in places like Miami, Cincinnati and Chicago, but will always love the Pacific Northwest.
“My career has taken me away from here, but I will always have a place back home. That’s for sure,” he said.