Extra Bases: Alexi Ogando must be better

Alexi Ogando gets a reprieve. He will have two more weeks to prove he belongs in the Texas Rangers' rotation now that Colby Lewis' comeback attempt for this season is over.

Ogando will be under the microscope Wednesday night when he starts against the Los Angeles Angels with the suddenly rolling Rangers going for a four-game winning streak.

Simply put, the Rangers can make an adjustment and move Ogando to the bullpen when injured opening day starter Matt Harrison completes a rehab assignment. Harrison will pitch again for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday -- he'll throw around 65 pitches or five innings -- and may just need one more outing next Wednesday. After that, he just might pitch in a big league game for the first time since April.

Harrison would be on schedule to start for the Rangers on Monday, Aug. 19 against Houston for the start of a three-game series against the Astros. It would be the perfect spot to drop Harrison back in since it will just happen to be Ogando's turn in the rotation.

The Rangers will ride their starting rotation to the playoffs -- even more so now with Nelson Cruz suspended for the rest of the regular season. Trailing Oakland by one game in the American League, the rotation must work in unison and give the Rangers a chance to win every night.

Ogando isn't pitching poorly, but he's putting pressure on the bullpen. He's pitched fewer than five innings in his three starts since from returning from the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation. Ogando's command was unbearable Friday night in Oakland as he walked five. He needed 92 pitches to get through four innings.

Ogando is probably ticketed for the bullpen should the Rangers decide Harrison is ready after his next two rehab starts. Ogando would most certainly bolster the relief corps.

But there are no guarantees with Harrison coming back from two back surgeries. And whatever happens, these are two important starts coming up for Ogando with the division race tightening up.

“Of course he needs to pick it up, but he’s not hurt,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters on Tuesday. “If he’s not hurt, I’m not concerned. … We know he can get outs. Rather than raise the red flag, we’ll just give him the ball until he’s told otherwise.”

Up now: Rapid reaction from Tuesday night's 8-3 victory over the Angels. Tim MacMahon writes about the running Rangers, and here's more on Harrison's progress.

On deck: Ogando (4-3, 3.26) faces Angels right-hander Tommy Hanson (4-2, 5.29 ERA) at 9:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.