ARLINGTON, Texas -- The All-Star starter who faded down the stretch of the regular season feels fresh. He looks like a dominant reliever.
Middle relievers don’t get much more dominant than Alexi Ogando has been this postseason, in which he’s allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out five in 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He’s ready for whatever role manager Ron Washington asks of him.
For the first time this October, that meant taking the ball for two innings. Ogando responded in overpowering fashion, as one walk in the sixth prevented him from pitching a pair of perfect innings while protecting a one-run lead. He retired the side in order in the seventh, punctuating his performance by punching out cleanup hitter Victor Martinez with a four-seam fastball.
Ogando’s outing highlighted 4 1/3 shutout innings from the bullpen, which made up for ace C.J. Wilson’s rain-shortened start.
“I’ve been pitching as a starter -- six, seven, eight innings,” said Ogando, who went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA with a far heavier workload than his rookie season. “So to come and pitch only two innings, it’s not too hard to do that.”
It is hard to hit Ogando in October. His career postseason numbers are pretty ridiculous: one run allowed on six hits and two walks with 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.
No wonder Washington wants him to be a bullpen workhorse through the World Series.
“What a weapon to have,” Washington said.