McAdam at the ALCS: What a relief for Rangers

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McAdam at the ALCS: What a relief for Rangers

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Bullpens are always vital. In the postseason, they become more so. And on nights in which there are two rain delays in the same half-inning, they become downright essential.

When the starting pitchers in Game 1 of the ALCS -- Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers; C.J. Wilson for the Texas Rangers -- were knocked out by the nearly two hours it took for the rain to stop, the Rangers led 3-2.

Hours later, the score was the same, and for that, the Rangers can thank their seemingly endless cast of relievers.

Five Texas relievers combined to blank the Tigers the rest of the way, giving the Rangers a Game 1 victory and a 1-0 lead in the ALCS.

"Some nights things fall into place for you,'' concluded manager Ron Washington, ''and some nights they don't. Tonight they fell into place for us.''

A steady parade of pitchers all did their job. Mike Gonzalez came on to get Alex Avila with the bases loaded and two out after the second rain delay.

Alexi Ogando pitched two hitless innings to get the Rangers through the seventh. Darren Oliver and Mike Adams worked the eighth as a tag team and closer Neftali Felix nailed down the ninth.

It was the third straight one-run win for the Rangers in this postseason, more evidence -- as if any were needed -- of the importance of a strong bullpen.

Texas already had a deep group of relievers when general manager Jon Daniels traded for Adams at the July 31 deadline. A month to the day later, he landed Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles.

And if that wasn't enough, the Rangers had the luxury of moving Ogando back into the bullpen at the start of the postseason, where, in shorter stretches, his stuff seems to play better.

"He's a great piece to have down there,'' said Washington, "especially when you got hom where he can give you multiple innings. There's times when I have to use him for one; tonight I needed him for two. And he gave it to me.''

How dominant were the Rangers relievers in Game 1? The lone hit allowed in 4 13 innings came when Ramon Santiago pushed a bunt past the mound to open the ninth.

Otherwise, the Tigers got exactly one ball into the outfield -- a soft line drive to center by Don Kelly to lead off the eighth.

Meanwhile, in a show of power, eight of the last 10 outs in the game were by stirkeout, all but one swinging.

"This is probably one of the best bullpens that I've seen,'' said Texas catcher Mike Napoli, who was on some very good Angels teams which featured similarly deep bullpens. "There are a lot of guys who can come in and get it done. That's a huge plus for us. It's a good things for us.

"It's good for Wash that he can go to anybody, anytime. We try to get good matchups and we've been able to do that. Tonight, our guys came in and got the job done.''

Losing their No. 1 starter before he could get through the fifth could have been disastrous for the Rangers. But the number of weapons in the bullpen enabled them to thrive.

On a night when the rain made "shortening the game,'' difficult, the Rangers had a variety of answers.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP