It was exactly the kind of game in which Ron Washington would want to use Neftali Feliz. For one night at least, the Rangers survived without their closer.
Alexi Ogando rebounded from his three-home run, five run performance in Yankee Stadium Sunday to return to the dominant form that saw him start the season with two starts that totaled 13 innings, no runs and just seven base runners with six more strong innings against a hot Royals lineup. He allowed a home run to Kila Ka’aihue to lead off the seventh, but prior to that he’d allowed four hits, one walk and no runs while striking out five. He threw 114 pitches, by far the most of his career (his previous high was 92).
Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland doubled in David Murphy in the second to get the Rangers on the board, and they added two more with a rally in the third. Elvis Andrus got things started with a walk, and Michael Young singled him to third. Adrian Beltre scored Andrus with a sacrifice fly, and Young stole second to set up an RBI single by Nelson Cruz.
Ogando’s exit after one batter in the seventh meant that the beleaguered Texas bullpen needed nine outs with just a two-run cushion. Enter promotee Cody Eppley, a side-winding righty called to the majors to replace Feliz on the roster. His major league debut was a raging success, as the rookie completed two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and getting out of two jams with runners in scoring position.
Eppley gave way to Darren Oliver for the ninth with Texas still clinging to their 3-1 lead. As he usually does, Oliver quietly retired the Royals in order for his first save of the season and just the fourth of his 18-year career.
The victory gave the Rangers their first series win in four and set up C.J. Wilson for a shot at the sweep Sunday as the staff ace will take on former Ranger Bruce Chen.