Ogando helps Rangers set strikeout mark in win over Astros

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A
Special K Rangers pitchers struck out 43 Astros in the series Game 1 13Strikeouts (9 by Matt Harrison) Game 2 15Strikeouts (14 by Yu Darvish) Game 3 15Strikeouts (10 by Alexi Ogando)

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The retractable roof was closed for all three games during the Texas Rangers’ season-opening series, yet there was a steady breeze blowing through Minute Maid Park.

The air was moved frequently by Houston Astros hitters, whose bats swung through pitches at an alarming rate.

The trend continued Wednesday in a 4-0 victory in which the Rangers set a major league record for the most strikeouts by a pitching staff in its first three games of the season.

Alexi Ogando struck out a career-high 10 in 6 1/3 innings, and Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth to give the Rangers 43 strikeouts in the series and break the mark held by the 1966 Cleveland Indians.

The mix of quality Rangers pitching and an overmatched Astros lineup led not only to the record, but also to back-to-back shutouts and a series win for the Rangers after an Opening Day loss.

“They’re young, they’re aggressive, and I don’t know how much of what they saw last night of Yu Darvish they’d ever seen,” manager Ron Washington said. “Today, Ogando is known for striking out guys. He has a good fastball and a tremendous slider, and now he’s got a changeup and a curveball to go with all of that.”

Lance Berkman had an RBI double in a three-run eighth inning to help break open a pitchers’ duel between Ogando and Philip Humber. The Rangers held a 1-0 lead when Ogando was removed, and Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Michael Kirkman and Nathan finished off the five-hitter.

The strikeout became an integral part of the game in the first inning after leadoff man Jose Altuve doubled off Ogando and went to third with one out. Ogando, though, struck out Chris Carter and Carlos Pena to end the threat, and the Astros had only two runners advance to second base the rest of the game.

Ogando knew he needed to strike out Carter to escape the early jam, and he got what he wanted.

“I just focused on throwing quality pitches, and I wanted to strike them out,” he said. “I focused on my pitches and got good results.”

He also focused in after a talking-to from Washington in the third inning after he had walked Brett Wallace and fallen behind Pena with two outs. Ogando would respond with a grounder on the next pitch that started a string of nine consecutive outs.

The manager didn’t take the credit, but just reminded Ogando to throw strikes and let his defense work behind him.

“He just told me to have no fear, to throw them pitches they are able to handle, and to throw in the strike zone,” said Ogando, who threw 94 pitches. “I was able to be aggressive after that.”

Elvis Andrus got the eighth-inning rally started with a single to left, and Berkman followed with an opposite-field gapper to left-center. Nelson Cruz singled two batters later to drive in pinch runner Julio Borbon, and Adrian Beltre scored when A.J. Pierzynski followed with a sacrifice fly.

Berkman, the all-time hits leader at Minute Maid, finished his first series with the Rangers 6 for 10 with three RBIs and three walks.

“When you’re in a familiar environment where you’re comfortable, you’re going to perform better,” he said. “When I’m hitting well I use the whole field. I felt like I was seeing the ball pretty well, and my swing path was where I wanted it. I hope it will hang around for a while.”

The Rangers take a step up in class beginning Friday during a six-game homestand against the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay. After one series, though, even if it was against an Astros team expected to lose 100 games, the Rangers like what they’re seeing from their pitching staff.

“It looks good to me,” Berkman said. “We knew coming in that we had some guys who have terrific stuff. I think you saw that. It was a good start for everybody. I think we showed we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Sunday, April 20Full Scoreboard
Toronto4Top 7th | Box
Cleveland5@theBallpark | TV: SNET, STO
LA Angels1Bottom 6th | Box
Detroit1@theBallpark | TV: FSN-W, FSN-DET
Seattle2Bottom 7th | Box
Miami1@theBallpark | TV: ROOT-NW, FSN-FL
Atlanta3Top 7th | Box
NY Mets3@theBallpark | TV: FSN-S, WPIX
Milwaukee0Top 6th | Box
Pittsburgh1@theBallpark | TV: FSN-WI, ROOT-PIT
St. Louis2Bottom 5th | Box
Washington0@theBallpark | TV: MLB Net, FSN-MW, MASN
NY Yankees1Top 6th | Box
Tampa Bay0@theBallpark | TV: MLB Net, YES, Sun Sports
Minnesota2Top 4th | Box
Kansas City0@theBallpark | TV: FSN-N, FSN-KC
Cincinnati0Bottom 3rd | Box
Chicago Cubs0@theBallpark | TV: FSN-OH, WCIU
Chicago WSox0Bottom 1st | Box
Texas0@theBallpark | TV: CSN-CHI, FSN-SW
Houston 4/20 4:05 PM ET
Oakland TV: CSN-HOU, CSN-CA
Philadelphia 4/20 4:10 PM ET
Colorado TV: CSN-PHI, ROOT-RM
Arizona 4/20 4:10 PM ET
Los Angeles TV: FSN-AZ, SportsNet LA
San Francisco 4/20 4:10 PM ET
San Diego TV: CSN-BA, FSN-SD
Baltimore 4/20 7:05 PM ET
Boston TV: ESPN, MASN
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, April 20Full Scoreboard
Dallas814th Qtr 4:54 | Box
San Antonio81TV: TNT, FSN-SW, KTXA
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Charlotte 4/20 3:30 PM ET
Miami TV: ABC
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Washington 4/20 7:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: TNT, CSN-WAS, CHI
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Portland 4/20 9:30 PM ET
Houston TV: TNT, CSN-HOU
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Full Scoreboard
Full Scoreboard
No games this week
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, April 20Full Scoreboard
Philadelphia «4Final | Box
NY Rangers2
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Detroit 4/20 3:00 PM ET
Boston TV: NBC, TSN, RDS
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Detroit leads series, 1-0.
Tampa Bay 4/20 7:00 PM ET
Montreal TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, Sun
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Montreal leads series, 2-0.
Los Angeles 4/20 10:00 PM ET
San Jose TV: NBCSN, CBC, FSN-W
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. San Jose leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard