Shawn Tolleson doesn’t mind. Go ahead and call him the Rangers’ closer.
Because that’s what he’s become on the current road trip. He’s saved four games on the trip, including Monday’s series opener against the Indians.
Now, with former closer Neftali Feliz being placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 20) with an axillary abscess under his right arm, Tolleson’s role seems entrenched even if no one is officially calling him a closer.
“I feel like I’m closing the games right now, yeah,” Tolleson said after Monday’s perfect ninth. “Our whole confidence as a team is building because of this win streak. We’re having a lot of fun.”
Feliz, who last pitched May 19, had a procedure for the abscess at a New York hospital over the weekend while the Rangers were playing the Yankees. He is 1-2 with six saves, a 5.09 ERA and three blown saves in 17 relief appearances.
He was removed as the closer before the current road trip after struggling in his previous two appearances. Manager Jeff Banister declared the bullpen had no roles at the time.
The bullpen, which had been the team’s weakest link for much of the first month, has found success since Banister’s declaration. Banister credited the additions of Ross Ohlendorf and Tanner Scheppers, along with the maturation of left-handers Alex Claudio and Sam Freeman for the change.
“I think things have kind of clicked together,” Tolleson said. “We have the right guys here and everyone knows their role and doing a good job.”
Even if there are no “roles.”
Claudio had never thrown more than 12/3 innings in a game in his short major league career. On Monday, however, he replaced starter Phil Klein with no outs in the third and delivered a career-high 31/3 innings to keep the Rangers close and limit the bullpen.
He allowed four walks and two hits, including a chopper just over the glove of first baseman Mitch Moreland in the sixth, which turned into a run-scoring double and an 8-7 Indians lead.
“It was good for me because it gave me the opportunity to show that I could go that distance to the general manager and the coaches to have more confidence when they bring me in,” Claudio said. “The coaches prepared me well in the minor leagues, putting me in different situations so that kind of helped tonight.”
Back to back, again
Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre hit back-to-back homers for the second time this season in the first inning. Fielder’s two-run homer to right was followed by Beltre’s solo homer to left. They gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead. It was Fielder’s ninth homer; Beltre’s sixth.
26 Consecutive games Elvis Andrus has hit safely at Progressive Field since Aug. 11, 2009. It’s the longest streak at a road stadium in Rangers history. The second-longest such streak was Michael Young’s 20-game streak from 2004-08, also in Cleveland.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760