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Cashner gets Rangers off to a good start

Veteran solid against Nationals as tough road trip begins
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

WASHINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister got right to the point after Andrew Cashner held the Nationals to one run in seven innings in a 5-2 victory on Friday night.

"Our rotation needed a night like this," Banister said. "These guys in the rotation feed off each other and games like that. It also helps the bullpen and allows us to use the bullpen the way it was designed. We need a few more like that."

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WASHINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister got right to the point after Andrew Cashner held the Nationals to one run in seven innings in a 5-2 victory on Friday night.

"Our rotation needed a night like this," Banister said. "These guys in the rotation feed off each other and games like that. It also helps the bullpen and allows us to use the bullpen the way it was designed. We need a few more like that."

View Full Game Coverage

Rangers starters were 1-6 with a 6.81 ERA in their past 14 games before Cashner held the Nationals to six hits and two walks while striking out four. The Rangers were 3-11 in those games, but they are now facing a six-game road trip against the Nationals and the Astros.

Those two teams have the best records in their respective leagues.

"It was huge," Cashner said. "But we have two day games and then Houston, so it's not going to be easy. This is the Major Leagues, it's not going to be easy all season. I thought I kept them off-balance all night, locating my fastball on both sides of the plate and keeping my offspeed stuff down in the zone."

Cashner did what he does best. He threw strikes with his sinker, making them swing the bat and avoiding solid contact. The only barreled ball off him was a double by Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth.

Video: WSH@TEX: Cashner limits Nats to one run over seven

Cashner, according to Statcast™, began the night among the lowest pitchers in the Majors as far as percentage of strikes and swing-and-miss. But he is in the upper quadrant as far as ground-ball ratio, exit velocity and weak contact.

To sum up, he gets opponents to swing the bat, and they don't hit it hard.

"It was a different Cashner than we'd seen before," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Before, he was just power, power, and more power. He was 91 with a sinker, 92, and then he'd pump it up to 97. He was pitching tonight. Better than we'd seen him in the past."

Video: TEX@WSH: Bush slams the door on the Nationals

Rangers closer Matt Bush also had a big night. He had allowed five runs over his three previous outings, but took over a ninth-inning jam and closed it out for his seventh save.

"It was nice after that to kind of settle in," Bush said. "I was in the mindset going in that it was game over. I got it down and it worked out."

The Rangers' tough road trip is just starting.

"I think it's a good confidence booster," Banister said. "Getting Cash out there and another strong outing, it was a nice boost for us. But we've got to keep it going."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Andrew Cashner