OAKLAND -- This is why right-handed relievers Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc are on the Rangers' pitching staff.
Their work was not enough to rescue the Rangers after Doug Fister was knocked out in the fourth inning of a 6-2 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday night. But they did give the Rangers something to think about when it comes time to find a way to keep Bartolo Colon on the active roster.
Chavez, the Rangers' designated long man, retired seven straight hitters after taking over for Fister with two outs in the fourth. When Chavez ran into trouble in the seventh, Leclerc stepped into a bases-loaded situation and retired three straight hitters without allowing another run to score.
He added a scoreless eighth for good measure, allowing the Rangers to get through the game using just two relievers. For a team that is opening the season without a day off in its first 14 games, that could be beneficial later on this stretch.
"Pleased with what Chavez did," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He had to cover some innings for us. In a stretch of 14 straight games, you want to be economical with the bullpen, and Chavez did a great job. The last inning, he got into trouble, but Jose was able to come in and not allow an inherited runner to score. Those guys performed their duties extra well tonight."
The more immediate concern is what roster move will the Rangers make when Martin Perez is activated off the disabled list to start Thursday's series finale. The move could impact either Chavez or Colon.
If the Rangers keep Colon, it might have to be as a long reliever/spot starter. That's a role he has little experience in, and its the role Chavez was signed to fill at the beginning of Spring Training. He knows how to handle the shuttle between bullpen and rotation.
Leclerc might be affected because he is one of the relievers who has options. He might not even be on the roster had Tony Barnette not started the season on the disabled list with a strained back.
But Banister likes Leclerc because he has some of the best stuff in the bullpen. He can come into a middle of an inning and shut down rallies without allowing a run. Leclerc has had command issues, so it shows Banister's growing confidence in bringing him into a bases-loaded situation on Wednesday.
"He continues to show confidence and promise," Banister said. "We know he's got swing-and-miss stuff. When he throws strikes, it makes it challenging for a hitter. The whole goal in Spring Training was to rebuild the confidence in Jose, and he continues to do that."
So about that roster move …
"I'm not going to talk about roster moves tonight," Banister said. "We'll have a decision for you tomorrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dropped at the plate: The A's were leading, 1-0, against Fister when they loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. No. 9 hitter Boog Powell hit a ground ball at first baseman Joey Gallo, who fired home trying to get Matt Chapman on a force. The throw was high and wide. Catcher Robinson Chirinos made a nice adjustment, caught the ball and put the tag on Chapman. But the ball jarred loose and Chapman was safe. Marcus Semien chipped in with a sacrifice fly in a four-run inning capped by Lowrie's two-run single.
"Playing in, ball hit sharply, as Joey continues to play, I have complete confidence in him making those plays," Banister said. "Trying to make a baseball play, we didn't make it. We need to be able to make a baseball play and get out of tough situations."
Chirinos jammed his left wrist making the tag, but stayed in the game. After the game, he was icing the sore wrist but was not sent for X-rays after being examined by the A's team physician. More >
Pinder runs down Profar: The Rangers, trailing 5-0, had two on and no out in the fifth when Jurickson Profar hit a fly ball deep down the right-field line. The ball appeared to be trouble, but Pinder raced into the corner and made a nice running catch. The Rangers ended up scoring once in the inning, but Pinder's catch kept it from escalating.
"If he misses that ball, it's a different ballgame," Banister said. "But he made a nice running catch."
"I need to be better. That's the bottom line." -- Fister, on his outing
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run leading off the ninth inning, the sixth homer for the Rangers in seven games. All six have come with the bases empty.
Perez makes his 2018 debut in Thursday's 2:35 p.m. CT finale at the Coliseum. The left-hander started the season on the disabled list while recovering from a broken radial bone in the tip of his right elbow. He is 7-7 with a 5.24 ERA in 16 starts against the A's in his career.
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