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Bullpen Comes Through For Once

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Tommy Hunter

    The Texas Rangers have seen it too often this season.

    After a banner year in 2010 which included a lockdown bullpen, the Rangers have had more leads blown in 2011 than they'd like to remember from the back of the bullpen.

    On Tuesday night, the Rangers bullpen looked like a dominant one as Matt Harrison went 6 innings, giving way to new bullpen piece Tommy Hunter who got three outs in quick fashion (7 pitches) throwing his cut fastball. That brought in the up-and-down Mark Lowe, who appears to be entrenched in the eighth inning set-up role, and he gave up one hit but no runs.

    That, of course, brought in Neftali Feliz for the ninth inning and he easily picked up his 17th save of the season while touching triple digits on the radar gun and ending the game in just 10 pitches.

    Now, one game doesn't magically fix the Rangers bullpen problem, and it's still without question the weakest link on the team that won the AL pennant last year.

    But Tuesday was a good sign, nonetheless.

    Lowe has started to find something since returning from a DL stint after he struggled terribly to start the season. He's always thrown in the upper 90s but he's started locating his fastball and getting some nice movement on it as well.

    Would I still prefer Alexi Ogando, or maybe Heath Bell of the Padres, in the 8th inning? Yep. But Lowe is starting to show signs of life.

    The biggest story here is Hunter, who was 13-4 last year as a starter for the Rangers, and just made his season on Saturday after Derek Holland failed to get out of the first inning. He kept the Rangers in that game despite coming into a six-run hole.

    Now, he's thrown 5 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and one earned run. The Rangers were thrilled with Hunter's latest rehab stint in Round Rock, when he was touching 97 mph on the gun, something he'd never really done as a starter with any consistency.

    As the Rangers are getting healthy, the bullpen is starting to look a little better than before with a core group of Hunter, Lowe, Feliz, Darren Oliver and Darren O'Day. But they still need an addition, and they will get one. You can take that to the bank.