Yeah, the Rangers' awesome streak of dominance over the hated Astros was on the line on Wednesday night, but Rangers skipper Jeff Banister made the right moves with his bullpen in a pitchers duel that was tied at 1-1 until the Astros broke the tie in the seventh inning.
With Sam Dyson rightfully unavailable, the Rangers' bullpen was short-handed and working without its best arm, so when Yu Darvish had to leave after five innings with shoulder and neck stiffness, Jeff Banister had a tough call to make.
Play for the win, or just play and cross your fingers? He went with the latter, and it was the right call.
Embattled former closer Shawn Tolleson worked a scoreless sixth inning before similarly embattled reliever Tom Wilhelmsen entered for the seventh and allowed a two-run double to the best hitter on the Astros, Jose Altuve, on what was actually a pretty solid pitch low and inside.
At the park last night, I heard several Rangers fans calling for Jake Diekman or Matt Bush before and after the tie-breaking double, and that's just foolish.
In case you haven't heard, the Rangers' bullpen has been overworked, and with Yu Darvish on a strict pitch count, that's going to continue at least every fifth day.
Also, in case you haven't noticed, the Rangers don't have a day off until June 23, so the bullpen is going to be taxed. It's just the truth.
The Rangers can't rely solely on the trio of Bush, Diekman and Dyson. They have to rely on everyone — Tolleson, Wilhelmsen and Luke Jackson — and those three pitched well enough to keep the Rangers in the game on Wednesday night. And who knows, maybe at least Tolleson and Jackson worked up some confidence and could be better going forward.
Banister has rightfully been questioned several times this year about his bullpen management, but Wednesday night went just as it should have.