Last season, Travis Blackley owned the Texas Rangers, and on the second-to-last day of the regular season when one Rangers win would've won the AL West, he shut down the Rangers and set up the Game 162 collapse the following day.
This year, Blackley was toiling in the Houston Astros' bullpen and then as a reliever in the Astros' minor league system. Until the Texas Rangers came calling, that is.
On Monday night, Blackley made his second start for the Rangers in just his second appearance since being traded from Houston for cash, and for the second time, Blackley was more than serviceable for a No. 5 starter — something they lost when Alexi Ogando hit the disabled list for the third time this season.
Blackley had a limit of 75-80 pitches in his second start of being stretched out as a starter and threw 71 pitches to get through six innings while allowing three runs on five hits. He pounded the strike zone and worked efficiently from the beginning, getting through the first two innings in 14 pitches.
Now, he'll make the first start for the Rangers of September when he starts Sunday's series finale at home against the punchless Minnesota Twins.
“Yes, he’ll start,” manager Ron Washington told reporters after Monday's game. “I don’t see why not.”
The No. 5 starter spot was a nightmare down the stretch last season for Texas when it was split between a yet-to-matured version of Martin Perez and Scott Feldman. Those two pitchers saw the Rangers go 1-6 in their September starts.
Now, the Rangers hope Blackley can provide something different with Ogando not nearing a return any time soon and with serious doubt as a starter, at least for the remainder of this season.
“I’d like to think I was able to help the A’s out last year and I think that was good for my mental approach,” Blackley told The Dallas Morning News. “And with this team, it’s not that hard. If you can just make them hit it on the ground, with this defense, you should do all right. This is a great opportunity.”