The Texas Rangers bullpen was pretty awful in April, a month that saw the Rangers go 7-14 and found them squarely in the cellar of the AL West.
So far in May, the bullpen really hasn't had to do much as the Rangers had six straight quality starts turned in by their starting pitchers. So who would've imagined that streak would come to an end on Thursday night with the team's best starter this season, Nick Martinez, on the mound? Well, it did.
Martinez lasted just 4 2/3 innings before Jeff Banister gave him the hook in favor of lefty reliever Alex Claudio, who had been pretty awful in every outing so far this season since coming off the disabled list. At that point, the Rangers had a 5-3 lead, and Claudio kept it that way, pitching a clean 1 1/3 innings to earn the win in the relief.
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Claudio gave way to Keone Kela, who pitched a clean seventh. He gave way to the struggling Shawn Tolleson, who allowed a solo home run but kept the Rangers in the lead, and then closer Neftali Feliz shut it down in the ninth with some of the nastiest stuff he's exhibited in years.
It was a big confidence boost for a unit that has struggled this season, and it was big for Banister to see that his team could win a game that didn't include a great start from his starting pitching.