Ohlendorf relishes first career save

Rangers reliever takes liner off stomach, but closes out one-run victory

Ohlendorf relishes first career save

NEW YORK -- The Rangers' bullpen by committee also includes the closer du jour. So far, Neftali Feliz hasn't been on the menu since his last blown save.

Ross Ohlendorf was given the assignment Friday night, being called upon to pitch the ninth inning with the Rangers trying to preserve a two-run lead at Yankee Stadium. Ohlendorf gave up a home run to Mark Teixeira that made it a one-run game and put the tying run on base with a two-out walk.

But he retired the last batter of the night by taking a line drive off the stomach and deflecting it to second baseman Thomas Field, who threw to first for the out. The 1-4-3 play gave Ohlendorf his first career save in a 10-9 win over the Yankees.

"It's exciting to get one," Ohlendorf said. "It's something I haven't thought about much, being a starter my whole career. I'm certainly up for any opportunity that [manager Jeff Banister] gives me."

The Rangers turned to Ohlendorf because they had used Shawn Tolleson on two consecutive nights to save wins over the Red Sox. Tolleson needed a combined 38 pitches to get through those two innings.

"More than anything else, Tolleson was down because he had pitched back-to-back games and we didn't want to use him a third game," Banister said.

The Rangers didn't turn to Feliz, who hasn't been in a save situation since last Saturday, when he allowed three runs in a 10-8 loss to the Indians. It was his third blown save of the season. Feliz's only appearance since then was as a middle reliever in a losing cause against the Red Sox on Tuesday.

"We felt like Ross was the guy," Banister said. "Feliz is definitely one of the guys also, but Ross, with the angle of his fastball, the velocity, the secondary stuff, we felt he would give us the best opportunity where we were in their lineup."

Ohlendorf had already prepared to pitch the seventh and was warming up in the eighth. When Tanner Scheppers got the final out of the eighth, that's when the Rangers told Ohlendorf he would get the ninth.

"I knew it was a save situation, but it didn't seem that much different," he said. "I was really focused on making pitches."

The Rangers were in a dangerous part of the Yankees' lineup going into the ninth. Alex Rodriguez, hitting third in the order, was leading off the inning, but Ohlendorf struck him out.

Teixeira followed with his home run, making it a one-run game. Ohlendorf struck out Brian McCann and then walked Chase Headley. That brought up Stephen Drew.

Drew hit the line drive up the middle that clipped Ohlendorf and veered toward Field. That brought the game to an end, and Ohlendorf was fine physically afterward.

"It got me in the stomach, but I don't feel anything," he said in front of his locker. "Even with the adrenaline wearing off, I don't feel anything."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.