Francisco solidifying role as closer

Francisco solidifying role as closer

In Tuesday's series opener against the Blue Jays, Rangers closer Frank Francisco earned a save that was slightly different from the others on his big league resume.

Granted that his resume now includes just six Major League saves, Francisco's outing was still unlike others -- it was the first five-out save of his career.

Francisco -- named the Rangers closer towards the end of last season -- had earned a four-out save before, but never one that included retiring five hitters. Such new milestones will surely be common this year as Francisco is in his first full season as the club's stopper.

His teammates are firm believers that those milestones will come in heaps.

"I would honest to God take him over anybody else in the league [as closer]," said Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy, who earned a victory as a result of Francisco's save on Tuesday. "I told him all winter, I told him all spring, he's going to make a name for himself this year."

After spending the early part of his career in middle relief, the 29-year-old Francisco has adapted well to the role of a closer. This season, while garnering two saves, he has not allowed a run over his seven innings of work and has allowed just three hits and one walk over that span.

"He's got unbelievable stuff," McCarthy said. "He's battle-tested as it gets in terms of the last few years -- his role's been the guy who gets us out of jams. I'm just fully confident in him.

"He's a guy that just goes in there and gets results. He's doing that now. He's at that juncture in his career where it's time to make that mark and I think he's going to take full advantage of it."

Pitching matchup
TEX: LHP Matt Harrison (0-2, 8.44 ERA)
Harrison took the loss in Friday's 12-3 loss to the Royals, allowing six runs in five-plus innings on eight hits and four walks. In two starts, left-handed hitters are batting .231 (3-for-13) against Harrison, while right-handers are hitting .438 with 14 hits in 32 at-bats. Overall, opponents are 3-for-18 (.167) against Harrison with runners in scoring position. Harrison is 4-2 with a 4.95 ERA in six career road starts. This will be Harrison's first career start against the Blue Jays.

TOR: LHP David Purcey (0-1, 6.46 ERA)
Purcey continues to struggle with his command. In his no-decision against the Athletics in his last start, he allowed four walks and five runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has allowed 13 walks in 15 1/3 innings but his 17 strikeouts show that he has good stuff. The problem seems to be focus and concentration. He can be good one inning and not so good the next.

Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton snapped an 0-for-15 slide on Tuesday with an eighth-inning single off Roy Halladay. ... Following his home run on Tuesday, Nelson Cruz leads the Rangers in homers with six. He now has a six-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 12 of 13 games this year. ... With Tuesday's win, McCarthy snapped a streak of three straight losses on the road. He has also allowed five homers in just 17 innings this season.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 1-1, 1.17 ERA) at Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 1-0, 3.48 ERA), 6:07 p.m. CT
• Friday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 1-1, 9.64 ERA) at Orioles (Koji Uehara, 2-1, 5.29 ERA), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Rangers (Kris Benson, 1-1, 9.00 ERA) at Orioles (TBD), 6:05 p.m. CT

David Singh is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.