Francisco once again showing closer's mettle

Francisco once again showing closer's mettle

SEATTLE -- Rangers reliever Frank Francisco picked up his third win on Friday night, making him only the fourth reliever in club history with three wins in April. Only three other relievers in the Majors had three victories in April: Phil Coke, Casey Janssen and Brandon League.

More important than wins, though, the Rangers are convinced that Francisco is over his early season problems and is once again ready to pitch with the game on the line. That could eventually mean returning to his job as closer.

"He's throwing the ball very well," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "His mechanics are straightened out. He's throwing downhill rather than his backside collapsing and getting under the ball. He's picked up his velocity, and his command has returned."

The Rangers are still using Neftali Feliz as their closer, and he retired the side in order in the 12th to preserve Friday's 2-0 victory. But the Rangers are seeing enough from Francisco to convince them that he could be their closer again, if Feliz should falter. Feliz has still allowed six runs on 10 hits in his last five games.

"It won't be long before Frankie gets more closing opportunities," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I don't know when but I do know how important he is for us to have success. If Feliz gets on a big-time role, I'm not going to change it. When does Frankie get chance to close? I don't know yet. But he'll get his chances. I know we can't get it done without him."