ARLINGTON -- The Rangers reinforced their bullpen with non-waiver Trade Deadline deals for left-hander Jake Diekman and right-hander Sam Dyson. Bringing back rookie right-hander Keone Kela from his short interlude at Double-A Frisco has also helped.
The Rangers gave Kela 10 days off in Frisco from Aug. 1-10 to ease his workload and he has been outstanding since his return. On Saturday night, which came to an end with closer Shawn Tolleson's dramatic strikeout of Baltimore's Manny Machado, Kela may have procured the two biggest outs in a 4-3 victory.
The Rangers were holding a one-run lead in the top of the seventh when starter Martin Perez gave up a pair of one-out singles to Caleb Joseph and Dariel Alvarez. That prompted manager Jeff Banister to summon Kela from the bullpen. It was a familiar situation for Kela.
"He has gotten some big outs of the game for us," Tolleson said. "His role is irreplaceable. The guy has been coming in with runners on base in crucial parts of the game."
Kela did so again on Saturday and responded, getting Ryan Flaherty on a foul fly to left and striking out Machado to end the inning. Kela has now pitched 9 1/3 scoreless innings over 10 games since his return from Frisco. He has also struck out six of the last 12 batters he faced.
"He has been impressive," Banister said. "He pounded the fastball in the strike zone, and his breaking ball has been dynamic. We've brought him in tough situations with runners on base, and his swing-and-miss stiff is electric. I can't say enough about that role."
Diekman and Dyson followed Kela and combined to pitch a scoreless eighth. That left the ninth to Tolleson, who was called upon for the third straight game and seventh in the last nine days. His workload is piling up, but he said he was good to go.
"It was a tough decision," Banister said. "We have to find a way to get him down for a day or two and find somebody else to use in that closer's role. But we felt he was good, and he gave us the indication he was good."
Tolleson made it interesting. Jonathan Schoop led off the ninth with a single just beyond the reach of shortstop Elvis Andrus and went to second on Joseph's slow grounder to third.
Tolleson then walked Alvarez, putting the potential go-ahead run on base. Tolleson got Flaherty to hit a grounder to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who got the force at second. That left runners at the corners for Machado, the Orioles' two-time All-Star third baseman.
"I felt good about Machado," Tolleson said. "I just wanted to attack him with fastballs, jump ahead quickly and stay ahead."
Tolleson did just that with five straight 93-94-mph fastballs. Machado took two for strikes, one for a ball and fouled one off. Tolleson threw one more up high, and Machado tried to check his swing, but home-plate umpire David Rackley ruled he went around. Machado was furious that first-base umpire Jim Reynolds was not consulted.
It was Machado's second straight strikeout. The second one was more dramatic, but the first one by Kela was just as big.