Barnette comes up big to escape pivotal 6th

Righty limits damage in bases-loaded, no outs jam to keep Rangers in front

Barnette comes up big to escape pivotal 6th

ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Tony Barnette was the closer for the Yakult Swallows and had 41 saves last season. Now with the Rangers, Barnette has turned into a utility reliever, a guy who can pitch in any situation and in any part of the ballgame.

On Wednesday afternoon, Barnette was needed in the sixth inning, entering the game with the bases loaded, nobody out and the Rangers leading 7-5 over the Angels. Barnette's ability to get out of the inning with the Rangers still in the lead was a huge moment in their 15-9 victory at Globe Life Park.

"Huge," manager Jeff Banister said. "Otherwise it could have been a different story."

The Rangers needed six pitchers to subdue the Angels. Colby Lewis earned the victory despite allowing six runs in five innings and Banister decided to use closer Sam Dyson in the ninth despite having a six-run lead.

"It's not how we drew it up, but with a day off [Thursday], we needed to shut that down," Banister said.

Barnette did exactly that in the sixth. Lewis started off the inning by giving up singles to C.J. Cron and Johnny Giavotella. Left-hander Alex Claudio came in and gave up a single to Rafael Ortega, loading the bases. That's when Banister brought in Barnette.

"In that situation, you just try to get out of there with minimal damage," Barnette said. "The game is on the line, so you try to be aggressive and throw quality strikes. It's a big spot so you have to hunker down."

Barnette did that. A sacrifice fly by Jett Bandy scored one run to make it 7-6. But Barnette retired Gregorio Petit on a fly to right and Yunel Escobar on a grounder to end the inning.

"He did a good job limiting the damage in a big part of the game," catcher Bobby Wilson said. "By doing that, it kept us in the lead and allowed us to get back on the offensive side."

The Rangers responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning and Barnette completed his day of work by retiring Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the seventh.

"My approach is that I have to get the outs that [Banister] asks me to get, whether it's one out or six," Barnette said. "I have been pitching quite awhile and have been in a lot of situations. … You just give it all you've got whether it's one out or six."

Over his last 12 games, Barnette is 3-1 with a 0.77 ERA. Over that stretch, he has held opposing hitters to 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

"He's a high energy guy who pitches with a lot of emotion and flair," Banister said. "That's what makes him good. We like it."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. 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.