After long rehab, Diekman gets 1st save of '17

Reliever closes out win over Angels in 7th appearance off DL

After long rehab, Diekman gets 1st save of '17

ANAHEIM -- Jake Diekman's seventh appearance since returning from the disabled list may have been his most significant. This time the Rangers left-hander pitched 1 2/3 innings to nail down his first save of the year in the Rangers' 4-2 victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon.

Manager Jeff Banister has been flexible about who he uses in late-inning situations out of the bullpen, and this time the Angels' set of hitters dictated that Diekman got the chance.

"Diekman has been sharp for us throughout," Banister said. "Quick eighth inning, so we gave him the opportunity to close it out."

Diekman entered the game with one on and out in the eighth with the Rangers up by two. His first assignment was Kole Calhoun, the Angels' left-handed-hitting cleanup hitter, and Diekman induced him to ground into an inning-ending double play.

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Banister sent Diekman out for the ninth, and he walked Andrelton Simmons to start the inning. But Diekman rallied and got the next two hitters -- Cliff Pennington and C.J. Cron -- to hit grounders at third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Middlebrooks turned the first one into a double play, and the next one went to first base for the final out of the game.

It was Diekman's first save since Sept. 12, 2016. He missed the first five months of this season while undergoing three operations for ulcerative colitis, but he continues to show he is back, and the save was the latest affirmation.

"The 'W' was more the reward today," Diekman said. "Go in and get three outs before they tie the game. I didn't think anything different. No matter what your job is as a bullpen guy, if you keep the lead you have done your job."

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