Extra Bases: Neal Cotts moves up in pen

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
8:07
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Wednesday's storybook 3-1 victory over Oakland wasn't just reserved for journeyman starter Ross Wolf.

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Don't forget left-handed reliever Neal Cotts.

Cotts has vaulted in the pecking order of Rangers relievers after two appearances. He helped guide Wolf, pitching for the first time in the big leagues since 2010, to his first major league victory by delivering two of the four shutout innings produced by the Rangers bullpen.

Cotts, who hadn't pitched the majors since 2009 before Tuesday, struck out the side with two runners on in the sixth inning. He worked around a leadoff double in the seventh that brought the tying run to the plate.

"I'm just happy I could pick (Wolf) up," Cotts said. "He was throwing the ball well down there and he came up here and did the same thing he did down there. He threw strikes. He did a great job."

Cotts is doing a phenomenal job this season. Left-handed hitters are still trying to break through against him. Combined with his work at Triple-A Round Rock, Cotts hasn't allowed a hit to a lefty in 34 at-bats.

His strikeout numbers also amaze, with 46 strikeouts in 32 innings pitching for the Express and now the Rangers. He doesn't have the 96-mph fastball he had when he helped the Chicago White Sox win a World Series in 2005. Tommy John surgery has forced him to use secondary pitches to go with a fastball that has dropped five mph.

But former White Sox teammate A.J. Pierzynski, who reunited with Cotts the last two days, flashed back to 2005.

"It was just like the World Series," Pierzynski said. "He's different now with a cutter, changeup and slider. But the results are the same."

Other notes:

Lewis to throw bullpen: Rehabbing pitcher Colby Lewis will throw a bullpen Thursday in advance of a start Saturday for Triple-A Rock Rock at Memphis. Lewis was discouraged by a lack of velocity on his fastball in a 46-pitch outing Monday for Double-A Frisco.

Ogando to throw again: Right-hander Alexi Ogando, on the 15-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis, will throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday on the Rangers' road trip to Seattle and Arizona.

Beltre and the first pitch: Adrian Beltre hit his second home run of the season on the first pitch of an at-bat. He has 49 home runs for his career on the first pitch, matching his total with a 1-0 count.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.327 18 75 77
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 75
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .886
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.34
SOY. Darvish 182