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The Closer

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After Friday's monumental, six-run implosion in a gut-wrenching loss to the Boston Red Sox, I heard lots of calls for Frankie Francisco's job - if not his head.

But give Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington credit. The guy is an unflappable optimist. At times to a fault, he trusts his players.

"Frankie's never been quite right since an early-season visit to the DL." "He can't pitch back-to-back days." "He'll mentally never recover from Friday."

Washington heard the calls, too. And how'd he respond?

He handed the ball - and the closer's job - back to Francisco on Sunday and Monday. And, boy, was he ever rewarded.

AL WILD-CARD STANDINGS

Texas Rangers 67 50 -- 45
Boston Red Sox 66 51 1.0 45
Tampa Bay Rays 63 54 4.0 45
Seattle Mariners 61 57 6.5 44
Chicago White Sox 61 58 7.0 43

Francisco saved Sunday's one-run win over Boston and pitched a perfect 9th last night in an 8-5 win over the Twins, striking out four of the six batters he faced.

Neftali Feliz is more dynamic and C.J. Wilson more entertaining, but Frankie is the most effective - the most trusted - of Texas' late-inning relievers.

Until further notice I think Francisco should be the Rangers' closer. You?

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