CLEVELAND -- Ron Washington has a big decision coming up concerning Alexi Ogando. As American League manager, Washington has to decide what inning Ogando will pitch in during the All-Star Game."I don't know, but he certainly will be there," Washington said. Washington has the power to make that happen, and Ogando added to his All-Star credentials with another superb performance, this time pitching the Rangers to an 11-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Friday night. The Rangers have now won nine of their last 12, including four of five to start this road trip. "Ogando overmatched us, pretty much," Indians manager Manny Acta said. Ogando went eight innings and allowed one run on four hits and one walk, striking out six before handing the ball to Yoshinori Tateyama in the ninth. Ogando is now 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 11 starts and remains the last undefeated starter in the AL. All of that has been enough to convince Washington to take him to Arizona. The players will vote on five starters and three relievers, then Washington will have the right to choose the rest of his staff. Nothing will be official for another month, but Washington has made it clear that he believes Ogando deserves to be on the All-Star team. "It makes me proud for my manager to say that," Ogando said. "I'm just working hard for that. ... It's one of my dreams -- that and having a healthy season and helping my team win." The Rangers have flooded the All-Star Game with position players, but getting a starting pitcher there is rare. Technically, Cliff Lee went to the All-Star Game as a Ranger last year, even though he made just one start for them between the trade and the break. Kenny Rogers made it in 2004-05. The last Rangers right-handed starter to make it was Aaron Sele in 1998, but he didn't pitch. Now Ogando has put himself in that position despite being thrust into the rotation right at the end of Spring Training. "He has been terrific," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It wouldn't bother me to see him in the All-Star Game. So far, he deserves it. I would love to see him there." With Ogando holding the Indians in check, the Rangers blew open the game late, scoring nine runs in the last three innings. The score was 2-1 going into the seventh before Josh Hamilton smashed a three-run homer and Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer. The Rangers finished with 19 hits, including four by Andrus and three each by Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Endy Chavez. But it was Ogando's ability to stifle the Indians for six innings that allowed the Rangers' offense to relax and finally bust through. "The biggest thing at the plate is always being able to relax," Hamilton said. "As the game goes on and you see your guy putting up zeroes and guys making [defensive plays], that does allow you to relax and not do too much -- just put the barrel of the bat on the ball. If you do that, good things will happen." The crucial moment for Ogando came in the bottom of the sixth. With the Rangers holding a two-run lead, the Indians started the inning with singles by Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera. That brought up Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians' No. 3 hitter. Ogando got Choo to hit a bouncer up the middle that second baseman Ian Kinsler snagged nicely going to his right and turned into a double play. A run scored, but Ogando struck out Carlos Santana and got out of the inning still leading, 2-1. "I wasn't worried about a big inning," Ogando said. "I was just focused on throwing a fastball down in the zone and getting him to roll it over. That's what he did." Indians starter Justin Masterson tried to match Ogando, but he exited in the seventh after issuing a one-out walk to Kinsler and a single to Andrus. Acta then brought in left-hander Tony Sipp to face Hamilton, and it was an obvious move: Sipp had held left-handers to one single in 28 at-bats this year.
Sipp got two quick strikes with fastballs, then threw one more and got burned, as Hamilton hit a vicious line drive over the right-field fence for a three-run homer."I just knew the scouting reports -- fastball and slider," Hamilton said. "I don't know why he didn't throw a slider. He just missed his spot trying to throw a heater low and away. I was sitting off-speed, thinking he would try to make me expand the zone. He left it up and in." Cruz added a two-run homer later in the inning, and that was more than enough with an All-Star on the mound.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.