Rangers’ bullpen suddenly looking fatigued, punchless

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The Rangers’ talented bullpen corps helped guide the team to convincing series wins in the ALDS against the Rays and the ALCS versus Detroit, but it’s now showing serious signs of fatigue three games into this 2011 Fall Classic. And it might only get worse.

Alexi Ogando, who yielded just four hits and one earned run over 10 1/3 innings in the first two rounds, has already surrendered four hits and five runs to the Cardinals in the World Series. Mike Gonzalez was pounded on Saturday. As was Scott Feldman. As was Darren Oliver. But it’s about more than results.

It’s also about usage.

The Texas bullpen threw a total of 117 pitches in Game 3’s 16-7 defeat. Game 4 starter Derek Holland made it through just 7 1/3 total frames in his two ALCS starts. Unless Holland dazzles unexpectedly, the Rangers’ relievers will again play a major role. And it’s safe to wonder whether they’re suited to meet the task.

The Cardinals carry a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 on Sunday night. Starting for them will be righty Edwin Jackson, who has also struggled to make it to the later innings. Might we see another softball-esque score?

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.