Results tagged ‘ Robbie Ross ’
Before the game, someone asked me what I expected out of Nick Tepesch in his major league debut with the Texas Rangers. I said I’d be happy if he managed to achieve a line of 5-8-4-4-1-2. After all, the kid has all of one start at the AAA level and that was last week. So I’ve got to say Tepesch walked three guys and I said I’d be happy with a line that included one, so that was a little disappointing.
Other than that, Tepesch exceeded my expectations in every way. He didn’t strike out two, he K’d five. He didn’t give up 8 hits, he gave up only four. He didn’t give up four runs, he only allowed one Ray to cross the plate. And he didn’t go five innings, he got one out into the 8th. Oh, and he picked up his first major league victory 6-1.
I don’t want to go too overboard on Tepesch’s debut and extrapolate a Hall of Fame career for the guy based on one start. After all, Justin Grimm pitched a lights out game for Texas last year in his debut after being called up from AA Frisco and every subsequent start he had brought poor results. Grimm, however, faced the hapless Houston Astros in his 2012 debut. Tepesch was facing a veteran, savvy, potential playoff team in the Tampa Bay Rays. Outside of the third inning hiccup in which the lone run scored and all three of his walks came, Tepesch was a machine.
It wasn’t until his last inning that the Rays had a fly ball out. If it wasn’t a strikeout, everything was being hit on the ground. Fourteen groundouts to one fly ball. Outstanding.
Even better from an overall Rangers perspective, Tepesch saved a Rangers bullpen from overwork. After having four different relievers throw a lot of pitches in Monday’s series opener, it was a pretty safe bet that only three relievers would be available for Tepesch’s start and closer Joe Nathan wouldn’t be one of them.
No problem. Only two were needed and the first, Robbie Ross, only needed six pitches to get through 2/3 of an inning.
What a great debut. A win in convincing fashion and giving his team their third consecutive series win to begin the season. So yeah, I’m feeling a bit Tepesch this morning. I imagine most Rangers fans are feeling the same way.
- Nick Tepesch strong in debut, Rangers top Rays 6-1 (seattletimes.com)
- Cool Nick Tepesch delivers in impressive major-league debut for Rangers (miamiherald.com)
- Tepesch shines in debut as Rangers top Rays (scores.espn.go.com)
The good news: Exhibition play has started.
The bad news: The Rangers, in essence, got swept by the Royals, getting a tie on Friday and dropping games on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think they even had a lead in any of the three games.
BUT I’M NOT PANICKING!!!
I’m sorry. I should just say I’m not panicking. All caps bolded would tend to lead to the impression I am indeed already panicking about the upcoming season.
Nope, not me. Yeah, Matt Harrison had a putrid one inning of work on Sunday, giving up six hits and four runs. Elvis Andrus doesn’t have a hit yet and committed an error on his first play. Mike Olt started out 0-3 with three strikeouts before finally getting a soft liner to third to end the K streak. He also mixed in an error and an almost error with one nifty play at third defensively. Also among the hitless are Mitch Moreland and Geovany Soto. On the pitching side, Alexi Ogando‘s spring debut was almost as bad as Harrison’s.
BUT THERE’S NO NEED TO PANIC!!!
Really. Harrison, Ogando, Andrus and Moreland have shown enough over the past 2-3 seasons, worrying about them three games into a 38 game exhibition schedule is like worrying about a new CD from Elton John on which the first cut sucks and you decide his career is over. That’s not to say there’s nothing to pay attention to in exhibition games. For players like Julio Borbon and Michael Kirkman, these are extremely important games. Both are out of options, so not making the Rangers out of spring training no longer means going back down to the minors, it means looking for a new employer. For Kirkman, the first appearance couldn’t have gone better, twirling two shutout innings with three strikeouts. For Borbon, the results are more a mixed bag. Defensively, he’s been OK and made an outstanding play in left field in the first game. Offensively is another question. The .250 average is OK, but he’s also fouled off a couple of bunt attempts and Sunday hit into two double plays. For a speed guy on the bubble, these are the things Ron Washington pays close attention to. Julio’s got to step it up.
I also like hearing about the players turning heads in camp. A.J. Pierzynski has been impressed with Robbie Ross so far. Yangervis Solarte, who also had a decent spring training a year ago before playing for AAA Round Rock, has impressed with his bat again. He’s still a long shot to make the team as a utility infielder, as he doesn’t play much shortstop. Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel had high praise for the change-up of Cory Burns. And Wash has liked what he’s seen from corner utility candidate Jeff Baker.
In other words, right now I’m just excited to listen to some actual games, regardless of the final score. As the spring progresses, there will be days I turn the game off around the sixth inning when the scrubs I know have no chance of making the club come in. But for now, I’m a happy camper, even with an 0-2-1 start.
- Healthy Moreland looks to return to form (mlb.mlb.com)
- Texas Rangers Spring Training: Pitching Outlook (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Borbon down to last chance in Rangers’ centerfield derby (sacbee.com)
It sounded so easy entering the weekend. Win one game and the Angels are eliminated as an AL West title winner. Get a little help from the Mariners and two wins and the season-ending trip to Oakland is meaningless. Yet when 6 PM CDT came around, not only was the team with the AL’s best record not any closer to those goals, they were staring at the distinct possibility of having to win two of three at Oakland to win the West and possibly being in a position to not even make the playoffs at all.
When the weekend started, the magic number for the Rangers was 3 to win the West and only 1 to eliminate the Angels from title consideration. Friday night, the series against the Angels started out well enough, even with the Angels throwing their ace Jered Weaver at them. Ryan Dempster gave up a first inning run, and while the Rangers weren’t scoring right away, neither was Weaver putting them away. The Rangers had runners at first and second with one out in the second, but couldn’t plate a run. Dempster gave up a second run in the third, but was still showing glimpses of being able to go deep in the game. Another run in the 4th made it 3-0 Angels, but Texas responded in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-1. The game was still within reach.
A 4th run in the 6th chased Dempster, but it was still only 4-1. It was the 7th when things got out of hand. Robbie Ross surrendered a 3-spot, making it 6-1. Even though Texas got home runs late from Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz, the game was out of reach. LA took Game 1 7-4. Meanwhile, the A’s beat the Mariners, narrowing the Rangers lead in the West to 3 games. Magic number remains 3 and 1.
Saturday the rains came. Waiting as long as they could, the Rangers went four hours past the scheduled starting time before finally calling a rain-out and scheduling a day-night doubleheader for Sunday. It sure looked like the Mariners were going to hand the Rangers an assist, as they headed into the 9th with a 4-2 lead on the A’s. Oakland, though, tied the game on a home run in the 9th and a 3-run shot in the 10th ended it. Magic numbers remain at 3 and 1. Oakland now pulls within 2 1/2 games.
Game 1 of the twin bill featured a rematch from a week and a half before: Yu Darvish vs. Zack Greinke. The first time they met, a Beltre homer in the top of the 9th handed the Rangers a 2-1 win in Anaheim. This time, Texas reached Greinke early when a Nelson Cruz missile to left gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The Angels answered with a run in the 3rd, but RBI from Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre made it 4-1 after 3. After the 3rd, Greinke found out his name was misspelled on his game jersey. Once he got that fixed, he was lights out the rest of the way.
Darvish, meanwhile, wasn’t as sharp as he’d been his previous six outings, but was getting outs when he needed to. The Angels added single runs in the 6th and 7th to make it 4-3, leaving the win in the capable hands of the Rangers’ late-inning bullpen. Alexi Ogando got 4 outs to bring us to Joe Nathan time in the 9th. Nathan had blown only two saves all season. After a 1-out single-walk sequence, Nathan buckled Mike Trout with a strike 3 swinging. Two outs. Got it in the bag, right? Wrong. Torii Hunter hit a gap double to left, scoring two runs and making it 5-4 Angels. Three outs later, LA had their second straight win. A couple of hours later, Oakland swept the Mariners to pull within a game and a half. Magic numbers still 3 and 1.
Going into the nightcap, the simple truth was if Texas lost, Oakland would be just a game behind and Texas would have to win two of three on the road to win the West. A tall order. Lose two of three, lose the West. Lose three of three and possibly miss the playoffs. Game 2 was a must win.
Derek Holland got the start and promptly gave up four runs in the first to put Texas in a 4-0 hole. The abyss was visible and the Rangers were ready to fall into it. They got a run back in the first to make it 4-1, then added two more on back to back home runs from David Murphy and Mike Napoli to make it 4-3. Holland was gritty after the first, retiring seven straight at one point to keep it within reach. In the third, back to back singles put Rangers on first a second. After a force made it two away, Napoli unloaded his second bomb of the night, a 3-run shot to make it 6-4 Rangers. Holland gave up hits but no more runs. In the 6th, Napoli would add a 2-run double to make it 8-4, giving him 6 RBI on the night. Everything looked like it was in the bag and going back the Rangers way. Not so fast.
In the 7th, Holland gave up back to back singles with one out. After getting the second out, Dutch served up a treat to Howie Kendrick, a 3-run shot to left that cut the lead to 8-7 and sent Holland to the showers. Here we go again. Robbie Ross got the last out of the inning.
The 8th belonged to Koji Uehara. It took 23 tense pitches, but Uehara struck out the side in the 8th. Koji has now pitched 9.1 innings of 1-hit ball with 16 strikeouts over his last 12 appearances. Top of the 9th, guess who’s back? Joe Nathan. Fresh off blowing the save in Game 1, he had a chance at redemption.
Nathan got Albert Pujols to pop out. Then he walked Torii Hunter. That’s how the blown save started in Game 1, with a 1-out walk. On an 0-2 pitch, Mark Trumbo sent a shot into right field, but right at Nelson Cruz. Two outs. With an 0-1 count, Nathan then got pinch hitter Kendrys Morales to foul out in a play in which Mike Napoli and Mike Olt nearly collided. The win was finally secured.
The Angels can no longer win the West mathematically (they couldn’t anyway because of the Rangersd and A’s playing each other in the final 3 games but that’s beside the point). The magic number is down to 2. Either Oakland or Texas will win the West. If Texas wins 1 game, it’s the Rangers. If Oakland sweeps, it’s the A’s. The only way the Angels can make the playoffs is for them to win their last three while the Rangers sweep Oakland. Not likely.
I truly lost some of the belief in my team after the 5-4 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader today. The Rangers helped me get some of it back in Game 2 and clinched their third consecutive playoff berth in the process.
One more win, guys. You can do it.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 2-4
Overall: 52-34 (1st Place AL West) (+4)
Nelson Cruz .375/.400/.542 4 2B, 4 RBI
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Robbie Ross 0.00 ERA 0 Hits in 3.2 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Roy Oswalt 0-1 8.71 ERA 10 ER in 10.1 IP 2.03 WHIP
All Star Break is here, although 32% of Rangers roster is on the AL roster. Of the eight, all could possibly play tonight. If I had to pick those who don’t play, I’d say Joe Nathan and maybe Elvis Andrus. But, with Ron Washington as the AL skipper, all could get their moment this year. Season resumes Friday with three against the Mariners at Seattle. Angels on the road at the Yankees. Good weekend to possibly gain a game back on the Angelenos.
The last two nights have not seen a lot of pretty baseball in Arlington, yet the Rangers won both games. On Wednesday, Texas thumped the Tigers 13-9 and Thursday, it was a nail-biting 7-6 win over the Oakland A’s.
These high-scoring affairs are, of course, more reminiscent of the Rangers teams of the first part of the millennium, except this team continues to win and maintain a 4 1/2 game lead over the Angels. And while these games aren’t what we’re used to seeing, I’m afraid it’s what Rangers fans will have to deal with, at least until the All-Star break.
With so many pitchers on the disabled list right now (Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Neftali Feliz, Koji Uehara), the Rangers have been forced to put young pitchers into roles they’d prefer not to use them in. Rookie Robbie Ross is the example Ron Washington would like to follow all the time: start him out in low-pressure outings like blow-out wins or losses. When Ross showed he was capable there, Wash gave him a few face only one or two batters in a little bit higher leverage situation. Ross succeeded there as well. Now Ross is filling in as the 7th inning set-up man. He did the progression and it’s paid off.
Wash can’t afford to do that now. Three starters are on the shelf so Justin Grimm, who had never started above AA, has now been given two starts and could be the starter on Saturday as well. Michael Kirkman, who has some big-league experience but has been less than stellar the past two seasons, was forced into a long-relief role the other night. Rookie Tanner Scheppers has thrown some high-leverage innings his last two times out, despite having command problems, and rookie Martin Perez was called up just three days ago and found himself facing the Tigers Wednesday night.
Scheppers and Kirkman have performed a little better than expected in their increased pressure roles but still have average results at best. Perez had to be taken out after 2/3 of an inning as the Tigers shaved a five-run Rangers lead down to two runs. He also is being mentioned as the possible starter on Saturday against the A’s.
Most of the Rangers DL’d pitchers are expected back right after the All-Star break. Until then, some young unproven talent will be holding down the fort and the Rangers offense will be asked to score enough runs to make up for inevitable higher run totals being given up by the pitching staff.
When you talk about the first World Series run by the Rangers, the names that come to mind are Josh Hamilton, American League MVP; Cliff Lee, mid-season acquisition and Yankee Killer in the ALCS; Michael Young, the long-time “Face” of the franchise; and Nelson Cruz, who can carry a team on his back for two-week stretches, including the playoffs.
Those players deservedly got a lot of the press, but another key to the Rangers first run to the pennant were the spare parts. Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on the DL after just two games. Enter last-minute Spring Training acquisition Matt Treanor. Treanor held down the fort so well until the July acquisition of Bengie Molina, Saltalamacchia never again wore a Rangers uniform. Salty was optioned to AAA after coming off the DL, then went to the Red Sox in a September deal.
The Rangers had a winning record during Nelson Cruz’ three trips to the DL in 2010, thanks to the emergence of David Murphy as a viable 4th outfielder. Murphy remains an integral piece of the Rangers today, though speculation grows he’ll become part of a deal sometime this summer.
Ian Kinsler also had two DL stints in 2010. Again, Texas survived just fine, especially in mid-August when Andres Blanco filled in for 19 games and hit .333 with 8 doubles and .818 OPS, playing sterling defense as well.
The pitching staff also had its moments. Rich Harden and Scott Feldman, expected to be the top two rotation pieces, never panned out. It was new acquisition Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson, moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation, who helped keep the Rangers above-board until the trade for Cliff Lee. Likewise, the bullpen got a boost when Alexi Ogando was recalled from Oklahoma City. All Ogando did was earn wins in his first three relief appearances and ended up being the Rangers 7th inning go-to guy.
The pattern repeated itself in 2011. When center fielder Julio Borbon went down in May with an injury, Endy Chavez was called up from Round Rock, hit .301 in 83 games and banished Borbon to the minors, where he remains today. Ogando again served as a vital piece, this time moving into the starting rotation when off-season signee Brandon Webb proved not ready to go out of Spring Training. Ogando thrived as a starter, making the All-Star team. Yorvit Torrealba was expected to be the primary catcher, until Mike Napoli had an offensive year that nobody saw coming.
The stars propel teams, but the spare parts are often the ones that give winning teams the extra edge. The previous 400 words were all written with Robbie Ross in mind.
Just a year ago today, Ross was pitching for High-A Myrtle Beach. The Rangers 2nd round draft pick in 2008, Ross compiled a 9-4 record with a 2.26 ERA as a starter to earn a late season promotion to AA Frisco. In 6 games with Frisco, Ross was 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Those stats earned Ross an invite to big league camp for Spring Training in 2012.
Ross was expected to do what most rookies his age (21) do. Stick around big league camp for a couple of weeks, mop up a few games, then return to minor league camp, where he would most likely start the season at Frisco, maybe Round Rock if he was lucky.
Ross, however, didn’t recognize his long odds. He just did what he’d been doing since being drafted. He threw strikes. Because he threw strikes, he got outs. There were veteran southpaws in the Rangers camp this year, looking to fill the role vacated by Darren Oliver when he departed for the Blue Jays, chief among them Joe Beimel. He didn’t pitch badly, but a late camp injury ended his chances. Michael Kirkman, who contributed key late-season innings in 2010 but slipped in 2011, was another prime candidate. Kirkman struggled from the outset and has continued to struggle at Round Rock in 2012.
By the time Spring Training was over, Ross had leap-frogged everyone and earned a spot on the Rangers roster. He was expected to be brought around slowly, used in mop-up roles to get his feet wet. Most thought Ross would just hold down the fort until the Rangers either re-signed Mike Gonzalez or traded for another lefty in the pen.
All Ross has done is succeed, in whatever role the Rangers have asked him. Sunday, he was asked to replace another famous spare part, Alexi Ogando. Ogando, who was made a starter again when Derek Holland went on the DL, threw three hitless innings, then strained his groin legging out a bunt single that was supposed to be just a sacrifice bunt. Ross came in and this time threw four innings of 1-hit ball at the Giants and earning the victory. Ross is now 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA. If Ogando goes on the disabled list, Ross could be the Rangers starter this Saturday against the Astros.
Not bad for someone who wasn’t even projected to be in the big leagues until next year at the earliest. Let’s hear it for spare parts!
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 3-4
Overall: 35-26 (1st Place AL West) (+3)
Adrian Beltre .200/.226/.233 6 Strikeouts
Nelson Cruz .158/.273/.263 5 Strikeouts
Josh Hamilton .222/.323/.481 9 Strikeouts
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Matt Harrison 1-0 0.00 ERA 0.56 WHIP
Robbie Ross 3 Games 1-0 0.00 ERA 0.57 WHIP in 7 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman 0-2 12.86 ERA 1.86 WHIP
The bad news continues for the Rangers, but it’s good news for Robby Ross.
The Rangers today put Derek Holland on the disabled list with a combination of shoulder soreness and effects from a stomach virus that saw Dutch lose 15 pounds over the past two weeks.
Alexi Ogando, who was an All-Star as a starter for Texas in 2011, will move back into the starting rotation beginning on Sunday. Holland’s trip to the DL makes it even more important that Scott Feldman improve on his last two starts and give Texas quality innings on Saturday. Ogando hasn’t gone more than two innings in 2012 and it’s doubtful he’d go more than five on Sunday. Another bad Feldman start would tax the bullpen to a great degree.
To replace Holland on the roster, Tanner Scheppers has been called up from AAA Round Rock. This is where Robby Ross becomes a very happy camper. As the pitcher with the least major league longevity, Ross has been entrusted with the bullpen backpack all season long. The beauty of said backpack was captured quite nicely over the weekend in Anaheim by my fellow blogger Kristen over at “This Is A Very Simple Game”:
Yes life is good for Robby Ross. Now Scheppers, as the newest rookie in town, can be the keeper of the backpack. But, with all due respect to Scheppers, I hope this is the shortest of possible DL stints for Holland so Ross can assume the backpack duties again in two weeks.
Scott Feldman was exceedingly bad last night against the Oakland A’s. In giving up 8 runs in the second inning before being pulled for rookie Robbie Ross, he compiled an abysmal Game Score of 11. Yep, it was one terrible start. Only problem is, by the Bill James Game Score system, it wasn’t the worst start by a Rangers pitcher in 2012. The worst was a Game Score of 7, achieved (if “achieved” is the right word) by Derek Holland just a week ago against the Seattle Mariners.
To give this even more perspective, the Rangers’ two lowest Game Scores by a starting pitcher have both come against the two weakest hitting teams in the American League.
Here’s one more negative piece of food for thought: Thus far in 2012, Rangers starting pitchers have compiled four games in which the starter’s Game Score was less than 20. Matt Harrison has the other two, a 13 and a 15, compiled in back to back starts last month. In the 2011 season, the Rangers had only five starts the entire season with a Game Score of less than 20. And none of them were by Dave Bush or Scott Feldman, the only two pitchers used as spot starters last year.
This is one reason why even a 4 1/2 game lead doesn’t feel very safe.
Ouch, the first back to back losses of the season. The second straight series loss. This is the end of the Texas Rangers as we know them.
Not really, but it does show how manic-depressive we fans can be. When the Rangers were winning, as they were the entire month of April, it’s as if the team of our affections was Superman, impervious to pain, able to steal bases at will, more powerful than the ’27 Yankees.
Now, after starting the month of May at 0-2, the fingers have started pointing, the mood has blackened and we’re sure Lex Luthor has found a big hunk of kryptonite and placed it smack dab under the Rangers bench in the dugout.
Truth be told, this team probably wasn’t as good as their April record indicated, nor are they as bad as they’ve looked in going 2-4 over the past six games. In the end they probably resemble the April team more than the May team thus far, but the season will show us where they stand. Right now, it’s still firmly in first place in the AL West with the team considered their most serious competitor still either seven or eight games out, depending on how tonight’s game turns out.
A lot of scribes are going to say this two-game skid is perfectly understandable. After all, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre haven’t been in the Rangers line-up the past two games, so losses can be expected.
The problem with this is the last two games haven’t been lost due to lack of offense. Texas has scored 11 runs the past two games and even had a 5-0 lead in Tuesday’s game. No, the losses have come because two of the Rangers’ strong suits both failed on Tuesday and Wednesday: the pitching and the defense.
Tuesday Neftali Feliz didn’t have a particularly strong outing Tuesday, giving up two home runs in a 4-run 3rd inning to turn a 5-0 Rangers lead into a 5-4 lead. In the 7th, it was Elvis Andrus’ first error in 54 games, on a routine play no less, that opened the gates for the Blue Jays 3-run inning to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 lead. Elvis’ error opened the inning. With runners on first and second, a sacrifice bunt Mike Napoli couldn’t field cleanly resulted in another error and a bases loaded, no out situation. Alexi Ogando came on and got two groundouts right away, but both plated runs tying the game. A base hit later and the Jays had a 7-6 lead, with all runs charged to rookie Robbie Ross, who deserved so much better.
Michael Young tied the game in the 9th, but Mike Adams gave up a walk-off solo shot to open the bottom of the 9th. Bad defense, bad pitching, one loss.
Wednesday’s day game was even worse for the pitching staff. Matt Harrison had his second straight bad outing, giving up eight hits and eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Harry has now given up 14 earned runs and 22 hits in his last two starts combined, comprising just 8 1/3 innings. As good as Harry was in his first three starts and most of 2011, I hope this isn’t a sign of a physical ailment. Harry and Dutch (Derek Holland) have both had two consecutive poor outings. Long man/spot starter Scott Feldman gave up a three-run homer to close out the scoring.
On the good news side, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe continue to pitch well, even though they’ve mostly been used in non-pressure situations. Still, it’s good to know the bullpen seems to be pretty consistently good, at least more consistently good than the starters have been. Oh, and Josh Hamilton was named AL Player of the Month and Yu Darvish the AL Rookie of the Month.
As good as the Rangers have been the past few years, that success has not translated to Canada. Texas is a combined 5-11 at the Rogers Centre since 2009, including the 1-2 mark for this road trip. Thursday is a day off, then three games in Cleveland. Hamilton and Beltre should be back in the line-up. That would be good. What would be better is seeing Colby, Dutch and Yu dealing zero’s and the defense dealing DP’s. This team will play better. They already have and they will again.