Rangers starting pitcher Robbie Ross didn’t have a stellar outing Wednesday night. He said after the game that it snowballed on him pretty quickly and that he didn’t execute his pitches during a seven-run third inning.
He only threw 3.1 innings in the game.
But it wasn’t all bad for the young lefty. Ross induced 16 ground balls on 24 batters faced. He is in the top five in Major League Baseball in ground ball percentage (GB%) on the season, at 60.4 percent.
Ross also threw 18 first pitch strikes in the game. His one walk broke a 21.1-inning stretch in which he hadn’t walked a batter. That streak spanned 99 batters. So even when Ross is off his game, he has been under control.
Manager Ron Washington said Ross was battling Wednesday, and an executed double play ball in the third inning could've prevented the game from snowballing on Ross.
He just may be right.
Behind Ross, Alexi Ogando allowed an inherited runner to score (something he has done 31 percent of the time over his career) and surrendered one more run. But the last three innings of the game were encouraging from the back half of the ‘pen.
Aaron Poreda, who last played in the majors in 2009 before joining the Rangers’ Big League club this year, pitched another scoreless inning of relief, maintaining his 0.00 ERA and making a case as a reliable left-handed reliever.
Neal Cotts, who has been a question mark in the early going of 2014, pitched a scoreless eighth before Joakim Soria struck out the side in the ninth. The closer the Rangers can get to their bullpen form of last season, when the back third of a ballgame was nearly a lock, the better. If those three pitchers can be dominant in close games too, not just in 11-run blowouts, that’s a good sign for Texas.
On the offensive side of things, it’s hard to find a lot of positives after a series in which the Rangers were outhit by 31 hits and outscored by 21 runs.
But Leonys Martin extended his hit streak to seven games Wednesday with a two-out, eighth-inning single before scoring the team’s only run. Martin has been stellar this season [our own Patrick Despain weighs in on that topic HERE] and continued a solid individual performance even while the team has underachieved at the plate. If Martin can be a rock at the bottom of the order, it will do wonders for the heart of the lineup if and when they return to form.
Lastly, there’s nothing positive to take away from Elvis Andrus’s performance Wednesday, or even from his last week on the field. But what Rangers fans can fall back on is his career .971 fielding percentage -- making a repeat performance of his two-error night Wednesday very unlikely. In fact, his last two-error game came in August of 2012.
So we’ll likely have some time before another shaky defensive performance from Andrus.
Elvis is also a .333 career hitter in Anaheim, where the Rangers travel for their next series. If there’s a place where he has a chance to break out of his 1-for-24 slump, it very well could be Angel Stadium.