Robbie Ross performed as if he'd always been a starting pitcher, and Prince Fielder finally hit one out of the park, as did Kevin Kouzmanoff, as the Rangers went on to defeat the Mariners 5-0.
Ross had shown potential in his first two starts, tonight, he showed that he deserves to be a part of the starting lineup for the long run, as no Mariners even came close to scoring. With support from the offense, Ross was able to earn his first win of the season.
'It was awesome' said Ross. 'To get that first one out of the way, especially on a day like this (Jackie Robinson Day) it's really special. You know I'm just thankful for the opportunity to go out there and pitch on a day like this, but also very blessed.'
Of the twenty-three outs Ross recorded, eighteen were groundouts. He gave up only five hits, all of which were singles, and walked no batters.
'Robbie tonight was able to do what he wanted to do with the baseball' said Rangers manager Ron Washington. 'Cutter was working, nice breaking ball, was able to spot his fastball around the zone, keep the ball in play, and was very aggressive as he has been his past two outings. And that's what it takes.'
Ross' win wouldn't have been possible had the Rangers not scored any runs, something they have been struggling to do as of late. However, Ross' teammates agree that having him on the mound, was what really brought the game together.
'Hats off to him' said Kouzmanoff. 'He pitched his butt off. Hit his spots, located awesome, kept hitters off balance. He did everything that a pitcher should do.'
'He is learning' added Elvis Andrus. 'He knows there's still a lot of things to work on, but for me it's good. If you can pitch that way and keep us in the game out there, you're going to have a great season.'
The Rangers bats were more productive tonight than they have been, but the key to winning the game first came in the second, when Fielder and Kouzmanoff hit back-to-back homers off former first round Rangers draft pick, Blake Beaven.
Before the game, Fielder told the media that 'one was coming soon' in reference to a home run. And it did. After the game however, Fielder said in response to his earlier quote, 'I was just messing around, but I guess it worked'. If that's the case, Fielder should think about 'messing around' about hitting homers more often.
In the eighth, the Rangers did something they haven't been able to do all season, when they tacked on three insurance runs. The five-run margin they won by today, was the most they've won by all year.
Andrus started it off with a double, and Fielder was intentionally walked, to put two-men on for Kouzmanoff. A monster double from Kouz brought Andrus and Fielder in to score, and was followed by an RBI single from Mitch Moreland that brought Kouzmanoff home and gave the Rangers the 5-0 lead.
Kouzmanoff, who wasn't on the opening day roster, had three hits on the night as well as three RBI's. Having hit in every game since being brought up from AAA Round Rock, Kouz is making it easy to forget he hasn't been here all along.
'I'm just trying to get good pitches to hit and hit it hard' said Kouzmanoff. 'Unfortunately Beltre got hurt, and those are big shoes to fill, but I'm just out there trying to do the best I can.'
If the pitchers can keep other teams from scoring, like they have been, and the offense becomes more consistent with their hits, this team could be dangerous. Tomorrow will be the ultimate test, as Yu Darvish, who has yet to give up a run all season, takes the mound for the Rangers, while Felix Hernandez gets the start for Seattle. The Rangers offense has also been unable to score with Darvish on the mound, so if they can do so against Seattle's ace Hernandez, it will be safe to say they are getting their bats together.
Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT.