ARLINGTON – Robbie Ross' recent struggles, his manager said, having nothing to do with fatigue a rookie might experience in his first season.
It's merely a baseball thing.
And he probably should get used to it, especially with big games looming down the stretch of a pennant race.
Ron Washington said he had a talk with his rookie left-handed reliever after pulling him from Saturday night's game after walking the only hitter he faced.
“I want him to know that we got his back,” Washington said. “We're not going to stop giving him the ball, but he's got to start throwing the ball in the strike zone.
“In this game you struggle. He's been, all year, amazing, so now when you struggle that's when you become more amazing, you fight through it.”
The left-handed reliever has a 7.71 ERA in his last 10 appearances raising his ERA from 0.95 to 1.82.
He could practically do no wrong in becoming a key contributor out of the bullpen the first half of the season, going 6-0 and recording a 24-inning scoreless streak over 18 games from the end of May to July 18.
His ERA was the fourth-lowest for a rookie through the All-Star break in major-league history (since 1933).
Washington said he wanted to leave Ross in on Saturday night after walking Prince Fielder to face right-handed hitter Delmon Young. Ross' first pitch to Young was a ball, and Washington went to Mike Adams.
“You don't run from not being successful,” Washington said. “You face it head on because what's happening to him now is going to happen again.
“There's no perfection [in this game]. He was almost perfect.”
Olt will play
Logic would seem to lead to the conclusion that right-handed hitter Mike Olt might not see his name in the lineup often with a string of opposing right-handed pitchers on the calendar.
But he will get in the lineup, Ron Washington said, though he emphasized that it won't be at the expense of Mitch Moreland..
“I've got to have Moreland in that lineup against these righties,” Washington said. But “we'll give [Olt] a start against one of those righties because I'll probably have to give [Adrian] Beltre a DH game.”
Olt, too, could see start as the designated hitter, Washington said.
“I'm not just going to let him sit around.”
Olt found himself on unfamiliar ground on Saturday night as a pinch-hitter. He came through, too, with the game-winning hit in the ninth.
There will likely be more of those opportunities, too.
“I've never really pinch-hit before,” said Olt, who added that Washington told him to be ready for the possibility Saturday. “I focused the whole game in case I got something late. I was prepared.”
Washington said his DH plans also might include shortstop Elvis Andrus, whom the manager said needs a break.
“I have to do something because I just can't pull him off the field when's he's healthy.”
New York, New Yuck
Ryan Dempster has 13 years and more than 2,000 innings of major-league service, but today represents a first for the longtime National Leaguer.
A start in Yankee Stadium, new or otherwise.
No biggie, he says, even in a game between teams battling for the best record in the AL.
“I think every game, from here on out, are all big games no matter who you're playing,” Dempster said. “You're in the stretch run and you have to go out there and do the best you can.”
Ron Washington's only concern is playing well in New York, a place the Rangers have struggled, except, of course, when it counted most, in the postseason.
“The best record only matters on Oct. 2,” Washington said. “Right now, the only thing that matters is the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 12.
“If we get past that then we're in trouble because we can't take care of what's happening tomorrow.”
-- John Henry