Thursday, April 26, 2012
Robbie Ross a winner out of bullpen
By David Stein ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Robbie Ross is tied for the major league lead for wins. Not front-line starters Matt Harrison or Yu Darvish. Yes, 22-year old Rangers situational relief pitcher Robbie Ross.
In fact, Ross' four wins in just six appearances is an MLB first.
Rangers rookie reliever Robbie Ross, who has set an MLB record with four wins in his first six appearances, has to wear some interesting duds at his teammates' request.
The same rookie that has to "cowboy up" before games by toting around a toy mini-rifle and a plush horse while wearing a leather vest and a pink backpack retired eight straight Yankees on Wednesday, including Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez -- guys who made their MLB debut before Ross was in kindergarten.
"I think after [Jeter] grounded out, I think I had to get off the mound and give a sigh of relief," Ross said after Texas' 7-3 victory.
Ross knows he'll eventually have a bad outing, but for now, he said he's living in the moment.
"I didn't expect anything like this," Ross said. "Right now it's going in the right direction, and I hope I can keep going in that direction."
It's not even that he didn't expect to win four times in April. Ross said he didn't even expect to be inserted into in-line-for-the-win situations.
"I just expected to go in there, do some innings, and try to keep our team in the game," Ross said. "I never expected to get wins."
Talk about pressure situations, too. In the fourth inning Wednesday night, Ross came in with runners on second and third with one out against the hot-hitting Eric Chavez. Mark Teixeira scored on a sacrifice fly, and Ross limited the damage by getting Russell Martin to line out to first.
"I was really just more focused on not walking [Chavez]," Ross said. "Just knowing we have a team that can make plays behind me when I'm pitching just makes my nerves and everything that I'm going through on the mound a lot easier."
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At 18, Ross was drafted out of high school in the second round by the Rangers. Now he's an integral part of the bullpen that helped Texas jump out to a 8½-game lead over the Angels.
"It's like a dream come true," Ross said. "I just sit here and think -- this is a big team and a special organization and things like that."
He still knows his place, though. Technically, Ross is on pace to win 34 games this season. Even if he won a fraction of that number, he would still be the rookie in the clubhouse who has to head out to the bullpen before games in his western duds while "Happy Trails" plays throughout the stadium.
"I don't think wins will do anything to it," Ross said, laughing. "As long as I'm the rookie, I'll wear the outfit. As long as I can be around here pitching and enjoying this team, it's fine with me."
Ross has been a great surprise for manager Ron Washington. Opponents are hitting .179 against the bullpen's only southpaw.