ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 25: Robbie Ross #46 of the Texas Rangers throws against the New York Yankees at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 25, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In recent seasons the Texas Rangers haven't had the best luck with getting good defense from their pitchers.
In fact, as Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News pointed out, the Rangers' pitching staff's defense from the time manager Ron Washington arrived on the scene through 2012 hasn't been exceptional. Rangers pitchers, over that time, had the sixth fewest total chances and the sixth most errors among big-league pitching staffs — not a good combination.
But this season has been different as the Rangers' pitchers have had a league-high 26 chances and haven't yet committed an error. Not only have they not committed an error, they've made some plays.
That was never more evident than on Thursday night when reliever Robbie Ross, pitching with a one-run lead, was in a surefire squeeze situation with a runner on third and one out in the eighth inning after the Mariners had scored to close the Rangers' lead to 4-3.
Sure enough, with pinch-runner and former Ranger Endy Chavez on third and the light-hitting No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan at the plate, the squeeze was on. Chavez didn't get a good jump but the bunt was a good one, right back to Ross.
Ross scooped the ball with his glove, transferred to his bare hand and "option-pitched" the ball to catcher A.J. Pierzynski just ahead of Chavez. Pierzynski blocked the plate perfectly and applied the tag for the second out and ended the Mariners' threat. In the next inning, closer Joe Nathan shut it down to give the Rangers their third straight series-opening win.
Washington put it simply when asked about his team's good start — 7-3 record and on the brink of winning four straight series to open the season.
“We have just executed very well,” Washington said after the game. “When you execute well, good things happen.”