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)
Robbie Ross hasn't been himself as of late. That much is clear. After seeing his ERA dip down below 1.00 as late as July 17, Ross has struggled at times with his control and might be running into a problem of being overworked.
In his last seven appearances before Sunday's, Ross had been flat-out bad. The lefty reliever had given up five runs in 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and an uncharacteristic nine walks for a kid who usually displays pinpoint control. His ERA over that seven-game span? 10.38. Opponents' on-base percentage? .500.
That all came to a head on Saturday when Ross entered the game in a key spot to face Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder in the ninth inning of a tie game, got up 0-2 in the count and then walked him. That was the only batter Washington wanted him to face, so he left the game with a final line of 0.0 innings pitched and one walk — not good for the ol' pitching line, or the confidence.
On Sunday, Ross had the chance again, and he showed he had a short memory, as did Washington for going to Ross in a key situation. Again, it was Fielder at the plate and he represented the tying run in a 6-3 game in the seventh inning. Once again, Ross was up 0-2, but this time he didn't let it get away as he induced a fly out to end the inning en route to an 8-3 Rangers' win.
"It felt really good," Ross told ESPN Dallas. "I didn't get him [Fielder] last night, so I really wanted to get him out. I thought, 'I'm not getting him into a 3-2 tonight.' I just wanted to pound the zone and not put so much pressure on myself to get a strikeout, just get a ground ball."