Tanner Scheppers picked up his fourth hold of the season and kept his ERA at a pristine 0.00 in the Texas Rangers' 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night. But Thursday's outing didn't come easy for Scheppers, and it was all thanks to his own doing. But the young, hard-throwing righty bounced back from his own doing and got out of a serious jam to set things up for Joe Nathan to close the door on the game and keep the Rangers' streak of winning series openers alive this season.
Scheppers got a quick out to start the eighth inning but then ran into trouble when he allowed a single and a sharp double to put runners on second and third with one out and Joe Mauer up to bat. Of course, Scheppers put Mauer on first base to load the bases and pitch to Josh Willingham, who had homered earlier in the game. Scheppers got up in the count 1-2 before falling into a full count where another ball would've scored the tying run, and a hit would've done worse.
Scheppers induced a sharp grounder to Elvis Andrus, who threw to second when Ian Kinsler had a great turn of the double play to end the inning, sending a fired up Scheppers off the mound and back to the dugout.
“That’s just growth,” Texas manager Ron Washington told ESPN Dallas. “We always knew he could throw the ball; it was just a matter of how consistently he could throw strikes. And he’s showing he can throw strikes right now.”
Scheppers has long been known as a guy with a live arm who could approach triple digits on the radar gun, but his fastball has long been straight and hard, which isn't a good thing when you're facing big-league batters.
So far this year, Scheppers has figured out how to get some movement on that upper-90s fastball and the results have been staggering as he's yet to allow a run in 11 2/3 innings of work this season. And getting out of those tight situations, even if they were self-induced, has done nothing but increase the confidence not only his manager, but his teammates, have in him.
“Scheppers is a guy — I don’t think it’s any secret — his stuff is electric,” said closer Joe Nathan, who remained perfect on the year in save attempts Thursday. “[He’s] pitched in tight situations and gotten out of those tight situations, which helps. It gives a little more confidence and lets you know you can do it. So each time out there you know you can do it.”