Tepesch shows gains by keeping team close

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Considering where Texas Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch is in his young career, Sunday afternoon's outing against the Los Angeles Angels was a positive step in his development.

Tepesch didn't get the win, but he pitched until the eighth inning, allowing just two runs on six hits in 91 pitches. He left down 2-0 and frustrated that he started the eighth by walking Mike Trout.

The fact Tepesch is more relaxed now, something manager Ron Washington said is good in his development, gives the Rangers more confidence that they can depend on him the next two months of the season.

"I've got a better plan in what I want to do even before when I step up on the mound versus waiting to see the suggestions from the catcher," said Tepesch, who has allowed fewer than three runs in his past four outings. "Most of the time, we're right on the same page anyways, so it's not even thinking about."

Tepesch battled through major trouble in the second and fourth innings.

In the second, he allowed four consecutive hits, along with a groundout, to give up two runs. With runners at second and third and two outs, Tepesch retired Trout on a bouncer to third to end the inning.

"That second inning could have really gotten ugly," Washington said. "In the past, that may have, but that's the new Nick Tepesch. He's able to slow it down, and he was executing pitches all day, he didn't let traffic bother him, he kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance."

Washington calls it "traffic" when pitchers get into trouble.

The manager, along with pitching coach Mike Maddux, want these young pitchers to get through troubling times so the bullpen won't get taxed and confidence can be gained.

Tepesch started the fourth by walking Efren Navarro, and then gave up a single to Collin Cowgill that advanced the runner to third. Tepesch got Hank Conger to pop out to short, but there was more drama building. Kole Calhoun was up, and he lined a shot toward Tepesch's feet, which Tepesch caught cleanly and threw to first to double up Cowgill to end the inning.

It is efforts like this that build his confidence.

He maintained his command with a strong fastball, sinker and slider to minimize any further damage.

"I've tried to do it all year. I think it's one of those things where it's finally starting to come together," he said. "It's started to work a lot more for me.

You can talk about the Rangers bullpen being fantastic on Sunday -- working two scoreless innings, including getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth -- to give this team a chance to win it in the ninth 3-2.

There is no walk-off win, or solid outing from the bullpen, unless Tepesch gives his team an opportunity.

"He got better as the game wore on," catcher Geovany Soto said. "He was making pitches and keeping the ball down and really bearing down, and he really reached back and found consistency throughout the game."