ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't exactly a well-known trio of relief arms that came in and kept the game close enough for the Rangers to come back Wednesday. But for the second straight game, a group of Texas bullpen pieces came in and shut down the Phillies, putting their teammates in position for ninth-inning dramatics.
On Wednesday, it was the waiver pickup pitchers that did the job. Shawn Tolleson, Pedro Figueroa and Seth Rosin aren't exactly swarmed by autograph seekers prior to games. But the three players -- all claimed off waivers at various points this offseason -- combined for four shutout innings in the Rangers' 4-3 win.
Tolleson, claimed from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 20, 2013, allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings, taking over for starter Robbie Ross after his pitch count climbed quickly and forced him out after five innings.
Figueroa came in with one out in the seventh and didn't get his outing started very well. The hard-throwing lefty had the radar gun soaring, but couldn't find the strike zone in a four-pitch walk to Chase Utley. But a well-located smash from Ryan Howard into Prince Fielder's glove turned into a double play to end the inning. Figueroa was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays on Jan. 29.
The 25-year-old Rosin gave up a hit and had a strikeout in the eighth and ninth with the Rangers down by two runs. Rosin, claimed from the Dodgers near the end of spring training, is a Rule-5 draft pick from Philadelphia. So he has to stay on the roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Phillies for $25,000. Wednesday, he got his first win.
Once the rotation gets healthy, the ripple effect will impact the bullpen. And that could include some or all of these three guys. But early in the season, it's about hanging in games and in the AL West race. For one series, anyway, the trio helped the Rangers do that.
Ross pitches out of jams: It was a stressful 96 pitches for Robbie Ross in his first start in 2014 (and first start since making six of them for Double-A Frisco at the end of the 2011 season). In all five of Ross' innings, he had at least two runners on base.
"I'd give up a hit and then another and would be like, 'Here we go again,'" Ross said. "But I was able to get out of a lot of those jams."
Part of that was his ability to get swings and misses when he needed them. Ross had a career-high seven strikeouts and scattered seven hits. He also had two walks. Ross wanted one pitch back, a slider that caught way too much of the plate to left-handed batter Ryan Howard, who crushed it 411 feet and over the right-center field wall.
The Phillies, obviously aware of Ross' struggles against left-handed hitters last season, had five lefties in the lineup last night. Three of them got hits. But Ross was pleased that he was able to focus and hang in despite all of the trouble swirling around him. He didn't let the game get away from him, which made Wednesday a successful debut.
Moreland makes difference: After struggling for much of last season and having an otherwise uneventful spring training, Mitch Moreland started at DH in all three games against the Phillies. As the Rangers head on the road today for Tampa, Moreland has to feel like he's got a boost of confidence. He had an RBI single Tuesday and two extra-base hits Wednesday. That included a rare triple (Moreland's third of his career). Moreland joked that he jumped halfway between second and third as he made a long slide to get to the third-base bag, garnering a bunch of smiles from the Rangers' dugout.
Celebrations: The dugout celebration between manager Ron Washington and bench coach Tim Bogar was on display in the club's first two wins. It's a series of high-fives and a quick hug. Washington and former bench coach Jackie Moore used to hug after every win. Washington said he and Bogar will stick with this one for the season, something they quickly came up with at spring training.