Grimm pitches like he plans on staying

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Justin Grimm isn't going anywhere.

That's the message he sent Sunday as he gets a big chance in the Rangers' starting rotation with Opening Day starter Matt Harrison out until at least the All-Star break.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said in a news conference earlier this week that Grimm would start Sunday and the club would see from there what was next for the 24-year-old rookie. That came at the same time Daniels announced Harrison was having back surgery on Tuesday.

Grimm left no doubt about his status in an 11-3 win over Seattle. He set a career high with nine strikeouts. He pitched out of trouble when he had to, especially in the fifth inning when he had a chance to give up a lead he had been given in the bottom of the fourth.

"I was just going out there and being aggressive. I wasn't worried about the runners in scoring position," Grimm said. "I was just trying to pitch a close game and attack hitters. My whole mindset was to keep it close and just keep executing pitches."

Grimm went four innings in his first start last week at Seattle, taxing himself by throwing 92 pitches. He didn't mess around Sunday.

His best pitch Sunday was his curveball, which he used to get six of his strikeouts. The other three came on fastballs. He also threw four or five sliders for the first time in any game -- big leagues or minors -- a pitch that could be developing for him.

But it was the fifth inning in which Grimm responded after Mitch Moreland's two-run home run gave the Rangers their first lead at 3-1.

Mariners No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan, who was batting .152 entering Sunday, singled to start the inning. Leadoff hitter Endy Chavez followed with a double that appeared to be a catchable ball for Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin. It carried over his head, allowing Ryan to score to cut the Rangers lead to 3-2.

Grimm needed to shut things down from there, and he did so against the heart of the Mariners' lineup. Kyle Seager, who had hits in his first two at-bats, struck out on a 1-2 curveball. Kendrys Morales was called out on strikes when Grimm snuck a fastball in after four curveballs and a changeup. Cleanup hitter Michael Morse ended the inning by striking out on a curveball in the dirt.

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins preach to their pitchers that they're always one pitch away from greatness. Grimm got the first of what he hopes are many messages.

"You're one pitch away from greatness," Washington said. "He executed pitches when he was in trouble, he showed that in [his first start in] Seattle. We're just trying to make him understand to do that all the time. Not when you're in trouble."

NOTE: The Rangers' other rookie starter, Nick Tepesch, who was hit by a line drive on his right wrist in Saturday's game, said things went well after he played catch before Sunday's game. He remains on target to start Thursday's series opener at Minnesota.