Tanner Scheppers at home in Rangers’ bullpen

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Tanner Scheppers took second billing to A.J. Pierzynski on Monday night after the Texas Rangers’ 7-6 victory at Angel Stadium, but Scheppers was the winning pitcher after working two scoreless innings.

But it wasn’t an ordinary win for the right-hander. It was his first career victory in Southern California, where he was born and raised, and several family members and friends were on hand.

“It’s definitely nice,” said Scheppers, from nearby Dana Hills. “I enjoy pitching here. I get to see family. But I’ve got to give this one to A.J. He basically won this game today.”

Scheppers, though, continued an early-season stretch that has seen him emerge as a key piece in the back of the Rangers’ bullpen. He has worked 10 2/3 scoreless innings over nine appearances, the most innings this year by a big-league reliever without allowing a run.

The key hasn’t been the development of a new pitch or any major mechanical tweaks. He said the game has slowed down some after he made his debut last year, and that has helped him zero in on the task at hand.

“The key is keeping focused and taking one pitch at a time to really slow the game down,” he said. “The game can speed up really quickly for pitchers. If you focus on one pitch, it gives you a better chance.”

Scheppers’ contributions have helped the bullpen post a league-best 1.85 ERA.

“I’ve been very pleased, especially with the young kids being thrown in the fire the way they have,” manager Ron Washington said. “They’ve responded.”

Making up hard to do

The Rangers and Chicago Cubs are likely to make up their April 17 rainout at 1:20 p.m. May 6 at Wrigley Field, but coming to that decision wasn’t easy.

The Cubs had to vote to approve playing on that mutual off day because it would fall at the end of 20 games in 20 consecutive days, the longest stretch permissible under the collective bargaining agreement.

The Rangers, though, have their annual Triple Play fundraiser May 5 after a home day game against Boston. They play at Milwaukee on May 7-8.

A second mutual off day, May 9, is also being considered, but the Rangers would be losing an off day in Texas ahead of a three-game series at Houston and would also turn a three-city, eight-game road trip into a four-city, nine-gamer.

Operation Harrison

The pain in left-hander Matt Harrison’s legs had already disappeared following surgery Tuesday in Dallas to fix a herniated disk in his lower back.

The Rangers’ Opening Day starter was feeling the normal effects from an operation, and his target date to return to the rotation remains July 1.

“The surgery went as expected,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “No surprises.”

Briefly

• Left-hander Charlie Leesman, claimed by the Rangers on Friday, turned down the chance to join the organization as a starting pitcher. Leesman is recovering from ACL surgery, and was concerned that he would be ready to pitch at the same time Colby Lewis and Martin Perez are expected to return.

• Derek Holland said that his stuff Monday night was as good as it’s been all season, but he was disappointed by four walks in 5 2/3 innings that led in part to the Angels scoring six runs. “I beat myself,” Holland said. “I still feel like everything else was fine and consistent.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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