Travis Blackley’s trip north from Houston to Arlington likely will be about as close to heaven as he’ll get in professional baseball.
Only two weeks ago, Blackley was languishing in the bullpen of the worst team in baseball before winding up with the Rangers and a hot pennant race in an exchange for cash considerations in a waiver-trade.
Tonight, the new Texas lefty will start in Alexi Ogando’s spot in the rotation against his former team.
“It went from couldn’t-wait-for-the-season-to-be-over to don’t-want-it-to-end,” said Blackley, who, if trivia is your thing, will also be the first Australian-born player in Rangers history.
“It kind of felt like that was a really long spring training or something like that.”
Texas will make a roster move today to create room for Blackley.
Blackley was 1-1 with a 4.89 ERA in 42 relief appearances for the Astros. Over parts of four seasons, Blackley is 8-8, including three wins against the Rangers, most recently in October with Oakland.
Blackley, who was 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 games (15 starts) for the A’s a season ago, held Texas to one run on three hits over six innings in game No. 161.
Shoulder discomfort landed the 30-year-old on the disabled list earlier this season.
Blackley hasn’t thrown more than 40 pitches in an outing this season. Rangers manager Ron Washington said the goal tonight is 65.
“He’s got experience,” Washington said. “He certainly pitched well against us. I think his experience played into it more than anything else.”
Blackley will go until exhaustion or ineffectiveness. Long reliever Ross Wolf will almost certainly see action.
“I’m looking forward to being a starter again,” Blackley said. “That’s what I wanted to do all year and I wouldn’t get an opportunity to do it over there, so looking forward to showing them what they missed.”
Ron Washington said Monday that Robbie Ross’s recent struggles have nothing to do with fatigue but rather execution.
And the Rangers’ lefty needs to figure it out quickly.
Left-handed hitters are 14 for their last 29 against Ross with three home runs.
“It’s frustrating because those are the guys I’m supposed to be getting out,” Ross said. “Right now, I don’t seem to be getting them as consistent as possible.
“I’m just trying to battle through it.”
The Rangers seem to be losing patience. Ross allowed one of two runners he inherited to score on Sunday when Seattle left-handed hitter Dustin Ackley smacked a run-scoring hit to center.
If Alexi Ogando’s shoulder issue doesn’t lead to the disabled list, it’s possible Ross would be optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.
“It’s important that he starts getting outs,” Washington said. “It’s executing his pitches. He’s leaving it over the plate.”
Lance Berkman was peppered with questions about his status before Monday’s game.
“I’m waiting to be activated,” said Berkman, before reiterating that it likely won’t happen until the rosters are expanded on Sept. 1, unless there’s an injury. “That’s basically it.”
Berkman will continue to work out with the team in Arlington while preparing for the call.
Briefly• The Rangers continue to to play wait-and-see with Alexi Ogando’s shoulder. A trip to the DL is possible, but Ron Washington said his pitcher is feeling better. “We’ll go through the process and see what it is.”
• Pitcher Nick Tepesch threw 40 pitches in the bullpen Monday without issue. He’s expected to throw 60 pitches in the coming days.
• Elvis Andrus’ steal of home plate in the first inning was the third of his career and 29th in Rangers history. Astros manager Bo Porter has one of those, on June 11, 2011, against the Los Angeles Angels.