Each time Robbie Ross took the mound in April, his first month as a major-league starter, it was a learning experience, and it will be that way for however long he remains in the Texas Rangers’ rotation this season.
When he walked six batters at Boston in early April, he responded with his best start. When things snowballed on him April 20 against Chicago, he rebounded nicely April 25 at Seattle.
He will get a chance Tuesday at Colorado to apply what he learned from another shaky start April 30 against Oakland, which took advantage of an Elvis Andrus error and piled up seven third-inning runs.
Ross knows that he can’t fall behind hitters and expect to have success, and he also can’t let things snowball on him after a mistake extends an inning.
“I have to work ahead and not let things snowball so fast,” said Ross, who allowed 10 runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings to the A’s. “When you fall behind, it’s tough to get outs because the batter is in the driver’s seat.”
Manager Ron Washington didn’t see Ross’ body language change after the Andrus error, which is an encouraging sign. Ross, though, might not have had a similar experience to draw upon to help get him out of the inning.
That will come with more starts.
“He’s just been having trouble finishing it off,” Washington said. “It might be inexperience that’s had an impact. This is his first time pitching at the major-league level as a starter. You’ve to work a little bit mentally. Through all of that, that’s where you gain experience.”
Andrus went 1 for 3 Sunday in his first game in the No. 9 spot after batting second in the Rangers’ first 30 games, and also collected a walk, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly.
It was a good game on a day when just about every Rangers players enjoyed success during a 14-3 rout at Angel Stadium. But one game wasn’t enough to put him back in his customary spot in the batting order.
Andrus batted eighth Monday against Colorado, ahead of only pitcher Martin Perez. But Washington and Andrus saw signs Sunday that could help get him out of the funk that led to his demotion.
“I know for sure I’m going to get better than I’m doing right now,” Andrus said. “I feel good, especially yesterday. I’m working hard in the cage to get my timing back. Yesterday was a day forward for me, and hopefully I keep going and keep getting better.”
Washington hoped that the move would help Andrus relax.
The manager saw that, as well as a hitter who wasn’t chasing the same pitches that he had during a 4-for-46 slump.
“I saw a guy very conscientious about what he was doing,” Washington said. “That’s a start. Once he finds himself, I’ll put him right back up there.”
Washington went through his daily workout at Coors Field, a mile above sea level, power-walking 10 laps on the warning track that goes around the playing surface.
He started out with worries that the altitude would limit him to only five laps, but his lungs held up in the thin air. But he wasn’t about to tell his players that if he can do it, they can, too.
“They ain’t walking,” Washington said. “I don’t know if I could have run. I’m walking and saying, ‘All I’m doing is walking. I should be able to finish this.’ ”