Youth is erratic. Any parent of a teenager will attest to that.
The maturity, both physical and mental, that comes from age and experience, helps provide consistency and nurtures stability.
The Texas Rangers’ 2014 season has been like a moody teenager, at once playing with unbridled passion, only to go sullen and listless the next day.
No short, five-game stretch encapsulates the growing pains and roller coaster ride that is the rookie-filled roster of the Rangers than those over the past week.
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And Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park highlighted both faces of that youthful predicament.
On the joyous side, pitcher Robbie Ross arrived from Triple A Round Rock to make the start after just four hours of sleep. All he did was throw five no-hit innings before becoming a victim of a pitch count. Ross had thrown 42 pitches in relief for the RoughRiders on Thursday so the Rangers didn’t want him to throw much more than 60 on Saturday.
He threw 70, striking out five and walking three and left the game a 0-0 tie after five. Ross, who started the year in the Rangers’ rotation before being moved to the bullpen in May, was sent to Round Rock on June 17. He returned for a spot start on Aug. 14, but struggled, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay. He treated Saturday’s start as if it were a make-or-break final audition.
“For sure,” Ross said. “I want to start and I felt like I battled my tail off down in Triple A for it, and I thought this opportunity right here might not come back around, so I just wanted to show that I’m ready to go. I feel like I can do it, and I didn’t want to spoil it.”
Ross tried to convince manager Ron Washington that he had a 100 pitches in him, but Washington didn’t bite.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Washington said. “We were expecting 60. So 72 was enough. It was about Robbie Ross, protecting him. And we certainly had some fresh arms in that bullpen.”
Phil Klein, who replaced Ross in the sixth, walked the lead-off batter in the seventh on four pitches. Carlos Corporan followed with a ground-rule double in the left-field corner, moving Jesus Guzman to third. Jake Marisnick’s soft tapper to the left of the mound was fielded by Klein, who chose to go to first, instead of going home to get Guzman, who was about halfway from third.
But Klein’s throw to Ryan Rua, who was running back to cover first was off line, allowing Corporan to score from second and give Houston a 2-0 lead.
The victory clinches the Astros’ first Silver Boot trophy since 2006. The Rangers are 5-10 against the Astros with four games remaining.
The Texas offense, filled with five rookies, collected 13 runs on 16 hits on Friday, but was held to three hits by former Ranger Scott Feldman (8-10), who earned his second career-shutout and fourth career complete game. A day before scoring 12 runs on 11 hits at Seattle on Wednesday, the Rangers were shutout and held to four hits.
“That’s what you get from youth,” Washington said. “You wait everyday to see what they’re going to give you.”
Ross’s season mirrors the teams up and down struggles. For him, at least, Saturday was an example of the promise of youth.
“Oh, yeah. I felt good, I felt strong,” he said when asked if lobbied to stay in the game. “They told me the pitch count got to me. I felt like I wanted to go back out there. I said ‘let’s just see what happens.’”
But, as Ross lamented what could have been, he echoed his manager and sounded older than his 24 years.
“It’s not about just right now, it;’s about the future,” he said. “To be back with the team, I’m just thankful for that.”