ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington had to rely on Robbie Ross during the final week of the season to take some of the load off Neal Cotts, Jason Frasor, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan. He has started to pitch the way he did through the first two months of the season.
Ross pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his last six games entering Monday against the Rays. He's had more strikeouts in his last four games (seven) than he did in his previous 13 outings (six). The lefty didn't allow a run in the seventh in Sunday's win against the Angels, though he thought he'd get pulled after allowing a leadoff single to left-handed hitter Kole Calhoun.
With Frasor warming up in the bullpen, Washington left Ross in the game and he recorded three consecutive outs against right-handed hitters, two of which were strikeouts. Ross has surprisingly pitched well against right-handed hitters this season -- a .211 opponents' batting average -- but lefty hitters are 31-for-91 against him.
"Heck yeah, it was nice to get that opportunity," Ross said. Obviously, I've been struggling against lefties, but this year has been a little better going against righties. I was thankful for the opportunity to go out there and battle."
"I felt like the guys that were coming he matched up well against," Washington said. "Thank you Robbie, you made me look good."
Washington said Ross has started to hit his spots again over the last week. Ross had a 0.37 ERA on June 1, the lowest among Major League relievers at the time, but he's had a 4.74 ERA in his last 41 games since, allowing 20 earned runs in 38 innings during his rough stretch.
"It was tough being in that funk I was in and just trying to go out there and battle," Ross said. "It's easy to pitch here when you have a team behind you that can score runs and make plays. Sometimes you just put too much pressure on yourself, and I think that probably had to do with the case of why I wasn't doing as well."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.