Third baseman Adrian Beltre, saying he's a work-in-progress at the plate, describes his winning homer Tuesday for the Texas Rangers (video by Jeff Wilson). Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com
Third baseman Adrian Beltre, saying he's a work-in-progress at the plate, describes his winning homer Tuesday for the Texas Rangers (video by Jeff Wilson). Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com

Texas Rangers

Beltre, young relievers send Rangers past Indians

June 27, 2017 10:43 PM

CLEVELAND

The lack of innings at the back of the Texas Rangers’ current bullpen mix is fairly startling.

Closer Matt Bush entered Tuesday with, including the minors, 178 career innings. Bush, Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc and Alex Claudio have combined for 367  2/3 MLB innings.

Those four relievers, call them the Final Four, combined to record the final nine outs of the Rangers’ victory Sunday over the New York Yankees.

Only Claudio was available Monday, and he pitched earlier than the new normal on a bad night for the bullpen in a lost to the Cleveland Indians.

He was the only member of the Final Four not available Tuesday, when right-hander Tyson Ross rebounded with six strong innings but left with the game tied.

Tyson Ross breaks down his third start with Rangers

Right-hander Tyson Ross delivered six innings and allowed only one run Tuesday in the Texas Rangers' 2-1 victory (video by Jeff Wilson).

Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com

If the Rangers were going to win, they needed zeroes from the inexperienced bullpen and something from the most experienced player in baseball.

They received both.

Leclerc, Kela and Bush combined on three scoreless innings of relief, and Adrian Beltre connected for career homer No. 450, a solo shot in the ninth inning, as the Rangers edged the Indians 2-1.

All four knew that they could do nothing about Monday and just work on the task at hand. For Bush, that’s the biggest thing he is attempting to learn as a first-time closer.

“You can’t savor the good because you might get a little carried away or you might lose a little humbleness,” he said. “I have to remember, and I’m trying to train my mind, on what got me here. Last year it was competing and showing everyone that I deserve to be here.

“I can’t look at it as I had a bad outing or I gave up a run or I blew a save. Those are thoughts that were going through my mind. So I had to step back, and say, ‘What was I doing before?’ My mindset was I was going to come in a game, shut everyone down, and prove that I’m a great pitcher. That’s it, to prove I’m a great pitcher.”

He had to retire two batters who represented the potential go-ahead run. The first was Edwin Encarnacion, who took Bush deep in the eighth inning Opening Night in what proved to be the beginning of a rough season for the bullpen.

But the relievers have learned that there’s no basking in the limelight of a strong performance, sulking after a lousy one or allowing their minds to stray when they don’t pitch.

Jeff Banister finds plenty to like in Rangers' win

Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister picks out his highlights from a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Cleveland (video by Jeff Wilson).

Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com

Each game needs to be immediately left in the past because being a reliever demands that they will have to be at their best the very next day.

That can be difficult to learn.

“There has to be a way to train my mind, good and bad, of what to be thinking and what to focus on,” Bush said. “If I focus on the bad or if I focus too much on, ‘That was so much fun. That was great. I’m the man,’ then I might lose focus.

“Mentally, for me, I’m trying to learn to keep the same mindset. I’m trying to learn as fast as I can.”

Take a closer look at the career workloads of the Final Four:

Bush has logged 90  1/3 innings in the majors after a month a Double A Frisco last year that was preceded by some four years out of the game.

Kela flat skipped Triple A, and missed much of his second big-league season in 2016.

Leclerc has logged 36  2/3 big-league innings.

Claudio feels like a veteran, having debuted in the majors in 2014, but has only 118  2/3 MLB innings, 6  1/3 fewer than Kela.

Without a veteran like Joe Nathan out there to offer guidance, the youngsters are leaning on relievers they consider to be veterans — Ernesto Frieri and Tanner Scheppers — as well as starters for advice.

They do have talent, though.

“It’s a young bullpen, but the talent it there,” Beltre said. “I think sometimes the talent takes over no matter what your age is. There’s no doubt this bullpen is a little inexperienced, but they have talent to be really good. Hopefully they can learn quick because if that’s the case and they stay healthy, this bullpen can be intact for a long time.”

But positive results are worth hanging onto, manager Jeff Banister said. Bush shouldn’t forget his save Sunday, when he stared down the same group of hitters that beat him Friday night.

He applied some of the good Tuesday and might have even drawn back to the at-bat with Encarnacion on April 3.

“This is an ever-growing experience for him that is shaping and growing and molding into a closer,” Banister said. “You don’t just show up and one day say, ‘Oh, I’m a closer.’ It’s a different atmosphere when you’re in there to get the 27th out.”

Bush had a save opportunity thanks to Beltre, who ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Cody Allen. Beltre also singled in the second inning, giving him 2,969 career hits.

Robinson Chirinos erased the Indians’ 1-0 lead in the fifth with a solo shot during a stretch in which Ross was retiring the final 12 batters he faced one start after lasting only three innings and allowing seven runs to Toronto.

“I found a nice rhythm and was able to hold them at one,” Ross said. “I did a decent job tonight. You just build off of every start. Every time I’m on the mound I’m trying to get better.”

The same can be said for the Rangers’ Final Four in the bullpen.

Jeff Wilson: 817-390-7760, @JeffWilson_FWST

Texas

000

010

001

2

3

0

Cleveland

010

000

000

1

3

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

4

0

0

0

0

3

.285

Choo rf

4

0

0

0

0

3

.253

Andrus ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.295

Beltre 3b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.303

Mazara lf

3

0

0

0

1

3

.266

Napoli dh

3

0

0

0

0

3

.191

Odor 2b

3

0

0

0

0

1

.205

Chirinos c

2

1

1

1

1

1

.247

Gallo 1b

2

0

0

0

1

2

.195

Totals 29

2

3

2

3

16

Cleveland AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Kipnis 2b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.233

Lindor ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.250

Brantley lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.295

Encarnacion dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.259

Ramirez 3b

3

1

0

0

1

0

.323

Chisenhall rf

3

0

1

1

0

2

.312

Santana 1b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.223

Zimmer cf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.290

Gomes c

2

0

0

0

1

1

.221

Totals 29

1

3

1

2

8

LOB—Texas 3, Cleveland 4. HR—Chirinos (11), off Clevinger; Beltre (5), off Allen. RBIs—Beltre (22), Chirinos (24), Chisenhall (41). SB—Ramirez (9), Santana (3). CS—DeShields (4). Runners left in scoring position—Texas 1 (Chirinos); Cleveland 1 (Kipnis). RISP—Texas 0 for 3; Cleveland 1 for 3. GIDP—Santana. DP—Texas 1 (Odor, Andrus, Gallo); Cleveland 1 (Gomes, Lindor).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Ross

6

2

1

1

2

5

98

6.14

Leclerc

1

0

0

0

0

2

20

2.91

Kela, W, 4-1

1

0

0

0

0

1

13

2.64

Bush, S, 10-14

1

1

0

0

0

0

10

3.14

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Clevinger

6

2

1

1

2

9

102

3.56

Shaw

1

0

0

0

0

2

14

2.37

Miller

1

0

0

0

1

3

17

1.59

Allen, L, 0-4

1

1

1

1

0

2

15

2.40

Leclerc pitched to 1 batter in the 8th. Inherited runners-scored—Kela 1-0. HBP—Leclerc (Santana). Umpires—Home, Gerry Davis; First, Tony Randazzo; Second, Rob Drake; Third, Pat Hoberg. T—2:52. A—19,348 (35,051).

Rangers at Indians

6:10 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW

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