ARLINGTON, Texas – There looks to be one less spot available in the open auditions for the 2015 Texas Rangers rotation.
Nick Tepesch’s pitching has seen to that.
Tepesch put together his fourth-consecutive solid start and kept the Rangers around long enough for them to rally for a 3-2 walkoff victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
The right-hander pitched seven innings of two-run ball and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last four starts. During that stretch he’s lowered his ERA from 4.87 to 4.15 spurred by three starts in August in which he has a 1.83 mark.
During that stretch Tepesch has learned to take more control over what’s happening when he’s pitching, whether it’s paying more attention to the situation or the pitch selection.
"It’s something I’ve been working on lately and maybe just having a couple of pitches in my mind before I get on the mound, an A and B maybe," Tepesch said. "When you do that it’s maybe a little more conviction behind it. Anytime you can string some good starts together it’s going to boost your confidence and get you deeper in games and continue to build off what I’ve been doing."
Tepesch’s confidence was tested early when the Angels opened the second inning with four-consecutive singles to take a 1-0 lead. But instead of digging a hole a production-starved offense couldn’t dig itself out of, Tepesch minimized damage by getting three straight ground-ball outs.
Those two runs would be the only ones the Angels scored all day in a game in which Tepesch set the tone for a Texas team that snapped a four-game losing streak on walkoff single by Adam Rosales in the ninth inning.
"That second inning there it really could have gotten ugly and in the past it may have," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "That’s the new Nick Tepesch. He was able to slow it down. He was executing pitches all day. He didn’t let traffic bother him. He kept us in the ballgame and gave us the chance and in the end we were able to get their closer (Huston Street)."
Tepesch now has nine quality starts, which is second on the team only to Yu Darvish and he became just the fourth pitcher this year to put together consecutive starts of at least seven innings.
Tepesch didn’t do it alone though. He allowed a leadoff walk to Mike Trout to start the eighth and was pulled in a 2-1 game. Shawn Tolleson came on and surrendered a double to Mike Trout to put runners on second and third. After an intentional walk Tolleson came back to strike out Erick Aybar and David Freese before giving way to Neal Cotts. Cotts finished the damage control by striking out Efren Navarro to end the frame.
The bullpen heroics didn’t appear to be enough until the ninth inning. That’s when Texas strung together four-consecutive singles off Street. Mike Carp’s soft liner to right-center tied the game and Rosales ended it with a single to left center. It was the second walkoff win for the Rangers on the homestand and both have come with Rosales at the plate.
The Rangers know they wouldn’t have been in that position without the start of Tepesch.
"Nick Tepesch did awesome and then Tolleson came up huge," said Rosales, who helped the Rangers improve to 4-69 when trailing after eight innings. "Cotts came in and did a great job. The bullpen has given us the opportunity to produce in the last inning like we did today."