When I was watching this game, as Tepesch progressed through the game I was immediately reminded of Brian Sikorski. He’s a Ranger starter who made his major league debut on Aug 16, 2000 (boxscore) against the Yankees, and nailed it. I wrote about that here. I bring this up, because I wasn’t the only one to make that connection. Jamey Newberg did as well, he wrote about that in his update on Tepesch’s debut. But this night wasn’t about Sikorski, it’s about Tepesch.
I know when Nick was named the fifth starter, a lot of Rangers fans either went “Who?” And those who didn’t say “Who?” likely said “Really?” With some of the other names in camp, seeing them go with someone making his major league debut as the fifth starter was a bit of an eyebrow raiser. I’m sure Tepesch felt good about himself, and obviously Ron and the pitching braintrust (the Maddux brothers & Nolan Ryan (I hope)) decided this was the way to go. So Nick Tepesch it is taking the hill on April 9, 2013.
One small bit of business before Tepesch takes the hill. Julio Borbon was designated for assignment to make room for him. I have to say that’s a bit of a surprise. I expected Borbon to be traded somewhere. Astros perhaps. Mets maybe? Someone who has holes and could use him. I’ve never thought Borbon was awful, just not “the guy”. But he was so far down the pecking order that when David Murphy’s at bats looked like a full season, he was kind of screwed here. I really honestly hope he goes somewhere and does well. Just kind of got squeezed out here.
So. Tepesch. I didn’t know what to expect. Oh, I read Jamey’s reports, I’ve heard the beat reporters talk about him, but it’s never the same as seeing him on the mound, how his ball moves, and how he carries himself. We’ve seen some guys come out there and get torched when they take the mound. More often than not the performances in situations like that are like Tony Mounce & Ryan Snare than Brian Sikorski & Nick Tepesch.
Nick’s official line goes like this: 7.1 IP, 4H, 1R, 3BB, 5K, 104P. By all measurable accounts, he went way beyond what I think Rangers fans (and probably team coaches too) were expecting him to do. He nailed it. But that doesn’t tell half the story. The kid didn’t look like a scared kid out there. Looked like he actually listened to what the coaches always tell a kid like this – “You belong here”. He had poise on the mound that looked good. If you click on the “MLB.com Recap” link at the top of this story, and then click over to the “Video” tab, you can see a highlight reel of Tepesch from this game. I really liked seeing him pitch, looking forward to his second start. Which brings me to this…
The key for Tepesch now is to avoid what Justin Grimm did when he made his debut. Spectacular first game, then the second game and beyond – not very good. I’d love for one of these guys to come up, just seize the job, and keep it like a 7 or 8 year veteran. We’ve had guys like this before (Sikorski, Grimm) who light the world on fire in their first start, and leave it all out there, they have nothing left. I’d love for us to have one of those stories you read about with other teams, where a kid comes up, and just doesn’t go away because he’s too good. Rooting for Nick here.
Offensively we bunched a ton of singles and one double (Berkman) for our offense. Lance Berkman led the way with three hits. Kinsler & Leonys Martin each had two, the rest were scattered. What was interesting was the fifth when the Rays seemed to be throwing the ball all around the field. Not QUITE Bad News Bears level, but it was very sloppy fielding. Unclear if it would have prevented any runs from scoring, but our baserunners definitely seemed to have them rattled. Nice to see that part of our offense alive again.
We’re now 6-2 after the first week and a few days of the season. Nice record to get started. We’re tied with the pesky A’s for first. But the Angels are 2-5 and only the Houston Astros are keeping them from last place.
Finally, you can also watch this clip of Ron Washington talking about the Tepesch start: