David Ross pushes all the right buttons in Cubs’ win over Rangers

Part of Ross’ decisions involved his eyes and instincts, and that was apparent in his circle of trust that loomed large Friday in a 2-0 victory over the Rangers at chilly but sunny Wrigley Field.

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Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs

Ian Happ and Dansby Swanson celebrate after the Cubs beat the Rangers on Friday at Wrigley Field.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Four days after being criticized for a series of moves that resulted in a third consecutive loss, David Ross said he understands the scrutiny that accompanies his position as Cubs manager but stays off the “Twitter machine.”

“How I handle it?” Ross said Friday. “I try to be the same person every single day and keep my processes and the reasons I make those decisions, have the information and do the best I can.”

Ross’ eyes and instincts are part of his decisions, as was apparent in the trust seen Friday in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory over the Rangers at chilly but sunny Wrigley Field.

Starter Marcus Stroman’s only stressful moment occurred in his final inning, the sixth, when he loaded the bases with two out while trying to protect a one-run lead with Mark Leiter Jr. warming up. Instead of pulling Stroman for Leiter, Ross sent pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to the mound to give Stroman a breather. His instincts paid off when Stroman induced Josh Jung to ground to second to complete a 31-pitch inning.

Another important decision came in the ninth, when reliever Michael Fulmer started his second inning with fellow veteran Brad Boxberger warming up. Fulmer proceeded to pitch a perfect inning to secure the victory and validate Ross’ decision.

Fulmer said he wasn’t expecting to start the ninth, “but I relayed to Rossy and Tommy that I’ll pitch whenever you ask and stop when you tell me to stop.”

When the Cubs started their teardown after the 2020 season, Ross tried to navigate a bullpen of unproven youngsters and veterans viewed as half-season rentals. But expectations have risen after an offseason that saw the acquisitions of shortstop Dansby Swanson, two-time All-Star outfielder Cody Bellinger, utilityman Trey Mancini, first baseman Eric Hosmer and pitchers Jameson Taillon, Boxberger and Fulmer.

Stroman’s impressive start and Fulmer’s successful finish fuel Ross’ intent to expand his circle of trust.

“I just hope to keep it up,” Fulmer said. “Rossy has been great communicating with the bullpen usage. We’ve got a lot of guys down there who can do a lot of things.”

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy had to prove himself to some observers before winning three World Series championships in five seasons with the Giants. He had a knack for handling a homegrown starting rotation, meshing young position players with veteran rentals and employing a bullpen that often relied on more than one closer. All of this resulted in the Giants’ dominance in a short span.

But there were also some rough times, even two months before Bochy’s first title in 2010, when one sports talk host suggested pitching coach Dave Righetti should fall under scrutiny if the Giants didn’t reach the playoffs.

That’s why Bochy supports Ross, who played briefly for him with the Padres in 2005.

“I think the world of him,” Bochy said. “He’s done a great job here.”

Ross said he takes an occasional glance at Twitter and newspapers but doesn’t know how to respond to tweets directed at him. The Cubs have dropped three of their first six games, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humor, despite some questionable decisions in two of those losses.

“I’m not Googling myself and seeing all the awesome things people are saying about me,” he joked.

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