As with any story, context is important. If I told you that I had emerged victorious from a fight for my life, that would sound dramatic. If I told you it was against a herd (herd? Hang on, let me just...)
A SLEUTH? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This is great. Okay, wow, so if I told you it were against a SLEUTH of bears, it would be heroic and I would be revered forever. Buuuuut if I told you that this fight for my life was against a kaleidoscope of butterflies, you would be significantly less impressed. Wow, real death-defying warrior work there, pal. Did you get any adorable in your eyes? Are you okay?
The Rangers have spent the last three days beating up on an ambush of Tigers. Sounds amazing. But if you look up the bullpen statistics for Major League Baseball, you get a little perspective: the Detroit bullpen is last in MLB in ERA, next-to-last in batting-average-against and strikeouts, and 25th in losses, walks, and runs allowed. Perhaps instead, we should say the Rangers made hay against a kindle of kittens?
This might sound like a cheapening of the three-game sweep against Detroit: trust that it is no such thing. The Detroit Tigers are still a Major League baseball team, and the Rangers desperately needed the three wins (furthermore, they preceded this sweep with a 2-1 series win against the division-leading Houston Astros). All facets of the team have been clicking since they returned home, but especially the offense. Here are a few fun facts from the 12-6 victory:
The Rangers put 25 men on base tonight. That’s 17 hits, 7 walks, a hit-by-pitch, and the sum goes to 26 if you count Rougned Odor reaching on an error. They had 4 home runs (Mazara, Beltre, Andrus, and Gallo, in that order, hit numbers 15, 13, 16, and 35 of the year, respectively). They also had a couple of doubles. Eight of Nine in the lineup reached base (Napoli was the only one who did not) and of those eight, seven scored runs, and six drove runs in.
Delino DeShields went three-for-five with a walk and a stunning catch in center field. Robinson Chirinos went 2-for-2 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Elvis Andrus scored three runs, and drove in four!
Good luck picking a player of the game.
It wasn’t Cole Hamels, though he did eventually recover from a rocky start. He allowed a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler, and another run in the second when James McCann’s single (and Delino DeShields’ error) scored Nicholas Castellanos. Just like last night and the night before, the Tigers had an early lead. Mazara’s 2-run homer off the right field foul pole tied it at 2-2 in the 2nd, then after a Kinsler walk, Mikie Mahtook hit a 2-run homer of his own to put the Tigers back up.
But then Adrian Beltre ALSO hit a 2-run home run (this one over the visitor's bullpen) to tie it back up at 4-4. Wow, copy everyone else’s dance moves much?
I joke. It was majestic.
The game probably hinged on the fifth inning. Hamels walked the first two batters (unintentionally) before an Upton flyout to the warning track advanced them to second and third, resulting in another walk (intentional) to Miguel Cabrera to load the bases. But Hamels got John Hicks swinging at an 82mph curveball out of the zone, and with two outs, Rougned Odor made a fantastic running catch on a Castellanos pop up to shallow right field to end the top of the inning.
Two pitches later, Elvis hit a ball that found the gap between the center field wall and the Greene’s Hill grass, and the rout began. Texas sent nine to the plate the following inning, tacking on four more runs. Then they scored two more in the 8th, the first when Human Force Field Joey Gallo Scienced a ball to the Rangers’ bullpen and-- HEY LOOK, I KNOW. I’m running out of ways to describe Joey Gallo and his crazy home runs. Come to a game and watch one for yourself, and you’ll understand.
Meanwhile, Ricky Rodriguez made his second Rangers’ appearance (a scoreless 7th) and Jhan Mariñez made his first: a scoreless 8th, and not-a-scoreless ninth, as Detroit added two ultimately meaningless runs. But the crowd cheered anyway, even moreso when Odor secured the final McCann pop-up, and the Rangers had won to pull to within a game of .500. Again. They are two games out of the second Wild-Card spot. Still. OH! AND, it was Jon Daniels' 1,000th win as GM of the Rangers. Congrats to Jon.
Of note: with the Rays loss, the Rangers now only trail the Angels, Royals, Twins, and Mariners for that elusive ticket to Hope. (Three of those four teams won tonight, and the Twins were postponed due to weather).
Tomorrow, Texas will welcome the White Sox, who will be forced to reckon with a… what’s the word? Ah yes: a TEAM of Rangers.