The Blue Jays were paying attention last night. Score a bucket of runs in the first inning, lean back, put your arms above your head and make like a tired parent, cracking an eye once in awhile to make sure nothing is in danger of getting broken. It worked for the Rangers last night and, well, when in Rome…
Tyson Ross was great in his first outing back off the disabled list. Unfortunately, this was his second. He allowed a leadoff walk to Jose Bautista, and Baseball cleared its throat, made an ominous minor chord on a creaky old piano and raised its eyebrows, pausing for two outs until it had the audience’s full attention. Then it stood up on the piano bench, held both arms out to their full wingspan, threw its head back, howled an ethereal shriek, and leapt as high as possible, landing on the piano with a two-footed stomp.
Single! Single! Double! Double! Toil and Trouble! (In this instance, "trouble" is a home run by Darwin Barney. Darwin Barney! That’s a pretty good indication that your night has not been and will not be a success). By the time Ross retired Luke Maile, he had thrown 41 pitches in the inning (that's the "Toil" part) and allowed six runs. Those, too, are indications that ahhh, Baseball is stomping on the piano again.
But Jeff Banister allowed Ross to come back out for the second inning, and even though Ross was facing the same leadoff hitter as the previous inning, he retired the side this time, 1-2-3. He would have done the same in the third also, if not for the leadoff double, the single, and the RBI groundout.
Finally, in the bottom of the third, trailing 7-0, Texas scored. Joey Gallo doubled and Shin-Soo Choo homered. 7-2 didn’t seem quite so hopeless, Baseball reminded us. “You think I won’t let the Rangers come back?!” Baseball taunted us from beneath a wild shock of hair. “I’ve done worse! I once let Phil Humber throw a perfect game! Watch me!”
And so, Ernesto Frieri, pitching to keep his first big league job since 2015, threw three scoreless innings. Then Dario Alvarez, Tanner Scheppers, and Keone Kela continued the streak. The bullpen pitched six scoreless innings tonight!
Meanwhile, in the fifth inning, Joey Gallo hit a wall that bounced off the left field wall. Also bouncing off that same wall was Steve Pearce, knee first. Pearce hopped up and limped badly after the ball, which somehow did not have a limp. Gallo saw the proceedings unfolding and rounded first, engaging his horse speed. Baseball knelt atop the piano and put a pair of tap shoes on its hands, pounding the keys enthusiastically. It was 7-3.
In the sixth, after two quick outs, it was again Gallo slam-dancing with baseball, following a Mike Napoli single with yet another double, this one bouncing off the right field wall. Napoli and Gallo both scored when Delino DeShields spanked a single to left field to make it 7-5. DeShields froze between first and second, and appeared to be caught in between bases, but he beat the throw back to first base by a solid two feet.
ANd yet, he was called out anyway, presumably because the umpire was distracted by Baseball taking an axe to the piano legs, growling “I WAS LIVIN IN A DEVIL TOWN DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS A DEVIL TOWN OH LORD IT REALLY BRINGS ME DOWN ABOUT THE DEVIL TOWN” in a gutteral scream.
Hang on, hang on. Okay, that’s a little too far. Let’s back it up a minute.
Replay overturned the call. DeShields was called safe.
And perhaps sullen from being corrected, Baseball ...stopped dancing. It looked at the audience and appeared to be crestfallen. “I had such plans for us,” Baseball hummed as its voice cracked. “You did not trust my chaos, and you did not wish to see my masterpiece.”
It made a dramatic swooping motion with its cape, stepped down off the piano, and walked silently away.
The Rangers were retired in order in the 7th, and 8th innings, and managed only a Shin-Soo Choo walk in the 9th.
Texas will try to even the series on Thursday afternoon as Martin Perez squares off against Marcus Stroman.
"I knew it had a little bit on it, so I thought maybe that might get out. As soon as I saw it hit the wall and he went down, I was like, ‘Okay, I have a chance to score here.’ I told (Tony) Beasley, I said ‘I wasn’t even looking at you, I was going no matter what,’ so it didn’t really matter. But it was pretty exciting." - Joey Gallo
"I’m here to help, to do anything to stay here. I’m really thankful for this opportunity. I’ve been around. I’ve been in all the roles in the bullpen so this is nothing new for me. We have to hold the game like that. We did a really good job, the entire bullpen. If we keep doing that we’re going to win a lot of games.
You have to improve. If you want to stay at this level for a long time you have to keep working to get better. There’s only one pitcher who pitched one way, Mariano Rivera. He pitched with only one pitch and I’m not Mariano. So I have to keep working to get better. I told you guys before I think I’m a better pitcher now. I feel I’m a pitcher now. I mix it up, my fastball with my secondary pitches. I feel way more comfortable with my changeup and slider and I showed it today.
I feel like I’ve been here for a long time. They’ve made me part of the family already. I always wanted to be here. The Rangers have fun. They’re known for that. Even the guys I didn’t know they’ve been really nice to me." - Ernesto Frieri
"I think 4 through 8, couldn’t quite find the rhythm, release point, most of the damage was done up in the zone, couldn’t get a sinker down, couldn’t find anything to get them off the fastball, worked from behind the count, (were his) biggest struggles. Really the slider in the first start was, the pitch was able to get him back into the count out of some situations. (He threw a) limited number of sliders in that first inning, just couldn’t quite find the range with either one of them. The sinker, slider combo made him so effective in the first outing. Just find that rhythm early and able to get all of his pitches in the strike zone. We know that it’s swing-and-miss stuff, groundball stuff, just couldn’t get it there." - Jeff Banister
"I was just falling behind guys, and when I was getting back into the zone, i was up and they were ready to hit in those counts. They did a good job of swinging and keeping the pressure on me, and you saw the results. I was just up in the zone, falling behind hitters. They were good counts to swing, and I was making mistakes up in the zone. (But) physically, I felt good; felt strong tonight." - Tyson Ross