Jeff Banister smiled broadly before the question could even finish being asked. Banister never smiles so widely as when he gets the opportunity to manage a player who is making their Major League debut, and tonight was no different, despite the outcome of a game the Rangers needed. He smiled and he waited, and then before he got to his real answer, he joked “I’m glad I was (still) in the game for it.”
“I told (Willie) before the game, listen, enjoy it, soak it all up, hear the noises, the sounds,” the manager said. “Use your eyes to see so that the memories are fresh and long-lasting, because as you embark on a major league career, there’s only one first day, and then it’s down to business.”
And so, as Willie Calhoun stepped to the plate, he took in the moment, allowing the first pitch–a fastball a foot outside–to pass for a called strike, then he got down to business, hitting the second pitch into right field for an RBI single and an MLB batting average of 1.000.
*string section stops playing, camera pans out to reveal that the yellow glow on the screen is coming from a fire that has engulfed the entire stadium*
By then, of course, the game was already well on its way to ruin.
For those of you who watched the show Justified on F/X, the name Boyd Crowder needs no further explanation. For the rest of you, Boyd Crowder was the greatest pure villain in modern television history (non-Walter-White division). Crowder was a Kentucky hillbilly with the accent of a coal miner from the holler, but the vocabulary of a Rhodes Scholar and a penchant for dynamite. (the headline of this article is a slight variation on a Boyd Crowder quote). Crowder was pure evil, but the actor who portrayed him (Walton Goggins) somehow found a way to imbue an over-the-top bad guy with just enough nuance so as to make him a sympathetic character, even at his most cut-throat and ruthless.
But after Justified had run its course, Walton Goggins’ next role was in “Mojave”. Here’s what happens in Mojave: a guy wanders around the desert completely lost and confused for an interminably long period of time and when he gets back to L.A. he has made a movie called “Mojave” that features Walton Goggins for about the equivalent 2⅓ innings of 7-run baseball.
In Miguel “Boyd Crowder” Gonzalez’ last five starts with the White Sox, he went 8, 6, 6, 8, and 6 innings, allowing 1, 1, 0, 2, and 3 runs, respectively. In his first two with the Rangers, Miguel “Jim” (that’s it, that’s his whole name. Walton Goggins' character wasn’t even given a last name in Mojave) Gonzalez has gone 3, and (tonight) 2⅓ innings, allowing 4 and 7 runs. Respectively.
The comparison breaks down, of course. Goggins wasn’t in Mojave long enough to be the reason it only got 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. Gonzalez, on the other hand, has to take the brunt of the blame for tonight’s loss. A four-run second inning, capped by a three-run home run from Ben Gamel was followed by a three-run third inning (another three-run blast, this one from–of course–Kyle Seager).
The bullpen, consisting of Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Jose Leclerc was sufficient enough to keep the blowout from becoming the sort of blowout where a position player gets to pitch, but the Mariners scored one run in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense, which seemed to be right on the brink of breaking through on a number of occasions early, just couldn’t muster anything after the bottom of the third, when Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo had back-to-back RBI singles.
So we celebrate the arrival of Willie “June” Calhoun, who, in addition to his RBI single, added a nice sliding catch coming in and towards the foul line, then another highlight when--despite being unable to catch a sinking Seager liner in the eighth--he recovered to throw out pinch-runner Jacob Hannemann, who mistakenly thought the catch had been made and returned to first base while the play unfolded, costing Seager’s batting average the benefit of the would-be single.
The Twins won 16-0 tonight, putting the Rangers back to 3 games behind them in the Wild Card race. With the win, Seattle is now 3.5 back. The series is tied at 1-1, and if it ends at 2-2, it seems likely that both teams will have pulled each other below the surface. But if the Rangers can win the next two, well… there’s still hope until there isn’t.
In the meantime, it was a very busy news day. You can catch up on all of that in today's Baseball Texas Daily.