Well, it was a win.
And wins are supposed to feel good, right?
And yet, after a 3-run ninth inning by the new closer–on the day when the old closer was traded to the Giants for a player to be named later–and the news of an Adrian Beltre sprained ankle that put him in a walking boot by night’s end, the 10-8 final score seemed a bit… hollow.
It’s better than a loss, of course. And there were many positives to be taken from the victory, not the least of which was: it was a victory. Texas entered the day having lost ten of their last twelve games. A loss tonight would have felt like grasping at the oil-slicked walls of a whirlpool in a cistern. A win doesn't mean the Rangers aren't drowning, but it does feel like an old bit of rebar they can grab onto.
Maybe more importantly, it was a comeback win-- a multiple comeback win. Too many times this season, even a small deficit has felt insurmountable. The team fought back today, more than once.
And it was the sort of performance by the offense that you can plant a flag in: ten runs, eight of them off Jacob deGrom, one of the Mets’ young starting pitching stars. The Rangers got a flourish of productivity from the bottom of the lineup, as Jared Hoying went 3-for-4 with a couple of runs and an RBI from the #8 hole and Delino DeShields went 2-for-3 with a couple of runs and an RBI (and 2 stolen bases) from the #9 hole. Hoying also provided some more stellar defense in center field, this time in the second inning, leaping to extend his glove a foot over the center field wall and reduce Jay Bruce’s 2017 home run totals by one.
Bruce nearly stole one back: in the bottom of the third, he waited… and waited… and waited at the right field wall for Joey Gallo’s moon shot to return from orbit. When it did, it evaded Bruce’s perfectly-timed jump by no more than a foot. It was Gallo’s 17th home run of the year, hit at an absurd 44-degree launch angle and hanging in the air for 6.9 seconds, the third-longest hang time in baseball this year.
The Rangers and Mets traded blows for the first six half-innings, the Mets taking a 1-0 lead, then the Rangers evening it up. 2-1 Mets? 3-2 Rangers. 4-3 Mets. 5-4 Rangers, on the Gallo parabola. Finally, in the fourth inning, with Dillon Gee continuing to struggle in his first start for his hometown team (against his old team), Austin Bibens-Dirkx was called upon to salvage a one-out first-and-third situation. He did so, getting a pop-out and a line-out, both to third base. Then–after the Rangers piled on three more runs (one on a wild pitch, one on a double play, and one on Nomar Mazara’s 7th home run), Bibens-Dirkx pitched a scoreless fifth as well.
All hopeful things, right?
And what of Alex Claudio, who pitched a scoreless sixth, and a five-pitch seventh before getting into a bases-loaded no-outs jam in the 8th? Well, he escaped the jam allowing just a single run. By then, Texas has run its total up to ten runs, scoring two more on a smattering of singles, productive outs, and walks in the bottom of the sixth.
And yet, by the time the ninth inning began, Adrian Beltre was out of the game, having sprained his ankle beating out a double play in the first inning, allowing the Rangers’ first run to score. He stayed in until his sixth inning walk, when he was removed for a pinch-runner. Small hopes: the x-rays did come back negative.
Then things got worse. Matt Bush, in the game because he needed the work, did not look the part of the dominant closer. Two home runs, three total runs, four hits, and a walk later, Keone Kela was warming, and the few that had stayed around to see the end of a blowout now risked watching yet another ninth inning meltdown.
Mercifully, that was not to be. A strikeout and a 3-6-1 double play later, the score was a much-too-close-for-comfort 10-8, but the game was over. Bush, after receiving the ball to complete the double play, spiked the leather orb into the infield grass in a rare public display of emotion.
It was a win.
It just, somehow, didn’t feel like it.