We don’t know if the Rangers are going to come back from a calamitous start to the season and make a postseason run. We don’t know if the Rangers are going to crash and burn, trading off free agents-to-be in an attempt to restock the farm system. We don’t know if (worst-case scenario) they middle-of-the-road their way to neither.
What we do know is this: Austin Bibens-Dirkx is the best story we’ve got so far this year.
His journey is well-documented, and while his debut was the stuff of dreams, even that wasn’t his most movie-script moment this season. So of course, a night after Darvish and Tanaka dueled to a draw (one that Texas eventually lost 2-1 in penalty kicks ...to the gut), Bibens-Dirkx walked out to the Yankees Stadium mound, caught the game ball from home plate umpire Kerwin Danley, and went to work.
By the time he was finished, he had pitched 7 innings, allowing just a lone run (an Aaron Judge home run) on five hits, walking just one, striking out three, and putting the finishing touches on the afternoon with a six-pitch seventh inning. That's the sort of performance that is a fairy tale if you do it once. Start putting together a spate of these starts, and the fairy tale is over; that's just who you are: an effective major league pitcher.
Today, Bibens-Dirkx only had one 1-2-3 inning, but in the other six, he only allowed precisely one baserunner each, never facing more than four batters in any inning. He is a magician not in the vein of Davids Copperfield or Blaine, but of your grandfather, who always seemed to have some new trick in his pocket; never the same one twice, so as not to let on what the secret was. You know magic isn't real, but so long as you can't figure out how he guessed your card, does that make it any less impressive?
Meanwhile, the offense–after taking one night to marvel at Masahiro Tanaka’s best game of the season on Friday–has been raking of late, and they continued to do so today, though half of their runs came in the ninth inning. They got things started in the first inning when Delino DeShields’ walk led to a stolen base, and then a run when Elvis Andrus singled.
They didn’t strike again until the fourth, when Carlos Gomez’ tenth home run of the season scored Rougned Odor and made it 3-0. Also hitting his tenth home run today? Robinson Chirinos.
Then came the ninth inning, facing Tyler Clippard. After Alex Claudio pitched a masterful eighth inning to keep the score 4-1, Gomez walked, stole second, advanced to third on a flyout, and scored on a wild pitch. 1 run, no hits. Chirinos then walked, and with two hits, the Rangers got a single-double-double combo from DeShields-Choo-Andrus, and a game that had promised a save to Keone Kela decided that wouldn’t be necessary after all.
But Kela was warmed up already, so save or no, he came on and mowed down the Yankees in order, dialing his fastball up to 99mph and his curveball down to 82.
The Rangers and Yankees play the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon, as Nick Martinez and Michael Pineda face off. The Rangers have not lost a series since June 2-4 against the Astros.
Martin Perez has, in fact, been added to the DL after smashing his thumb in a hotel room door and fracturing the tip of his bone. It is in his right (non-pitching) hand, but he will miss *at least* his next start.
Cole Hamels has officially been named the starter for Monday’s game in Cleveland. He will return from an oblique injury that has kept him out since the last week of April.
Yu Darvish, who was removed after just 7 innings and 88 pitches in last night’s game due to triceps tightness, played catch today and said he feels fine and expects to make his next start on Wednesday.