Two Texas teams and a handful of fans, pleased to see a Major League baseball game for the low general admission price of ten dollars, paused for a moment of silence before the first pitch. As they did, a heavy rainfall began its wet drumroll on the Tropicana Field dome, as if this entire scenario weren’t caused by nature’s indifference to the requests of humankind.
The Rangers and the Astros, banished to Florida by Hurricane Harvey, had a lot of figuring out to do before first pitch. First, and most notably, was where the series would be played. A lot of words have already been typed about that process, so we’ll forego it here.
Second, there was the problem of uniforms: the Astros had packed their bags for what they thought was going to be a three-game road trip, and all three of those games were during Players’ Weekend, so unless they wanted to wear names like “Fuego” and “Snap Dragon 2” on their backs, they had to use the uniforms they brought for batting practice, with gray pants. In turn, they requested that the “away” team Rangers pack their “home” white uniforms. Not only that, the Rangers would be in the “home” first base dugout, since the Astros–given the option–chose the visiting clubhouse in Tampa.
At last, at 6:10pm, the first pitch was thrown, and for three hours and twenty seven minutes, baseball took its rightful place as a distraction from the weight of real life tragedy. By the time it was all said and done, the Rangers had a 12-2 victory over the AL West leading Astros.
The scoring began in the third inning, when the Rangers (as they had so often done this road trip) loaded the bases. After a wild pitch scored the first run, and an Adrian Beltre grounder scored the second, Giant-sized Lumberjack Joey Gallo announced his return from the 7-day DL with his 36th home run of the year.
Martin Perez allowed a couple of runs in the bottom half of the inning, walking Jake Marisnick and hitting George Springer with a pitch before three straight singles scored the runs and loaded the bases. But a 6-4-3 double play (the second Perez had induced on the night) put an end to the rally. A half-inning later, the Rangers had four more runs, and the game was well out of hand.
But Texas wasn’t finished. In the fifth inning, with two outs, Rougned Odor struck out, sparking a rally: he made it to first on a dropped third strike, then to second when Robinson Chirinos was grazed by a pitch. Shin-Soo Choo accentuated the inning with a three-run home run. That would put a cap on the scoring until the 8th inning, when Elvis Andrus’ 4th hit of the night (a double; his third extra-base hit) was converted into the 12th run of the evening when Nomar Mazara singled him home.
All that was left to do was enjoy the spectacle of seeing a position player pitch: Astros’ third baseman J.D. Davis pitched a sparkling ninth inning, retiring Odor, Chirinos, and Choo in order. Davis then led off the bottom of the ninth with a double.
The Rangers are still technically in a Wild Card chase, and so these three games, emotionally confusing as their existence may be, still carry a lot of importance.
At least as far as that word is defined in sports. In the grand scheme of things, it was a nice distraction for an evening.
(NOTE: There are a lot of links to places where you can donate to help out with the Hurricane recovery efforts in today’s Baseball Texas Daily.)