Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt. Not the second-inning error by Rougned Odor, and not the subsequent announcement by the official scorer over the tinny press box speakers that said “in the second inning, one of the runs was earned, three were unearned”. Not the snap-catch of a new ball thrown to Martin Perez after Didi Gregorius answered Nomar Mazara’s solo home run with one of his own to make it 5-1, and not even the fact that Yu Darvish notched his 1,000th strikeout in just his 128th career game, making him the fastest to get there, overtaking Kerry Wood’s mark of 134.
Okay, that last one still stings a bit.
But the rest of the night was an exercise in standing back up after the first punch had been thrown and then again after the second one, and proceeding to wallop the opposition for the remainder of the evening.
The second inning was where it seemed like it was all headed south. With Matt Holliday on first base, Gregorius hit a bouncer to Odor. But Odor backed up on the ball to get a better bounce, putting him in an awkward position to throw to Elvis Andrus for the double play. The throw went wide, pulling Andrus off the bag, instead of zero on and two outs, there were two on and zero outs. Single / single / hit-by-pitch went Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Todd Frazier. Perez recovered to strike out both Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge, but before he could get out of the inning, Gary Sanchez hit a two-run single. Delino DeShields threw out Frazier attempting to advance to third.
After that came the aforementioned solo homers by Mazara and Gregorius, and after that, it was allllll Rangers, starting in the third with RBI doubles by DeShields and Elvis Andrus that made it 5-3.
Okay, perhaps there was one other thing that hurt. Robinson Chirinos’ double started the scoring in the fifth inning, but Chirinos, who appeared to have hung a spike scoring from first on DeShields’ double in the third, was very slow to second base here. He later advanced quite slowly to third on DeShields’ single, and slightly-less-slowly (but still much slower than usual) to home on a wild pitch to tie the game.
“He’s been banged up for awhile,” Jeff Banister said of Chirinos after the game. “Look, it’s September baseball. There are a number of guys all over the league who have been banged up but he’s able to manage his energy level, able to manage his lower half in certain situations.”
Painstaking running behind us, the game was tied, and now burst forth into song: after a Shin-Soo Choo double, Andrus singled home both DeShields and Choo to make it 7-5.
A note on Elvis: with his 3 RBI tonight, he has 83 on the season (and 91 runs). He already has 20 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Should he clear 100 in both runs and RBI, he would be just the 6th in MLB history to have a 20/20/100/100 season while playing primarily shortstop. Throw in 40 doubles (Andrus got his 40th tonight in the 8th inning) and you’re down to just one: Hanley Ramirez in 2009. Elvis also got his 173rd hit tonight. Should he eke out another 27, he would be just the second 20/20/100/100/200 shortstop ever (Alex Rodriguez, 1998).
But we’re ahead of ourselves. WAY ahead of ourselves. There's still some enjoyable baseball to tell you about from this game:
In the top of the sixth, it was still just a two run game, so when Martin Perez hit Brett Gardner with a pitch, Aaron Judge came to the plate as the tying run, and since he is in scoring position from the time he steps into the batter’s box, Jeff Banister called on Ricky Rodriguez, who had struggled in two consecutive outings.
Rodriguez struck Judge out looking at a 97mph fastball.
The Rangers then proceeded to put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth on two walks, a sac fly, and four hits, including a two-run triple from Rougned Odor. After that, it was the bullpen show: Rodriguez, Jake Diekman, and Tony Barnette held the Yankees hitless over the final three frames. In fact, New York didn’t get a single hit after the fourth inning.
The Twins beat the Royals tonight, so the Rangers didn’t gain any ground on the second wild card spot. But they did gain a game on the first Wild-Card spot, and they didn’t lose ground either. It was a fun win, it was a gritty win, and it was an important win–as they all are in September.
We’ll now get two consecutive day games, thanks to the Fox Sports schedule (“What, did we get the best record in the American League again?” one player joked in the clubhouse after the game, referring to last year’s ALDS schedule). Andrew Cashner will face Luis Severino.