Three-game losing streaks happen. The 2016 Rangers had eight streaks of at least three losses in a row, including games 2-4 of the season. They had three streaks that made it to four games, and only one that made it to five.
That streak... is still intact.
The Rangers lost on October 1st and 2nd to the Tampa Bay Rays to finish the regular season. You all need no reminder of how the following three games played out in the ALDS against Toronto. And now, with a three-game slide to start the 2017 season, no one is panicking, but you know, uh, if they win on Friday, it sure would be a lot easier to think happy thoughts about how last year’s 1-3 resulted in an AL West Division title.
One thing is for certain, though: if the Rangers do get an early lead on Friday, don’t expect anyone to exhale until the last out is securely in a glove and “I Like Texas” is blaring. Because try as we might, I don’t think anyone will have forgotten about tonight’s ninth inning before then.
It all started so well tonight. Cole Hamels pitched a perfect first three innings, and while he only got four first-pitch strikes out of the nine batters he faced, it’s hard to argue with a triad of 1-2-3 innings. Meanwhile, Nomar Mazara continued his torrid start to the season by blasting a 2-run home run in the bottom of the first.
But a Carlos Santana leadoff single in the fourth inning was followed by a Francisco Lindor line drive to the wall that, while it was scored a single, appeared to punch Nomar Mazara right in the glove on its way down. With two on and no one yet out, Hamels tightened the screws and got a pop-up and a groundout, but Jose Ramirez’ single tied the game at 2.
In the fifth, Cleveland would take the lead on a sequence that went single, throwing error on a pickoff, ground out, sac fly, but it would be short-lived, as Baseball decided it was time for a little weirdness:
Jonathan Lucroy led off the inning with a ground ball that Ramirez dove into right field to catch, but couldn’t flip over and throw to first in time. Joey Gallo walked, which is one of the things he does really well when he’s not abolishing baseballs into the netherworld. But Elvis Andrus struck out swinging, and Delino DeShields–who made the team based on his rediscovered patience-and-speed approach–swung at the first pitch and fouled out to the catcher. With two down and the shift on for Shin Soo Choo, the ball hit softly just to the left of second base appeared destined to close the books on the bottom of the fifth. But…
It helps to make sense of Joey Gallo’s speed when you stop thinking of him as a gargantuan man, and start thinking of him as a kind-of-on-the-smaller-side quarter horse. You wouldn’t expect Atlas to beat Francisco Lindor in a footrace to the second base bag, but a horse? I mean, maybe. At least when you think of it that way, it doesn’t hurt your brain.
When Gallo slid in safely, it wrecked Lindor’s plans (don’t worry, Cleveland fans. He wrecked plans back later). With no final out to be had at second, he hustled a throw to first to try to get Choo. But Edwin Encarnacion–probably still thinking of Joey Gallo as a man-not-a-horse, wasn’t expecting the throw to be necessary either. He was well off first base and the ball tipped off his glove and went into the stands. Lucroy had scored a while ago, Gallo was awarded home, and the Rangers would, in short order, have a 5-3 lead when Nomar Mazara singled Choo home.
We’re avoiding the unavoidable here, so I’ll get right to it: that’s right, Tony Barnette struck out Carlos Santana with a runner on third to preserve the lead, and Elvis Andrus homered to left field to add an insurance run, and Matt Bush struck out two in his one inning of OKAAY fine, yes, the entire game went to heck in the ninth inning. Sam Dyson got one out in six batters, walked in a run, and then Lindor’s revenge came in the form of a grand slam. It was brutal, and it was ugly, and yeah, it has everyone wondering about the future of Sam Dyson, so let’s just end this thing with some quotes and dive headfirst into the first off-day of the season, shall we?
“It’s fixable. Yesterday when he got up just in case, he felt really good about it. Brad (Holman, assistant pitching coach) said it looked really good.” - Doug Brocail.
“It’s frustrating. Any time I get a ball hit on the ground, I’m expecting it to go to somebody. Whether I made a not-so-quality pitch, and they hit it too hard right at somebody. Sometimes I get weak choppers that barely make it to third base down the line, and they’re hits. You know? You can’t really control that. I think the only thing I can really do is continue to work, and do my best every day. I’m not going to give up. I thought I made some high-quality pitches today that were below the zone that typically would get swings, and I didn’t get them to chase at it.” - Sam Dyson
“I’m looking forward to at least getting a full inning in. I don’t know how many innings I threw tonight, maybe ⅓? I got one out, maybe? That’s pretty sad. So hopefully next time I’ll get one full inning. I’m going backwards instead of forwards.” - Sam Dyson
Here are some other quotes, except on video:
And lastly, if you want to end the night on a positive, here's a more fun video from earlier in the day.