This game started like this:
It’s been a hard day already. You found out your Dad’s not doing so well, and things haven’t been great with your roommate lately. You’re lost in thought when you start to step out of your car, and your foot catches on your seat. As you go down, you grab your seatbelt, and end up doing a full somersault and a half. As you hang there, tangled and holding on for dear life, feet and face both dangling below the floorboard, you take a deep and grateful breath. You’re okay. And what’s this? Under your car, you notice a crisp $100 bill. You think to yourself how lucky you are to be okay, and what a great story this will be later.
As you untangle yourself and retrieve the cash, you start thinking about how you’re going to spend the money: you’ve been thinking about getting some new shoes. The old ones still work just fine, of course, and they’re comfortable, but they have that little hole that keeps letting little rocks in. Yeah, maybe you’ll get some shoes. You know just the ones, actually. You noticed them last week, not thinking seriously that you’d have the funds to buy them, but you must have really liked them, because you remember them now.
You stand up and brush yourself off. No scrapes. Everything’s fine. There’s a little rock in your shoe, but you smile. “Not for long,” you think.
And then a guy with no neck walks up and wordlessly swipes the $100 bill out of your hand. “That’s mine,” he says flatly. And well, he’s walking off with it, so yeah, if it wasn’t his before, it is now.
If you watched the game, that’s all the explanation you need, but since it was the first West Coast game, there’s a good chance you blissfully slept through it, so I guess let’s talk about this dumb baseball game that happened.
After the announcement that Adrian Beltre had tweaked his right calf and would be out indefinitely, the tone was already a bit grim. The trip and fall and unbelievable somersault was Cole Hamels’ start: the left-hander threw just 51 strikes out of 100 pitches and walked four batters. But lo and behold, there was some manner of seatbelt within reach, and a few guys who were money tonight:
First was Elvis Andrus, whose first inning double led to the game’s first run on a Mike Napoli single. In the third inning, Andrus led off the inning by hitting his second home run of the year. Then Nomar Mazara singled, and after Rougned Odor was hit by a pitch, Jonathan Lucroy also homered to left field. As Hamels continued to de-tangle himself from the metaphorical seatbelt, everything looked like it was going to be okay. He left with a 5-1 lead.
But then Mike Trout...
I could stop there. You want me to stop here?
No. I stayed up until 1am doing this, and misery loves company.
Trout doubled to lead off the 8th inning, and scored when Cameron Maybin blooped a double down the right field line. But it was just 5-2.
Then–and let’s all just breathe in a cleansing breath and strip it of all life-giving oxygen as we sigh deeply–then came the ninth inning, and Sam Dyson, who has not had a great 2017. Dyson looked uncomfortable warming in the pen. His usually stoic face revealed a furrowed brow, as if there was trouble before there was trouble.
Then Danny Espinosa led off with a homer that scraped the left-center field wall. 5-3.
Dyson got a strikeout of pinch-hitter Ben Revere, but the respite was brief. Yunel Escobar doubled. Kole Calhoun flied out, and the Rangers (and Dyson) were one out away from exhaling some oxygen-stripped relief of their own.
But then Mike Trout…
There was a base open, but Trout was the tying run. You don’t bring the winning run to the plate on purpose. You just don’t. So they brought the winning run to the plate on accident: Trout doubled home Escobar. Then Pujols singled, and the game, once so firmly in grasp, was now tied at 5.
The Angels were going to win tonight; that much seemed determined even before Carlos Perez’ squeeze bunt rolled to a stop just inches away from the first base foul line as Mike Napoli stared at it in disbelief and winning run-scoring Cameron Maybin met his rejoicing teammates just a few feet away. Here’s when I knew:
In the top of the 10th inning, Mike Napoli hit a ball that had the distance to clear the center field wall, maybe even by more than Espinosa’s. But then a guy with no neck ran up and wordlessly swiped it from above the wall. “That’s mine,” he probably said. The next pitch left Rougned Odor’s bat at 111mph. It went straight to Jefry Marte at first base. 2 outs, a combined 216mph of exit velocity.
So when Maybin rounded home and Perez turned around to greet him, and the ball decided to lay down and sleep right there on the first base line, it wasn’t a surprise. The Rangers have battled injuries, a behavioral demotion, and a closer who inexplicably can’t find his bowling ball sinker. The Rangers are 2-5. It's not a great start.
And there’s a rock in my shoe.