The Rangers 2017 Tour of Mystery™ hit Atlanta on Monday, trying to take advantage of a Braves team that has been... uhhh, what’s a nice way to say bad? Like when you’re trying not to hurt your friend’s mom’s feelings about a new haircut, but you are morally opposed to lying? If it was your friend, you would just be honest and say something like “My man, you look like a cross between Phillies-era Pete Rose and an old potato”, but you’re trying to be polite?
You know what, they’re not reading this: The Braves have been dreadful this season, and while the Rangers came into the day at just .500, they are still one of a lot of teams trying to climb up the shoulders of the others, heave themselves out of the AL mire, and stand up into the postseason quick-draw duel known as the Wild-Card game.
Tonight was a good night, then. While the Orioles, Mariners, and Twins lost, Andrew Cashner was busy continuing his strong season. Meanwhile, Matt Adams showed why left field is harder than it looks, and the Rangers hit some dingers en route to an 8-2 win, leaving them just two games back in the Wild Card race.
Elvis Andrus was the second batter of the game, and before the third came to the plate, Texas led 1-0; after hitting two home runs in the Rangers’ previous game, Andrus hit his 19th of the season off former Ranger R.A. Dickey. The score would have been 2-0, except Delino DeShields was caught stealing ...on a knuckleball ...by Kurt Suzuki, who has thrown out just 20% of would-be base stealers this season. You might say he didn't get his usual good jump.
No matter. The Rangers would tack on two more runs in the second; the first came on an Andrew Cashner sac fly to the warning track in left field and the second happened when Suzuki did what catchers sometimes do with knuckleballs (miss). Then they added two more in the third, when Carlos Gomez doubled, Joey Gallo tripled, and Rougned Odor’s sac fly made it 5-0. Matt Adams–usually a first baseman, but with no position to play in Atlanta after Freddie Freeman’s return from the DL–pursued both baseballs with all the grace and efficiency of a drunken raccoon. (Ender Enciarte ended up with the ball on both occasions.)
Of note: as first pointed out by Jared Sandler of 105.3 The Fan: Cashner's sac fly was the first ever by a Texas Ranger. The last one by any pitcher in the organization was (according to Rangers' PR) Camilo Pascual way back on September 5th, 1968–almost precisely 49 years ago.
But you knew that. Back to this game...
Adams did his best to atone in the 4th inning, finally putting Atlanta on the scoreboard with a two-run home run, but that only served to remind the Rangers about their favorite thing in the whole world: dingers. So in the top of the fifth, Nomar Mazara led off with one, then–after Gomez doubled to left field and avanced to third on an ‘okay, that’s strike three, you’re getting an error for this one, Matt’ E7–Rougned Odor pulled one that hooked around the right field foul pole to make it 8-2.
And that’s where it would stay. Cashner’s night was over after six innings in which he allowed just two runs on six hits, walking two and striking out five. With the win, he evened up his personal record at 9-9 for the season. After his departure, Nicks worked 7th (Gardewine), 8th, and 9th (Martinez) innings, and Texas once again pushed its head above the .500 horizon at 69-68.
Miguel Gonzalez is scheduled to make his Rangers debut tomorrow against Julio Teheran in the second of the three-game series.