When you’re writing about a baseball team, there is a fine line between “homer” and “optimist”. Being an optimist is often necessary when you write about a team every day of a grueling 162-game season. You can’t afford to dwell on the multitude of little failures and expect to stay sane; you need some little victories to keep you looking forward to work every day.
But for the sake of authentic journalism, you stop short of being a homer. How can you tell the difference? Being a homer would be starting this game story with something like “Delino DeShields had a really encouraging pinch-hit single in the ninth inning today.”
Today's loss was ugly. There's really no honest way to say anything to suggest otherwise.
DeShields’ single was just the third hit of the game, and just the sixth in the last two games. The team that entered yesterday’s (and, remarkably, today’s) game with the league lead in runs was absolutely stymied, first by Andrew Triggs Tuesday night, and in short succession by Jesse Hahn on Wednesday afternoon, as the team lost 9-1 to Oakland to fall to 5-10 on the season.
Here is a comprehensive list of the good things that happened on Wednesday afternoon:
1. Joey Gallo hit a ball that tried to create a hole in the space-time continuum in the top of the fifth inning, and made successive impressive plays at third base a half-inning later to retire Ryon Healy and Josh Phegley. Gallo’s solo homer was the sole source of scoring for Texas.
2. Jose Leclerc pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning, striking out two, and regularly hitting 97mph with his fastball.
3. The aforementioned DeShields single, which came at the end of a six-pitch at bat.
In the meantime, Perez struggled. Hauschild struggled, allowing three home runs. Jeff Banister had an easier day than most: he got to take an early shower after getting himself ejected arguing a foul/fair call in the third inning. Khris Davis hit a ball that third base umpire Mike Everitt initially called fair as it bounced over third base. Joey Gallo fielded the ball and threw Davis out.
But wait: home plate umpire Bill Welke waived off the call, saying that the ball was foul. Banister immediately and in a somewhat animated fashion, emerged from the dugout to demand an explanation.
“I went out and asked, ‘what’ve we got: fair or foul?’,” Banister said after the game. “He said he had it foul, and we had a discussion(...) there was a comment about ‘gray area’, where the ball was in a gray area. I told them I didn’t know that there was a gray area on the baseball field, and that got me ejected.”
Banister was sent to the showers.
The rest of us were left to watch the ensuing six innings and look for ways to be optimistic.