And so, in the ninth inning, Pete Kozma stood in the batter’s box and, like one final soldier in a war that is rapidly coming to an end, he committed one last act of defiance. If the Astros were going to come to Arlington and sweep the Rangers, then they would have to stand out in the downpour and earn this final out.
The score was 7-2 Astros, and for most of the game, from the leadoff home run by George Springer in the first inning, through the two, one, two, one, and one runs the Astros had scored in the first five innings, respectively, it hadn’t felt that close.
The Rangers didn’t get their first hit until the bottom of the fourth, when Nomar Mazara singled to center field, and not another until the next inning, when Rougned Odor would hammer what one can only hope was a slump-busting home run to right field. By then, however, the end seemed inevitable.
Kozma fouled off a pitch. 2-1.
Martin Perez had only lasted 3⅔ innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out just two. Tony Barnette came on in relief, and escaped the fourth inning, but in the fifth, he allowed George Springer’s second home run of the game, the final run the Astros would score.
And though the Rangers would string together an Elvis Andrus double, a stolen base, and a Joey Gallo RBI single to center field in the sixth inning, the Astros had already won on Friday night, and again on Saturday night. The sweep was nigh, and while nothing is ever inevitable in baseball, this season just has not produced very many of the magic moments that seemed almost commonplace last year.
Kozma trotted to first base in an absolute deluge, as the press box groaned in anticipation of a rain delay in a five-run game with two outs in the ninth. On the next pitch, he took off for second, safe without a throw.
As puddles began to form around each of the bases, Shin-Soo Choo’s at-bat lasted another excruciating four pitches before he bounced a ball that Luke Gregerson carefully ran down the mound to field and throw to first.
The game was over, but not before Pete Kozma got his one final act of defiance.