In Friday night’s victory, after an early Elvis Andrus home run, the Rangers had a slew of hard-hit balls that just... landed in gloves. So they trailed 3-1 until the top of the ninth inning when Shin-Soo Choo’s home run tied it, then took the game-winning run in the tenth when–finally, mercifully–a 103mph glove-seeking missile fell out of Evan Longoria’s glove and landed juuuuust far enough away to prevent him from making a strong throw. 4-3 win.

Tonight, whether the Rangers’ offense was bad, or Chris Archer was just very, very good (it was the latter), the Rangers again found themselves in a 3-1 deficit, again counting only an Elvis Andrus solo home run to their total. This time, however, they didn’t wait until the ninth or tenth innings to get the 4-3 win.

Perhaps they would have, now that I mention it. But Mallex Smith and Chris Archer decided to take matters into their own hands.

When Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out the sixth inning, it was only the third hit the Rangers had managed on the night. In fact, for the first 2½ innings, both Archer and Andrew Cashner had perfect games in the works. By the end of the third, however, it was 3-0 Tampa, as Cashner walked two and allowed three hits in the bottom half of that inning.

But with Choo on first base in the fourth, Andrus singled (his second of three hits on the night), and they both advanced one base on a Nomar Mazara groundout, bringing Adrian Beltre to the plate with two outs. Beltre watched a ball, then fouled one away, then hit a fly ball to center field, deep enough for a sac fly, had the situation called for it, but not deep enough to score anyone with two outs.

Except it did. Both of them, in fact, because Mallex “Not Kevin Kiermaier” Smith simply missed the ball. It hit his glove and bounced away. Beltre steamed into second base, and the game was tied 3-3. Perhaps shaken by the proceedings, Archer then threw a wild pitch to Mike Napoli, allowing Beltre to scamper over to third. Then on the very next pitch? Another wild pitch. Beltre scored, and the Rangers had their 4-3 final again.

But as anyone who has watched the Rangers knows, you can’t end a story in the sixth inning. The Rangers misadventures have come primarily in innings 7-9. But tonight, they were relatively calm.


There was, of course, the seventh inning. Beltre did not return Smith's favor, making a diving stop for the first out of the inning.

Adrian Beltre is a spring-loaded tiger on near-lethal levels of caffeine. (Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)  

Then after an Adeiny Hechavarria single, Steven Souza, Jr. hit a ball to Beltre. It appeared it might be a traditional double play, but Rougned Odor’s throw to first sailed well past Joey Gallo. Souza turned and careened towards second, but Jonathan Lucroy, backed up the play (sending every high school baseball coach scrambling for their DVR save button) and threw it back to Odor in time to tag Souza out.

In the eighth, Keone Kela made his first appearance since returning from the disabled list. He struck out one, but also allowed a single and a walk before Wilson Ramos popped out. But rather than allow Kela to face left-hander Brad Miller, Jeff Banister elected to bring in his “Not the Closer” Alex Claudio. Claudio got a soft grounder to end the inning, then worked around a pinch-hit bloop double by Peter Bourjos to lock down the save.

Incidentally, this still shot is also how Claudio's changeup appears to batters. (Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Hey, real quick: how many of you had Alex Claudio in the Closer Pool? Put your hands down, you goofs, you don’t get points for lying.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Rangers go for the sw*coughs up lukewarm seawater*

*continues coughing for thirteen straight minutes, shaking head and waving off your offers to call the hospital**face is super red*


What a confusing team this is.