The Dallas Cowboys, by the time you read this article, will have taken the field against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Since pre-season football doesn’t count in the regular-season NFL standings, it would be nice if there were some way to steal the result and use it to replace the other DFW/Oakland matchup that already happened some 1,700 miles away at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Rangers were a game out of the second Wild Card position yesterday morning before starting a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics, one of just three teams in the American League who can’t even pretend to give their fans any hope that a Wild Card berth is within hoping distance. Perhaps we should have known what was coming next: the team that was bad when they were supposed to be good, and have since been good when they were supposed to be bad ...has lost two games when they were supposed to win them.
Today was especially grievous. Cole Hamels has been the closest thing the Rangers have to a sure thing, but today, the usually graceful lefty instead teetered on the precipice of disaster, then lost his footing and fell all the way into it, banging into several rocks and branches before landing in an ant pile at the bottom of disaster canyon.
In the first inning, after Adrian Beltre’s double had given Texas a 2-0 lead, Hamels gave half of it back on a Chad Pinder solo home run to dead center field. He then walked two batters before pulling the panic lever and getting an inning-ending double play. In the second, there more tiptoe gymnastics: a Mark Canha double and a wild pitch meant that Hamels had a runner at third and no one out. But he escaped that one as well. In the third, he picked off Marcus Semien, and just in time: four pitches later, the score was Rangers 2, Chad Pinder 2.
But in the fourth, the A’s took a lead. Matt Chapman got an infield single, and Matt Joyce fouled off four two-strike, two-out pitches before hitting a bad hop screamer that bounced off Adrian Beltre’s glove and soon found itself alone in left field just waiting for someone to show up. Ryan Rua eventually did, but not in time to prevent the run from scoring.
Then in the fifth inning, everything went wrong. The Rangers loaded the bases, but Mike Napoli–after hitting a monster foul ball– swung and missed at what would have been ball four. The inning was over.
Well, half-over. The A’s still had some banana peels to throw at Hamels’ feet.
“Double-walk-double,” went Semien-Pinder-Lowrie. “Sac fly and a single”, went Davis and Healy. “Out to the mound” went Jeff Banister, and Hamels’ day was over. It was 6-2.
The rest of the details are but mere mud slung onto an already-soiled work of art. We could talk about Tony Barnette battling command and Dan Iassogna’s strike zone to allow two runs the following inning, but Barnette probably already said whatever needed to be said, barking more than a few words at the home plate umpire as he was pulled for Jhan Maríñez in the sixth. Or we could talk about the other runners that the Rangers stranded, extending last night’s woes into what is bordering on a weekend bender of missed opportunities.
But there’s really no need. There’s football on TV right now, or perhaps you're reading later and there's a big boxing match happening. Either way, this story is getting thrown out there into a pretty busy sports city, and looking for a friend. So if you’re one of the hardcore fans that have somehow made it this far into a story about an 8-3 loss by the Rangers, well, I don’t want to make things any worse for you. Instead, here’s an entertaining video about the short-lived career of baseball’s first home run hitter.