Here’s my chart for tonight:
If that looks like some incomprehensible moon language, I have some bad news: none of the rest of what you’re about to read is going to accomplish much in the way of illuminating it further.
People deal with loss in different ways. Some refuse to acknowledge that the thing, or job, or person who once brought them such joy ever existed. The pain of the loss is too thick a coating of paint to be seen through. Sure, you can make out the shapes of the good times, but they’re all covered in a sticky tarnish. But counselors will tell you that the more healthy way to deal with loss is to acknowledge it, but not allow it to strip the joy that preceded it. Those good times came without any promise of loss or failure, and in that moment, they were pure. Hold those close, and remember the joy, so that when it comes again, you can fully appreciate it in the moment.
With that in mind, the first two innings were GREAT!
The first four Rangers to come to the plate all scored. Shin-Soo Choo doubled on the first pitch, then Elvis Andrus walked. Nomar Mazara doubled home Choo, and Adrian Beltre provided what felt like–with Cole Hamels making his return from the disabled list–the coup de grace: a three-run home run.
But from the first batter Hamels faced (a five-pitch Francisco Lindor walk) it was obvious that he was not the dominant Cole Hamels we (or he) hoped for. Jason Kipnis was up next, and he also walked. Then Jose Ramirez singled to load the bases. But Hamels struck out Edwin Encarnacion, and while a run did score, he escaped the inning with a 4-1 lead.
Next up: more good news! Texas scored three more runs in the second inning, all on an Elvis Andrus home run. It was Andrus’ 8th of the season, tying a career high. In the fourth inning, he homered again, and he wasn’t the only one: Joey Gallo hit his 20th of the season.
So going into the bottom of the fifth, the score was 9-2, and while Hamels was not overpowering, and struggled with control, it seemed like a safe place for him to work it out. Even when Hamels has been at his worst in Texas, he has always found a way to make it through six innings, right? 42 times in his 49 starts as a Ranger, this has been true. And only once before did he not make it through five.
Tonight, he did not make it through five.
He left with the score 9-4 and the bases loaded with one out. He had walked four, struck out just one, and allowed 8 hits. I know we’ve been spoiled by watching the likes of Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitch lately, but this was bad, and not just by Cole Hamels standards.
So Dario Alvarez entered the game, and his performance can best be summed up this way: if he was a relief chef instead of a relief pitcher, he was thrown into a kitchen that had a fire coming from the oven and a sous chef with a bad cut on his hand. It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but the Coq au vin is, somehow, still edible if you can just pull it out of the fire. You have at your disposal:
- An oven mitt
- a fire extinguisher
- a vat of onions
- for some reason, a border collie who won’t stop barking
- a can marked “GASOLINE”
Why is the gasoline in the kitchen? Is the dog okay in this scenario*? Also, can the dog pitch? These are important questions, but life is short on answers tonight. By the time Alvarez left the game, though, the score was still just 9-7. The Rangers still led. When Alvarez left the game, believe it or not, he was in line to pick up the win!
Enter: Chef Scheppers. Walk, single, single, Claudio. Single, single, walk-- let me know if you want me to stop. Actually, I’m going to stop.
For the sake of mercy, your name should be omitted from the box score if you don’t get anyone out. Those three runs on two hits and a walk should just be credited to the Baseball Sylphs. Three runs materialized out of thin air, and there was nothing anyone could do. Alex Claudio couldn’t even get anyone out. Preston Claiborne made his Rangers debut and gave up four doubles in one inning, all of which touched the wall before they touched an outfielder’s glove.
It would be easy to call it an old-fashioned blowout, but it really wasn’t that at all. It was a blown 9-2 lead, which is even worse. It was easily the dumbest loss in a season that has seen quite a few of them.
*The dog was fine. The dog isn't real. None of this is real, sports are entertainment. Let's watch again tomorrow!