The last time the Rangers and Astros played a game in the rain was June 4th, and the highlight of the whole ordeal was since-DFA’d Pete Kozma being annoyingly patient with two outs in the ninth inning as the visiting team stood in a torrential downpour. By the time that one was finished, the score was 7-2, the Astros were 41-16, and the Rangers were 26-31.
Since then, the Astros are 30-29. The Rangers are 30-28. And on this rainy evening in Arlington, things went significantly better for the home team, thanks in part to a Rangers catcher who was in Round Rock for that June matchup.
But first, there was another Rangers’ catcher in the spotlight, and the game would have to wait: The team was retiring Pudge Rodriguez’ number 7. The pre-game ceremonies ran a little longer than expected, but no one complained; members of Pudge’s family, members of the Rangers’ Hall of Fame, and a handful of players who had worn #7 before and after Pudge all sat in white chairs as Eric Nadel, Tom Grieve, and Mayor Jeff Williams spoke. There were congratulations videos and highlight videos, and by the time Tyson Ross, wearing his 1999 throwback jersey, threw the first pitch of the game, it was 7:37pm.
So of course, in the first inning, both teams drew two walks but scored none, and the elements gave us a 21-minute rain delay (significantly more people complained about this one). But when the rain stopped and the tarp was drawn, the rain took a sabbatical, and the Rangers bats bloomed.
The first runs of the game came in the bottom of the second. Joey Gallo walked, and Carlos Gomez was hit in the shoulder with a 90mph fastball. Two batters later, Brett Nicholas hit his first home run of 2017, and the score was 3-0. Ross responded with a six-pitch shutdown top of the third.
The fourth inning did get a little dicey for the Rangers right-hander making his first start off the disabled list. A walk to Altuve (and the subsequent stolen base) led to a run when Alex Bregman singled. He, too, scored after a Derek Fisher hit-by-pitch and a J.D. Davis double. But with the score 3-2, Mike Napoli responded by hitting his 23rd home run of the year, a solo shot to make it 4-2.
Ross settled in for a nice uneventful fifth inning after that, but after Texas scored two more runs in the bottom of the inning on a sequence that went like this: Choo walk and steal, Andrus infield single, Mazara RBI groundout, Beltre RBI single, Gallo hit-by-pitch, Gomez hit-by-pitch. The last two didn’t contribute to the score, but they do contribute to the story: Gomez’ 2nd beaning of the night gave him eight in his last 14 games. He declined to speak to the matter on the record, but it was quite evident that he would prefer to reach base by other means. (Jeff Banister’s answer, as shown in the video below, was one word: “Puzzling.”)
In the top of the sixth, Ross got two quick outs, but then plunked Alex Bregman. Whether it be the additional adrenaline from that, running out of gas, or just plain old Lance Barksdale Syndrome, the inning fell apart for Ross after that. Marwin Gonzalez singled, and then Ross walked Fisher and Davis, the latter of which drove in the Astros’ third run of the night. With two out and the bases loaded, Jeff Banister called on Matt Bush.
Bush threw two immediate strikes to Juan Centeno, both of which were called balls. Ball three was actually a ball, but Bush threw two more strikes that were called correctly. With the full count at one ball and four strikes, Centeno fouled off a couple more before lining out to left field to end the threat and the inning. Bush then proceeded to pitch perfect 7th and 8th innings as well, retiring all seven batters he faced.
By the time the ninth rolled around, it was 8-3. You wouldn’t think it possible to hit a ball *under* Jose Altuve’s glove, but Adrian Beltre did just that, driving home Choo and Andrus. Now it was Grilli time. He walked Davis, but it didn’t matter because he got everyone else out. The rain began again, and this time it didn’t feel quite so miserable.
There were four outfield assists this game, and only one of them was close: Adrian Beltre tried to score on a sac fly to center field to end the fifth. Earlier, Joey Gallo threw Marwin Gonzalez out trying to advance to second by such a great distance that Gonzalez had time to stop and try to go back to first. He did not make it. Derek Fisher, likewise, tried to score a second run on Davis' RBI double in the fourth. He, too, did not make it. And then in the sixth, Tony Beasley, who is usually a very good third base coach, sent Nicholas home on an Andrus single to left. Nicholas, too, could have turned around, but he didn’t. He also did not make it.
I suppose none of them making it is quite redundant, since we are talking about outfield assists, but it's too late, it's on the internet now, I can't take it down.
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