It was Turn-Back-the-Clock night in Arlington, and there’s nothing to remind you just how screamingly fast we are spinning through a seemingly infinite space on a pale blue speck than to roll out the charmingly mawkish uniforms and marvel at how dated they are, but how On This Date in 1977 our species was closer to the end of WWII than it was to the current date. And also that has been the case since May 13th, 2009 (which, incidentally was roughly as long ago to us as the moon landing had been in 1977).
Let’s start over.
The Rangers beat the Angels 5-2 in Arlington. Adrian Beltre wasn’t born until two years after 1977, and he still seems young, so maybe everything will be okay. Beltre hit his 7th home run of the season, and in doing so, gave Texas a 3-1 lead in the third inning, a lead they would not relinquish.
Not that it didn’t seem like that might happen, especially early on. Tyson Ross threw more balls than strikes in the first two innings (16-to-15) and one of those strikes didn’t land until Yunel Escobar had swatted it into the Angels’ dugout. That home run neutralized the Rangers’ first-inning hit-and-run success that saw Shin-Soo Choo score from first on a Nomar Mazara double.
After the game, both Ross and Jeff Banister mentioned that the tall right-hander had made an adjustment after the second inning (with the help of pitching coach Doug Brocail) to help him throw more strikes. That’s technically true, but only just: from the third inning through the last batter he faced–Andrelton Simmons, who doubled with two outs in the sixth–Ross threw 33 strikes and 30 balls.
But strangely, it worked. He only walked two batters (though he did hit two more with pitches), and while the third was his only 1-2-3 inning, his stuff was deceptive enough to induce bad contact from the entirety of the Angels lineup.
“The fastball’s not straight. At all,” Banister explained later. “It’s very challenging to hit. (Ross is a) big guy who creates angle with all his pitches, (has) kind of a short stride, (throws) a little bit across his body. Hitters don’t pick up the ball until late. The velocity is still good, but the ball runs, it sinks it cuts… there’s nothing straight.”
Meanwhile, it seems like a few other aspects of the team are… getting better? When Ross gave way to the bullpen, it was Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Bush, and Alex Claudio who got the call to keep the score at 3-1. And one by one, they accomplished the task, until in the ninth inning, Claudio allowed one run to come home.
But by the time that ninth inning started, it was no longer 3-1, but 5-1, thanks to Drew Robinson’s second career home run (and his first at home). For every reminder that we are slowly, quickly, interminably, terminally aging, there is another reminder that there are more on the way, those who will take our place in the march forward when we someday topple.
And while it was not a 10-run deluge like the night before, the offense showed a consistent top-to-bottom approach to success: every hitter in the lineup got a hit except Carlos Gomez, and he walked twice. Elvis Andrus made his return from paternity leave to go 2-for-4 with a run scored. Rougned Odor hit the ball hard but either foul-or-to-someone on multiple occasions before shooting a double to the gap in the seventh inning. That hit gave him a 10-game hitting streak, which ties his career high.
And of course, there was Beltre, the home-run hitting, don’t-touch-my-head-shoving, smiling Captain, doing his best not only to stave off time, but stave off a lost season as well. With the win, the Rangers creep back to within a game of .500.
They could reach that mark tomorrow, when have a chance to sweep the Angels. Yu Darvish will get the ball in opposition to J.C. Ramirez. The game begins at 2:05.
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