Before the game, Carlos Gomez strode across the clubhouse, surveying his domain, chatting alternately in Spanish and English, depending on the audience. The pitch of Gomez' voice goes up nearly an octave when he yells across the room until it takes on a timbre slightly resembling the full-throttle engine of a small motorcycle. Given the speed at which Gomez plays and thinks and speaks, the metaphor is apt.
Today, as he walked and revved, he carried a glazed donut in his left hand and a slice of watermelon in his right. He took a bite of the melon, then before he even chewed once, he took a bite of the donut.
“I’m concerned for whatever is happening with your tastebuds,” I joked. “It’s good! This one is good for your mouth,” he replied, taking a bite of the donut, and then with a full mouth, continued: “and this one is good for your gut.” He took another bite, adding watermelon to the donut, and smiled.
Nearly two hours later, with the Rangers already leading 1-0 thanks to an Adrian Beltre RBI double, Gomez stepped into the batter’s box, and in place of his usual walk-up music, the speakers at Globe Life Park played the sound of a rooster crowing three times. “That was a mistake,” Gomez would laugh after the game. He had asked a member of Chuck Morgan’s team to play the sound for Gallo, since “Gallo” in Spanish is the word for “Rooster”. Gomez looked up to the booth and laughed, then on the first pitch he saw, he singled up the middle.
The Rooster crowed again.
In the third inning, after scoring on Mike Napoli’s home run that had made the score 3-0, Gomez stepped into the batter’s box again. Only as Gomez rounded first this time, the rooster sound was replaced by the majestic sounds of “The Natural” and the thundering of fireworks, and the raucous applause of 26,784 fans. Gomez’ 3-run home run had made it 7-0, and there were still six innings to play.
Meanwhile, Martin Perez was settling into a rhythm. One hit per inning, no more, and no runs allowed. This was what happened in the first, second, third, and fourth innings, and in the latter two, the runner was eliminated on the basepaths, so Perez faced the minimum. So when Kevin Pillar singled to lead off the fifth, and was eliminated on a double play, it seemed like this was just the next verse of a very consistent song.
Instead, it became the latest chapter in a book titled “Martin Perez and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Inning. He hit Dwight Smith, Jr. in the hand with a pitch. Smith scored on a Luke Maile double to the wall. Jose Bautista walked. Russell Martin singled home Maile. Justin Smoak walked to load the bases. Then Bautista and Martin scored on a Kendrys Morales single to left field (though the latter was an unearned run; Choo misplayed the ball).
Finally, Perez got Troy Tulowitzki to ground out. All of the Jays’ runs (and baserunners) had come with two outs, and it was 7-4.
But the offense was not finished. In the seventh, the team was well on its way to an eleven-hit day. Of those eleven, just four were singles, and three of the four singles had eventually scored. Robinson Chirinos would finish the day with a 3-for-4 line, including another home run, and two doubles. But here in the seventh, Beltre singled, and Gomez again approached the plate.
For the second time in the game, he hit a ball over the left field wall.
Perhaps the rooster or the combination of Krispy Kreme and summer fruit will stick around, after a game like that. Baseball is a sport that embraces tradition and superstition in the same hug, without differentiating between what is an honor to the past and what is an honor to the security of one's own mental quirks. We eat peanuts and hot dogs as much because they were eaten by our grandfathers as we do for our own tastes. We ruin the shape of our hats for the sake of a ninth-inning comeback. The players come out of the dugout and stand for the National Anthem, and they hop over the foul lines as they run onto the field.
There are no rules pertaining to any of these things. They are unenforced, unwritten, and followed, almost without fail, even though they are two very different things. All in one embrace.
All in one bite.
Watermelons and Donuts.
By the time the game was over and the grounds crew set to fixing the Pac-Man of Globe Life Park, the Rangers had won 11-4, evening the series and avoiding their first series loss since the 2nd-4th of June against Houston. The bullpen threw three shutout innings today (Jose Leclerc took the seventh, Alex Claudio the remaining two), extending their scoreless streak to 8⅔ innings since Matt Bush’s 2-run 9th on Monday.
Chirinos' home run in the fourth inning was his fourth consecutive hit for a home run. He also had a streak of three earlier in the year, but all of those were against Kansas City. This stretch saw him hit home runs against the Mets, Nationals, Mariners, and now the Blue Jays without any singles, doubles, or triples between. He broke his streak by doubling in the sixth inning, a ball that hit the top of the wall, needing just another two feet of height to clear the wall.
Texas now embarks on a 10-game road trip against New York, Cleveland, and Chicago.
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