DALLAS - It’s a good starting point for a story; what do you do when hope is gone?
The Walking Dead played with this brilliantly in the early years (book and show) but it’s hard to sustain. The Road seemed to dance in and out of it, but the truth was the defining image from it was the same as what closed No Country for Old Men; the father, carrying the fire, keeping it burning, against all odds, against all suffering. That image, however stark, is hopeful.
This is not like that. The walls have fallen. Alaric has breached the gates. We still have miles, yet, to walk; but there is no happy ending to be found. The miracles are expended.
The fire is out.
To be sure, there is still breath in the Rangers’ body (bodies? The imagery is breaking down here). But let me introduce to you a nightmare scenario: Texas wins out. No, stay with me. Texas wins each and every of the thirteen games remaining on the schedule, ending the season at 86-76. But the Yankees go 6-7 over their last 13 (which would be the second longest winning streak in franchise history), finish 88-74, and host the Wild Card game, against Minnesota, who went 9-4 over their last 13. 87-75.
I told you it was a nightmare scenario.
So, yes, the Rangers are not mathematically eliminated, and probably won’t be even as we meet again in this space next Monday. But math and reason are different things.
Killed. Gored. Trout’ed.
At 4-2 in the sixth, the Rangers had their first lead in 33 innings (I’m quoting Levi on this and not doing the research to confirm it, because who wants to relitigate that horror show). Nick Martinez gave up a single-double sequence to draw the score to 4-3, and Jeff Banister summoned… Yohander Mendez?
A valid criticism of Banister is he uses his bullpen like each win is a succor he might not taste again. We’ve seen brilliant arms dashed against Banny usage. And while Yo is a keen young kid who probably has a lengthy MLB future ahead of him, is he the best chance to defend a narrow lead, when the light of your season is ebbing?
The answer is no, he wasn’t. Mendez walked Kole Calhoun in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, and ceded to… Ricky Rodriguez?
Anyway, by the time the dust settled, it was 7-4 LA, and a late rally by Texas wasn’t enough. The game was final, and with it, any hope for winning the AL West (again, mathematical, not reasonable).
Cole Hamels gave up two solo shots to Justin Upton to bookend his night. Nothing else much happened that night.
Early offense (a two run double from 1.25 calf'd Adrian Beltre in the first, 490’ moonshot from Joey Gallo in the second) were enough to withstand a bit of late-game Trouting (eighth inning solo homer to bring the score to it’s final of 4-2). It’s nice to end the weekend on a high note, I suppose, and the other DFW team plying its wares on Sunday did nothing to offer comfort.
Tuesday begins the final AL West swing for Texas to the Pacific Northwest for three against the Mariners. Seattle is 74-76, a half game ahead of Texas in the win column for the AL Wild Card and third place in the West.
The series kicks off with a rematch of last weeks Martin Perez-Mike Leake matchup. In that game, Leake gave up one run in 5 ⅔ while Perez went 5 ⅓, giving up three. Leake probably would have stayed in, but he had a turkey sandwich in his locker that was getting into ‘The Danger Zone’, temperature-wise, for microbial growth.
On Wednesday Andrew Cashner will rematch Felix Hernandez. They went head to head on Thursday. It didn’t turn out well for Texas. I’m very unsure if Cashner returns to Texas next year, for a variety of reasons. I hope he enjoys these last few starts for his hometown team, if they’re his last in Texas, and I hope I and you do, too.
Finally, on Thursday we'll have a fresh pitching matchup. It’s Cole Hamels versus James Paxton. I’ve tried to find a way to describe this matchup for ten minutes, and I have nothing more to say than it is Cole Hamels versus James Paxton.
Share your hopes and dreams with Joe on Twitter @thejoeursery.
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