DALLAS - Baseball is a season of moments.
Some of those moments will be good, where you’ll see celebrations and victories hand in hand. The feel good moments you refer back to in the summer months for inspiration and mental hydration. 162 is a grind, and you need those moments to keep each foot moving forward.
Then they’re those other moments. Where an assortment of things go wrong, and you can only begin to predict what mishap occurs next. It’s like a childhood game of Battleship after you’ve found B4 and B6 are hits.
You know what’s coming next.
We all know what kind of moment we saw in Sunday’s bottom of the night.
If anything, Seattle’s final half frame to complete the sweep of Texas was fitting of what the problems for the Rangers have been early on. The M's surgically removed the Rangers’ heart in what I’m deeming the season’s first Wiggum moment.
For those unfamiliar with the reference, here's a helpful video:
In short, Ralph’s speech about love is Nomar Mazara’s home run in the top of the ninth. Lisa’s scream is a scary good depiction of what happened when Texas fans saw Sam Dyson entering the game with a one run lead.
Well, that’s what happened next.
No Outs, Nobody On. Sam Dyson v Jarrod Dyson, 7-6
The bottom of the ninth starts with Dyson on Dyson crime. Jarrod is in for catcher Carlos Ruiz, taking two straight balls. Then after two fastballs impeccably placed on the inside corner by Sam, Jarrod reaches out for a low changeup on the other side of the plate.
He makes contact, sending it straight back to Sam. He sticks his paw out, deflecting the hit while making the ball difficult for Elvis Andrus to field cleanly. Jarrod is a speedster by trade, so by the time any of this resolves he’s standing on first base.
OK, not super ideal but there’s room to work here. A double play makes it all better, Rangers fans told themselves.
No outs, Runner on First. Sam Dyson v Leonys Martin, 7-6
In addition to folks back in Texas being on edge about Dyson’s performance, Martin’s appearance in this narrative reminds everyone about the trade that brought Tom Wilhelmsen to Texas in exchange for the Cuban outfielder at the plate.
Wilhelsem pitched 21 innings for the Rangers, giving up 25 runs for a 10.50 ERA.
Not a great trade.
Back to the present, Martin takes a ball in the dirt allowing Jarrod to steal second. The tying run is in scoring position now.
That changes the plan.
Martin fouls a changeup off, before getting the bunt down on a middle in pitch.
Here’s where the wheels come off.
Once Martin fouled the first bunt, the infield defense changed. Most importantly, Gallo comes in from third meaning there’s nobody covering third if the ball goes in play. He’s going to charge the bunt. It makes sense that Martin the lefty would bunt up the third base line, allowing Gallo to charge and fire for the first out.
Of course that doesn’t happen.
Instead Martin sends the bunt between the mound and third. Both Gallo and Sam Dyson go for it, with Dyson coming up with it.
He looks to third, but nobody’s there because Gallo is about two feet away.
He spins like a top to look at first, and finds Mike Napoli on the bag.
He also finds Leonys Martin standing there safe.
This play will be one of hot debate. Some will say that Gallo needs to take charge of that play, call Dyson off, and commandeer the ball. That same logic will also apply to folks saying that if he was in, Adrian Beltre makes that play.
Others will say that Dyson should know the defense, that there will be no play at third because of the drawn in corners; that he should immediately throw to first because Napoli will run back to first once he sees the ball heading to third.
Either way, the play doesn’t get made. Meanwhile, Google sees a spike in searches for “Men In Black flashy memory thingy real” in DFW.
No outs, Runners on 1st and 3rd, Sam Dyson v Mike Freeman, 7-6
Another pinch hitter for Seattle interim manager Tim Bogar, clearly doing all this to spite Texas for hiring Jeff Banister over him in 2014. Dyson throws two changeups, during which Martin steals second. After that, Rangers Manager Search 2014 First Place Winner Banister decides there’s no point in wasting what’s left of Dyson’s arm on this at bat. He signals for a no pitch intentional walk that’s really a two pitch intentional walk, because as Michael Tepid often says “Baseball exists to F with you.”
No outs, Bases loaded, Sam Dyson v Mitch Haniger, 7-6
Mitch Haniger spent his weekend trying to make Rangers fans forget that Kyle Seager still draws breath. Earlier, Haniger crushed a three run bomb off starter Cole Hamels ruining the nice five run lead thing Texas was doing at the moment. Here, Haniger stood at home plate watching five two seamers go by.
One was a strike, which means the other four weren’t.
Haniger trots for a second time today, this time only 90 feet tying the game.
Quickly, Sam Dyson hot taeks overtook the Happy Easter photos and messages on your friend’s Facebook pages.
No outs, Bases loaded, Sam Dyson v. Robinson Cano, 7-7
When it rains it pours, and while it normally rains in Seattle from the sky it was raining from the…hand of…look it’s really bad right now for Texas and detailing it like this has made me sad so cut me a break.
Something good finally happens in this at bat, though it didn’t come without a bit of controversy. After taking a first pitch ball, Cano fouls three straight pitches.
The count was 1-2, when Dyson unleashes a low changeup for the fourth pitch.
Cano hacks at it; Lucroy digs it out of the dirt. Strike three! A fleeting moment of hope and potential in a gulf of repetitive and familiar darkness arrives!
Not so fast, says home plate umpire Mark Carlson.
Carlson says Cano foul tipped the ball into the dirt, so it’s not strike three after all. Banister emerges from his den to give what could be considered at most a gruff disagreement, but with no way to challenge the ruling (you can’t review a foul tip) the count remains the same.
Two pitches later, with the infield drawn in, Cano grounds out to Rougned Odor who fires a non-exploding on the launch pad missile to Lucroy at home for the force out. No run, the tie is intact.
The bases are still loaded, but hey, baby steps.
One out, Bases loaded, Sam Dyson v. Nelson Cruz, 7-7
It just had to be Nelson Cruz.
The deliverer of so many great moments for Texas, yet also the officiant of Texas’ most reviled memory.
It was always going to be him.
The end came quickly, yet still with an ample amount of pain. Cruz smacks the ball to Elvis’ left, but he’s able to smother with his glove hand while lying in the dirt. He tries the flip to Rougie on second but it’s an errant flip, sending the ball dribbling into the infield grass.
The rest of the infield looked on helplessly as Freeman scored, the series ended without a win, and the collective exhale of an entire fan base was on of frustration and familiar exasperation.
Dyson has likely seen his last ninth inning for a while, barring a blowout either way. The defense, something Banister has harped on early as not being good enough, continued to be not good enough. Texas falls to last in the west after twelve games, replacing the team who just swept them.
A city known for its depressing overtones lived up to its reputation on this weekend.
The season isn’t over. Texas still has 150 games to go, and there’s no telling how those games will go. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball; no matter how hard you get knocked down the game gives you another opportunity to get right back up.
Whether Texas gets up or not, we’ll find out as the season continues. In a sport consumed with moments though, this is the moment most will carry with them.
At least until the next one comes.
Until then, we wait and see what Texas will choo-choo-choose to do about a game that will leave many fans sleepless over Seattle.
The baseball gods have been Nelson Ha-ha!-ing at the Rangers so far this season. You can commiserate with Samuel about it on Twitter @thesamuelhale.
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