It didn’t feel like it was going to be a great baseball night, or a great night at all, considering I’d just driven away from Little League practice through a hailstorm that left my windshield looking like an Elvis Andrus spray chart and the hood like the seat in front of me on Bat Night 1978.
And then Matt Harrison did that.
Craig Gentry (.500/.567/.615 with two strikeouts over 31 plate appearances the last two weeks) rocketed a shot that his former RedHawks teammate Ryan Roberts couldn’t handle.
Mike Adams and Joe Nathan were crazy-great.
And on a night when the Rangers offense was silenced, Texas momentarily gained a half-game in the West, before the Dodgers spit up a first-and-third, no-outs situation against Ernesto Frieri in the bottom of the ninth, losing to the Angels, 2-1.
(Curse the Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar homers and disgusting Dodgers display to end the game if you just, but think about how Angels fans feel about the Roberts play on Gentry’s ground ball, and the fact that Texas was three-hit at home and still won. Baseball.)
In the last five games, a stretch in which three of the Rangers’ five season-opening starting pitchers haven’t pitched (Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz injured, Yu Darvish skipped), Texas has allowed six runs.
Five of them came in one game.
Same number for Harrison, sort of: Five games (38 innings), six runs.
Three shutouts in those five games, after three shutouts in the first 58.
Runs allowed in the Rangers’ six interleague wins (out of eight): 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0.
Meanwhile, Joaquin Arias provided the first indelible moment of a career that wasn’t supposed to be this forgettable, helping Matt Cain earn history.
As did Gregor Blanco, whose place on my list that in recent years has included Callaspo, Ben Zobrist, Josh Willingham, Brennan Boesch, Matt Joyce, Mike Aviles, Marco Scutaro, Sean Rodriguez, Danny Valencia, Jack Hannahan, Michael Wuertz, and absolutely Gerardo Parra isn’t as anonymous any more.
And Chris Davis and R.A. Dickey continued on Wednesday to prove that the Rangers were right, at one point, even if Jarrod Saltalamacchia took a night off from doing so and if Brandon McCarthy’s shoulder was back in the news rather than his breakout season and a third that are going to make him a wealthy man this winter.
But what’s past is past.
Through 63 games last year, Texas was 35-28, 2.5 games up in the West.
Through 63 games in 2010: the same 35-28 record, and 0.5 games up.
This year, in spite of all the hand-wringing that has followed the club’s hot start, the Rangers are 37-26, and 3.5 games up.
It’s the second-best record at this point on the schedule in club history. Texas was better in 1996 and 1998, both playoff seasons.
But not as good in 2010 or 2011, both World Series seasons.
Ninety-nine to play. Lots of time. Frieri will give up a run at some point. So will Harrison. Gentry will cool off. Josh Hamilton will heat back up. My car will eventually have a windshield without a Rorschach test on it.
This season, which has already taken a number of loud turns, isn’t finished doing that, but one thing that’s fairly certain is that there will be more opportunities in 2012 for baseball to salvage what had been a plainly ruined day than those, like in the times of Bat Night and the unceremonious wasting away of R.A. Dickey’s Rangers career, when baseball ruins an otherwise perfectly good day.
Sweep this thing.