They’d gone seven straight games without so much as a lead. The last time the Rangers were ahead in a baseball game was the final three innings of Texas 4, Los Angeles 3 in Anaheim on September 8.
We can all remember a very big moment in Texas Rangers history punctuated by Elvis Andrus squeezing a pop-up. This wasn’t one of them. Andrus hauled in Erick Aybar’s lob to short left on Joe Nathan’s 10th and final pitch in a tidy ninth on September 8, and I don’t even remember that play, but considering it happened hours before the Cowboys’ 2013 season started, I suppose that’s long enough ago that I can arguably be excused.
After Aybar’s F-6, Texas played 63 straight innings without leading a baseball game for even a moment, which is unfathomable to a point, though so fresh in memory that it was no more unfathomable in its later stages than the concept of actually putting together a little offense to turn a game around.
The Rangers have now held a lead for nine straight innings.
In fact, they led after all 272 of last night’s pitches, courtesy of Ian Kinsler, who I was reminded by a couple of you after last night’s 18-word report is not only hitting .300/.391/.550 since this but has also squared up several times into outs in that five-game stretch, and of Alexi Ogando, whose stuff over the first five frames of the “bullpen game” was as filthy as it’s been in a very long time, certainly all of this year, masking what (at least in innings two and three) was inconsistent command.
It’s funny how one by-product of one of the worst weeks of regular season baseball in this franchise’s history, all circumstances considered, was actually a potential positive: The absence of a lead over all those games meant very little work for Neal Cotts (who pitched just twice in seven days), Tanner Scheppers (three times in seven days, but fewer pitches than Cotts), and Joe Nathan (zero work in eight days), and in closing out last night’s win all three seemed to have better command and better life than we’ve seen in a while, and that’s something I think we can all feel pretty fired up about going forward.
Even though some apparently didn’t see it, opting instead for a brisk Tuesday night episode of NFL Total Access, a little Million Second Quiz, or some vintage episodes of The Nanny. I’ll never understand the bandwagon phenomenon, especially with two weeks to go in a season and a playoff position in hand — basically in the balance on every pitch — and particularly given that the only two teams in baseball who can reach the post-season for a fourth straight season are the Rangers and Yankees, with New York pretty much sentenced to longshot odds at this point.
But whatever. I’m sure Jim Mora killed it last night during the Browns-Vikings preview, and maybe it was that episode of The Nanny where that guy did that thing.
The great Jeff Sullivan wrote yesterday in a piece for FanGraphs: “The Rangers are in an anxious situation. It’s all still perfectly salvageable, even if they’ve allowed Oakland to run away. This has been the rough equivalent of a ninth-inning meltdown in progress. With a little clutch performance, the game can still be saved. With a mistake here and there, it’ll slip out of the Rangers’ hands. Either way, people are going to be talking about this one. This is one that lodges itself in the memory.”
Yep. We’ll be talking about this one.
And maybe the rally got rolling last night.