I’ve got about eight or a dozen conclusions that I’m not going to jump to.
I’m just not jumping because I’ve learned a few things over my four decades as a baseball fan, the fourth of which has been of a team built annually to win, with a whole lot of payoff. I still take losses a little too hard, and wins fire me up probably a little more than they should — but at least I recognize that now.
Texas didn’t lose any of its final six spring training games. Its pitching over that final week was insanely effective.
Then, at the point Monday night at which just seven Rangers had been retired (that is, six plus the seemingly safe-at-second Carlos Gomez, after the eight-pitch walk he led off the first with, ahead of the 461-foot missile he hit two innings later), the Texas offense had racked up five extra-base hits, added two singles, tacked on two walks, and nursed a 5–1 lead.
With its number one starter on the mound, in a game that would see its top two relievers finish the seventh, handle the eighth, and start the ninth.
Couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
From that moment, when Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus had completed their second leaping high five in front of the dugout, and Texas up, 5–1, here is what the Rangers offense did the rest of the way:
6.2 innings. Two hits. One walk. Eleven strikeouts. No runs.
And here is what the Indians did at the plate from that point forward:
6.0 innings. Eight hits. Two walks. One strikeout (that ended with the batter on first base, and a run scoring). Seven runs.
Sam Dyson had a fantastic World Baseball Classic (six perfect innings, four strikeouts) and strong camp (three scoreless innings, opponents 1-for-10).
Andrew Miller (WBC: 13.50 ERA; Cactus League: 5.14 ERA) did not.
Jurickson Profar (.464/.516/.750) had a measurably more productive WBC than Odor (.263/.263/.632).
Yet Odor and Miller were dominant on Monday, Dyson wasn’t, and Profar grounded weakly to first (with a runner on second), struck out looking, grounded weakly to first, and struck out swinging (with a runner on third), all of which happened after he left his sunglasses in the dugout as he and his teammates took the field to start the game.
This series pits two very good teams against one another. Each rightfully expects to be playing past October 1st.
Cleveland 8, Texas 5 doesn’t change that. It doesn’t raise any meaningful questions.
(Other than whether Anthony Iapoce is the only coach in the big leagues wearing high socks.)
No, Adrian Beltre wasn’t available, but neither was Jason Kipnis.
Cleveland swung and missed at five of the 151 pitches that Yu Darvish, Matt Bush, Dyson, and Alex Claudio threw.
It was a very good night for some. Not so much for a few others. Both sides.
If the MLB season were a football game, we would be 22 seconds into the first quarter.
March Madness is over and quarterback Tony Romo is over but the 2017 Rangers season has just begun.
Tony Beasley’s National Anthem at 5:56 brought me to tears.
What happened from 6:08 until 9:29 — especially the last half of it — did not.