The announced attendance was about half-capacity at the Inferiority Complex, as sincere an account as Lance McCullers’s postgame explanation of a pitch that got away or the hairdresser judging the Keuchel beard atop Yuli Gurriel’s head with a “Yep. Good.”
Sometimes insincerity is part of it, and that’s cool.
The pitch behind Mike Napoli’s shoulders has been the focus of the talk shows and the highlight packages this morning, but it had as much to do with Houston 6, Texas 2 as the empty seats or the first baseman’s haircut.
What mattered was flies fumbled and throws misfired and throws not fired and anemic offense and leadoff walks that, while they don’t always lead to runs, pack on pitches and churn the lineup and lead to hitters hitting more often, and not uncommonly that’s going to work against you.
Sometimes Baby Brother (a term used last night by the Astros’ own radio broadcast, I’m told) is Yadi or Pedro or Robbie Alomar, and right now there’s no question that Houston is the better baseball team, better not just than Texas but possibly than every other team in the American League.
There’s plenty that makes it very easy to root against that team, but that doesn’t change how good they are. And it would take more than two hands to count the ways that game, the first of 19 between these two clubs, encapsulated 2017, so far, for both of them.
All it would take is a quick check of Houston’s rookie third baseman’s Twitter (don’t grade his spelling) before the series got underway or the postgame comments of its manager and shortstop to get that that game and this series mean a whole lot more to them than Games 26, 27, 28, and 29 out of 162.
The Astros, as insistent as they are that there was no statement pitch in the sixth, acknowledge with as much insistence that this, for them, is a statement series.
Not that it’s meaningless here. Texas is playing uninspired, uninspiring baseball, and that can’t last. It’s an especially good idea to break out of that when playing in the division, particularly against the team occupying the top perch.
As for last night, the Rangers lost one baseball game to a really good baseball team that should win 98 of them this year. There’s another game tonight. It counts just as much. They could lose that one, too.
But we don’t know how tonight will go, or how these 19 head to head will go, or how 2017 will play out. This isn’t Better Call Saul, and we don’t get to know where all this ends up even if we don’t know exactly how it gets there.
Last night was good for baseball. Not so much for Texas.
But it was May Day. Not Mayday.
The Rangers are better than this, but they need to start proving it. To date it means nothing more than announcing 22,556 when there’s actually half that around to buy the beer.