Had the Rangers lost last night, you’d better believe that this post would be all about Ryan Dempster and Mike Olt’s Texas Ranger debuts.
Only problem with that is the Rangers did not lose. Quite the opposite, as they won in thrilling fashion, 11-10.
And oh boy was that a much needed “w.”
So bad have the Rangers bats been, and so woeful the starting pitching, I feel it’s best we bathe in the glory of last night’s throat punch to the second-place Los Angles Angels of blah-blah-blah.
Stay down, Angels. Save yourself further embarrassment. Should you rise, we’ll just lay you out again, each time more forcefully than the last. This Division, this League, it’s ours. We’ve got this sh**.
That’s how Texas Rangers baseball suddenly feels again—and it’s fantastic.
It’s a win that will be fondly remembered as summer’s heat recedes while the regular season gradually gains intensity before blooming into postseason play.
Man, that Rangers’ tenth inning…A half frame that functioned as snake oil for the soul, capable of healing all ailments, while restoring plummeting batting averages and halting the rise of our chief A.L. West combatants.
Hell, it might even halt Roy Oswalt’s regression and fix Josh Hamilton’s inexplicable batting misadventures.
Some thoughts from last night’s tenth inning Angels-beat down:
• In the top of the tenth inning, in a 7-7 tie—in a game that the Rangers had trailed by as much as six runs, closer Joe Nathan immediately delivers his best Koji Uehara impersonation. Eight-hole hitter, Chris Ianetta, promptly whistles a go-ahead home run into the left field seats for an 8-7 advantage.
Then, after two quick outs, Nathan plunks Torii Hunter, and here comes Albert Pujols. Yep. Two-run rocket shot to left field, Rangers down 10-7. I’m not sure what left quicker, Pujols’ homer, or the crowd’s feel-good vibe.
But, so magical was last night, that Joe Nathan not only gets to stay in town unharmed, he gets the win!
• Sure, we all know Michael Young is having a down season. No need to delve deeper than that. Young seemingly grounds out to Angels’ shortstop Andrew Romine, only to reach on an error. He’d eventually score the run that brought the Rangers within one, 10-9.
• Injured for over a month, Mitch Moreland has hit safely in all three of his games since being reactivated from the disabled list on Monday. No hit was bigger than his line-drive single that tied the game up 10-10.
Moreland could provide the stretch run offense the Rangers have so sorely lacked.
• Yes, Kinsler was the only out recorded by the Angels in the tenth inning. Yes, it was a meekly hit weak pop-up that didn’t leave the infield…but his game-tying, leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning more than makes up for any of his shoulder-dropping, groan-inducing games of pepper with second baseman the league over.
• Nelson Cruz’s laser beam solo shot should have been for the walk-off win. But that doesn’t matter. What does is that The Boomstick is heating up baby…and Nellie goes nuclear, he can carry the team almost solomente.
• Quietly—it’s hard to make much of a racket after last year’s slash line—Mike Napoli is starting to show signs of life—as well as pop. Naps has hit five home runs in his last 10 games and was an almost-overlooked 3-for-4 last night with 2 RBI.
• Despite Ian Kinsler’s big game last night, there will be plenty that feel Elvis Andrus should be the Texas Rangers’ leadoff hitter. I’m beginning to be one of them. It’s not that Kinsler sucks, but it seems his skill-set might be better suited lower in the batting order.
Regardless, Elvis made a case for not only batting leadoff, but for team MVP last night. One of the few Rangers that has stayed consistent at the plate all season long, Elvis’ ringing, walk-off double still induces goose bumps nearly 14-hours later.
• Arguably the happiest Ranger of all, Dempster toes the rubber for his Texas debut tonight. Why so happy? It’s hard enough switching teams, but how about having to be your team’s ace and losing streak stopper all at the same time?
• If Olt takes to the big leagues as he has at every level of the minors, the Rangers might have their own version of Mike Trout. Okay that’s a bit far-fetched, but Olt has flashed prodigious power, a plus-glove and a knack for drawings walks throughout his minor league career.