It was the best Rangers game of the season. It just took 117 games for it to arrive.
Situational hitting, bunting, sacrificing, smart base running, stellar defense, strong pitching. And, of course, a home run.
This was reminiscent of Rangers teams of the previous seven years. Teams where everyone contributes and there is no real star of the game.
The Rangers scored six runs, off the bat of six different players. Mazara, Beltre, DeShields, Gallo, Robinson, and Chirinos all picked up RBIs. That’s what you call contributions up and down the lineup.
But if you had to name one star of the game, it would be the most unlikely Rangers of them all, Rougned Odor.
Odor came into the game not having scored or driven in a run in his last ten games. Talk about being non-existent. In fact, every time you think Odor can’t get worse, he finds another gear in reverse. But last night he was brilliant. Three hits, three runs score, two stolen bases.
Even Martin Perez wasn’t the same Perez. After giving up two runs in the first, it looked like another meltdown Marty game. But he got through six.
Speaking of unlikely, enter rookie Ricardo Rodriguez. He’s a twenty-four-year-old rookie reliever signed by the Rangers way back in 2010, who had been floating around the system under the radar. His minor league career had enough roller coaster rides to make Six Flags envious.
He went from Rookie League to A-Ball to Triple-A, all the way back down to A-Ball. Then he had Tommy John surgery in 2015. Rehabbed in 2016. Started all over again in 2017 in High-A, putting up a 1.43 ERA in twenty-three games. Then he made the most unlikely jump back up to Triple-A, where in twelve games his ERA actually dropped to 1.20. In a system suffering from a severe pitching drought, Ricardo Rodriguez was a much welcome summer rain. He struck out the first two major league hitters he faced in a perfect seventh inning.
Last night’s game had so many storylines. None about failing to drive in runners in scoring position or double digit strikeouts or bad base running or sloppy defense or the bullpen collapsing.
It’s great to have one of those every 117 games.
Justin Verlander (8-7, 3.97) vs. A.J. Griffin (5-3, 5.40)
Game time: 7:05