The biggest question coming into 2016 was the psyche of Elvis Andrus. When last he was seen, he was sitting alone, stunned, shunned, shaken, embarrassed, perhaps crying, in the Toronto dugout after one of the more crushing personal failures an athlete could have in a team sport.
Every man, woman and child vilifed Elvis, even many unborn at the time. But it wasn’t a knee jerk reaction to one monumentally bad day at the office. It was the culmination of a three-year backslide punctuated by a sucker punch to the gut.
He was supposed to be Derek Jeter, at least that’s what the general manager proclaimed. He wasn’t Jeter. He wasn’t Michael Young, the guy he displaced.
He was a shortstop whose occasional spurts of productivity and brilliance with the glove were far overshadowed by his far too frequent disappearing acts at the plate, and total brain freezes on defense and on the bases.
When, like common sense in England, it all came crashing down in Game 5, Elvis was a man alone on an island.
He could have crawled under a rock and hidden forever.
Instead, he is having a career year offensively, defensively and on the bases.
He came storming out of the gate in April hitting .329 with thirteen RBIs. Batting mostly seventh, or eighth.
He tailed off slightly in May, but didn’t have the Elvis fall-off-the-earth falloff that everyone was waiting for, hitting a respectable .261.
But in June he caught fire again.
His last seven days he is hitting .421.
He’s had four three-hit games in the last twelve games. And last night his three-run triple broke open a tense game that gave badly needed breathing room to an embarrassed and battered Rangers bullpen.
What’s best about it is, since all this production is coming from the seven or eight hole, the bottom third of the Rangers order is as dangerous as the top third and the middle third.
Meaning, it’s pretty hard to beat this team.
So here’s to Elvis Andrus, who is finally living up to the contract he signed and the promise he showed.
You will never make us forget Toronto. But at least we don’t hate you with a white-hot seething anger anymore.
Clay Buchholz (3-7, 5.83) vs. Martin Perez (6-4, 3.57)
Game time: 2:05 pm