There’s nothing like a great baseball game.
A CLOSE ONE.
Now that was a baseball game.
Both teams’ aces dealing, going deep. Bullpens coming in to do their job. Tying the game, barely, in the ninth. Winning it in the tenth.
The Rangers had gone twenty innings in a row without scoring. They were down 2-0. Garret Richards was unhittable. In fact, Choo led off the game with a hit and Richards retired the next eighteen Rangers. The next baserunner was Choo again, leading off the seventh by reaching on an error. A wild pitch moved him to second. A groundout to third. Another ground out brought him home.
Then the ninth inning happened. Carlo Tocci, back from banishment to the “disabled list” where he was hidden away until the Rangers could decide what to do with an .080 hitting Rule 5 pick who would have to be returned to Philadelphia if he wasn’t activated yesterday, almost made a boneheaded play that would have ended the game.
With Profar at third after doubling—just the Rangers second hit of the game—and moving up ninety feet on a wild pitch, and Tocci at first running for Mazara, and one out, Beltre lifted a sac fly to deep left. Tocci, for some reason since his run meant nothing at the time, took off for second and was tagged out for the third out of the game before Profar’s run scored. Profar, not expecting Tocci to run, lollygagged it home.
It looked like a soul-crushing game-ending double play.
It looked like the Rangers lost 2-1.
But the Rangers challenged that Profar had, indeed, touched home milliseconds before Tocci was out. The call was reversed. The Rangers tied it. Then they won it in the tenth on a hit from Ronald Guzman, who is going to have a lot more of those in the future.
What won the game, though, is what’s been the one constant bright spot for the Rangers all season, their bullpen. After Hamels was pitch-counted out of the game after seven brilliant innings, the pen held the Angels scoreless the next three.
The Rangers bullpen ERA has been 1.59 on this roadtrip, allowing just three runs in seventeen innings. In fact, the Rangers have the seventh best bullpen ERA in the American League.
Bullpens are such a fickle thing. They are unpredictable. Relievers are up and down from year to year. Last year, of course, the Rangers bullpen was a nightmare and the Cleveland Indians, with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, was unbeatable. This year the Indians bullpen ERA is the worst in the league, by far.
With bullpens, you build them, send them out, and pray. With the Rangers rotation, you send them out a lot more often. And this year, this bullpen has been overtaxed and outstanding.
Last night, pitching won the game for the Rangers. That hasn’t happened too often this year.
It’s great to see what real baseball looks like from time to time.