September baseball is different than any other month. Suddenly, every inning matters. There is no margin of error, no patience for auditions, no room for failure.
Runs need to be driven in, not left on. Batters need to be retired, not allowed to do damage.
The Rangers haven’t been in this position since 2011, playing their best baseball heading into September. They came into September of 2012 and 2013 in the midst of great collapses. Last year, they came into September buried.
But this September, they are right in the middle of everything.
Luckily, Elvis Andrus is playing his best baseball, the best he has played in three seasons, just as September comes around. It could be fool’s gold, remembering how well Leonys Martin hit the last month of the season last year, only to regress.
But who cares right now? Let’s ride this re-invigorated Elvis Andrus as long as we can.
Last night against the Padres in San Diego he came up with bases loaded in a 4-4 game and came up huge. It was one of the more productive two-out rallies.
DeShields struck out. Choo grounded out. Then Fielder and Beltre singled and both moved up ninety feet on a passed ball. Rougned Odor was up, first base was open and Elvis was on deck. Any sane manager would intentionally walk Odor and pitch to Andrus in that situation. That’s what happened.
But this isn’t the usual rally killing Elvis Andrus. He’s hitting a remarkable .350 the last two weeks.
Andrus got another hit. This one a single to right. But an ensuing error at home cleared the bases, scored all three runs, knocked the Padres catcher out of the game, and left Andrus at third.
What happened next hadn’t happened in a long time. Since May of 2000, in fact.
Elvis Andrus stole home. He noticed the pitcher wasn’t paying attention, got a great jump, and sprinted for home. The pitch was low and outside, really more of a desperation throw than a pitch, and Elvis slid in easily.
When he came up to bat, it was 4-4. When he got back to the dugout it was 8-4.
It was the single most important single Elvis Andrus has hit in a long time.
September baseball needs heroes. Elvis Andrus became the first one. Texas picked up a game on Houston in the West and stayed a game ahead of Minnesota in the wild card race.
They go into Day Two of September down three games. If Elvis can steal home, the Rangers can steal this division from the Astros.