This one is about 2015 Rangers rookie left fielder Ryan Strausborger.
Strausborger got an unexpected taste of major league living by default in 2015. It happened because the first dozen or so candidates the Rangers ran out there ran into the proverbial wall.
The Rangers first choice Ryan Rua went down on opening day by actually running into the left field wall and breaking his foot.
Then the clown parade began. Kyle Blanks, Carlos Peguero, Jake Smolinski, Will Venable, Joey Gallo, Adam Rosales, Mike Napoli, Drew Stubbs, and Josh Hamilton all occupied left field like my idiot brother occupied the couch during his entire high school years. Other than Hamilton, who kept getting injured, they took up space.
So, the Rangers dug around under the cushions and turned up Ryan Strausborger.
His was a mostly an unmemorable tenure that was also remembered for almost being the guy who blew a game because he dropped an easy fly ball in the bottom of the tenth in a game against the Mariners.
The Rangers bailed him out.
A HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF FOR STRAUSBORGER.
September 9, 2015
Ryan Strausborger got his first major league hit yesterday.
He won’t remember it.
Because he made his first major league error yesterday too. And that almost cost the Rangers the game. Had the Rangers lost, that would have been his legacy, right or wrong, forever more.
“Hey, The Guy Who Dropped The Fly Ball That Cost Us That Game is coming up to bat.”
“I just hope they don’t put him back out in the field.”
Fortunately for Strausborger, Shawn Tolleson brilliantly navigated his way around that error and gave the Rangers a chance to win it in the eleventh.
In some ways, we can thank Stausborger for his monumental error. He made the game interesting.
By the time the bottom of the tenth inning had rolled around, yesterday’s game had slowed to an epic snoozefest because neither offense bothered to click. The Rangers had more runners thrown out on the base paths than had actually scored. And the only excitement was seeing how yet another instant replay challenge would go against Texas.
Then Strausborger made it interesting. “Hey, it’s extra innings. What if I let you start with a runner at second? Let’s see if you can score.”
The bottom of the tenth felt like a playoff game. A must-win elimination game where you throw everything on the line and say, screw it, let’s see what happens.
After Strausborger dropped Seth Smith’s long fly ball to left, Tolleson had to go to work with a runner on second and no outs.
For the privileged of striking out Mike Zunino, he now got to face the quintessential Rangers killer Kyle Seager.
Against all odds, he struck out Seager.
Just one more out to go.
Oh, yeah, the next two batters are also Ranger killers. Nelson Cruz, then Robinson Cano. They were also two of the hottest hitters in baseball right now.
First base was open, so it just made sense to walk Cruz and pray like heck that he can get Cano.
But, then Banister did something so crazy it just might work. He had Tolleson intentionally walk Cano.
This is the do or die stuff you see only in playoffs. It made me think of the 2008 playoffs when Tampa Bay was facing Boston in game seven of the Championship Series. With the game on the line, the playoffs on the line, and you could argue the entire state of Tampa Bay’s franchise on the line, Joe Madden thought, screw it, and brought in a rookie named David Price, handed him the ball, and just said, “There you go, see what you can do, I’ll be in the dugout watching.”
Price struck out JD Drew with bases loaded to win the game and send the improbably Rays to the World Series.
I will not dare to compare Banister to Madden, but I will say it was as gutsy a call to intentionally walk two batters to load the bases. A passed ball, like what set up the Seattle tying inning in the fourth, would have ended it. About a thousand things would have ended it.
Tolleson rared back and struck out Jesus Montero.
And, with that, he took Ryan Stausborger off the biggest of hooks.
Oh, then Rangers scored eight runs the following inning. That helped too.