What this team needs: Delino DeShields playing like the promise of Delino DeShields.
What this team doesn’t need: Jose Leclerc playing like the ghost of Tanner Scheppers.
Both extremes were on display last night. Luckily the DeShields overshadowed the Leclerc and the Rangers were able to split the two-game series with the Diamondback, get back to .500 after twelve games (they were 4-8 at this juncture last year), salvage a bad road trip, snap a four-game losing streak, and head back home with a little positivity.
But also head back home with a major question hanging over their heads: what’s wrong with Leclerc?
But, first, DeShields. When Delino DeShields is right, he is a spark plug. He is a catalyst for the offense. The challenge is getting him right and keeping him there.
He came into last night’s game batting .100. Which is why he has mostly been batting at the bottom of the order. Sure, he has speed. But what good does that do if he can’t get on base to use it? It’s like having a Porche on LBJ at rush hour. It goes 10 miles per hour just as fast as a Prius.
DeShields’s hit in the sixth inning was the Rangers first of the night. Almost immediately, he stole second, and took third on a throwing error. That was the disruptive power of DeShields that Rangers offense needs. Speed can rattle. Logan Forsythe singled DeShields in and the Rangers tied the game.
DeShields hit a single in the seventh to drive in the second run.
The Rangers offense clicks when DeShields clicks.
Hopefully last night was the start of a lot of clicking. And hopefully last night was the end of a lot of palpitating.
With a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, so it was no longer a save situation, manager Chris Woodward made a smart decision. Give Jose Leclerc the ball and let him gain a measure of redemption from Tuesday night’s blown save. A closer has to be able to come back from that.
Leclerc faced five batters. Single, hit by pitch, hit by pitch, pop up behind the plate, walk. Run scored. Bases loaded. Manager Chris Woodward then made a second smart move. Take the ball away from Jose Leclerc. Don’t let this thing take root in Leclerc’s head. Don’t let him blow another save. Don’t lose this game.
Because what this team needed more than anything else was to not let last night’s game get away.