When they announced the special COVID extra innings rule for 2020, with a ghost runner starting at second base, every baseball fan in America scoffed at it. It sounded like the dumbest idea in the world.
Turns out, it’s one of the best things to happen to the game.
For nine innings you get swinging and missing as players swing for the fences. But if we are lucky they are tied after nine innings of mostly boring baseball, you get something special.
Even though the Rangers lost in extra innings last night, look at how amazing those two innings were.
With Culberson as the ghost runner on second, a wild pitch sends him to third. The go-ahead run now just 90 feet away.
Then, Ibanez walks. Now first and third. No outs. Prime scoring opportunity.
Khris Davis hits a scorcher to third. In a split second, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman has to look Culberson back to the third, and decide if going for two will keep him there. He whips the ball to second for one out, they relay it to first where a slowed by injury Davis hasn’t made it to. Double play. No run scored.
Even though it went against the Rangers, it was brilliant defensive baseball. Highlight reel worthy.
Solak strikes out to end the inning.
Then the Astros take a crack at it. Their ghost runner is moved over with a ground out to second. So the Rangers now need to set up a force play to keep him from scoring. They intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases. With only one out.
They will need a miracle of their own here. They get it when Mile Strahl flies out to Joey Gallo, who fires up his cannon of an arm to gun down the runner trying to tag up and score.
Another amazing highlight reel double play.
It was an unforgettable inning of baseball all set up by the ghost runner at second.
Small ball, great defense, strategy, drama.
Even though the Rangers lost, you couldn’t ask for a better game. For that one inning.