Baseball has a strange way of equalizing itself.
In the first inning, Adrian Beltre walked. Then, while caught in the front end of a Prince Fielder double play, he slid hard into second base, landing awkwardly on his side and wrenching his back.
Unless both of Beltre’s legs fall off, though, he is not coming out of the game. So, even though his back was on fire, he stayed in. After all, Beltre at sixty-percent is better than almost every other player at one-hundred percent.
He proved that in the third inning. With two outs and Delino DeShields on second, and with his back barking louder than a junkyard dog at midnight, he singled to center to drive in DeShields for a 2-0 lead.
I’m not sure what was more painful. Beltre’s back, judging from his facial expressions. Or watching Beltre make his way (you cannot legally call it running) to first?
It was obvious Beltre would not finish the game. Hanser Alberto had to replace him.
His absence would soon have consequence.
With Josh Donaldson on first and no outs, Jose Bautista hit a tailor-made double play ball to Beltre’s replacement. It was the kind of ball Beltre could turn into two outs in his sleep. But Alberto double clutched, had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, and threw late to second.
That forced Rougned Odor to be stationed at second far longer than a second baseman should be stationed there with a runner barreling down on him. That forced Josh Donaldson to alter how he would normally slide into second. That caused his head to hit Odor’s knee and get snapped back in a way that a head is not supposed to get snapped back. That caused Donaldson, the probable A.L. M.V.P., to have to leave the game due to a possible concussion. That caused the Blue Jays to lose their best offensive threat as well.
In typical Canadian sense of fair play, they too pulled out their All-Star third baseman.
If Beltre wouldn’t have hurt his back, Odor would have made the proper relay in the right time and moved out of the way, and his knee would not have rung Donaldson’s bell.
Baseball has an interesting ability to connect plays that happen innings apart in ways that aren’t readily apparent at first.
With both team’s hearts and souls out of the game, the Rangers got to David Price, once again. Yovani Gallardo was, as always, just good enough to win. Odor and Robinson Chirinos went long. And the depleted Rangers beat the depleted Blue Jays 5-3 in Game 1.
Josh Donaldson is going to undergo concussion tests to see if he can play today.
The good news for Rangers fans is, the MRI results came back late last night on Beltre’s back. No structural damage.
As long as his legs haven’t suddenly fallen off overnight, chances are really good we will see Adrian Beltre at third base again this series.
He’s not just captain of the Rangers. He’s like Captain America. An invincible superhero.
The Rangers are up 1-0 in this Series. If they are going to beat the far superior Blue Jays, they need all the superhero-ing they can get.