Chi Chi Gonzalez came into the game having surrendered just three runs in his first thirty innings. He gave up six in fewer than six last night.
If you’re old enough to remember the 70s, you remember Skylab, a NASA-operated space station that orbited the Earth starting in 1973. But it was damaged during launch and in 1979, it was falling from the sky and headed straight for Earth. Somewhere.
It created worldwide drama and panic, because nobody knew exactly when it was going to fall, or where.
They just knew it was headed this way.
For weeks it was nail biting as nightly reports tracked its trajectory, and as speculation ran rampant on where and when it would crash. Widespread panic ensued. “What if it fell on a densely populated area?” “What if it fell on me?”
The world watched and waited. Finally, on July 11, 1979, Skylab fell from space and landed with a thud in southern Australia.
Chi Chi Gonzalez wasn’t going to stay in orbit forever either. Eventually he would have a crash landing. His ERA was not going to remain otherworldly, aloft at 0.90. It had to come to Earth eventually.
That debris crashed down last night against the Oakland Athletics. Staked with a 5-2 lead, Chi Chi quickly gave up four more runs, making it a total of six in less than six innings of work, and with it, tripled his ERA to a more Earthlike 2.27.
Like Skylab, Chi Chi didn’t know where his pitches were landing either. He left way too many over the plate. And when you don’t have dominating stuff, it gets hit hard when you put it on a tee.
And with that, the Rangers run of seventeen straight games with a starter giving up three runs or fewer came crashing to Earth as well.
The Rangers bullpen lost the Battle of Worst Bullpens last night. But it has been a wreckage waiting to fall every time it gets called upon.
Last night proved the laws of gravity apply to everything. Including baseball. There is no escaping it.
Chi Chi Gonzalez is human after all.
(Adrian Beltre, it seems, isn’t. But that is the topic for another day.)