All along it’s been the same caveat: The only way the Rangers win is if the heart of their lineup hits.
Two days ago, Adrian Beltre hit two home runs and drove in five.
Belre producing this year hasn’t always been a gimme. In fact, his inability to come through in the clutch for a significant portion of the season is the sole reason the Rangers cannot beat left-handed pitchers.
If Beltre was the hitter he had been in the past, left-handers would be sweating when they face the Rangers rather than dancing an Irish jig.But when it matters most, which was last night, the heart of the Rangers order came through. In spades. With clubs. On the diamond. Wow, that pun just unfolded on its own.
It was an exhilarating, back and forth, heart-stopping game, the kind the reconfirms your love for baseball and your faith in the Texas Rangers.
Every time it looked like the ghosts of the past were coming back to haunt the Rangers, a clutch hit drove them away.
Down 1-0 in the second, the Rangers got their first two on. The next two batters, however, went out meekly. We have seen this disappointment far too often. It looked like the Rangers were going to leave them on base again. But with two outs, Rougned Odor came through with an RBI and suddenly it’s 1-1.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Mitch Moreland batting with two outs and Fielder on first. His clutch home run turns the game around. Now it’s 3-2.
Bottom of the eighth, tied 3-3 after some suspect defense by the Rangers and Stevie Wonder-level balls-and-strikes calling by the home plate umpire. One out, Beltre on first. This time Fielder didn’t let the two-out drama unfold. He crushed a 3-2 pitch over the center field wall. 5-3 Rangers.
And just like that the Rangers are just a half-game from first place.