You forgot why you, as a Rangers fan, have had a fairly healthy heart the past six years. Why your cuticles and nails were so well groomed. Why your hair was intact. And your breathing normal.
The Rangers losing these past six years made you forgot what playoff baseball was like.
Then Josh Sborz and Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc gave you a healthy dose of unhealthy reality.
You hold your breath for outs at a time. Pitches at a time. Your palms sweat in places you don’t even have sweat glands. Your heart skips like an overplayed vinyl record.
But at least in Game 1, it was only fear and not the heartbreak that has befallen your heart so many times this year.
When you have the worst bullpen in the history of bullpens, you would like to see less of it than more. But Bruce Bochy is a man who likes to tempt fate. He has three rings, so he’s very good at it. With two outs in the sixth inning, and a slim 3-2 lead, he removed his best pitcher for his bullpen.
Will Smith? He got his out, no problem. Because he didn’t have to throw his fastball. That would have been a big problem.
Josh Sborz comes in. He throws seven pitches out of the strike zone. Far out of the strike zone. His pitch pattern looked looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. Your heart races, your breathing stops. Another bullpen meltdown was in the works. Then he got Adam Frazer to fly out. Struck out Cedric Mullens on a pitch that would have hit his foot. And struck out Ryan O’Hearn on a pitch that was right down the very middle of the strike zone. O’Hearn was obviously shocked that Sborz could throw a ball there. So was the rest of Rangers Nation.
Now it was Chapman’s turn to meltdown. He tried. He really tried. He, too, walked the first batter. Then he wild pitched him to second. And walked the next batter. How is anyone’s heart healthy enough to be a Rangers fan?
For some odd reason, Orioles hitter Anthony Santander swing at one of Chapman’s low misfires, and hit it to Josh Jung, who turned it into the biggest double play of the season. Trouble was, the Orioles had a runner at third, ready to come home on the inevitable Chapman wild pitch. Just a matter of time. He tried, he really tried. He buried two pitches in the dirt but Johan Heim dug them out. Then, he accidentally found the strike zone and struck out Ryan O’Hearn for the third out. Every time Chapman walks off the field you hope it’s the last time you ever see him pitch for the Rangers.
Now it’s Leclerc’s turn to blow the save. He gave up a leadoff single to Rookie of the Year candidate Gunnar Henderson. Here comes the meltdown. Here comes the loss of your breathing pattern. Then, for some odd reason, Henderson took off for second. He was thrown out. It was so not close that even if Angel Hernandez was the ump who called him out the Orioles wouldn’t have protested. (He was so out that Hernandez would have called him safe.)
Leclerc got a strike out, then a ground out.
Rangers fans across America had no idea what to do at this point. Wait? No slow walk off the mound after giving up the game-losing hit? No watching the opposing team mobbing one another at home? No heads hung low in shame? What’s that S next to a Rangers reliever in the box score?
These are all new emotions.
The Rangers bullpen held. They bent but they did not break. It wasn’t easy, though. It’s never easy. Expect a lot of heart checkups on Monday in Rangers Nation.