One of the most gloriously magical season in Rangers history ended with their worst inning ever. It was a monumental meltdown.
“Game 6” is no longer the most despised phrase in Rangers lexicon. Now there is “The Seventh” or what might be cruelly, but understandably, called “The Elvis Inning.”
With the scored tied 2-2, Rougned Odor on third and two outs, the Rangers took the lead in the top of The Seventh in the most unlikely way—a return throw from catcher Russell Martin hit Choo’s bat while he was standing in the batter’s box and rolled away, allowing Odor to score. That Odor had the presence of mind to run on that play says everything you need to know about why he needs to be the Rangers second baseman for a long long time.
What happened next says everything about why most fans hope Elvis Andrus never plays another game in a Rangers uniform.
Fair or not, Elvis Andrus just became the most vilified Ranger of all time. Here is why. Here is how “The Seventh” unfolded. Warning to the faint of heart.
Cole Hamels took the mound in the bottom of The Seventh with a 3-2 lead. The Rangers were nine outs away.
The Blue Jays hit into seven of those outs in The Seventh.
The Rangers, unfortunately, were able to record only three of them.
Hamels got the first out of the inning on a routine ground ball to Elvis Andrus. Except Elvis Andrus didn’t field the ball cleanly. Error.
No worries. Hamels can get out of this with a double play ball. Which he got. A sharply hit first-to-second-to-first ground ball. Except Elvis Andrus couldn’t catch the ball thrown to him. Error (charged to Moreland but one-hundred percent on Elvis).
Mitch Moreland bounced the throw in the dirt, but it took a routine hop into Elvis’s glove. And then out of Elvis’s glove.
Now Hamels really had his work cut out for him. But all was not lost. Just get the lead runner, and he is still set up for a double play.
Adrian Beltre was playing up for the inevitable bunt, ready to make a play at third if it unfolded that way. Which, it did.
He fielded the ball cleanly, whipped around, and made a perfect throw to Elvis Andrus covering third for the out. Except Elvis Andrus dropped the routine throw. Error.
Elvis Andrus’s glove, it seems, is where championships go to die.
Even after all that Elvis carnage, though, the Rangers were still up 3-2. Get an out and a double play and you’re out of it.
A sharp ground ball to first turned into a force out at home. One out. Still up 3-2. There might just be a way out of this nightmare.
An easy pop up in the infield right now would be huge.
Sam Dyson came in to relieve Hamels and got that easy pop up in the infield. Except Odor misplayed it.
Everybody in the stadium expected Odor to catch it. Including the base runner at first, who didn’t run until the shock of his team’s great fortune wore off, and he was forced out at second. But the tying run came in.
There is only so much poking the hornet’s nest one team can do against the best hitting team in baseball until it gets stung. The three-run homer that followed, putting the Blue Jays up 6-3, was the ugly punctuation to the sloppiest-written inning ever.
The Seventh. The Elvis Inning.
As I’ve said before, you can pitch around Elvis Andrus when he has a bat in his hand. You cannot pitch around him when he has a glove in his hand.
He makes some of the most brilliant plays. He makes some of the most careless plays. The fog surrounding his head in The Seventh never lifted.
The Rangers actually had the tying run up in the top of the eight, for one last valiant attempt to erase this nightmare.
The threat ended, appropriately, with Elvis Andrus striking out.
With that, this wonderful, improbable worst to first season ended in heart breaking, soul crushing fashion.
It was still a wonderful, improbable season. With so much to remember fondly, and so many positive things to carry into 2016.
But Nelson Cruz can step aside and breathe easy. Fair or not, he is no longer the biggest goat in Texas Rangers history. Elvis Andrus wears that crown. Perhaps it’s a dunce cap.