I often wonder if, when Chuck Morgan announces Ian Desmond at the Ballpark, has he ever accidentally slipped and said Ian Kinsler instead? It would be understandable. After all, the old Ian was a fixture here for eight seasons.
He wore out his welcome with his perpetual pop ups and brain freezes while wondering too far off a base and allowing himself to get picked off. One game Kinsler got picked off for the cycle: at first, at second, at third, and, somehow, at home.
But the new Ian has, in just eighty-one games, made Rangers fans quickly forget about the old Ian.
It took a few games, though. On April 23, seventeen games into his Rangers career, Ian Desmond was hitting .164, and looked like he had never played left field before, because he hadn’t.
In fact, if anyone remembers the April 22 debacle against the White Sox, where Mitch Moreland lined into the weirdest triple play possible, it was Ian Desmond’s Ian Kinsler-like base running that triggered it. Moreland hit a line drive to right for a routine out. But Desmond strayed way too far from first then avoided the tag getting back to the base, over ran the base, avoided the tag getting back to the base again, missed the base a second time, then got tagged for the second out. (That Prince Fielder watched it all then, six minutes later, decided to run home and get tagged out for the third out was the head scratcher of the season.)
At that point, Rangers faithful of little faith were circling the wagons and declaring the new Ian as worthless as the old Ian.
Then something happened. On April 26, the third game in which the Rangers lost to complete getting swept by the White Sox, Ian Desmond went 3-for 4. Then he went 2-for-3. Then 2-for-4. Then he went nuts at the plate.
He switched to center field, moved to second in the order, and has been the Rangers best run generator ever since.
In May Desmond was .345/.368/.923 (AVG, OBP, OPS). In June, even better: .358/.423/1.019.
His July numbers are off the charts: .600/.600./2.000.
Desperately needing a win last night after losing two games in New York in soul-crushing fashion, the Rangers faced a bad team in the Minnesota Twins. The Rangers faced a bad starting pitcher in Ervin Santana. Yet, they could not break through until Jurickson Profar’s pinch hit bases loaded single in the seventh drove in two.
But they went into extra innings tied at two, looking to avoid the dreaded three-game losing streak.
Ian Desmond took care of that. He homered in the top of the tenth off a bad Twins pitcher, one so bad, in fact, his name is actually Abad. (If this truth in advertising thing would have applied to a certain Ranger pitcher, his name would have been Tom Craphelmsman.) And Sam Dyson got back on the horse and closed it out in Dyson-like fashion.
And just like that, the Rangers are riding a one-game winning streak. Thanks to Ian Desmond. Who has had a huge hand in pretty much every one of the Rangers wins since he flipped the switch at the end of April.
Rangers fans are liking this new and improved Ian.
Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-0, 9.00) vs. Tyler Duffy (3-6 , 5.59)
Game time: 1:10 pm
How the Twins hit against Gonzalez.
The Rangers have never faced Duffy.