August 15, 2020.
That was the last time the Rangers were over .500. Two and a half years ago. Two and a half long, dark, painful, frustrating, forgettable years.
It isn’t so much the Rangers being over .500 as it is how they did it. The exact opposite of how anyone would have scripted it.
Jacob deGrom was blasted for five runs in a little more than three innings of work. Blasted is the right word. He gave up six hits. Not one single single.
Threes double, two triples, one home run, one wild pitch. Five runs. By the time he walked off the mound with two outs in the third, the Rangers were down 5-0 and hadn’t had a hit themselves.
It’s worth noting, in two of his last three starts, covering this one and his final two of 2022, deGrom has surrendered five runs on six hits.
Luckily, the Rangers didn’t let themselves get buried in a 5-0 hole. The minute deGrom left the games, the bats showed up.
Corey Seager started the bottom of the fourth with a single. Nathanial Lowe, sporting his 70s mustache, grounded him to second. Adolis Garcia hit a sharp single to left, moving Seager to third. Jung walked. Badly needing a hit because they needed a run even worse, Jonah Heim laced a line drive about two millimeters over the outstretched glove of the Phillies first baseman for a double, scoring Seager and Garcia. Then Robbie Grossman, who came in quietly through the back door at the end of the offseason, laced a three-run homer to center, sending the Rangers to a 5-5 tie and the 38,000 Rangers fans into a frenzy. They weren’t done yet.
After Brad Miller grounded out, Josh Smith walked. Marcus Semien singled him to third. Seager walked. With the bases loaded and two outs, Nathanial Lowe hit a line drive single to the fence—wait, scratch that, he barely bumped into a pitch that rolled six feet away from his bat. But Smith raced home and slid under the tag. Bases were loaded with a passed ball scored Semien with the Rangers seventh run of the inning. Garcia then singled to right, scoring Seager and Semien.
When the inning was over, the Rangers scored nine runs. It was the most runs any team had scored in an inning on Opening Day since the San Diego Padres put up an eleven-run inning in 1997. Their manager was Bruce Bochy.
Jacob deGrom’s career with the Mets was noted for how little run support he got. In 2018, he won his first Cy Young award with an ERA of 1.70 in thirty-two starts. With numbers like that you’d expect he would have won at least twenty games. He won ten. Lost nine. The next year, he won the Cy Young award again, with a 2.43 ERA in thirty-two starts. He won eleven games.
He didn’t get the win today, but the Rangers did, 11-7 over the World Series losing Phillies. And that’s what’s important.
August 15, 2020 was a long time ago.