It was August 1st, 2012: the Rangers were a division-leading 59-43, but were coming off losses in 8 of their previous 12 games, including back-to-back blowout defeats to the hard-charging Angels — 15-9 and 6-2, respectively.
Game 3 of that series, on the 1st of August, featured Yu Darvish pitching in what was the biggest game of his American career to that point. After all, the Angels were one of baseball’s hottest teams, whittling Texas’s division lead down to only 2.0 games. On that night, Darvish uncharacteristically wilted with one of his least effective starts of the season, surrendering 7 runs on only 4 hits, walking 6 batters in 5.0 innings. His ERA swelled up to 4.38.
The Rangers trailed 7-1 when he left the game, which was exacerbated by playing at home, that it was the Angels, and that they were essentially beating up on the best pitcher the Rangers’ staff had to offer. It was deflating.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the invisible hand flipped some sort of switch, and Texas wouldn’t be denied. Not that night. The offense scored 4 in the 5th to close the gap to within 2 runs, one in the 8th on a classic two-out bloop single from David Murphy, and tied it in the 9th on a leadoff Ian Kinsler home run off Ernesto Frieri.
Even tying the game felt like a signature moment in the season.
In the top of 10th inning, tied at 7’s, the Angels scored 3 runs off Joe Nathan — a bizarre mistake pitch that ended up middle-middle to Chris Iannetta, and a two-run moonshot from Albert Pujols. Back when he was still hitting.
The moment had passed, and the Rangers appeared dead in the water, again. They spent the last 5 innings making up a 6-run deficit, and were then being asked to deliver a more concentrated blow, because to send the game into the 11th inning they needed to score as many runs as they had outs to play with.
At the risk of using a cliche, this was one of those games one would call a “seesaw affair.” Nelson Cruz homered to make the game 10-8, Mitch Moreland pitched in with an RBI single to make it 10-9, and then with one out and the bases loaded, Elvis Andrus leaned on an inside pitch and struck it down the left-field line for the win. 11-10.
It was one of those hits that reinforces why you love baseball so much, and a victory that may or may not have helped propel the Rangers to win 7 of their next 10 games.
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I hate to pull random connections out of thin air as a means to prove a point, or tell a story, because it’s not my place. Mainly I’m just not a fan of the marriage between narrative and baseball, but it’s also to do with how I pride myself on substantiating my reasoning with actual data. That’s the deal I have with the reader — I’ll only say something if it’s justifiable.
I am no Dostoevsky, or Kerouac, and I’m certainly not a prophet or fortune teller; I’m armed with the same statistical information as everyone else.
With all that said, today was a big win, and I anticipate the good vibes to continue through St. Louis and New York.
Tomorrow Derek Holland pitches in St. Louis — in the first matchup between the two clubs since Game 7 of the World Series in 2011.