It’s been almost 24 hours. I still don’t know what happened.
A 2-2 game in the top of the seventh inning. The Texas Rangers led all game until Edwin Encarnacion blasted a Cole Hamels pitch to Winnipeg. This is how a Game 5 in the American League Division Series is supposed to go. There’s supposed to be drama and the Rangers were not supposed to be in this position anyway … On multiple fronts.
That seventh inning was absurd, ridiculous and fucking nuts.
I was sitting in the lobby of the journalism school, watching the game on my tablet. The Fox Sports Go app was about 20 seconds behind. I occasionally checked Twitter to see if anything happened, and the first thing I read is, “That’s a live ball. Texas just took the lead.”
Rougned Odor on third base with Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. Texas has the chance to retake the lead. Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin catches a called ball from Aaron Sanchez and throws it back to him.
All hell breaks loose.
I’ve watched many games. I’ve seen many crazy moments. Nothing tops this. The ball deflects off Choo’s bat, Odor sprints towards home and the run scores. Texas leads.
I don’t know how, I don’t know why. The Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the most bizarre way imaginable, and I almost scared everyone else sitting in the lobby. It took 20 minutes to figure out if this was a legit play. Beer cans, Corona mind you, are being thrown onto the field. Babies are being hit. Children are yelling obscenities and I sense Toronto going up in flames in the next hour.
It didn’t matter. The Rangers had the lead, and all they had to do was not mess up in the next 2.5 innings and they’d have a spot in the American League Championship Series. All they had to do was get nine more outs. Not one out, not one strike. Nine outs.
Elvis Andrus error. Mitch Moreland error. Elvis Andrus error. Josh Donaldson RBI.
Epic bat flip by Jose Bautista. Goodnight, world.
This was only a half inning after the greatest clusterfuck in baseball history. Elvis Andrus said, “I see your clusterfuck and raise you one better.” Three straight errors, all could’ve been outs and Texas would’ve had a chance to pad the lead in the 8th.
But nope. The bat flip of all bat flips is the only image that’s seen. The Toronto Blue Jays are moving on to the ALCS, while the Rangers’ magical season ends with three straight losses after taking a 2-0 lead by winning two in Toronto. Texas had one job: Win. The offense couldn’t hit. Derek Holland was serving meatballs in Game 4. Prince Fielder couldn’t hit a ball out of the infield and Moreland was
The Rangers had one job. They couldn’t get it done. Hamels couldn’t have pitched any better in a close-out situation. This is why Texas wanted him. Not for this year, but for next year. But he couldn’t have pitched any better. He damn near carried Texas all by himself again.
Elvis Andrus couldn’t finish what he gets paid a lot of money to do: Field ground balls, let alone catch them, and be efficient in the infield. He doesn’t make errors often. Andrus has been one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball the last few years. Amidst all the anger and frustration of seeing him choke the game away singlehandedly on Wednesday afternoon, we’re left to remember that this isn’t him on an everyday basis.
Makes you wonder, though, if Jurickson Profar could’ve made those plays. We’ll never know.
I’ve caught myself reminiscing on Game 6 of the 2011 World Series the last couple of weeks. Never did I think anything could top that. One strike away, twice, from winning the first championship in franchise history and the city of St. Louis saw what failure looked like that night.
This is just as big of a cock punch as Game 6. And that’s saying something.
As for next year, Darvish comes back and the Rangers have money to spend. Right-handed power bats are expected, and Joey Gallo should be an every-day player in some capacity. Texas has the tools to get back to the World Series in 2016.
None of that matters right now. You’ll remember where you were the day Jose Bautista set the baseball world ablaze with one swing, and flip, of the bat.
Who would’ve thought someone would top David Freese as the most hated man in Arlington?