Eight years ago today, during a miserable season that led the Rangers to go into full-on rebuilding mode, the Rangers won one of the craziest games in MLB history, and one of the most memorable games in Rangers history.
Eight years ago today, in the first game of a doubleheader in Baltimore, the Rangers beat the Orioles, 30-3.
Man, 2007 was a brutal season. We started the year with hopes that the Rangers would be a playoff team. Instead, the Rangers stumbled out of the gate, Ron Washington (in his first year as manager) was dealing with questions about whether he was competent to do his job, Mark Teixeira was traded, Eric Gagne was traded, Kenny Lofton was traded. The team went into full-on rebuilding mode (and, as it turns out, the rebuilding job took a lot less time than we were expecting).
There were some things to feel good about, primarily as it related to the team turning a bad farm system into a quality farm system in short order, with the nine prospects acquired in the Teixeira/Gagne/Lofton trade supplemented by five first round picks in the 2007 draft. But on the major league level, 2007 was brutal, and on the morning of August 22, preparing for a doubleheader in Baltimore, Texas was 54-70, in last place in the American League, with the third worst record in the majors.
Early on in the game, it looked like more of the same. Kason Gabbard started for Texas and allowed a run in the first and two more in the third, and the Rangers went into the top of the fourth down 3-0.
And then the Rangers scored 5 runs in the 4th.
And then the Rangers scored 9 runs in the 6th.
And then the Rangers scored 10 runs in the 8th.
And then the Rangers scored 6 runs in the 9th.
And when the dust settled, the Rangers had beaten the Orioles, 30-3.
And there was still another game to play that day.
The entire box score and play by play can be seen at B-R here, and you should check it out, because it is amazing. For those who don't want to click, you can at least see the lines for the Rangers hitters here:
Its amazing. Every Ranger who appeared in the game had a hit. Every Ranger starter had at least 2 hits. Every Ranger who appeared in the game had a run scored.
The 7-8-9 hitters were David Murphy, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez. Murphy had 5 hits. Salty and Vazquez each had 4 hits, 2 home runs and 7 RBIs.
The Rangers only scored runs in four innings. Think about that...five of the nine innings in the 30 run game featured goose eggs for Texas.
And Wes Littleton went down in baseball history as the person who epitomizes how ridiculous the save stat is. Littleton came into the game in relief of Gabbard after 6 innings, and ended up pitching the final 3 innings of the game. Because he came into the game with a lead, pitched three innings and finished the game, he "earned" a save. In a game where he had an 11 run lead when he entered the game, and a 27 run lead when the game was over.
Texas, you may recall, also won game two of the doubleheader. John Rheinecker started (and is there any more 2007 combo of Rangers starting pitchers than Kason Gabbard and John Rheinecker?), got knocked around, Mike Wood and Frankie Francisco picked up holds, Joaquin Benoit got the win, and C.J. Wilson got the save, courtesy of a 3 run 8th inning to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 9-7 Rangers win.
And that began a solid run by the Rangers to end the season...beginning with the doubleheader sweep, the Rangers went 21-17 the rest of the way, showed improvement in 2008, were in the playoff race in 2009, and went to the World Series in 2010.
Looking back on it, if this hadn't been the first game of a doubleheader, I think there's a good chance the Rangers don't score 30 runs. The Orioles bullpen gave up 24 runs over just 4 innings -- Brian Burres gave up 8 runs in 0.2 IP, former Ranger Rob Bell (he of the infamous Loch Ness Curve) gave up 7 runs in 1.1 IP, and Paul Shuey gave up 9 runs in 2 IP. If there isn't another game later that day, a game that the Orioles had to try to save their bullpen for, its likely that those guys wouldn't have been left out there as long as they were to absorb the beating they took.
And Wes Littleton wouldn't be the answer to a trivia question.