- What an unexpectedly delightful win.
- Mike Minor was on the mound today, five days after an adventurous 5.2 IP, 0 runs outing where he had a season-high 117 pitches, and after the first two batters he faced the Rangers were down 2-0, courtesy of a Mookie Betts walk and an Andrew Benintendi home run.
- With Chris Sale going for Boston, that 2-0 lead in the first looked steep, and there was kind of a sense that, well, Minor doesn’t have his best stuff, Sale is pitching, the Rangers don’t win the first game of the series anyway, so let’s just hope no one gets hurt and the bullpen doesn’t have to get used too much.
- But Minor settled down. There was a threat in the third, when Betts had a one out double, advanced to third on a fly ball, and a J.D. Martinez walk put runners on the corners, but a Xander Bogaerts ground out ended that. In the fifth, a Jackie Bradley Jr. single, followed by a sac bunt and a steal of third, provided another threat, but a Betts K and a Benintendi 4-3 ended that.
- Minor retired the last eight batters he faced, and after eight innings, having allowed just those first two runs, it looked like he was going to log an 8 inning complete game, since the Rangers had scored just a single run.
- But no, a Danny Santana single, an Elvis Andrus double, and a Nomar Mazara single gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the 9th! Triumph was within our grasps!
- Alas...Shawn Kelley allowed a pair of singles to start the 9th. A Rafael Devers GIDP set up the possibility of escape, but Brock Holt hit a game-tying single, and things could have been worse, after a Marco Hernandez pinch hit pop fly down the right field line fell just in front of Nomar Mazara, except that Holt tried to score on the play and was out by...I don’t know how much. Lets just say “lots and lots.” He may have been better off turning and running back to third when the ball got to
Isiah Kiner-Falefathe new guy behind the plate.
- Jesse Chavez stressed everyone out in the 10th, allowing a one out single to Sandy Leon, which is like allowing a single to Jeff Mathis, then walking Betts. After a Benintendi K, Michael Chavis walked, loading the bases for Bogaerts. The Jesse Chavez scoreless streak was about to be broken, in particularly heart-wrenching fashion!
- But no, Chavez got Bogaerts to fly to center, extending his scoreless streak to 22.2, and setting the stage for the Rangers to take the lead in the 11th.
- Once again Santana, who also drove in Rougned Odor for the Rangers first run of the game, was in the middle of things. He led off the inning with a double to right, and scored on an Elvis single. Chris Martin then had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th, with Holt and Hernandez striking out, to pick up the save and give Texas an...inspirational? remarkable? exceptional? win.
- All 8 of the Rangers hits came from the 2-3-4-5 batters, with Santana being responsible for half of them. I spent this morning scoffing at the notion of Santana being around for long, and he thumbed his nose at me with a pair of singles and a pair of doubles.
- Nomar Mazara’s hit in the 9th was critical, as well. We know all about the Nomar saga, and how he shows flashes and then struggles and seems to end up in about the same place he’s been, offensive-wise, the past couple of years. He came through with a huge hit today, though, and if he gets hot, this will no doubt be pointed to as a turning point.
- Meanwhile, Mike Minor continues to build a Cy Young Award case. He’s now got a 2.52 ERA on the season, and came into today with a 4.1 bWAR that was the best of any pitcher in baseball. He’s having a remarkable season, and I’m going to quit thinking about what’s going to happen to him in the next couple of months and just enjoy this ride.
- With this win, Texas is now 2 games up on Boston and Cleveland for the WC2 spot, and 3 up on Oakland.
Thoughts on a 4-3 Rangers win
Rangers 4, Red Sox 3