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Thoughts on an 8-6 Rangers win

Rangers 8, ChiSox 6

Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Rangers 8, ChiSox 6

  • It was a strange game.
  • Marcus Semien led off the game by ripping a 95 mph fastball to left field for what appeared to be extra bases, and possibly a homer...only to see A.J. Pollock make a leaping catch at the fence for the first out.
  • Semien would end the game 0 for 6.
  • Michael Kopech, the ChiSox starter, ended up leaving the game before the inning was even over. He reacted after throwing a pitch with two outs in the first, tried throwing a warm up pitch after that, and then left the game, being unable to continue. As it turns out, the issue was apparently a fluid buildup behind his knee, which is good news for Kopech — he is expected to make his next start.
  • But it meant that the White Sox suddenly had no starting pitcher. That is a problem. So after having Reynaldo Lopez finish the first and handle the second, Tony LaRussa had Johnny Cueto come out for the third inning.
  • Cueto, as you probably know, is a starter. This was just his second relief appearance in the majors, ever. Cueto also was the scheduled starter for Chicago on Monday. But faced with a taxed bullpen and a bunch of innings that needed to be pitched, LaRussa apparently decided using Cueto a day early was the best choice.
  • Cueto ended up going five innings. So that worked out okay, I guess.
  • Anyway. With two outs in the first inning, Jon Gray gave up a single, a walk and a single to give the White Sox a 1-0, and lead to fears that he was going to be serving up another disappointing outing. Gray didn’t give up another hit until the sixth, didn’t give up any runs the rest of the game, and ended up fanning 10 batters in six innings of work.
  • So much happened in the game that Gray’s outing may be overlooked, but he was very good. Gray was mostly a two pitch pitcher — out of 102 pitches he threw, 50 were fastballs and 47 were sliders — and the two pitches were effective, generating 18 swings and misses (he also generated a whiff on one of the three changeups he threw) while Chicago had an average exit velocity off of him of just 80.7 mph.
  • It has been a rough beginning for Gray — his performance dropped his ERA on the year to 4.85 — but this was what the Rangers have been wanting to get from him.
  • Chris Woodward had several relievers unavailable, and so went to Garrett Richards in the seventh inning to protect a 3-1 lead, no doubt in the hope that Richards could handle the seventh and eighth before passing things off to Joe Barlow in the ninth. A 6-3 was followed up by a single and a walk, but Richards induced A.J. Pollock to hit a grounder to third base for a potential inning ending double play. Ezequiel Duran couldn’t field it cleanly, however, seemingly moving to quickly to try to turn the DP.
  • And so that was it for Richards. Dennis Santana, who Woodward has tended to go to when he needs a fire put out mid-inning, was summoned. Santana promptly allowed a two run single, tying up the game.
  • There was no more scoring until the eleventh, as Santana finished up the seventh and pitched the eighth, while John King handled the ninth and tenth. The tenth inning saw the Rangers, due to the Zombie Runner on second and a tie game where a run ends it, intentionally walk the leadoff hitter, Luis Robert, to set up the double play. Jose Abreu then hit into a double play, so that worked out well. With a runner on third and two outs, Jake Burger was walked intentionally so that King could face Josh Harrison, which again worked out, with Harrison going down on strikes.
  • The eleventh inning appeared to be the Rangers’ breakthrough. Nathaniel Lowe singled, sending Zombie Jonah Heim to third. Ezequiel Duran ripped a three run home run to left field. Huzzah! A three run lead in extras! The Rangers would win now, right?
  • Alas. Joe Barlow started the eleventh against Leury Garcia, who fouled off six pitches as part of a ten pitch at bat before getting dinged in the arm on a 2-2 pitch. A sacrifice fly brought the Zombie Runner — who had advanced on fielder’s indifference — home, while Garcia went to second.
  • And then disaster struck.
  • Eli White has not been great offensively this year. Eli White has, however, played great defense in the outfield, has been great on the basepaths, and has at least hit enough such that his offense hasn’t completely counteracted the value his defense and baserunning have provided. White’s bat was responsible for all three of the runs the Rangers scored in regulation, as he had a two run homer off of Cueto in the third, and then a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
  • With Adolis Garcia at DH, White was in center field, and Zach Reks was in left. With one out in the ninth and the score tied, Sam Huff pinch hit for Reks. Huff reached on an E5, and then was lifted for pinch runner Charlie Culberson. White and Semien each flew out to end the inning, and Culberson went into left field.
  • All of which is relevant to the catastrophe. Danny Mendick looped a ball to the gap in medium-deep left center. It was perfectly placed between Culberson and White, both of whom dove to attempt a play on it, resulting in a collision. The ball bounced away to the fence. Garcia scored. Mendick went to third. Culberson chased down the ball. White lay on the field in pain.
  • After a couple of minutes on the ground, White left the game while holding his right arm, which looked like it might have been broken in the collision. If that’s the case, White is likely out until mid-August. That would hurt.
  • Brad Miller, the last position player on the bench, had to come in to the game, moving to right field, while Kole Calhoun shifted to center. A single brought home Mendick as the tying run, and everything sucked.
  • That was the nadir, though. Barlow retired the next two batters to end the inning. Adolis Garcia singled to start the twelfth, putting Zombie Corey Seager at third, and then stole second, eliminating the double play possibility. Kole Calhoun hit a sharp grounder right at Jose Abreu at first, vexing us all, as it was a ball on the ground in play, which we wanted so the runner could score, but because it got to Abreu so quickly, the runners couldn’t move up.
  • Jonah Heim came up next, and quickly got down 0-2. I was frustrated and bitter at this point. The Rangers had blown a three run lead in extras. Eli White was hurt. Now Texas had runners on second and third and no one out and weren’t going to score, and Chicago would score in the bottom of the inning for a walkoff win. I could see it all, clear as day.
  • And then Heim turned on a four seamer up in the zone and ripped it into right field for a single. Seager scored. Adolis came home, the throw was in plenty of time, but catcher Seby Zavala got turned around a bit, and Adolis, essentially, ran around him, eluded the tag, and was called safe, giving the Rangers an 8-6 lead.
  • And the play was reviewed, and confirmed.
  • The last bit of wackiness came in the bottom of the twelfth. Kolby Allard, who, as the broadcast noted, hadn’t pitched in two weeks — and that was for Round Rock — was asked, as the last pitcher standing in the pen, to preserve the lead. After fanning Abreu, Allard had Jake Burger at the plate. Burger hit a ball that was hard enough off the bat, and in the air, that I was sure it would be a game-tying home run. My stomach sank.
  • But no. Burger got under it, and Culberson was able to settle under it in deep left field to make the catch. Luis Robert, the Zombie Runner, decided, for some reason, to tag up and go to third, even though there were two outs and he wasn’t even the tying or winning run.
  • Culberson threw to third. Robert made it to third in time, beating the throw. But in finishing his slide, he took his foot off the base. Duran, who had applied the tag initially, followed up and got his glove on Robert again. Robert was called out, and the game was over, on a ridiculous play that ended a ridiculous game.
  • Well, technically, the game wasn’t over until there was a booth review that resulted in the play standing.
  • What a long, weird game to end a .500 road trip.
  • Jon Gray’s fastball averaged 95.3 mph and maxed out at 98.0 mph. Garrett Richards’ sinker hit 96.6 mph. Dennis Santana touched 97.5 mph with his sinker. John King’s sinker reached 93.1 mph. Joe Barlow touched 96.8 mph. Kolby Allard topped out at 91.9 mph.
  • Eli White’s home run was 104.8 mph off the bat, and he also had fly outs of 104.1 mph and 100.8 mph. Ezequiel Duran’s home run was 103.3 mph, and he had a 101.1 mph single. Adolis Garcia had a 106.7 mph single. Jonah Heim’s 12th inning single was 106.5 mph. Zach Reks had a single with a 102.8 mph exit velocity. Kole Calhoun had a 101.6 mph single. Marcus Semien’s leadoff fly out was a barreled 100.0 mph.
  • The road trip is over. The Rangers return home to play Houston.