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Thoughts on a 5-4 Rangers win

Rangers 5, Astros 4

Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Rangers 5, Astros 4

  • That was a bit stressful.
  • I seem to recall that Ranger games on the radio used to have, way back in the day, a motor oil company called Amalie as a sponsor. And their tag line was, “Amalie — better than it has to be.”
  • With the Rangers, it is harder than it has to be.
  • I think my brain has been turned into mush by this team. I grapple with what to write, what even can be said at them at this point. They jump on Framber Valdez early and score four runs. They largely go into hibernation after that. Nathan Eovaldi does his thing, pumping strikes, not breaking a sweat, giving the team what it needs.
  • That bottom of the fifth inning performance by Eovaldi could go down as something truly memorable in the annals of Rangers history. Up 5-2, the Astros lead off the inning with a pair of singles, and then Jeremy Pena hit a roller to third that Josh Jung charged, perhaps having a chance at two, only to see the ball slip under his glove for a bases-filling E-5.
  • Go ahead run at the plate, in the person of Yainer Diaz, pinch hitting for Martin Maldonado. The Astros fans feeling it. Doom portends.
  • And Eovaldi strikes out Diaz swinging. Then strikes out Jose Altuve swinging. Then gets Alex Bregman on a weak roller. Inning over. Catastrophe averted.
  • Much the rest of the game is a blur. Eovaldi finished off the sixth, allowing one more run to cross, making it 5-3. Josh Sborz did his job. Yordan Alvarez homered off of Aroldis Chapman, making it a one run game and prompting Bruce Bochy to bring in Jose Leclerc for a four out save. Leclerc promptly walked Jose Abreu and Michael Brantley.
  • At that point, two outs, two on, one run lead in the eighth, I think I went numb. My emotions checked out for a bit, leaving me cold, without feeling. It was as if my mind, having seen things like this go south all too often, had prepared a defense mechanism, separating out my passion for the game and anesthetizing me against the potential pain of a crotch kick loss.
  • Amidst that vacuum, Chas McCormick came up. Took a slider for a ball, swung and missed on a cutter, then chased a slider and slapped it weakly to third base.
  • Jung, who had been excellent defensively all postseason, but who had the error earlier in the game, came in on it. The ball hit his glove, then popped up in the air, spinning.
  • It was an instance when time slowed down. The ball seemed to hover outside of time. It was just an instant, but in that instant, I could see disaster. The ball caroming away, the inning continuing, things falling apart. Collapse. Defeat. All that I saw and processed and experienced in that fraction of a fraction of a second a little white orb was at the apex of its flight.
  • And the ball settled into Josh Jung’s glove. He went and touched third. Inning over. The ninth was a 1-2-3, and the game was over. A 5-4 win. And in my minds eye, the image from this game is that ball — which, Jung said afterwards, hit off the thumb guard he is still wearing due to his fractured thumb — in the air, as time slows to a crawl.
  • Nathan Eovaldi hit 97.2 mph on his fastball, averaging 95.1 mph. Josh Sborz hit 97.7 mph with his fastball. Aroldis Chapman reached 99.6 mph with his sinker. Jose Leclerc reached 97.9 mph with his fastball.
  • Jonah Heim’s home run was 107.5 mph off the bat. Nathaniel Lowe had a 106.2 mph single and a 102.0 mph fly out. Leody Taveras had a 101.9 mph triple and a 100.6 mph fly out. Evan Carter had a 100.9 mph ground out. Josh Jung had a 100.7 mph line out.
  • A day off on Tuesday, which I think we can all use. Let’s savor the 2-0 lead.