It's Never Too Early For Playoff Baseball
Josh Hamilton just before he drove in Ian Kinsler to win last night's ballgame
Took the boy to the ballpark last night, where, Chuck Morgan told us, we were joined by a little more than 25,000 others -- not bad for a 193-degree start-timer against the lowly Mariners, but not great either. Not now, not this late in a season more thrilling than last. And, for a while, the Rangers played down to the level of competition: Alexi Ogando gave up two earned runs in the first inning, another one in the second, then three in the third. The Rangers kept pace, for a bit: two in the first, one in the second. Then, for the longest time, it appeared as though the team had wilted -- everyone looked a step behind, a second too late. And: Those bad cuts at first pitches. Ready to go home, looked like.
And so we sat high up in Section 325 keeping watch over the out-of-town scoreboard: The Yanks were up early on the Angels, 1-0. Then, 4-4. Then, 6-4 Angels all thanks to Bobby Abreu, a former Yankee keeping the Angels inches away from the Rangers' tenuous first-place perch in the AL West. Meanwhile, below, the Rangers could do nothing at the plate. The bullpen to the rescue.
Yoshinori Tateyama, Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz all paraded to the mound, scattering a few hits here and there but surrendering no runs. Newcomer Adams in particular was extraordinary: one hit, followed by three strikeouts. At this point, Jamey Newberg tweeted: "Potential sacrilege: That feeling I had every time I thought about the fact that Cliff Lee was on my team? Mike Adams = same exact feeling."
My 8-year-old's inexplicable hero, Ian Kinsler, came out of his 4-for-his-last-way-too-many-AB's to bring the Rangers close to back in the seventh with a two-run homer; said the boy, relieved he didn't need to pick a new champion, "It's finally sounds like a ballpark in here." Another run in the eighth, another in the ninth -- Josh Hamilton bringing Kinsler home, ball game. By that point we'd moved down to Section 120, in the thick of it. The crowd went wild -- high-fives and hugs passed amongst strangers on a Tuesday night in early August. When I got home, Jamey had sent out Eric Nadel's game-winning call.