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.
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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.