Sunday, August 2, 2015

Top of the 8th, 2 Outs

Let's set the scene.

Top of the 8th inning.

Leonys Martin comes in for Delino DeShields for defense.

Cole Hamels Pitching.

Hector Sanchez steps to the plate against Hamels who entered the 8th with 87 pitches.

Ball one.

Weak ground ball to second, which Odor promptly whips over to Moreland. 1 out.

Next was Angel Pagan who'd been over-matched all night, striking out twice and hitting a weak fly ball in three at bats.

Strike one looking.

Strike two looking.

Strike three swinging. 2 out.

Up steps Joe Panik, having rolled over to Elvis, Doubled in a run to left, and popped up to Adrian in his three trips.

Strike one looking.

Strike two looking.

Put-away change barely fouled past the glove of Bobby Wilson.

Ball one outside.

Fastball low and away lined up the alley for a double.

97 pitches. Out walks Banny. Damn.

With the righty Duffy comping up next, I get the move. Having thrown 129 pitches last Saturday, it first time pitching in the Texas heat, leaving with 3 run lead, Cole had done his job. Could it have been better? Yes. Was it enough though? Absolutely.

In strolls Tanner Scheppers, who has been a complete enigma in 2015. streaky decent, followed by streaky atrocious and back again.

9 pitches later, it was 7-7.

Duffy doubles. Posey doubles. Pence singles. Add another run to the ledger of Hamels.

Jake Diekman comes in and puts away Gregor Blanco on three pitches.

What I think will sting the most about this inning though, at least for me, is the Posey at bat.With Posey at the plate, who'd already flown out to deep left center and homered to left earlier, Banny sent the outfield into the traditional "no doubles" defense employed by every team 100% of the time in situations like this. And, just like my hatred for the over-shift on the infield, I abhor the no doubles alignment. I get the strategy don't get me wrong. I completely understand the desire to limit those up-the-alley drives and prevent guys from taking the extra base. That doesn't mean that I like it though. With Leonys Martin coming in specifically for defense, I would've liked to see them play straight up and let him run down any ball in the alley, like he normally does. Alas, not the case, and here we are.

The game of baseball probably owed Buster the broken bat flare double he looped in front of Leonys. He's made his fair share of outs on line shots and one-hop smashes. But man, to sit here and think that if Leonys was playing normal depth, he jogs and and makes that catch about waist high on the run and we go to the 9th up at least 2, frustrates me.

But what if right?

What if Choo doesn't chase a 3-0 change-up out of the zone and roll into a 6-4 fielder's choice that should've been a twin killing, and instead pounds the next pitch for a 2 run double?

What if the ball Buster hit in the first carries 18 more inches for his second long ball of the night?

What if Cole Hamels pitched better?

What if Tanner Scheppers wasn't worthless?

What if Jeff Kellogg had a better strike zone?

What if Keone hadn't been over -worked in April and May, and was trusted with locking down the 8th for the Ace?

What if the Rangers were better at home?

Oh well.

I really don't have a good handle on how the rest of the season is going to go, but I couldn't be more fired up.

And I can tell you the exact moment that I got re-energized and ready to run through a wall for this team:

When 35 took the methodical walk up the tunnel Friday night to meet his new teammates, wearing the white with blue letters, trimmed in red, smiling like a 15 year old.

With just over two months left in the season, there's plenty of innings left to make up the 4 game deficit in the Wild Card.

Just have to execute.