Game 31 // Eighth Inning, Arlington // Rangers Top the Sox

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: RANGERS 13 (6) – 11 WHITE SOX

 

Silence on the TV broadcast mic for Hawk Harrelson, as Ryan Rua rounds the bases and touches home for the seventh run of the inning. The ball touches down onto the grass hill beyond the center-field wall, like a PGA-winning hole-in-one—fans from both sides of the bleachers streaming out to snag the winner.

They were up 2-1, then down 5-2. Tied 5-5, then down 10-5. And into the bottom of the eighth inning, down 11-6, with everything pointing to a White Sox win, Andrus hit a line-drive single to left.

The start of an new-fashioned, twice-weekly Texas holiday happened, again: The Seven-Run Inning. The first, on Sunday, with the all-pink plumage of Mother’s Day, and the second with the red-white-and-blue of a standard Tuesday in May.

So with Elvis Andrus on first, Bryan Holaday up next, it felt like a big omen. Holaday’s holiday.

Double to left, hard and on the ground just past Todd Frazier at third, and he’s a triple shy of the cycle. The third-base umpire points safe with his arm stretched and flexed out like yoga position, Frazier’s laid out on the infield dirt, a rogue napkin blowing around near his face, with the ball rolling and rolling on toward the corner wall.

There’s a guy in the way-upper deck with an old-school Rangers jersey on, wearing a rally cap that’s part good-luck charm, part bald-spot remedy. It’s a hot, windy night, with the t-shirts of 30,000 fans fluttering in the breeze. Nomar Mazara steps up to the plate to pinch hit for Drew Stubbs. And the beginning of a long rally that flipped the Sox inside out, mixed up the laundry loads and came out looking stained with the the red and blue of a Texas team gone wild with AL-best envy.

Mazara walks. Hey now. And my ears perk up with a phrase from the Texas TV broadcast:

“The Rangers have the makings of a big inning, the first three men have reached.”

Sox’ manager Robin Ventura must’ve heard the same thing, as he walks out from the dugout, with the highest socks I’ve seen on a manager, his pants hiked up almost above the knees, and he takes the ball from Scott Carroll, with Zach Duke now jogging in from the bullpen. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” on the PA system now, the soundtrack to the minority of Sox fans in attendance wondering, by the end of this inning, what happened to our win??

Mitch Moreland comes in to bat for Delino DeShields Jr., and he singles to center. 11-7 now.

“Rangers looking for another big inning, they’ve had a lot of them this year…”

And by now, rally-cap man is ecstatic with hope, gaining stadium-wide converts by the second, as the whole of Globe Life Park wakes up and flips caps inside-out for the best game they’ve seen in a while. “Let’s goooo Raaangers,” comes into the mics like echoes from opposite ends of the park.

And across the way, in upper-deck-land, another lone Rangers fan dances in the aisle, spinning a towel around in crazed circles—North Carolina Texas, come on and raise up: take your shirt off, twist it round yo’ head, spin it like a helicopter!

I switch to the local White Sox’ TV feed, just as Rougned Odor comes up and strikes out. HE GOOOONNNE, says Hawk Harrelson. BIG OUT!

It’s a nasty slider from Duke, and Odor sinks into the splits on the whiff, jumps back up and throws his bat in front of him, catching it angrily.

Mound meeting now, Ventura out again with the whole infield. He calls to the bullpen again. Matt Albers coming in.

Beltre up next. Trouble for Albers, who has about as much control over his pitches as his uniform does over its moment-to-moment positioning on his body, shifting all around in baggy, misfitting awkwardness.

After two pitches outside, Beltre lifts one deep to right, not quite to the wall and into the glove of Adam Eaton. Sac fly. 11-8. Two outs.

Albers looks lost, still, with Ian Desmond at the plate, scared to throw it over the plate, and even more scared to turn around and see what he just let happen—a deep, deep drive from Desmond, Austin Jackson sprinting back toward the wall in center-field, leaping, missing it, the ball coming down onto the warning track, just missing the home run.

Mazara scores. Moreland scores. 11-10 now, with Desmond making huge, emphatic claps on third base, like he’s Joakim Noah Florida-gator-chomping after back-to-back NCAA wins.

Up next, his highness, Prince Fielder—who’s easily got the least truthful literal name in sports. And if Ivan Rodriguez was called “Pudge,” what would a guy three times his size be nicknamed?

The TV camera zooms in as it flashes his 2016 stats, with the 왕자 neck tattoo perfectly visible in center screen (meaning “prince” in Korean), leaving first-time viewers on Korean-language feeds around the world wondering, huh??

Fielder walks. Hanser Alberto in to pinch run. And now, the man you’ve all been waiting for, Ryan Rua, striding up to the plate with Rihanna the stadium walk-up soundtrack: “…all I do is work work work work work…”

A minute later, it’s the soundtrack to The Natural, with the lead back in the Rangers’ favor, a giddy group of three coming home to score, and the ball well beyond Jackson’s range in center field as it comes down to land on the batters’-eye grass.

 

Fireworks in Arlington. A 13-11 lead. A bearded, red-faced, overweight man in a woven cowboy hat screaming: woooooooooey!!

And a wounded, silenced Hawk Harrelson in the White Sox TV booth.

Is this the beginning of some sad, long end for this great 2016 White Sox team? Probably not. But this was a rough one.

 

 

Previously:

8th Inning: TEX vs. DET

7th Inning: TEX vs. BAL

8th Inning: SFG vs. LAD

6th Inning: LAD vs. MIA

5th Inning: HOU vs. BOS

7th Inning: BAL vs. BOS

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