The Rangers beat the Yankees to open the homestand in a dramatic extra inning affair. They then followed that up with perhaps the most disheartening loss of the season allowing the Yankees to leave Arlington with a series split. With Boston coming into town next, all eyes were on the Rangers to see how they would respond to such a soul crushing defeat. There's no doubt that this was a big series. These contests against the AL East were yet another stretch of games that were supposedly going to be the beginning of the end for these Rangers. We've been hearing it all season. However this time, it was worth monitoring to see how the team would respond to a devastating loss just hours previously.
Four innings into this series with Boston and things didn't look so good. 8-2 was the score. Tommy Hunter was vomiting between innings while coughing up meatballs during them. And then, well, you know the rest. The Rangers won the game in 11 innings 10-9 when Nelson Cruz made Tim Wakefield look exactly like the formality he has become. It was perhaps the biggest, best, and most breathtaking win of the season. To have it follow such a letdown, with the Ballpark packed full of fans pretending that feeling they were feeling was just a tiny bit like what October would feel like, was incredible. The doubt, the terrible nagging hesitancy from thinking maybe this was finally the letdown so many had predicted so many times, had been quelled uproariously. You have to know now, these Rangers don't lie down.
And because of that, you have to know that those teams out East, the Boston and New York teams, they know there's a team here that can give them trouble at times they won't want any. You have to think that they know now that the Rangers will have to be reckoned with. They know that the Rangers are firmly entrenched in the battleground and worthy of their title of Contender. And this time, Contender doesn't just mean, "Top Applicant from the AL West," no, this time, maybe for the first time, Contender means a difficult obstacle in the race toward the finish line.
Someday, in hushed tones and with great pride, we'll be able to tell our grand kids about seeing Josh Hamilton's August 13, 2010 game. There will be a reverence in our voice reserved usually for our grandparents when they speak about seeing Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays or Ted Williams play the game. Josh Hamilton probably isn't going to end up having the long storied career enjoyed by those all-time deified baseball legends, but for this season, and in that game, he was there with them. He was all-time "come over here and let grandpa tell you a story" great.
Josh Hamilton, in one game, went 4-5 with an RBI coming from a 440 ft. home run. He also had one walk. And then there was that one stolen base. He scored four runs, one of which came from tagging up on a shallow ball to left field, the other with him scoring from second base on an infield single. There were two spectacular defensive plays. In one single game, he increased his season-long total WAR by an unfathomable .5. I say this with certain bias but with a clear conscience; it was the best all around single game performance that I remember seeing and I'll never forget it.
One of the better single game pitching performances we've seen this season came from C.J. Wilson on Sunday. The temperature readings might have shown 99 degrees at the start of the game but I think that might have been embellished because if you flash 110 up there, everyone's going to just go home. No one's sticking around for that. I was sweating just watching the game it looked so hot. On close up shots of the crowd, I could see the haze of the heat though the broadcast. And through those oppressive conditions, all C.J. Wilson did was go out there for 2.5 hours and pitch 7 2/3 innings of 4 hit, 1 walk, and 1 Pedro Strop inherited runner scoring run to go along with 8Ks and 13 ground balls. It what was one of the bigger games of the season, to close out this meaningful homestand with a winning record, C.J. Wilson pitched a game a playoff starter should be proud of.
I'm pretty sure if Tommy Hunter had been asked to pitch on Sunday we would have been forced to watch a man have a heat stroke live on television.
Bottom of the order in Sunday's game: 4-8 with two runs, four RBI, a walk, and a stolen base. Huge. The Rangers needed that production with Nellie, Vlad, and Kinsler out. Interestingly though, the bottom of the order's immense production as a group is still not as good a Josh Hamilton's August 13, 2010. But then again, what is?
So what did we learn against Boston?
The best player in baseball plays for the Texas Rangers in 2010.