Often in sports journalism you have to make gut decisions on deadline and live with the results. My deadline Thursday night was 10:30 p.m. The Rangers-Royals 13-inning marathon didn’t finish until 10:53 p.m.
The decision to write about Delino DeShields and to a lesser extent Ryan Rua and the challenge they face trying to get going at the plate despite a lack of consistent at-bats was made solely on the fact that both made rare starts Thursday night. DeShields ending the night as the hero is what I’m going to call expert planning, whether his heroics made it into the print edition or not.
DeShields, who collected his first hit on Wednesday, entered the 13th inning of a scoreless game 1 for 13 this season. His at-bat against Travis Wood was epic. With Joey Gallo representing the tying run at second base after a one-out double, DeShields dug in and battled. He was down 1-2 before taking a ball to pull even. He fouled off the next four pitches before taking a pitch in the dirt to bring the count full. At that point, DeShields said, he wasn’t sure what he’d’ see from Wood. Wood threw him an 82 mph changeup that DeShields drove over third base into left field to score Gallo easily for the game-winner.
“I felt like I was on everything. If anything, he probably didn’t know what to throw,” DeShields said. “I was locked in. I wanted to be the one to come through right there. I kept telling myself there would be a chance. It just happened to be me up there.”
It was a load off, of sorts, for DeShields, who has seen limited playing time early in the season. (Again, read the early story!)
“It was a long game, but to be able to come through was definitely fun. Our pitchers did a great job. Their pitchers did a great job. Joey had a good at-bat, got a pitch he could handle. Their pitcher made a mistake and I was able to be the one to get the job done.”
1. Cashing in on Cashner — Andrew Cashner’s first-career start at Globe Life Park may not be remembered for his outing but he was outstanding. He left the game after six innings without allowing a run on three hits and four walks.
“It’s nice to get it out of the way and the way, but the way our bullpen picked it up tonight was really good,” said Cashner, who has allowed three earned runs in his first 11 1/3 innings for the Rangers. Cashner tipped his cap to Royals’ starter Danny Duffy who left after 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits and three walks. “Duffy had a great start tonight and their bullpen was just as good,” Cashner said. “I just made pitches when I had to tonight. I definitely have to cut down on my walks but it’s something to build off of for sure.”
More importantly, Cashner said, hopefully the exciting win will kick start a winning stretch after the club returned from a disappointing 3-6 road trip.
“Tonight was probably one of the biggest wins we’ve needed,” he said. “Hopefully, it will get us on a roll and we’ll get going. It was a definitely a pitcher’s night but luckily we were able to break through and hopefully it gives us some momentum for the rest of this homestand.”
2. Gallo’s helmet thrashing — One of the lasting images of Thursday’s game was Gallo slamming his helmet to the ground as he stepped on home with the winning run. It was part unbridled excitement of the moment and part good riddance to a long, offense-stifling game that took nearly four hours to complete.
“I saw [Carlos] Gomez standing there [on deck], and I was running way too fast to hug him, or give him a high five,” Gallo said. “It was a little bit of both: I was definitely excited that we won, and definitely excited to get that game over with, it felt like forever. I didn’t really know what to do, so I just threw my helmet and tried to kill Delino.”
Gallo said the Rangers’ dugout remained upbeat throughout the offensive struggles. It was also a nice way to forget about the previous road trip, he said.
“Yeah, you know especially (after) our road trip didn’t go the way we wanted it to, so to have a game like that … the pitchers were phenomenal,” he said. “Everybody wanted to get another at-bat, everybody wanted to be the hero, so you know it’s huge, it’s big to get a win like that and get some momentum. Hopefully, we can keep that going.”
3. Take it from Hamels — Not to beat a familiar drum but Friday’s starter and staff elder statesman Cole Hamels tried to put the Rangers’ then 5-10 start in perspective before Thursday’s’ game.
“You can go on a cold streak here and there and go on hot streaks. Everybody goes through it during a part of the season,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re doing it right now. We all have our confidence. We know what we’re capable of doing. We know our what the end goal is, and that’s to get to the Postseason, win our division.”
Hamels acknowledged the Rangers’ last-place spot in the A.L. West standings. It’s crucial, Hamels said, that players don’t press and try to do too much.
“It’s just a matter of going out there, being ourselves and not adding pressure. That will put yourself and put your team into a bad situation, when guys can sense there’s more pressure on a game,” he said. “We’ve got a long time. Guys are going to get in that comfort zone, and I’m going to plug away like always and be myself out there.”
4. Bad news on the farm — Left-hander Joe Palumbo of Low A Down East was diagnosed with a torn left UCL after an MRI and exam by Rangers’ team physician Dr. Keith Meister. Palumbo, 22, was selected in the 30th round of the 2013 draft by the Rangers. He left his Tuesday start at Potomac with elbow discomfort. Palumbo and his family are discussing the options, according to the Rangers. Tommy John surgery remains a possibility. If he elected for surgery, he’d be down until the middle of next summer.