Somebody slap me, I’m getting dizzy. There is too much going on in the Texas Rangers’ universe.
Pudge Rodriguez is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Yu Darvish trade rumors are floating around and Adrian Beltre is on a quest for 3,000 hits. Rarely has so much action converged onto one weekend in late July in Arlington.
If you’re just joining us, this is no longer something to anticipate down the road. Beltre collected two more singles Friday night and now just needs two hits to reach the iconic milestone.
Two of the moments should be cherished by every Rangers fan in the world. The Hall of Fame is as rare as it gets when you’re talking about baseball greatness.
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But you know what? There are 220 former players in the Hall of Fame. Only 30 players have done what Beltre is about to accomplish. If you don’t have tickets for Saturday’s game against the Orioles and consider yourself a baseball fan: get some. Now, Beltre may not reach it Saturday. Or Sunday. Maybe hit No. 3,000 won’t come until Monday against the Mariners. Whatever it takes, try to be on hand to catch the special moment. You won’t regret it. (*See No. 4 below).
Here’s a happy Rangers reaction after Friday’s win:
1. Nomar Mr. Nice Guy — Alright, I know I’ve used that before, but it seems so perfect when Nomar Mazara snaps out of a funk. Wait, maybe the word I’m looking for is hackneyed? Or just plain lame? Ah, who cares. Mazara snapped an 0 for 26 stretch on Tuesday and has been torching the ball since. He had a career-high three doubles Friday, the first time a Rangers’ hitter has doubled three times in a game since Elvis Andrus last September. He’s 6 for 9 with four doubles and six RBIs in his last three games.
“The balance was there, the swing was there, there was some hard contact,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Mazara’s 0 for 26 stretch. “There were some balls that were just missed. What you saw tonight is just a product of staying consistent with the process of the swing, the approach, and that pays off for hitters. He’s a very stubborn guy in the box. That’s what you want as a hitter.”
2. Straight Cash — Andrew Cashner may not make the sabermetric crowd drool but man has he been a stable back-of-the-rotation starter for the Rangers. He earned the win Friday night after holding the Orioles to one run on five hits over seven innings. He’s won consecutive starts for the first time since winning three in a row in September 2014 with the Padres. He went seven innings for the fifth time and has gone at least six innings in 12 of his 17 starts. He lowered his ERA to 3.48, which leads the staff.
3. Homer-hitting shortstop — Andrus hit his 14th homer and his third in the last seven games. He was 2 for 4, which is his team-high 35th multi-hit game of the season. Friday’s two-run shot to left was a 401-foot rocket. Something you’d expect to see off Joey Gallo’s bat. Andrus’ career-best power numbers are astonishing when you consider he hit 15 homers the previous two seasons combined and had a total of 35 homers combined over his first eight (1,221 games).
*4. Experiencing 3,000 in person — I grew up in Houston and a diehard Astros fan. Wait, Rangers fans ... before you get up in my grill, let me explain something. Like you, I loved my team dearly. But a couple of things have happened that killed Stefan the Fan. First, I grew up (sort of) and haven’t lived in Houston since 1992. My connection to the Astros started to fade in about 2008 when the last of “my” Astros had moved on or retired. Secondly, when you become a beat writer in a league, your fandom sort of withers away naturally. Also, if you’re a fanboy beat writer you won’t last long. Either your employer won’t tolerate it, the team you cover won’t respect you, or most importantly, your readers (eventually) will cease to respect you (if they ever did).
Anyway, one of the last of those Astros was Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. So when he crept close to 3,000 hits, I wanted to witness it. Heck, not only did I want to witness it, I wanted to write about it. So I asked our dearly departed sports editor Celeste Williams if I could go down to cover a couple of Astros’ games for the milestone for the Star-Telegram. Celeste was the coolest, plus, she had worked at the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post and knew how much it meant to me. She said, “Of course!”
I was expecting Biggio to get his 3,000th hit the coming Friday or Sunday. But he needed three hits entering a Thursday night game against the Rockies. So to be safe, I made my way to Minute Maid Park that Thursday, June 28, 2007.
Sure enough, Biggio singled five times that night and I got to cover the history-making moment. Biggio singled in the seventh for No. 3,000 and tried to stretch it into a double. He was thrown out but that just gave him a chance to celebrate the moment with his family and long-time teammate Jeff Bagwell, who joins him in the Hall of Fame on Sunday. It was a special moment in not only Astros’ history, but baseball’s history.
Trust me, Rangers fans, you’ll want to be on hand for Beltre’s moment.