My love for baseball runs deep. Even before getting the Rangers’ beat writer job I loved watching the game, no matter what level.
I don’t love it enough to sit out in the 104 degree heat on a Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park. To those of you who were in attendance for the Rangers’ four-hour 12-9 loss to the Rockies, I salute you. The announced paid attendance was 20,720. About half that was probably actually in the park. Most of those who braved the elements understandably sought shade up near the concourses. I don’t blame you.
You couldn’t have enticed me with a gold-plated bobblehead of Nolan Ryan or free all-you-can-eat hot dogs and diet Pepsi. No thanks, I’ll watch from my air conditioned couch if I’m going to be soaked in sweat after the walk from the parking lot.
So why go off on a tangent? Because there are good reasons why the Rangers plan to build a new stadium with a retractable roof and Thursday was Exhibit A. Forget the political arguments for a second. Thursday’s game was made for inside baseball. Perhaps 39-year-old Carlos Beltran would have been in the lineup? Perhaps both pitching staffs would have shown better command in a 72 degree indoor game? Perhaps more fans would have jumped at the chance to watch the best team in the American League try to win their sixth consecutive game if it wasn’t, as Randy Galloway used to call it, a blast furnace out in Arlington.
But I digress.
Three thoughts after Thursday’s loss:
1. Beltre’s busting numbers — Another day, another round of Adrian Beltre Hall of Fame credential updates. Beltre was 2 for 5 with a homer and two RBI Thursday. He now has 1,539 career RBIs to move ahead of Joe DiMaggio alone at 47th all-time. He’s one shy of tying Willie Stargell and Harry Heilmann for 45th all-time. He has 18 homers this season and 431 in his career, tying Cal Ripken for 47th all-time. He needs three more homers to tie Miguel Cabrera (still active), Juan Gonzalez, and Andruw Jones for 44th all-time. He now has 2,884 hits, tied with Zack Wheat for 39th all-time. He needs 43 to tie Al Simmons for 38th. Beltre’s best month a year ago was September/October when he hit .344, with 44 hits and 38 RBIs.
2. Bullpen blip Part 1 — Don’t read too much into the bullpen issues the past two days. Left-hander Jake Diekman was involved in both, allowing four runs in a combined one inning, including three in the eighth on Thursday. It’s just a blip for Diekman, who hadn’t allowed a run in his previous 10 1/3 innings, back to June 28 against the Yankees. Earlier that week, Diekman allowed five combined runs in two consecutive appearances, the only other time he’s allowed runs in consecutive appearances. Diekman said he feels fine and suggested he might have an issue with his mechanics.
“I’m not making pitches ... that’s two bad games in a row,” he said. “It stings when the position players and starters fight so hard. They played their tails off, it’s 104 outside until I come in and just blow the game.”
Props to Diekman for taking the blame, but he had some help.
3. Bullpen blip Part 2 — Matt Bush, who earned his first-career save Wednesday night, blew his second save after replacing Diekman with one out and the tying run at third base. After getting an out on sac bunt attempt, Bush pitched around Nolan Arenado to intentionally load the bases and pitch to rookie David Dahl. Bush, however, ended up walking Dahl to tie the game. Dahl laid off an outside 97 mph fastball just off the edge of the plate. Bush said the last time he pitched around a hitter it was the A’s Josh Reddick on July 27. Reddick blooped the first pitch he saw from Bush for a single in the middle of Bush’s first blown save in which he was rocked for two homers.
“It was strange for me. I threw a pitch a little too close to the plate and he ended up blooping it for a single. I took that as a learning experience so today I made sure to keep it off the plate,” Bush said.
Bush, just as Diekman, said he feels fine. Bush threw only 14 pitches on Wednesday and 21 more on Thursday. He had Dahl down 1-2 before three consecutive balls.
“That’s the umpire’s call,” he said. “Either you’re going to ring a guy up for just completely taking a pitch or we get the call and I locate a perfect two-seamer. I guess that’s just baseball. I didn’t get the call. Some times you do, some times you don’t. Just didn’t get it today.”
The only pitch Bush expressed some regret over was a 1-0 outside fastball to pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s two-run double to left field made it 12-9. Bush felt Gonzalez was likely looking for a pitch away.
“I felt like I was making good pitches,” he said. “Maybe next time we’ll bust him in right there. He’s kind of looking for a pitch away because they’re not expecting you to challenge them.”