September has arrived, which means the rosters rule that teams have operated under for five months is no longer valid, and games will be decided by which teams have the deepest bullpens.
Those games won’t be decided quickly.
Woo bleeping hoo.
One of the biggest shockers of the new collective bargaining agreement is that the September roster rules weren’t address. It’s fine to expand them, but the thought was a daily cap would be put on how many players would be active for each game.
So, settle in for even longer games than normal, and that’s saying something. But 4 hours, 33 minutes is obscene, so obscene that it was a club record for both teams for a nine-inning games.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a ho-hum 10-9 victory Los Angeles Angels.
1. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who spent 12 years in the minors or independent ball before reaching the majors, has been officially knocked from the top spot in rankings of Rangers feel-good stories of the year.
That belongs to Jake Diekman now, and the only way he can get knocked off is if Adrian Beltre pulls a Kirk Gibson to get the Rangers into the postseason and then leads them to the World Series.
Diekman seems pretty safe.
He’s a baseball player again, one of the guys, after he returned to the active roster before the game and then retired all three batters he faced after entering in the seventh with no outs and runners at second and third. An inherited runner scored, but to limit the Angels to one run is the best the Rangers could be realistically seeking
The fans at Globe Life Park gave him a nice ovation as he trotted in the bullpen, as he was introduced, as he struck out Martin Maldonado for the first out and as he walked to the dugout after getting the Rangers off the field.
The appearance, his first of the season, came eight months after the first of three operations to alleviate ulcerative colitis. The last was in June.
Diekman, who admitted to getting emotional in the dugout, is a trailblazer. No one has gone through what he has and returned to the mound, and he’s now a beacon of hope for those dealing with the disease.
They’re almost certainly not going to be major-league pitchers, but they can see someone who has come through the other side of the life-altering surgeries to reach the top of his profession again.
That has to feel good.
2. Beltre might not play again this season. How depressing does that sound?
From a writer’s perspective, that has nothing to do with the Rangers’ chances at making the playoffs, though the postseason always helps with qualifying for Platinum again.
Beltre is fun to watch. A baseball fan who doesn’t enjoy watching him isn’t a baseball fan. Or is an Angels fan who has been tormented by Beltre’s outrageous career success against them.
So, it will stink if Beltre can’t play again this season, and that’s how he was feeling Friday.
As for those Rangers playoff chances, the Beltre injury certainly doesn’t help.
While there is no silver lining for the Rangers, Delino DeShields will be in the lineup regularly, and that’s good.
He reached in his first four plate appearances Friday and scored three times. As has been said here frequently, DeShields is just a good fit in a lineup that needs speed and on-base percentage in the leadoff spot.
Joey Gallo will also be in the lineup everyday, which he has been except against certain left-handed pitchers. He hit homer No. 37, in the third inning of a lefty, to tie for the American League lead in homers.
Gallo is no Beltre, but he’s pretty dang fun to watch, too.
3. Cole Hamels was fighting himself in the first inning, when he walked the first two batters and ended up watching them score. His body language was fairly telling in the 30-pitch frame.
He was never great in his five innings, which took him 101 pitches to complete. He managed to slow down the Angels for three innings, during which time the Rangers built a lead, before allowing two runs in a long fifth.
Clearly, it wasn’t Hamels at his best, but he figured out a way to survive until he ran out of bullets. That comes with experience and guile and being good, or at least better than the other guy on the mound.
And that’s all it takes sometimes. The Rangers, though, will need more than that if they are to make it past Game 162.
Manager Jeff Banister said as much. If the Rangers are going to win a wild-card spot, they have to do it with pitching. That includes the bullpen, which entered Friday with nine pitchers in it but could top a dozen after Keone Kela and Matt Bush return.
There’s that September thing again.
But the five in the rotation — Hamels, Andrew Cashner, Martin Perez, Miguel Gonzalez and one of Nick Martinez and A.J. Griffin — must be good, really good.
The Rangers have to go 20-9 this month just to get to 86 wins. They can’t do that with five innings a night from their starter, no matter how many relievers they have in their bullpen.