Baseball teams will have off nights at the plate. It’s going to happen over a 162-game schedule. And odd plays will creep up and come out of nowhere from time to time. For the Rangers, both came together Friday night against the Chicago White Sox, who won the series opener 5-0 at U.S. Cellular Field.
It’s the first time the Rangers have been shutout in 2016. How that happened despite putting three on with no outs in the seventh is still mind-bottling (to steal a phrase from the Oscar-laden film Blades of Glory.)
Thoughts on the triple play and other Rangers reaction from the series-opening, four-game win streak-snapping loss:
1. The triple play — After being held to two singles through the first six innings the Rangers finally got something going in the seventh. Prince Fielder doubled, Adrian Beltre singled and Ian Desmond walked to load the bases with no outs for Mitch Moreland. Not only were the Rangers seemingly assured of getting on the board, but were poised to get back in the game despite trailing 5-0. Moreland sent a rocket towards the line in right and both Fielder and Desmond took off immediately thinking it was falling. Beltre, at second, waited, but when he saw Desmond hung up trying to get back to first, took off for third thinking Fielder had already tagged up and scored. Only, Fielder hadn’t tagged up and was hustling back to third when he noticed Beltre was headed in that direction. The White Sox tagged Desmond out and then Fielder in a 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play. Inning over, and basically, game over.
2. Veteran reaction — All three veterans took full blame for the baserunning blunders. Their comments:
Desmond: “Bad baserunning on my behalf. I saw the ball had top spin and I thought it was going to go down. I didn’t take into account they had a center fielder playing right field.”
Fielder: “I messed up. I told Mitch I messed up his RBI. There is nothing to explain. I broke right away. Once I saw him catch it, I had to go back. It was too late to go again.”
Beltre: “It was a disaster by everybody. All the runners screwed up. Awful baserunning by everybody.”
Manager Jeff Banister: “I guess it was a full moon. You see some odd things. That was not necessarily our best inning of baserunning. Three veteran guys on the bases, you don’t see that. It’s aggressive baseball. Sometimes you get caught with aggressive baseball.”
3. More triple play tidbits — It’s the first triple play made against the Rangers since June 1, 1991, and first on the road since May 22, 1981. Both, incidentally, came against the Mariners. It’s the seventh triple play against the Rangers. It’s the first time the White Sox have turned a triple play since Sept. 18, 2006. It’s the first triple play in 2016 and first since the Rockies did it against the Diamondbacks on September 1.