Walk-off wins are great for everyone at a ballgame except the losing team and the writers in the press box.
Deadlines being what they are these days and with the need to get some semblance of a story posted as soon as the final out is recorded, stories are written ahead of time in anticipation of one outcome.
Writers covering teams trailing in the ninth have losing stories written, and writers covering teams leading in the ninth have winning stories written. Somewhere they have the contingency plan going if the trailing team suddenly is the winning team.
Such was the case Monday at Globe Life Park, when Adrian Beltre sent all writers into rewrite mode.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the Texas Rangers’ 7-6 walk-off win.
1. Amid all the personal accolades that were to rain down on Beltre, after all the head slaps from the mob at home plate and the customary cooler dump, the third baseman got real.
He knows the Rangers have been playing sloppy defense, giving away too many runs and giving opponents too many extra outs. That has been hard on starting pitchers. It’s been harder on the wins and losses in the standings.
So, when giving his walk-off walk-off interview Monday night after his two-run homer, Beltre spoke to the defense that had almost cost the Rangers another win.
“The last few weeks we’ve been kicking the ball around,” he said. “We need to clean it up a little and play better defense and give those guys a chance to win the ballgame.”
He’s right, of course. The Rangers’ defense rated at the top of the league during their surge to a 10-game division lead. Beginning with their dreadful 9-7 walk-off loss at Yankee Stadium on June 29, a stretch in which the Rangers have gone 7-15, they have allowed 18 unearned runs and committed 23 errors.
The unearned runs are the most in the majors during that stretch, and the errors are the most in the American League and second-most in MLB.
That’s a lot of extra chances for opponents and a lot of extra pitches thrown. The Rangers have to be better in the field, and they know it.
“We had some careless mistakes tonight that cost us and put us underneath,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We have got to handle the baseball.”
2. Prince Fielder’s season is done. Many on Monday were quietly wondering if his career might be done.
Once he has cervical fusion surgery, which the Rangers are anticipating he will opt for later this week, he will have three vertebrae fused in his neck. His range of motion, already negatively affected by the May 2014 fusion, will be even more limited. The risk of another herniated disk will be greater.
But Fielder seems like the type to try to play again. It’s not that he’s stubborn. No one wants their career ended because of injury. He also loves playing baseball and competing, as he told manager Jeff Banister last week when he finally had to give up and see a doctor.
At some point going forward, quality of life has to become a thought.
The money? Fielder will get it. Yes, the Rangers have an insurance policy on it. Fielder won’t have to cut back on dining out or worry about making his mortgage payment. He’ll still be able to go on lavish vacations and not have to work a day the rest of his life.
But life probably isn’t that fun for someone who can’t turn his head, and baseball can’t be easy.
3. The prevailing thought is that the Rangers need only one starting pitcher to plug the leak that has seen them sink closer and closer to the teams chasing them in the AL West.
Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish sit atop the rotation. Martin Perez is an Opening Day incumbent and the only Rangers starter yet to hit the disabled list this season.
He’s supposed to be a rock.
Early on Monday, though, he was getting rocked. Again.
But after he finished six innings, he had given the Rangers a chance to win, and Banister conceded that Perez showed improvement.
Banister, though, said there is still plenty of room to improve, like putting away hitters once they have two strikes on them instead of letting them hang around the at-bat and do something positive. That’s what happened as Oakland hit four doubles in a three-run third inning.
Perez also has to be able to put an error behind him and not give in. He wasn’t able to do that in the first inning after a throwing error by Elvis Andrus that kept Perez from getting off the field with a scoreless inning.
Danny Valencia launched the next pitch for a two-run homer.
Banister wasn’t happy about the error or Perez yielding the homer.
“We’ve got to be better on the mound also covering up mistakes,” Banister said. “There are going to be mistakes that are made. We shouldn’t have to wait until the ninth to cover mistakes.”
The Rangers continue to search for starting pitching. They left open Tuesday’s start until after Monday’s game as they sought a trade partner and a starter they could rush to town to start against Oakland.
No deal was found, so Nick Martinez gets another start.
The price for Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale remains exorbitant. Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar won’t get it done. The White Sox want more, and after seeing the Cubs surrendered for to the Yankees for Aroldys Chapman, the price probably isn’t coming down.
But if Perez can build on his final three innings, all scoreless, he can be the steady arm the Rangers badly need now and allow them to get by with the addition of only one starter.
One is going to be a tall enough order.