Lots of questions from the air-conditioned press box Sunday afternoon as the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians battled it out in the heat.
The first, generated by a Twitter follower: Why did the teams have to play a day game? It turns out the Rangers once had a grand-fathered waiver to play games on Sunday night, but it went away during the Buck Showalter Era as he sought Sunday day games to ease travel.
Players, though, would rather play a Sunday day game. No team wants to get away at night, especially when it is headed home.
Here’s another: Why on earth would any fan were jeans? To that end, are jean shorts excusable on a day that hot?
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And, finally: When’s Globe Life Field going to be ready?
Only one more summer after this one of Rangers baseball in searing heat.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-0 victory.
1. Joey Gallo is going to be fine, he said. His sprained left ankle didn’t seem all that bad as he stood for questions after the win, and manager Jeff Banister said that the decision to remove Gallo after seven innings was precautionary.
He was injured when his foot landed awkwardly on first base as he tired to beat a grounder to second. Say what you will about Gallo, but he doesn’t dog it going up the line.
“I’ve played on sprains before,” Gallo said. “Just ice it all night and tape it up tomorrow.”
It was a good series for Gallo, who struck out only three times. He also walked three times and homered twice.
However, it was not as good as Rougned Odor’s series.
The second baseman is looking hitterish again. He was 8 for 13 in the series, including 3 for 3 in the finale with a homer and three RBIs to lift his average to .259.
How those two fare in the second half is as important to the Rangers as anything else that could happen, including trades ahead of the July 31 deadline.
Both are locked up through 2022, and affordably so if they can perform. They have the ability to be players who a developing Rangers team can drop into their core group of players.
Odor probably already is with four seasons left on his $49.5 million contract.
But the core can’t be mushy in the middle. The Rangers need quality players.
Gallo and Odor are off to a good start in the second half. Only 62 more games to go.
2. One way to beat the heat as a starting pitcher is to throw strikes and get a team swinging the bats. Yovani Gallardo did that over six scoreless innings that rate as his best outing since joining the Rangers’ rotation last month, though he didn’t care for the four walks.
At least he walked them quickly.
“It was hot,” he said.
Gallardo hadn’t pitched since July 10, which contributed to him not going deeper in the game. He threw only 72 pitches, and should be allowed to stretch that out when he pitches again Friday at Houston.
But he agreed that it was the outing he had been seeking since the Rangers first used him June 15. The key was fastball command and the development of a curveball late in the outing.
“I thought everything was working today,” he said. “I was able to command both sides of the plate. I threw some good changeups and then the curveball came along.”
Jake Diekman posted a scoreless eighth, though he managed to fill a bunch of columns on the stat sheet. He allowed a hit and a walk, hit a batter and struck one out to escape the Indians’ best threat of the game.
It was yet another audition for contenders ahead of the trade deadline. Diekman knows what’s ahead and is trying to not think about the possibilities so as to not stress out his wife, who is pregnant.
“I’m not sure what’s happening,” he said. “Being back in the playoffs is appealing, but I’ve thoroughly enjoying playing here.”
3. Among the first things seen by the media during pregame clubhouse availability was Austin Bibens-Dirkx receiving a huge hug from one of his mates in the bullpen.
Later, Bibens-Dirkx was seen walking around with his right arm still attached, no IVs dangling from either arm to overcome dehydration, and his head held high.
He was doing so some 12 hours after leaving Globe Life Park with the record for most runs allowed by a Rangers reliever. Bibens-Dirkx allowed 11 of them in four innings as the Rangers were smoked 16-3, and he allowed 13 hits and eight extra-base hits.
Those two tied club marks.
Banister has used position players on the mound in the past, though he doesn’t like to do it. He also doesn’t like allowing a pitcher, starter or reliever, to take one on the chin as badly as Bibens-Dirkx did.
“It’s very tough to do,” Banister said. “Extremely tough. There comes a time when you’re in that spot and you do what you can. In my opinion, he did a heck of a job.”
Bibens-Dirkx took one for the team, as only one other reliever, Alex Claudio, was needed for only one out. The rest of the bullpen — five had pitched Friday and Claudio hadn’t pitched since July 11 — was allowed to rest up.
Bibens-Dirkx, though, had done his job just by pitching three innings or 2 1/3 after Bartolo Colon was lifted in the fifth. Surely, Claudio had an inning in him, and the guess here is that Ryan Rua could have handled an inning on the mound.
There’s little doubt that Bibens-Dirkx didn’t complain or didn’t complain long. He’s been around baseball long enough to know what was going on, and he hasn’t been around the majors long enough to voice any displeasure.
And as Banister said, it’s a tough spot. There might not be a right answer for how to handle it.