Texas spanked the $48 million man, Carlos Silva, but Luis Mendoza couldn’t lock things down with a seven-run lead. Jamey Wright was as ineffective as he’s been all year.
The game was still there to be won, thanks to some great work out of Frankie Francisco and Eddie Guardado, but C.J. Wilson blew the save.
While Wilson doesn’t get a reprieve (Seattle donated two of the ninth inning’s three outs), Ramon Vazquez capped off a nightmare defensive game by taking a ground ball off the bat of a 36-year-old backup catcher, throwing it wildly, and instantly turning a 9-8 lead into a 10-9 deficit.
But in a season that’s featured redemption, in a way, for several men who wear the Rangers uniform, Vazquez redeemed himself in the bottom of the ninth, picking up his fourth hit and third and fourth RBI’s of the night, a night on which the first three hits and first two RBI’s would otherwise have been meaningless and forgotten, obscured by his second error of the night – the two-out throwing miscue in the fourth after which two runs scored – and his third, the devastating throwing error in the ninth on which another two scored.
Vazquez, a good defensive player whose horrendous night with the glove came hours after Vazquez told reporters that he expected to find a new team in 2009 and hours after the club placed Hank Blalock back on the disabled list, stood in with one out in the ninth against J.J. Putz and rifled a shot to right center field, eluding Ichiro’s sprint and reach, not only scoring Chris Davis from second but also Gerald Laird, not back at full strength yet as a runner, from first.
Vazquez, the former Mariner, had one of the biggest hits of his career a year ago against Putz, taking the All-Star closer deep with a man on in the bottom of the eighth on July 25, 2007 to turn a 6-5 deficit into a 7-6 lead that would stand up. Tonight’s two-run double was his second walkoff hit of the 2008 season – his home run off current Mariners closer Brandon Morrow on May 12 gave Texas a 13-12 win in 10 innings.
Then there’s Michael Young, who was told last night that he would miss 5-7 days after fracturing the ring finger on his throwing hand.
It was barely more than 5-7 hours after that that he told his manager that he was ready to play.
And 5-7 hours after that that Young was dive-bombing the top of the scrum on the field, right in the middle of the walkoff celebration.
No win is a bad win, but man, that was a poorly played game. On a night when you chase the starter in the third and rack up 18 hits – a dozen by the six through nine hitters - you have no business needing to come from behind to pull it out.
But when it’s said and done, winning the ugly ones sure beats the “moral victory” of playing well but coming up just short.
The next 48 hours are going to be really interesting – Blalock’s return to the disabled list takes him not only away from the lineup but also off the trade market, while Laird and Guardado and Marlon Byrd certainly showed something tonight if there were scouts in the ballpark charged with the task of judging their work.
There have been years during which the final week in July defined the Rangers’ season, including 2007. There’s a lot of ways the next two days could play out off the field, but no matter what happens leading up to the trade deadline, there’s no question that the 2008 season will be defined by what this team has done on the field, and by the evolving sense that something really good is taking shape here. Even on nights when there’s plenty of bad.