The scoring got underway, unpredictably, when the catcher not hitting all that differently since the relatively quiet trade sent a second-inning, two-out, 1-1 Bruce Chen changeup 407 feet the other way while we had one foot already headed toward the fridge, giving Texas an early 3-0 lead.
A lead that seemed almost insurmountable before long, as a starter who regularly has command issues was piercing his spots with punishing command of every filthy piece of the arsenal.
Then, minutes after two of his teammates hit baseballs a combined 800 feet in the space of two pitches, he seemed to have moved two-thirds towards history when what appeared to be strike three to the 18th hitter was called ball four, and with that judgment call a perfect game was lost, extending an inning in which the no-hitter was later lost, and then the shutout, and then the seemingly insurmountable lead that had suddenly given way to what had become a ballgame.
Two innings later, on the final play of the eighth, the Royals turned 6-3 into 6-4 but in the process ran into a bad third out on a badly chosen throw, and you just can’t predict those things, either.
The teams exchanged places, and the game’s next pitch was fired at Nelson Cruz, leading to some choice words from Cruz and from his friend Brayan Pena and from the Kansas City TV booth.
Cruz is one of the last Rangers hitters you’d expect to lose his cool.
And Michael Young may be the last Rangers hitter you’d have expected to turn the very next pitch around 413 feet, doing unusually bad things to 92 middle-middle and apparently offering his own choice word or two as he sprinted past first base and very clearly issuing four more as he got back to the dugout, a fraction of the number that Adrian Beltre was firing fieldward, which had me off my couch and more than just a little fired up.
Seconds after that, Vernon Wells singled in the first run in Oakland, and the whole Young-Wells narrative that seems as old as Jurickson Profar had a new entry, and as strange as that was it couldn’t have been any more strange than the feeling of pulling for an Angels win, which Wells helped ice away when he homered two innings later, minutes after Joe Nathan induced a game-ending 6-4-3 in Kansas City, pushing Texas to a four-game lead over the A’s and, maybe more importantly, over the Yankees.
The data sheet will show Texas 8, Kansas City 4 in Game 134, nine hits for one team and eight for the other, a seemingly ordinary entry that nonetheless had several extraordinary moments, certainly not random but at the same time far from foreseeable.
University of Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo, relaxing with a cold one 45 minutes away in Lawrence, basking in the glow of the Jayhawks’ 31-17 statement win over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits juggernaut, said that “Baseball is a game, played on a field,” to which I say, “Amen.”
You can’t predict ball. Thank goodness for that.