You know, it actually got to the point where I kind of forgot what it felt like. I forgot what it felt like to be completely shut down by another team over the course of multiple games played on multiple days. It’s like when we all forgot what sweeping other teams felt like when we were mired in the abysmal dross that was last season. Now I remember. Getting swept is not fun.
This time, it was Lester who didn’t deliver. Actually, to be fair, he did deliver. He gave a quality start. He gave up three runs on five hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out seven; needless to say, his cut fastball wasn’t as formidable as usual. It didn’t have the same nasty bite on it that it usually does when he’s really on. He had a spectacular first and second during which he sent the Rangers down in order. Even his third inning, during which he gave up a solo shot, was otherwise great. He made a mistake on a cutter, and the batter figured it out, but other than that, he was spotless.
He gave up a double and a walk in the fourth. He gave up a walk and a single in the fifth. And he gave up a single and a home run in the sixth, this one on a sinker. So as you can see, it became increasingly laborious for him as the game went on. He ended up throwing 115 pitches, seventy of which were strikes. It was just one of those days. His starts usually comprise less than three walks, less than six hits, less than three runs, more than seven strikeouts, and more than six innings. Not yesterday. Lester’s ERA is now 3.30.
But seriously, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t even bad at all. Lester gave up three runs. If that had been the extent of the damage that the Rangers had been able to inflict, then the game could have potentially had a very different outcome. Even if the Rangers scored more, the game still could have had a different outcome if we had been able to score more than we did.
By the time the Rangers scored their first run in the third, we were already up by three. So by all accounts, it seemed like we could have at least ended the series with the dignity of not having been swept right out of Arlington. With two out, Pedroia singled, and Papi unleashed on a 3-1 fastball. The ball ended up beyond the right field fence, and we ended up with two runs just like that. His hitting streak is now at twenty-five.
In the very next frame, after Carp struck out, Ross hit his second pitch of the game for a solo shot. Both pitches were sliders around the same speed. He took the first one for a ball; he sent the second one beyond the left field foul pole. It was awesome. You had the veteran slugger slugging, and you had the comebacker slugging as well. Better still, you had the comebacker becoming the fourth player in the history of Rangers Ballpark to smash one into the club tier. Things had looked good.
After we went down in order in the third and the Rangers scored their first run, things still looked good. Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth. We went down in order in the top of the sixth; for the most part, the two pitchers were involved in a duel of sorts. Both ended up giving up three runs; Lester’s two-run home run tied the game at three. And that’s the way it stayed through the seventh, which Uehara pitched. It’s the way it stayed through the eighth, despite the fact that we walked twice and that it took the services of both Tazawa and Miller to get through the bottom of the frame. And that’s the way it stayed through the top of the ninth, when Ross walked, Drew singled, and one out quickly turned into three.
But that is not the way it stayed through the bottom of the ninth. Mortensen came out and was all business. He struck out his first two batters and looked solid. Then he gave up a single and issued a wild pitch, which is something that can happen when a sinkerballer sinks too low. In and of itself, that wouldn’t have done anything to shake the tie. Mortensen then intentionally walked Lance Berkman. Still, the tie was intact. It was the single he gave up to Adrian Beltre of all people that did us in. He threw five straight sliders to Beltre; when he singled, the count was 1-2.
The final score was 4-3. It was the first time we got swept this year, and we now have to share the best record in the Majors with the team that swept us.