Earlier this season when the Texas Rangers were in the midst of an awful stretch of baseball, I took a gander at Game 5 of the 2010 ALDS game in Tampa Bay when Cliff Lee pitched the Rangers to the first postseason series victory in club history.
Lee was fantastic that day, tossing a complete game to outduel David Price, but the star of the day was the Rangers' aggressiveness on the bases and the constant pressure Price was under on the hill with the burning fear that the Rangers would swipe a base at any given moment.
It included stolen bases from Elvis Andrus, a steal of third from Nelson Cruz after he loafed to second on what he thought was a homer and a stolen base from Bengie Molina, of all people. It also included two plays where the Rangers scored from second base on a grounder to first base — all thanks to aggressive base-running.
On Tuesday night in Anaheim, that mentality was back. It had to have been one of the most fun Rangers games to watch in recent memory as the Rangers stole six bases (three from Leonys Martin and two from Andrus) and saw Craig Gentry score from second on a two-out infield single from Martin to provide an insurance run.
It also brought back some swagger from manager Ron Washington, who's long been a small-ball proponent but has seen his team get away from style over the past year and a half — something that has to change for the Rangers to score runs in the post-Cruz era.
"Y'all call that small ball," Washington said after the game. "I call it winning baseball."
It's the brand of baseball that got the Rangers on the map in 2010 and the type of baseball that got Washington lifted to the upper-echelon of big-league skippers, even considering some of his infamous in-game miscalculations.
The Rangers did all of that, scoring eight runs, without a single extra-base hit, and for one night, at least, that aggressive, fun brand of Rangers baseball was back.
"Raising hell on the basepaths is something we always want to do," Washington said. "If Cruz was here tonight, same thing would have happened as far as running the bases go. Our game is what it is. We're not going to change it. It's just that we have different guys in the lineup that can do different things, and we're going to try to use their abilities.
"But aggression is always going to be our game. Always."
It's going to have to be from here on out.