First reaction when the ball jumped off Ian Kinsler’s bat: Uh-oh.
As it rocketed toward right-center field at Globe Life Park, hanging in the balance was the Rangers’ dwindling lead in the AL West and their fans’ breath.
The ball drops in and rolls to the wall? The Tigers take an 8-7 lead and the Rangers stare at a fourth straight loss and a lead down to a single game.
The ball is caught? Closer Shawn Tolleson adds to his AL-leading save total, the Rangers remain two ahead and we can all exhale and get a decent night’s sleep.
These late September days it’s a fine line between epic collapse and colossal comeback, and suddenly the Rangers are perilously tip-toeing it.
So, Adrian Beltre, what were you thinking as Kinsler’s blast sailed into the outfield? “You don’t want to know,” he deadpanned.
They’re in this position because ace Cole Hamels allowed six runs to Detroit in the first three innings, but also thankfully because the Tigers committed a season-high four errors and botched a safety squeeze bunt that would’ve tied the game.
Kinsler, the former Ranger, has been booed all series. And now he just might earn the role of villain.
His 9th-inning, two-out shot off Tolleson is both carrying deep into the alley and curving away from the Rangers’ center fielder. Oh, who we need to see patrolling that vast acreage right about now is … Mickey Rivers … Darryl Hamilton … Gary Mathews, Jr. … Tom Goodwin … Kenny Lofton … Julio Borbon … Craig Gentry … Otis Nixon … David Hulse … or, Drew Stubbs?
He’s a former University of Texas All-American and Major League journeyman called up Sept. 1 by the Rangers for, yep, speed and defense. Stubbs, inserted as a defensive replacement, draws a bead on Kinsler’s blast. He knows exactly where it’s headed, but also knows he has to sprint full-speed to get there.
Which, he does.
Stubbs makes the catch on the run and – boosted by a rocket-shot of adrenalin – continues onto the warning track and up the wall against the bullpen.
To this point it’s the Rangers’ most important, most dramatic out of the season.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.