It's September 27th, and there's a whole bunch of baseball teams not playing for much. Come Tuesday, that will all be different, but it's currently phone-it-in time for the vast majority of MLB franchises, who already have one foot on the hot Bali sand and another in some Winter Meetings conference room. One of those franchises is, of course, the Texas Rangers, who at seven games below .500, haven't had much to fight for for awhile. At this point, the Rangers are playing for the little things, such as, say, a 200 strikeout season for Mike Minor, which, with Minor sitting on 199 strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday, they went to great (and controversial) lengths to manufacture.
The baseball puritans are probably torn by this. On one hand, you're looking out for your guy. On the other you're violating sanctity of their precious game. It's a tough call. It really is. From the sound of things, Rangers manager Chris Woodward was similarly ambivalent, but Minor was still in the game on 126 pitches when the pop-up occurred, so clearly he was trying give his guy as run at it as well.
"I didn't love the idea that we dropped the popup at the end," Woodward said. "But on the other side of that, they swung at three pitches in a row in the eighth inning down by two. If they have any beef with that, obviously I'm pretty sure [Red Sox manager Alex] Cora did, they chose to not try and win the game as well. They were trying to keep him from striking a guy out."
Nothing to see here, just a couple baseball guys being baseball guys.
The true hero of the evening, however, was not Minor, but Ronald Guzman, who took one on the chin for his pitcher:
"We were yelling, telling [Guzman] to drop it because there's going to be two strikes," Minor said. "He dropped it, and then he looked at me like, 'What? Why?' And then everybody started booing or whatever. I had to thank him for that, because [the fans] didn't understand."
Someone owes that man a couple beers...or maybe a hot dog,