David Murphy, Practical Joker: Rangers 7, Rays 2
Here you have Adrian Beltre, sitting at first base, having gotten a hit down the right field line that probably would have gone for a double for just about any other player. Not Beltre, not now. This was his first game back after missing over a month with a bad hamstring. In fact, reports indicate the only way he’s going to completely recover from this hamstring strain is to wait until season’s end to rest and rehab it. Until then, caution is the name of the game. So Beltre happily settled for a single on the hit.
What happens next? That famous practical joker David Murphy. Seeing a perfect opportunity to really “get” Beltre, Murphy slammed a perfectly placed double between left and center, in a spot that would afford a maximum amount of time for a fielder to retrieve it.
So here’s Beltre, under orders to not do anything to tax that hamstring. He has to be thinking about it when he sees where the ball is going. “Crap,” he must be thinking. “I might have to try to score from first base on this thing. Doc told me to take it easy and Murph does this. Curse you, David Murphy!!!” Note: For anyone who has heard Beltre when he’s been near the dugout mike, you probably already know he said a little bit more than “Curse You”.
Beltre is chugging as hard as that hammy will allow him. He rounds third and, possibly because BJ Upton was laughing so hard at the sight, didn’t really draw a throw home as he scored the first Rangers run of the night. Hilarity ensues in the dugout as teammates rag on Beltre’s blazing speed. Murphy stands at second base chuckling, thinking he’ll also razz Beltre for running so slow, he robbed him of a chance for a triple.
Honestly, it was great seeing Beltre back in the line-up, especially with Nelson Cruz out an indefinite period of time with his own hamstring issues. Adrian almost had a home run in his first game backed, but was robbed at the wall on a great catch.
Wilson, meanwhile, was pitching the game of his life from the outset. Taking a page from the Dallas Mavericks book, Wilson recently underwent a cryogenic treatment: a kind of nitrogen deep freeze that was written about in a recent piece in ESPN: The Magazine. Wilson figured if it worked for Dirk, maybe it would work for him. Don’t know if the two are related, but there was no denying Wilson through the first five innings: no baserunners and seven strikeouts.
Leading off the 6th, Casey Kotchman hit a high chopper that Wilson tried to barehand. It nipped off his finger, Ian Kinsler lunged for it, threw desperately to first and just pulled Mitch Moreland off the bag, giving Kotchman an infield single and ending the perfecto. It was also the beginning of the end of Wilson’s night. The finger that deflected the ball turned numb and Wilson was never effective after that, giving up a run in the 6th and allowing the first two men to reach in the 7th before being pulled.
Texas played long ball, with Kinsler slamming two home runs, Michael Young adding a third and Beltre barely missing a 4th. Wilson picked up his 14th win, the Angels couldn’t gain any ground- all in all a good night. The team got through the home stand with the Angels, Red Sox and Rays at 5-5, a result most would be happy with considering the competition. It gets no easier. Now it’s six on the road at Boston and Tampa before spending most of the rest of the season playing the West.
The team hopes to keep winning. Adrian Beltre just hopes he doesn’t have to try to score from first on a double again any time soon.