So much happened in that seventh inning—an inning that took 53 minutes, and even without the glow of morning-after hyperbole, must go down as one of the weirdest, wildest, and most exciting single innings ever played—that its component parts (save The Bat Flip Heard ‘Round The World) may eventually be lost to the box scores of history. Elvis Andrus sure hopes so.
“If people want to blame me,” Andrus said, “I’m here, and I’ll take it.”
The Rangers committed three consecutive errors to open the bottom half of the seventh—a feat about as rare as the bizarre bat-deflection controversy in the top of the frame—and Andrus was in on all three of them. He booted an easy grounder, dropped a potential force play at second (the throw bounced; Mitch Moreland was charged with the error), then dropped a potential force at third on a bunt.
Unlike the other blink-quick, holy-shit game-changing moments in that inning, it was a slow-motion unraveling:
Depending on your rooting interests and your rationality, it was either the baseball gods evening things up after the Rangers took the lead on a fluke, a sign of Texas’s mindset after an 18-minute delay, or just plain old luck.
Andrus, who has been wildly inconsistent at shortstop over his career (his numbers this year put him solidly middle-of-the-pack), didn’t have answers. But he tried. He stood by his locker and met the media, his eyes moist. He reeled off a matter-of-fact litany of what happened on those three plays, all objective descriptions of what everyone had just seen. He just didn’t make the play. He just couldn’t hold on to the throw. He didn’t attempt to explain why, undoubtedly because he couldn’t know.
But man, he felt bad about it.
“I’ve got a lot of emotions,” Andrus said softly after letting out a defeated exhale. “Nothing good is going through my mind right now. We had an opportunity to win and I let everybody down. I should have made the plays. They were easy plays. I should make them 100 times out of 100. There is no excuse. This is the toughest point of my career.”
Well, shit, what do you say to that? Maybe there’s consolation in the fact that it wasn’t all on Andrus, that the game would have still headed to the eighth tied if Sam Dyson could have retired Bautista. And anyway there’s no way to know how things would have played out if Andrus had made all or some of his plays.
But that’s for alternate universes, and in the one in which we and Andrus live, the Rangers booted and dropped a decent chance at advancing to the ALCS. Baseball is as capricious as it is cruel.