Dear baseball gods: We still have two more Game 5s and two more rounds of the postseason left! What are you trying to do to us?
The seventh inning of Game 5 between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays was the craziest inning I've ever seen in a baseball game. Forget the Bartman Game. Forget Buckner. Forget anything you've ever witnessed in a game of importance. What just happened? Stuff we've never seen before. Stuff we'll never see again. It was like the Bad News Bears suddenly pilfered the uniforms of the Rangers and Blue Jays only to have Jose Bautista say "Enough of this nonsense!" and clock a home run that landed somewhere in Manitoba, and then set a world record for longest admiration of a home run.
The Rangers had the go-ahead and potentially series-clinching run handed to them, the biggest gift you'll ever see on a major league field, only to give it way over the course of three painful plays. A franchise that suffered the ultimate heartbreak in the 2011 World Series -- one strike away from winning its only World Series -- suffered a defeat that will go down in playoff history.
OK, so Rougned Odor of the Rangers was on third base with two outs, score tied, Shin-Soo Choo batting. He took ball two against Aaron Sanchez, running the count to 2-2. As Choo remained in his side of the batter's box, raising his bat up in the air in a stretch, catcher Russell Martin's return throw to Sanchez hit Choo's bat and rolled down the third-base line. Odor raced home. Plate umpire Dale Scott, who had raised his arms as if calling the play dead when Odor was about three-quarters of the way home, sent Odor back to third.
Here's what happened next:
Rangers manager Jeff Banister went out to argue the ruling with the umpires.
The umpires had a long meeting.
The umpires sent Odor home with the run.
Blue Jays fans started pelting the field with garbage. Not good, Blue Jays fans.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had an intense little talk with the umpires.
The Blue Jays play the game under protest.
All that took only 18 minutes.
Here's the rule in question, good old Rule 6.03(A):
In other words, Choo didn't do anything illegal. Martin made a lazy throw, the ball was live and Odor had every right to advance. We've learned way too much about the rulebook this postseason.
What about the umpire waving his arms as if the play were dead? Well ... in reading Rule 5.12, which outlines situations when an umpire can call "time," this would not be one of them. In part, the rule reads "Except in the cases stated in paragraphs (2) and (3)(A) of this rule, no umpire shall call 'Time' while a play is in progress." This play was in progress. Scott should not have raised his arms. Plus, the Blue Jays had no chance to get Odor anyway. I think the umpires made the correct decision.
Of course, all that was quickly dismissed when the Rangers played the worst inning of defense you'll ever see. Shortstop Elvis Andrus will have nightmares all offseason about what happened next. First, he booted a routine ground ball with Martin batting. Kevin Pillar then chopped a ball to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who chunked the throw into the dirt, which Andrus failed to scoop -- not routine, but a play a major league shortstop usually makes. Ryan Goins then laid down a bunt, Adrian Beltre made a terrific play to turn and throw a strike to Andrus covering third. He dropped it. For the first time in postseason history, a team committed errors in three consecutive plate appearances.
After a force at home, Sam Dyson replaced Cole Hamels -- good call there by Banister, as you needed a right-hander to face Josh Donaldson, even if Hamels wasn't in trouble of his own accord -- and Donaldson hit a short pop fly to second base. However, Odor's feet suddenly got trapped in quicksand and he stumbled backward and the ball -- which should have been an easy second out -- dropped just behind him, plating the tying run, although the Rangers still got a force at second when Ben Revere, thinking the catch would be made, returned to first base.
Then Bautista, who had played over 1,400 career games without ever appearing in the postseason, unloaded with the second-biggest home run in Blue Jays history. The fans went absolutely bonkers, and there might never have been a baseball stadium so loud.
Oh, as the inning finally ended, Dyson and Troy Tulowitzki bumped into each other, exchanged words and the benches emptied.
Whew. It all took 53 minutes. Fifty-three minutes that Rangers fans would like to forget but never will.