The Rangers did everything they could to get Mike Minor his 200th strikeout and the Red Sox did everything they could to stop it.
Everything about this is so stupid
The Rangers and Red Sox played a meaningless game in Arlington yesterday afternoon and yet it somehow devolved into a ridiculous beef.
Texas ace Mike Minor started the game nine strikeouts shy of 200 for the year. With the Rangers out of the playoff hunt, Minor’s only goal for the game was getting to the 200 K plateau and manager Chris Woodward was willing to let him do anything to get there. The Red Sox, meanwhile, did everything they could to stop it.
Minor had eight strikeouts through seven innings, so when he came out to start the eighth having already thrown 117 pitches the Red Sox were wise to what was happening. Brock Holt, Gorkys Hernandez and Jackie Bradley Jr. all swung at the first pitch they saw and all three made outs. Minor claims he even saw Holt chuckle in the direction of the Boston dugout after his leadoff groundout.
“I haven’t seen a three-pitch inning, I don’t think in my career, to be honest,” Woodward told reporters. “I’ve seen a guy swing at the third pitch of an inning, but not to hit it fair and get out. I’ve never seen a three-out on three consecutive swings. It is what it is.”
So Woodward left Minor in for the ninth inning, even though he’d now thrown 120 pitches on an 89-degree day, because he was still sitting on 199. That’s when things got spicy.
Boston’s Chris Owings popped one up into foul territory near first base and Ronald Guzman let it fall.
“Honestly that play, I was going for it,” Guzman told reporters. “When I got close to it, I heard the whole stadium telling me to drop it.”
“The whole stadium” included Minor himself. In the video of the play you can clearly see Minor screaming at Guzman to let the ball hit the ground.
“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.”
What you had, then, was two teams not trying to win the game. The Sox, trailing by two in the eighth inning, essentially forfeited their at-bats by swinging at the first pitch they saw. And the Rangers declined the opportunity to record the 26th out of the game, all in the name of letting Minor reach a round number for strikeouts.
But sure enough, Owings struck out on the next pitch, although not without some controversy. It looks like even the umpire was trying to let Minor get to 200. The pitch was way up and in—Owings even had to dodge it—but CB Bucknor called it a strike.
Neither manager was happy with how the farcical stat-padding played out. Boston manager Alex Cora didn’t comment on the display directly but made it clear something didn’t sit well with him.
“I’m just happy our guys are playing the right way,” Cora said.
Woodward wasn’t thrilled either.
“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 Cora did, they chose to not try and win the game as well. They were trying to keep him from striking a guy out.”
Congrats to Minor. You got your milestone and you managed to make the 159th game between two mediocre teams exciting.
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