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40-69, Game Thought

From the outset, this game had promise. With a guy like Felix Hernandez taking the hill - a guy with tremendous raw, natural ability - the crowd in our favor, and an excellent division rival in town, everything seemed in line for an interesting evening. Maybe not quite as interesting as some would make it out to be, since the odds of this turning into, say, a no-hitter or even a complete-game shutout were low, but certainly interesting enough. Certainly more interesting than most of the other games we've been able to watch lately.

So the game had clear potential. It proceeded to get off to a rough, choppy start, but there were little indications. Felix worked out of some jams, which was a plus. The offense struggled to cash in its opportunities, which was a minus. The various upsides and downsides began to reveal themselves, but it was still early enough that, even though we already knew we weren't going to see a no-hitter or perfect game, there was still plenty of time for the game to blossom into something special.

And then it started to pick up. Granted, the offense couldn't do anything. The offense showed zero improvement against a decent but by no means terrific starting pitcher, and that continued to hold the team back. But Felix found his groove. Between the second and the sixth innings, Felix retired 14 Ranger hitters in a row, with three strikeouts and seven groundouts. With the Rangers taking some weak swings and Felix's pitch count still reasonable, it started to feel like we could really have something memorable taking place. Nothing legendary, and nothing historic, but still something good enough to warm all of our hearts. While the course of the game had its clear shortcomings, the run prevention was the big positive, and Felix was rolling.

He rolled into the seventh, and spirits were about as high as they could get, considering. And though David Murphy lifted a long fly ball to left field, Michael Saunders seemed to have some idea where it was going, and as he leaped into the air with his glove outstretched and came back down again to the ground, it looked like he'd made a spectacular catch. The crowd cheered, the announcers exclaimed, and those of us watching knew in our hearts that the game was living up to its potential, Saunders' incredible grab serving as the best highlight yet. That catch cemented our confidence in declaring that this was a game we'd be glad that we watched.

Except three seconds after we thought that Saunders made an astonishing catch, it was revealed that the ball actually flew over the fence, and from that point on the game devolved into slow, unwatchable agony, the viewers who stuck around wondering why they ever expected anything different from a game that had such obvious deficiencies from the start.

This was the Jose Lopez of baseball games.