Thanks to a couple of solo homers, Texas starter Matt Harrison carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the second inning, and he got the frame off to a good start by striking out Game 1 hero Kelly Shoppach. But he walked the brilliantly pantalooned Sean Rodriguez. Harrison rebounded against Casey Kotchman with another strikeout, his third in this young game.
That brought up Matt Joyce, who laced a liner into right-center field. Nelson Cruz cut off the ball in good order, threw a strike to second baseman Ian Kinsler, and Kinsler turned and made a perfect one-hop relay to catcher Mike Napoli.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez read the ball perfectly off the bat and never stopped sprinting around the bases, and all three elements -- runner, catcher, baseball -- came together at almost exactly the same instant, like this:
Napoli couldn't hang on, Rodriguez scored -- after reaching back and slapping the plate with his hand, because he apparently missed it during the collision -- and the game was delayed for a few minutes while a trainer did his best to determine that Napoli didn't suffer a concussion.
I'm not sure Rodriguez wouldn't have been safe with a slide, but he's certainly made himself popular with his teammates. Meanwhile, Harrison recovered to escape the inning with yet another strikeout.
But that wasn't all. After Hellickson held the Rangers in the top of the third, Harrison came back in the bottom of the inning and struck out all three Rays he faced, giving him seven strikeouts already.
Rangers 2, Rays 1 after three innings.