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Rangers #GoOutAndTakeIt; Perfect Road Record Wins Texas's First World Series Title

Nov. 4, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley

PHOENIX, AZ.- Normally, a baseball team performs better in front of their home crowd. There's just something about hearing your team's fans, your own walkup/entry music, and wearing the home whites that makes a player feel good.

But apparently the Texas Rangers liked the role of invader, because there was a distinct "road-field advantage" every time they donned the grays (and blues) this postseason.

Wednesday night, the Rangers won their first World Series championship in the franchise's 63-year history; finishing off the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 5-0 win in Game 5 at Chase Field to win the Fall Classic four games to one. The Rangers entered Major League Baseball in 1961 as the second incarnation of the Washington Senators when the original version moved to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and became the Minnesota Twins. The team spent eleven seasons in the nation's capital before moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 1972.

The Rangers went an uncanny 11-0 away from Arlington in the playoffs, the most road wins in a single postseason in MLB history. They also had an 11-0 record when scoring first.

Texas's road perfection included a two-game Wild Card Series sweep against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, two Division Series wins over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, winning all four ALCS contests at Minute Maid Park against the rival Houston Astros, and taking all three games at Chase Field against the D-Backs.

In contrast, the Rangers were 2-4 at Globe Life Field. They won their only home game against Baltimore in the Division Series, but lost all three games at home in the ALCS against Houston before splitting their two home games against Arizona.

Nathan Eovaldi proved once again why he is a playoff ace, earning his fifth win of the postseason- the first pitcher in MLB history to earn five wins in a single postseason. Eovaldi danced in and out of trouble throughout his entire outing, as the Snakes had runners in scoring position in all of the first five innings. But while getting runners on was no problem for Arizona, getting them in was. The D-Backs went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Game 5, leaving 11 men on base overall.

Arizona made Eovaldi walk the tightrope, but he was more than up to the task. In fact his last inning, the 6th, was his easiest as he set the D-Backs down in order.

Eovaldi's opposite number, Zac Gallen, went into his start knowing he'd likely have to pitch the game of his life to give his team any chance of sending the series back to Arlington. And through six innings, the Milkman delivered just that. Gallen set down the first 14 batters he faced in order before Rangers 1st baseman Nathaniel Lowe worked a two-out walk in the top of the 5th. Gallen would strike out catcher Jonah Heim to end the inning, and retire the Rangers in order in the 6th.

Most pitchers would never admit it, but getting no run support will get to you. Even more so when you're doing everything you can do to keep your team's season alive and your offense just can't break through despite having many opportunities.

That may have been the case for Gallen. On a 1-2 pitch in the top of the 7th, Rangers shortstop Corey Seager did something not many hitters seem to be willing to do these days: take advantage of an overshift and hit the ball the other way. It was a swinging bunt towards third base, but with the overshift Evan Longoria wasn't playing anywhere near the bag, and Gallen's no-hitter was gone.

Rookie left fielder Evan Carter stepped up next for Texas and ripped a double- his single-postseason record ninth two-bagger- into the right-center field gap, allowing Seager to get to third. With a 2-2 count, DH Mitch Garver delivered a single up the middle, bringing Seager home and getting Carter to 3rd to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead. Gallen would then strike out rookie 3rd baseman Josh Jung, but that would be the end of the line for him. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo had gotten all he could out of his ace, and the Chase Field faithful rose to salute Gallen's effort.

Lovullo called on reliable starter-turned-setup man Kevin Ginkel, who had not given up a run in the playoffs, to take over in hopes he could induce a side-retiring double play. Ginkel did induce a grounder from Lowe, but rather than risk a throwing error and a run scoring on a double play attempt, Lowe's counterpart Christian Walker threw home to start a 3-2-5-1 rundown to cut down Carter. Ginkel would then get Heim out on a foul pop to his counterpart Gabriel Moreno to retire the side and limit the damage.

Aroldis Chapman took over on the mound for the Rangers, but the Diamondbacks still had hope to cling to. Chapman quickly got Arizona right fielder Corbin Carroll on a liner to left for the first out. 2nd baseman Ketel Marte then worked a walk, his third of the game, but Chapman struck out Moreno on a 101 MPH high sinker. It seems reports of the demise of Chapman's velocity have been exaggerated.

With Walker, Arizona's biggest power threat due up, Texas manager Bruce Bochy went to his most reliable right-handed reliever in the playoffs, Josh Sborz. Sborz had a 5.50 ERA in the regular season, but came into Game 5 having surrendered only one run in the postseason. Walker hit a 2-1 slider hard, but right to center fielder Leody Taveras, and the side was retired.

In the 8th, Lovullo stuck with Ginkel on the mound. Taveras dropped a bunt on the first pitch, but a quick bare hand play by Longoria sent him back to the dugout. Ginkel then got into some trouble by walking right fielder Travis Jankowski and allowing a single to 2nd baseman Marcus Semien. Ginkel then had Seager in an 0-2 hole but couldn't put him away; missing with the next four pitches to load the bases. But Ginkel would rebound by striking out Carter and getting Garver to ground out to shortstop Geraldo Perdomo; and Ginkel's exuberance at getting out of the jam fired up the Snake Pit.

Likewise in the bottom of the inning, with three of the next four batters hitting right, Bochy stuck with Sborz. Arizona designated hitter Tommy Pham worked a 3-0 count, but Sborz came back to get him swinging. Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would then ground out to short on the first pitch he saw from Sborz. Lefty-hitting center fielder Alek Thomas was next. The Rangers had had lefty hurler Cody Bradford up earlier, but not at that point. And since Bochy had already used his top lefty reliever, Chapman, even though closer Jose Leclerc was ready in the Texas bullpen, Bochy opted to stick with Sborz; though he did get Bradford back up. Initially, the move looked to have backfired, as Thomas took the second pitch he faced from Sborz up the middle for a single.

The tying run was on, and the go-ahead run was coming to the plate- but not in the form of Longoria; as Lovullo brought in his top left-handed bench option, Pavin Smith, to pinch-hit. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux went out to talk with Sborz and Heim, but Sborz stayed on the mound. With switch-hitters Perdomo and Marte due up after Smith, and the lefty Carroll between them, if Chapman had not already been exhausted, Bochy probably would have gone to him. But whether Bochy felt Bradford wasn't ready, Leclerc could stand to save some bullets, or that he simply trusted Sborz to get Smith more than any remaining lefty to get Emmanuel Rivera (who would have pinch-hit for Smith against a lefty, since he was going to take over at 3rd base in the 9th anyway), the future first-ballot Hall-Of-Fame skipper stuck with the righty. And his faith was rewarded when Sborz struck out Smith looking to end the inning.

Rivera did indeed take over at 3rd base for the Diamondbacks in the 9th, and since a save situation was no longer possible for Arizona, Lovullo would task his closer Paul Sewald with what can be described as a "inverse save situation"- holding the deficit at one to give your team a chance to get a walk-off win. Given the fact that, like Ginkel, Sewald had not given up a run in the postseason going into Game 5, Lovullo had good reason to believe the stopper who came from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline would be able to put up a zero.

Jung would promptly greet Sewald with a single to center, and Lowe would follow with an opposite-field single of his own on a 2-0 fastball, giving Texas two runners on base with nobody out. On the very next pitch, Heim would deliver a single to right-center. Jung was waved to the plate by 3rd base coach Tony Beasley; and perhaps that distracted Thomas. Whatever the case may be, whether he was distracted or just in a rush to field it and at least get it to the cutoff man, Thomas overran the ball by a couple inches, it ticked off his glove, and rolled past him nearly to the wall. Not only did Jung score, but Thomas's error allowed Lowe to score as well; and for Heim to make it all the way to 3rd.

With the deficit now at 3-0, Arizona was forced to bring the infield in and their fans were hoping for a miracle. Sewald struck out Taveras and got Jankowski to ground out to shortstop, keeping Heim at 3rd.

Semien had not had a good postseason overall coming into the World Series, hitting only .192 prior to the Fall Classic, with only two extra-base hits and two RBIs. But Game 4 had seen him return to form; with a triple, a home run, and five RBI in Texas's eventual victory in the 11-7 Halloween slugfest.

And Game 5 saw Semien deliver yet again, against a pitcher he had to be pretty familiar with. After a first-pitch sweeper was fouled off, Sewald tried to get Semien to bite on high cheese, but it wasn't high enough. Semien devoured it, turning on the heater and blasting it 406 feet to left-center; sending Rangers fans into euphoria and shattering virtually all remaining hope Diamondbacks fans had. Sewald would then give up a single to Seager, but would strike out Carter to stop the bleeding. But it was too little, too late; the damage was done, and Sewald looks to be another exhibit of evidence in the case to never have a closer pitch in non-save situations.

With a five-run lead and three outs to get, Bochy continued to put his trust in Sborz, giving him a chance at a seven-out save. After all, Sborz had proven himself in the playoffs, he had a rather sizable margin for error, and Leclerc was ready behind him just in case.

Perdomo tried to work the count, but was called out on strikes on a generous call by home plate umpire Brian Knight. Carroll, the virtually guaranteed NL Rookie of the Year, got under a 1-0 heater and popped out in foul ground to Heim.

The only bit of drama remaining was whether Marte could extend his playoff record 20-game hitting streak. Marte had walked in three of his four plate appearances to that point, and even though it would likely mean the end of his streak, he would gladly take another to keep the season alive.

Sborz went with two heaters to start. The first was low, the second was hittable but Marte was in take mode, as the situation dictated. Sborz went with a looping curve on the top outside corner to make it a 1-2 count. Sborz went with a down-and-in fastball, but Marte wouldn't chase. On 2-2, Sborz and Heim went back to the breaking ball in the exact same location as the 1-1 pitch: outside part of the plate, top of the zone.

Sborz hit his spot, Knight rang up Marte, the death knell rang out for the 2023 Diamondbacks in the desert, and over a thousand miles away, victory cheers rang out throughout the Metroplex.

Fun Facts

The Rangers became the second team to win 13 postseason games to claim the Commissioner's Trophy. The first was the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 "COVID season" with eight playoff teams per league and no first-round byes. The World Series that year was held entirely at, ironically, Globe Life Field.

The World Series MVP that year? Corey Seager. The World Series MVP this year? Corey Seager.

The Rangers shortstop went 6-for-21 in the World Series, with three home runs, six runs batted in, six runs scored, and three walks. Overall in the postseason, Seager hit .318 with a 1.133 on-base plus slugging percentage, six homers, 18 runs scored, and 12 RBI. Seager also drew 15 walks, including a single playoff game record five in ALDS Game 2. His nine total bases on balls against the O's is also a single Division Series record.

Seager is only the fourth player in World Series history with multiple MVP awards. He's also the second player to win the award with multiple teams; the first being none other than "Mr. October" himself, Reggie Jackson. "The Straw That Stirs the Drink" won the honor in 1973 with the Oakland Athletics and in 1977 with his legendary five-longball performance for the New York Yankees.

Hall of Fame aces Sandy Koufax (1963 & '65 with the Dodgers) and Bob Gibson (1964 & '67 with the St. Louis Cardinals) are the only two others with multiple World Series MVP awards.

Bochy becomes the sixth manager to win the World Series four times, having won previously in 2010, '12, and '14 with the San Francisco Giants. Bochy joins Joe McCarthy (Seven: 1932, '36-'39, '41, '43 with the Yankees), Casey Stengel (Seven: 1949-53, '56, '58 with the Yankees), Connie Mack (Five: 1910, '11, '13, '29, '30 with the Philadelphia A's), Walt Alston (Four: 1955 (Brooklyn), '59, '63, '65 (L.A.), with the Dodgers), and Joe Torre (Four: 1996, '98-2000 with the Yankees).

Bochy is also the fifth manager to win the World Series with multiple teams, joining Bucky Harris (1924 with the Washington Senators and '47 with the Yankees), Bill McKechnie (1925 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and 1940 with the Cincinnati Reds), Sparky Anderson (1975 & '76 with the Cincinnati Reds and 1984 with the Detroit Tigers) and Tony LaRussa (1989 with the A's, 2006 & '11 with the Cardinals). Bochy also became the first manager to defeat a team in the World Series, then become that team's manager and lead them to the crown. (The Rangers were the opponent for Bochy's Giants in 2010.)

Rangers right fielder Adolis Garcia's postseason performance will be etched into the history books as well. The ALCS MVP hit .323 overall in the postseason with a single-postseason record 22 RBI. He also had eight home runs, including his 11th inning walk-off in World Series Game 1. "El Bombi" may have boosted his numbers further had he not been shut down due to an oblique injury he sustained in Game 3.

Speaking of injured players, Max Scherzer, who also had to leave Game 3 due to injury and was shut down, wins his second World Series ring; his first coming with the Washington Nationals in 2019. Mad Max's former division rival and once and current teammate Jacob deGrom will receive his first ring despite being able to make only six starts for Texas before Tommy John surgery.

Carter reached base safely in all 17 playoff games for the Rangers, tied for the sixth-longest streak to start a career in history.

Eovaldi is now 4-0 in series-clinching opportunities. When he takes the mound in potential closeout games, the teams he pitches for are 11-1.

Rangers general manager Chris Young, who actually pitched for Bochy in 2006 in Bochy's last year as manager of the San Diego Padres, is only the third person to win the World Series as a player and as a GM. Young won as a player in 2015 with the Kansas City Royals. Young joins "Fordham" Johnny Murphy (Six times as Yankees reliever; 1969 as Mets GM) and Stan "The Man" Musial (1941, '44 as Cardinals outfielder/first baseman, '67 as Cards GM).

Rangers reliever Will M. Smith has some pretty good luck, and seems to bring it with him to whatever team he pitches for recently. Smith is the first player in MLB history to win three consecutive World Series with three separate teams. (Braves, Astros, Rangers) Maybe he and recently retired former Stanley Cup champion Patrick Maroon can have a get together.

With the Rangers' victory, only five teams remain who have never won the World Series: the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays and Friars are 0-2 in the Fall Classic (Tampa Bay winning the AL pennant 2008 & '20, San Diego the NL pennant in 1984 & '98), while the Rox (2007 NL Pennant) and Brew Crew (1982 AL Pennant) are 0-1. The Sea Men, who entered the league in 1977, remain the only MLB franchise to have never played in the Fall Classic.

With free agency on the horizon, the Texas Rangers find themselves in a position they've never been in before: kings of the mountain. And they'll have 29 teams looking to knock them off the top. In fact, the first moves of the off-season have already been made. But for the three months before Spring Training, the Rangers can celebrate. History was waiting for them, and they went out and took it.


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