Garver rewards Bochy, Rangers with grand slam in Game 2 victory
(AP photo/Alex Brandon)
Bruce Bochy says lineup decisions for each game are a collaborative effort, with input from his coaching staff, the numbers guys, pro scouts and the front office.
But he is the manager, a three-time World Series-winning manager, and ultimately he’s the one who puts pen to paper on the lineup card.
The one he drew up Sunday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series was another master stroke.
At long last Mitch Garver returned to the Rangers’ lineup in the No. 3 spot, which has been unsettled the past few weeks. It’s not unsettled now, as Garver hit a grand slam and drove in five runs as the Rangers sprinted out to a huge lead after three innings and then held on for an 11-8 victory.
Garver just wanted to play after sitting out the Rangers’ first three postseason games.
“I was excited,” he said. “I feel like anytime I’m in the lineup I can contribute. Whoever’s in the lineup that day, I think 1 through 9 we trust everybody to get the job done.”
The Rangers returned home after the game from Camden Yards with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series, and they have a chance to sweep the top-ranked Orioles on Tuesday at Globe Life Field.
Cody Bradford tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of fellow left-hander Jordan Montgomery, Corey Seager set an MLB postseason record with five walks, and Leody Taveras scored three runs and got the Rangers started with an RBI double.
They were down 2-0 after one inning, leaving the bases loaded in the first, but scored five times in the second against Orioles rookie Grayson Rodriguez. Taveras brought in the first two and scored his first run as Garver beat out an infield hit that traveled about 30 feet.
“Speed showed up there,” Bochy deadpanned.
Garver’s next hit went about 400 feet further.
Taveras, Marcus Semien and Seager opened the third inning with three straight walks from Brian Baker, who was quickly replaced by Jacob Webb. He fell behind Garver 3-1, and with the bases loaded Garver figured that Webb was going to throw a fastball.
He did, and Garver hit it 419 feet for the second grand slam in Rangers postseason history.
“These playoff games, it’s one swing can change it,” Garver said. “I got into a situation there in a hitter’s count where I was looking for a fastball, and I got it.”
Garver didn’t complain that he hadn’t played. Instead, he said that Bochy’s pedigree is ironclad. The decision to insert Garver was the second big decision of the series, after the Rangers went with left-hander Andrew Heaney to start Game 1 instead of the well-rested Dane Dunning.
“I think the decisions he makes when it comes to the bullpen and the lineup, nobody can argue with them just based on his resume,” Garver said. “We trust his decisions.”
Bochy was rewarded but didn’t get the rest of the day off after Garver put the Rangers up 9-2.
Montgomery labored and had to exit in the fifth after the Orioles cut the Rangers’ lead to 10-5. Bradford, another crafty lefty, turned in one of the more memorable middle-relief appearances in Rangers postseason history, along with Derek Holland’s outing in Game 3 of the 2010 AL Championship Series.
Josh Sborz recorded the final out in the eighth, needing only one pitch after consecutive hits against Bradford, and the Rangers went with Brock Burke in the ninth with an 11-5 lead. He got one out but exited after back-to-back hits, and Jose Leclerc allowed a three-run homer to Aaron Hicks.
That was it, though, as the Rangers won their fourth straight postseason game.
Credit the manager and Garver.
“He came up big earlier, too, with that swinging bunt,” Bochy said. “He can hit, and he’s done a great job for us this year. He got a pitch he could handle, and he’s got big power. That was the different in the game.”
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com