Monday newsletter time: Clutch outing by Cody Bradford helps Rangers secure 2-0 ALDS lead
(AP photo/Julio Cortez)
Those who let their imaginations run wild early in the season, when hope springs eternal and all teams are playoff contenders who will be facing hairy moments in October, couldn’t have envisioned Cody Bradford delivering arguably the best outing by a Rangers reliever this season.
The left-hander brought stability to Game 2 of the American League Division Series when he entered with no outs in the fifth inning and didn’t leave until there were two outs in the eighth.
His 3 2/3 scoreless innings, capped with an assist from Josh Sborz for last out of the eighth, kept the Orioles at bay as they tried to chip away at Rangers leads of five and six runs.
The three runs Baltimore scored in the ninth didn’t matter as the Rangers secured an 11-8 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series. Bradford, with his low-90s fastball and terrific changeup, tied up an Orioles lineup that made Jordan Montgomery labor and knocked him out early in the fifth.
“What a job he did,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bradford opened the season at Triple A Round Rock and made his MLB debut in May. He worked as a starter early on and made a seamless transition to the bullpen over the summer.
He was sent back to Round Rock after the Rangers added Montgomery and Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, but played a role in the final month. He pitched well Sept. 30 as the Rangers clinched a postseason berth.
That was a big game but not as big as the one Sunday. Bradford said that Scherzer had give young pitchers some advice on how to handle a postseason appearance. A low-key pitcher like Bradford, Scherzer said, needs to find away to not get caught up in a raucous atmosphere like the one Camden Yards provided.
“I know I was definitely nervous,” Bradford said. “I just tried to be even more calm than I normally would be, if that makes any sense.”
The thing that has impressed the Rangers most is how well Bradford prepares. He knows what his strengths are on the mound and pitches to them.
“He came in and was pounding the strike zone very well, working all quadrants,” Bochy said. “This kid, we brought him up and he’s handled every situation. It’s been impressive.”
Ball 4 x 11
Corey Seager became the first player in MLB postseason history to walk five times in a game, but he wasn’t the only Rangers hitter to take a free ride to first.
The Rangers walked 11 times, including three in the third inning ahead of Mitch Garver’s grand slam. They led the league in walks with 599, five more than the Twins, and have continued their grinding approach in the postseason.
Orioles starter Grayson Rodriguez threw 59 pitches and walked four in 1 2/3 innings. All nine batters reached either by a hit or walk. Seager scored twice. Leody Taveras scored three times, once after his two-run double in the second and twice after walks.
“Take your walk,” Bochy said. “It’s not one guy that’s going to carry this club. Corey, five walks, you take it. You’re trying to get on base.”
The extra pitches cause pitchers to make mistakes in the strike zone, as Jacob Webb did after falling behind 3-1 to Garver with the bases load. Garver sat on a fastball, got one and crushed it.
“Pretty relentless attack,” he said. “You’ve got to beat us in the strike zone.”
Home, sweet home
The Rangers hopped on their charter plane Sunday night and headed to Texas for the first time in two weeks.
They hadn’t been home since Sept. 24, when they finished off a three-game sweep of the Mariners in the regular-season home finale. They went to Anaheim, then to Seattle, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
If the power grid buckles today, it could be because of all the laundry Rangers personnel will be doing. Game 3 is scheduled for 7:03 p.m. Tuesday at Globe Life Field.
“It’s going to be nice to get home,” said right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who will start Game 3. The atmosphere here in Baltimore was amazing. The fans have been electric. But I think we’re all really excited to get home and have that playoff game, the first one since 2016, back home. And we feed off of our fans.”
Only a limited number of single seats and standing-room only tickets are left for Game 3, and fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for a potential Game 4 on Wednesday.
The Rangers are hoping to have Wednesday off.
If you’re a baseball fan, there is no shortage of good things to read this time of year, and not just Rangers stuff. Three other series are being held, too, and there’s good ball writing across the country. Rangers Today likes to think it’s contributing to the quality reads. Here’s our latest content, in case you missed it (and go ahead and sign up while you’re at it.)
The Sunday Read: Defense never rests
ALDS Game 2: Grand decision
ALDS Game 1: Great escape
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Rangers fans waiting for their team to come home. Enjoy.
Synchronized tail wagging.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/j6McHEYXKF
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) October 8, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com