Texas Rangers bring home first World Series title
(AP photo/Brynn Anderson)
PHOENIX — For many, 1972 was a lifetime ago. That was when the Rangers relocated to Arlington, Texas.
Even 2011, when the Rangers couldn’t close out the Fall Classic, seems like the distant past.
All previous heartbreak from the previous 52 seasons vanished Wednesday night.
Go crazy, folks: The Texas Rangers are — finally! — World Series champions.
Nathan Eovaldi gave the Rangers a chance in Game 5 with six scoreless innings, Mitch Garver broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning against a masterful Zac Gallen, and Marcus Semien capped a four-run inth inning with a two-run homer that sent the Rangers to a 5-0 victory and their first world title.
The Rangers, who were doubted after losing the final game of the season and missing out on the American League West title, went 11-0 on the road in the postseason.
“We just came together at the right time,” first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said. “It’s out of our control what can happen, but this group never gave up. We got ourselves in a position to contend, and we did it the hard way. We showed up here and executed when we needed to.”
Shortstop Corey Seager was selected as the Willie Mays MVP for the second time in his career. Half of his six hits in the series were home runs, and his first hit Tuesday ended six no-hit innings by Diamondbacks ace Gallen.
“This is nothing other than winning games,” Seager said. “It doesn’t matter who the guy is, how you do it. When it comes down to the World Series, it’s about winning four games, and that’s what we did.”
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The Rangers didn’t get to celebrate, though, without the performace by Eovaldi, who delivered a gritty effort that saw him dodge trouble throughout. He and two relievers combined on the five-hit shutout.
Eovaldi was dealing with base runners from the first batter he faced, as leadoff hitter Corbin Carroll walked on four pitches. Carroll advanced to first with one out, but Eovaldi wiggled out of the jam.
He worked around a leadoff single in the second, kept the game scoreless in the third after the Diamondbacks had runners at second and third with one out, and wasted a two-out double in the fourth.
The Diamondbacks kept the pressure on in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., though, bounced the first pitch he saw to Seager, who threw across for the final out.
“I just didn’t do a very good job of executing my pitches until I needed to,” said Eovaldi, who went 5-0 this postseason in six starts. “The lead-off walk to start the game, having traffic, it wasn’t easy. And I was able to make the big pitches when I really needed to.”
Meanwhile, Gallen was cruising, though Lowe drew a two-out walk in the fight to become the Rangers’ first base runner and Gallen threw 24 pitches in the inning.
Eovaldi and Gallen exchanged 1-2-3 innings in the sixth, and Gallen was at only 72 pitches when he returned for the seventh. Seager, though, singled to start the inning, breaking up the no-hit bid, and Evan Carter followed with a double.
Garver was next, and his grounder through the middle brought in the game’s first run.
“I swung at the first-pitch curveball and got a good swing off,” he said. “I think he wanted to challenge me with the heater, and he threw it right down the middle.”
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilsonTXR) November 2, 2023
Then, it was nail-biting time, as if the first six innings hadn’t frayed most fans’ nerves.
Aroldis Chapman and Josh Sborz combined on a scoreless seventh. After the Rangers missed a scoring chance in the eighth, Sborz returned for a scoreless bottom half to set the stage for the ninth inning.
Josh Jung opened with a single and went to second as Lowe also singled. Heim followed with a third straight single that Alek Thomas misplayed and allowed the ball to go to the center-field wall as two runs scored.
After Leody Taveras struck out and Travis Jankowski grounded out, Semien launched his second postseason homer.
“You show up every day because you never know when you’re going to do something special,” said Semien, who homered, tripled and drove in five runs in Game 4.
Sborz stayed in for the ninth and easily mowed through three Arizona hitters. When Ketel Marte struck out looking, the Rangers’ dugout and bullpen flooded onto the field for the biggest celebration in franchise history.
The team that lost 102 games two seasons ago became the quickest team in MLB history to win a World Series after losing 100 games. Manager Bruce Bochy, who won his fourth World Series, credited general manager Chris Young and ownership for turning the franchise around.
“I am very fortunate, blessed, to come into this. It’s such a great group of guys,” Bochy said. “But it starts at the top. Those guys were committed. And, look, we’re in a good place now.”
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org