Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers weren’t worried about any bumps on the road
(AP photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
HOUSTON — Nathaniel Lowe sent much of the sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park packing Monday night in the sixth inning, though Astros fans could have left sooner.
All the seats they vacated on the lower bowl were swiped up by Rangers fans, who showed their pride over the final two innings.
It’s not easy being a Rangers fan, from their humble beginnings in 1972 through their successful but empty run in the late 1990s to their near-misses in the World Series years. It looked as if fans were in for another kick in the shorts after the Astros stole Game 5 on Friday in Arlington.
But the team believed, glomming onto their road success this postseason and the road wins in Game 1 and 2 of the American League Championship Series. Once they won Game 6 on Sunday, they had a quiet confidence about them leading up to Game 7.
“I said we can do the same thing,” closer Jose Leclerc said.
It showed en route to an 11-4 victory that clinched a spot in the World Series.
The Rangers are 8-0 on the road this postseason, matching the 1996 Yankees for the MLB record. They won twice at 99-win Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, twice at 101-winning Baltimore in the division series and four times against the AL West-champion Astros (by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Rangers).
“It’s just the heart and determination these guys have shown on the road,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s something about the road that does brings the team together. Especially that long road trip after we lost in Seattle [to end the regular season], that was as probably as low a point as we’ve had all year. But these guys have continued to get up, they’ve taken their punches, but they keep getting up.”
The Rangers will be the higher seed in the World Series, which begins Friday, and play four games at home.
The Rangers will play …
Arizona forced a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series, which will be played tonight in Philadelphia. The Phillies, who started play in 1883, have never been to a Game 7.
That’s remarkable as is the fact that the 84-win Diamondbacks are a win a way from the World Series.
The Phillies seem to be the scarier team. They have a more potent offense and better starting pitching, though no one wants to run into Dbacks ace Zac Gallen. The weather could be a factor next week in Philadelphia, where high temperatures are forecast to be in the 50s.
Conditions will be perfect in Arizona, which plays most of its games with the roof shut and also on the same turf that is at Globe Life Field. There are subtle differences, but the Rangers would feel somewhat comfortable there.
The Rangers won all three games against the Phillies this season, way back in the opening series of the season, but lost 3 of 4 to the Diamondbacks.
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Abreu ban upheld, but …
In what amounted to a victory for the Astros, right-hander Bryan Abreu’s two-game suspension for intentionally hitting Adolis Garcis was upheld by an MLB arbiter but won’t be served until the beginning of next season.
Abreu was available for Game 7, meaning the Astros did not have to play an elimination game without their best setup reliever. He pitched, hitting Mitch Garver in the ribs and surrendering Lowe’s homer.
The Rangers were expecting the decision, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it wasn’t a crock.
The infraction occurred in the postseason. The penalty should be served in the postseason.
I saw a few tweets commending the arbiter for the decision because it was upholding the integrity and fairness of the game. Had Abreu upheld the integrity of the game, he wouldn’t have been suspended in the first place. As long as we’re talking fairness, had Garcia been injured to the point that he could not play, would the series have stopped until he was healthy?
No, so that argument might not hold as much water as people think.
The six umpires who unanimously agreed that Abreu intentionally threw at Abreu aren’t mind readers, nor is the arbiter. They don’t know for sure who, if anyone, ordered the hit by pitch.
But if baseball wants to cut down on intentionally plunking hitters, suspending Abreu for Game 7 would have sent a strong message.
Ultimately, the Rangers secured the win that mattered most Monday.
Rangers walking into the World Series like … . Enjoy.
wasn’t expecting that pic.twitter.com/Rrntmyyu2N
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) October 23, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org