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Thoughts on a 6-5 Rangers win

Rangers 6, D-Backs 5

World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game One Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Rangers 6, D-Backs 5

  • What a game.
  • We got to see a few unusual events on Game 1. One of those, unfortunately, was a bit of a clunker start from Nathan Eovaldi. Big Game Nate has become legendary for his postseason greatness, to the point where, once the Rangers took at 2-0 lead in the first, it seemed like Texas could coast.
  • Prior to Game 1, Eovaldi had never allowed more than three runs in a postseason start. He matched that number in the third inning against the Diamondbacks. An infield single to lead off the inning followed by a normal single and a sac bunt put runners on second and third for Corbin Carroll. Eovaldi got up 0-2, then went to his splitter to try to get a swinging strike three.
  • The split had been extremely effective early on for Eovaldi, but he left this one in the strike zone rather than burying it, and Carroll smoked it to center at 109.4 mph, the hardest hit ball of the game for the D-Backs. Leody Taveras took a bad angle, resulting in the ball getting past him, and instead of a two run single — maybe a double — Carroll ended up on third with a triple.
  • Ketel Marte then hit a sharp grounder to Nathaniel Lowe at first. Lowe opted to come home to try to stop the go-ahead run rather than take the easy out, and a good throw would have gotten Carroll. Instead, though, the throw was a little high and up the third base line, and Heim missed a swipe tag on Carroll as he slid by, making it a 3-2 D-Backs lead.
  • The Rangers tied it up in the bottom of the third, but Tommy Pham homered to lead off the fourth, making it 4-3. In the fifth, a lead off single, a stolen base, and a one out double resulted in the fifth run. After a two out walk to Christian Walker, Bruce Bochy went to the pen and summoned Dane Dunning.
  • Final line for Eovaldi was 4.2 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 8 Ks, 1 homer. He missed bats — he got 17 swings and misses on 89 pitches, 11 of those coming on his splitter — but he also made a few bad pitches, with the D-Backs being able to string together hits and taken advantage of their opportunities against him.
  • It is here that I would like to take a moment and praise the unsung heroes of the night — the five Rangers relievers who stymied Arizona over 6.1 innings of work. Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray, Will Smith and Jose Leclerc allowed just two baserunners — both on harmless singles — and very little in the way of hard contact. Gray, in an unfamiliar middle relief role, got five outs, four of them on strikeouts. Leclerc, asked to pitch both the 10th and the 11th, was the Very Good Leclerc, retiring all six batters he faced, two on strikeouts.
  • The Ranger pen, we all know, is not the strength of this team. And other than Leclerc, it was the secondary guys in the pen who Bruce Bochy had to turn to. They did their job — and if they hadn’t kept Arizona off the board for 6.1 innings, the Rangers would be down 1-0 in this series right now.
  • The offense did that thing they’ve tended to do from time to time this year where they put a few runs on the board early, then go to sleep. A Corey Seager walk, an Evan Carter double, and an Adolis Garcia single plated a pair in the first before Mitch Garver grounded a ball to third that was initially called a fielder’s choice, with Garver being safe at first, but then was overturned and deemed a GIDP on one of the more clear-cut replay challenges you’ll see.
  • In the third, Texas tied the game on another Seager and another Carter double, followed by walks to Adolis and Garver, forcing in a run. We were all hoping, of course, for a big inning, but the inning started with a pair of Ks, and Jonah Heim’s fly ball to center cut the rally short.
  • Not much was shaking for the Rangers offense after that, at least until the late innings. Bochy did go to his bench in the eighth when, down 5-3 and Adolis Garcia on second with one out courtesy of a single and a wild pitch, Jonah Heim walked to put the tying run on first. Bochy tapped Josh Smith to run for Heim, but a Nathaniel Lowe fly out and a Josh Jung ground out ended the rally.
  • So, the ninth. Closer Paul Sewald into the game to finish things out for the D-Backs. Leody Taveras — who had not had a good game, fanning twice and popping up to go along with the Carroll triple — walked to lead off the inning. Hopes were raised. Marcus Semien struck out swinging on three pitches. Hopes sank, a little.
  • Bringing up Corey Seager. We know that Corey Seager swings at the first pitch as much as any hitter in baseball. Sewald knows that as well. The D-Backs relievers had a clear plan against Texas — four seamers up in the zone — and it is a plan that makes sense, that has worked against the Rangers this year. Sewald started Seager out with a fastball up.
  • And Corey Seager crushed it. Immediately, off the bat, there was no doubt. Corey Seager had tied the game.
  • The crowd erupted. Corey Seager showed emotion coming around the bases. It was joyous.
  • It only tied the game, but there was a confidence in the air after that, a confidence that seemed to suggest it was just a matter of time before the Rangers finished this one off. They had a chance to do so in the ninth. Adolis Garcia was hit by an 0-2 pitch, then stole second base on the first pitch to Mitch Garver. The D-Backs opted then to walk Garver intentionally, bringing up Austin Hedges.
  • Hedges, of course, had come into the game due to Smith pinch running for Heim. Prior to this point, his involvement in the postseason action had involved him being the guy cheering in the dugout that the cameras cut to when they needed a Rangers reaction shot, the guy who was first out of the dugout to celebrate when they won. Hedges is, by all accounts, a great teammate, a great clubhouse guy, and a god-tier defensive catcher.
  • He is not, however, much of a hitter, as evidenced by his .184/.234/.227 slash line this year, and his career .189/.246/.321 slash line. Sewald threw three straight sweepers to Hedges. Hedges flailed wildly at three straight sweepers. Inning over.
  • The tenth. Once again, it seemed like the Rangers might end things. Nathaniel Lowe worked a walk. Jung, who had a pair of hits on the day, couldn’t pick up his third, hitting into a double play instead. With two outs, Leody Taveras got down 1-2, then watched three straight pitches out of the zone, drawing his second walk of the game. Marcus Semien singled, setting the stage for Corey Seager, the man who tied up the game with his big ninth inning homer, to drive in the game winner as well.
  • Seager, though, isn’t a big ego guy. He’s not all about himself. He’s going to share the glory. He grounded out, ending the inning and sending things to the 11th.
  • In the bottom of the 11th, Evan Carter led off against lefty Kyle Nelson. It might have been a spot to use Robbie Grossman as a pinch hitter, but the D-Backs had Miguel Castro warming in the bullpen, and would have brought him in then to face Grossman had that move been made. Carter flied out weakly for the first out.
  • In came Miguel Castro to face Adolis Garcia. They weren’t going to give him the opportunity to tee off against a lefty. Castro tried to get Adolis to chase, throwing a slider, then three changeups, all out of the zone. Garcia chased one of the changeups, laid off the rest, getting the count to 3-1.
  • Castro went to his sinker. Garcia got good wood on it, sent it the other way. Unlike the Seager shot in the ninth inning, it wasn’t clear off the bat what this was. An opposite field fly, with the right fielder going back, maybe a warning track shot, maybe it gets to the wall...
  • And gone. Adolis Garcia had done it once again, this time in walkoff fashion. Another tremendous, memorable playoff game for the Rangers this postseason, this one won by Texas in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion.
  • It was a one run win, one where the Rangers were trailing in the late innings. Texas, as we all know, wasn’t good in one run games this year. They had a dreadful record when trailing late. And they flipped both those things on their head in Game 1.
  • An amazing stat I saw on Twitter — in World Series history, a team has come back from down multiple runs in the ninth inning to win just nine times. All time teams up multiple runs in the 9th in the World Series are 466-9-1. Three of those losses have been by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • And one of them was by the Texas Rangers, exactly 12 years to the day earlier.
  • Maybe, just maybe, the Rangers can exorcise those Game 6 demons this week.
  • Nathan Eovaldi topped out at 97.7 mph on his fastball. Dane Dunning hit 93.7 mph with his sinker. Cody Bradford topped out at 90.8 mph. Jon Gray reached 97.3 mph with his fastball. Will Smith’s fastball maxed out at 91.3 mph. Jose Leclerc hit 98.2 mph with his fastball.
  • Adolis Garcia’s walk off shot was 106.4 mph off the bat, and he also had a 116.0 mph single and a 108.5 mph ground out. Corey Seager’s game-tying shot was 112.6 mph. Evan Carter had doubles at 106.7 mph and 102.1 mph. Josh Jung had a 105.8 mph single and a 103.9 mph single. Nathaniel Lowe had a 105.4 mph fly out. Marcus Semien had a 101.3 mph single.
  • On to Game 2. Montgomery v. Kelly. Let’s keep it going.