The Rangers’ Game 1 Andrew Heaney (3 2⁄3 IP) gambit ultimately paid off if you consider that he eventually paired with expected starter Dane Dunning (2 IP). The duo gave Texas 5 2⁄3 innings of two-run ball. That’s a pretty competent “start” for the tandem with the Rangers unable to turn to their litany of injured or Wild Card-utilized rotation mates.
Of course, that meant leaving 3 1⁄3 innings for the most troubling aspect of the team to find scary postseason outs in a nailbiter. We always knew if it got to October with this team, there would be times when they would have to rely on the bullpen.
That became the reality today as another of Texas’ gambits did not pay off as the Robbie Grossman third hole hitter experience brought a few strikeouts in big situations which meant Texas held just a scant led for much of the afternoon. The lineup had their hits (8) and baserunners (5 BBs), with everyone contributing at least one base hit except for Marcus Semien, but they left ten on base and didn’t have a hit with runners in scoring position after three in a row in the top of the fourth scored two runs.
So it was tense chess match bullpen baseball in the late innings today which 100% is not how the Rangers want it to go. So what happened? The Rangers found the ten outs from a quartet of Will Smith, Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc to come away with a one-run win against the team that has come back late in games better than any other this season.
The blueprint for October is there’s no blueprint. You just have to find a way to win with what you have when you have it and the Rangers did that today in exactly the way no one expected them to be able to in October.
This gives them a 1-0 lead in the ALDS and guarantees at least two games at The Shed if a Game 4 is needed. Texas turned to six pitchers. None of them Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Nathan Eovaldi, Jordan Montgomery, or Jon Gray and beat the Orioles with their preferred Game 1 match-up.
They can win these.
Player of the Game: Evan Carter reached twice again and doubled in the game’s first run but the Rangers reminded everyone that they have another pretty good rookie as well as Josh Jung’s 6th inning solo home run gave Texas a temporary cushion for what would be the run that upheld the final score.
In the bottom of the 8th, in a 3-2 game, Jung made a nifty snag to start a double play after Chapman had started the inning with a couple of walks. Yeah, the Rangers have their Seagers and Semiens, they spent heavily on an injury-prone rotation just to drag them to this point, but it’s the rookies that are coming up big so far in October.
Up Next: The second game of this series will commence tomorrow with LHP Jordan Montgomery looking to bring his Wild Card virtuoso performance to the ALDS for Texas opposite young Texan RHP Grayson Rodriguez for Baltimore.
The Sunday afternoon first pitch from Camden Yards is set for 3:07 pm CT and will be aired once again nationally on FS1.